478: Learn Latin by Peter Jones

by Gerard


478.2421: Jones, Peter. Learn Latin: A Lively Introduction to Reading the Language. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1997. 169 pp. ISBN 0-7607-0842-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 470: Italic and Latin languages
  • 478: Classical Latin usage
  • 478.2: Structural approach to the classical Latin usage
  • 478.24: For persons whose native language is different
  • +21: For persons whose native language is English

Latin is by default an odd language. No speaks it anymore, but knowing it is considered a sign of erudition, and the countless books for learning Latin out there speak to a demand for learning the language. One of the many problems with Latin is that it is incredibly compact and nuanced. Changing the order of the words, the endings of verbs, or even missing a single letter changes the entire meaning of what is being said. Peter Jones’s Learn Latin is a rather interesting approach to learning the language that deserves a closer look.

First off, Jones understands the mild insanity that learning Latin entails, and to that end, he takes a more humorous approach than most textbooks. He presents twenty lessons that the reader is supposed to work through over the course of twenty weeks. Each week covers a different aspect of the language. From basic conjugation to parts of speech to different tense and cases, this book covers the fundamentals of learning Latin. With that in mind, don’t read it straight through in two days like I did. For something that requires as much attention to details like Latin, a crash course will do nothing for long-term retention.

Jones’s lessons are interesting, illustrated well, and intended for those who know a little bit about the fundamentals of other languages. He makes interesting connections between Latin and modern English, French, and Spanish. This guide helps the reader make their way through some basic texts and understand the reach of Latin into the modern day. If you’re at all interested in learning Latin, then this book will do fine for you. Just take your time with it, and it will come. A very fun book.