Dewey Decimal Project: 478.2 SHA Essential Latin: The language and life of ancient Rome

It’s been a long time Essential Latinsince I studied Latin, but I figured that it’s been long enough that a refresher will be welcome, but short enough that the refresher won’t be redundant.

Sharpley incorporates a bit of cultural background alongside the language lessons which provides a nice supplement. This is generally connected to the Latin readings that compose part of each chapter which are perhaps the most notable aspect of the text—each chapter includes a number of short Latin passages (typically 1–3 sentences) with supplementary vocabulary following each. On occasion, the passage is slightly bowdlerized to make it more accessible to the student, but it’s an opportunity to actually read classical texts. Unfortunately, there is an unspoken assumption that the student will learn that supplementary vocabulary alongside the regularly enumerated vocabulary of each chapter which meant that, since I failed to do this in the early chapters, the Latin readings in the later chapters became increasingly inscrutable.

My only other complaint was that Sharpley has a tendency to skip over some aspects of grammar central to the lesson, choosing instead to point the student to the appendix where the appropriate declension or conjugation is completely enumerated. I can understand the urge to keep the page count from ballooning unnecessarily, but forcing the student into the back of the book like this feels a bit like a gratuitous economy.

Overall, with some minor adjustments, this would be an excellent introduction to Latin and I would love to try rebuilding my Latin from a more grammatically comprehensive text than this is.





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