Over the summer, I have been corresponding with a Latin learner out West.

In one of our conversations, she admitted this:

By the way, I am 65 years old, so I am no spring chicken, but am wanting to learn Latin to increase my vocabulary. I also do substitute teaching during the school year, so I can pass on bits of this to students as the occasion presents itself. It works with my love of etymology.

Did you catch that?  At an age when most Americans retire, she is tackling Latin.  While many Americans her age are watching Wheel of Fortune, and the Price is Right, she has decided to climb Mental Everest.  Kudos to her.  I hope I am still challenging myself at 65 years old.

Oh, and she is not moving at a retired pace, either.  She is attempting to complete Visual Latin this summer.  Seriously.  Who is this woman?

Here is our latest correspondence:

Hi Dwane,

Thanks for your help. I have now done 24 lessons in about that many days. My goal is to finish all 60 this summer, but I might need to take a break after 30. All of the endings are absolutely mind boggling! I am studying them just for the general idea of how they work. I think that is the best I will be able to do.

I am happy that I am able to interpret the sentences pretty well (with a lot of guesses due to word endings). What keeps me going is that I like the vocabulary development from the other words in the sentences. I can make pretty intelligent guesses in translating the sentences. As I mentioned before, it really helps that I know the Bible stories when it comes to translating those particular sentences. I know how the stories are supposed to go, so that helps. If I didn’t know those, this course would be much harder. I feel sorry for people who don’t know them.

Here’s a question:

Whenever I start a new lesson, I copy the first page or two that lists all the possible endings. I have collected quite a few of these so far. I also printed off Dwane’s Awesome Latin Lists from your website. Does that amount to the same info that I am printing when I print the first page or two of the lessons? If so, I could refer to that instead of the huge stack of copies I have been making.

Here’s another question:

Since Latin isn’t even spoken anywhere as a language, what is the purpose of learning all of the endings? Would I be better off just learning new word roots? Since I am overwhelmed with all of the endings, I am wondering if I should just sort of ignore them and concentrate on “the rest of the story.” Would I still understand basic Latin if I gave up on all the endings? When I do the worksheets and quizzes, I refer back to those first two pages to try to make an intelligent guess. Most of the time I do pretty well by “cheating” like this, but sometimes I still mess up. I do very well on the rest of the questions that don’t ask me to interpret endings. I do not “cheat” on those. I don’t cheat on all endings, but on enough of them to wonder if there is even value in trying to learn them.

By the way, I also bought your Greek & Latin, much shorter course. I got a lot out of that.

I continue to enjoy your light humor in the videos. I really do like this course. It is just the endless endings that make me wonder if I should continue the way I am, or if I should pretty much ignore the endings.

Here is my reply:

Once again, I apolgize for the long delay.  I am buried in emails at the moment.  Still, I am here every day but Sunday from this point until next June.  If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact me.

The short answer to your question about endings is, yes.  The awesome Latin list is a collection of all (well, nearly all) of the Latin endings.  You do not have to write them all down.  I made that list for students.  It took me three years to squeeze it all in.  🙂  I, too, am bewildered by all the endings.

This leads to your second question.  I am wondering if I should just sort of ignore them and concentrate on “the rest of the story.  I actually think that is a brilliant approach.  That is exactly how I learned Latin, and how I learn languages.  Whenever I start a new book (currently, I am reading a book in Italian) my goal is to read and learn as I go.  Naturally, I do pay attention to the endings, but I do not stop to memorize them.  I typically read the same book several times as I am learning languages.  I know that if I do not get the endings the first time through, I will get them the third, fourth, or fifth time through.  Initially, I concentrate more on the story and the meaning.  That is exactly why I relied on the Bible stories when I wrote Visual Latin.  I wanted familiarity with the stories to carry students through the complication of Latin.

Please let me know if you need more help!