How horrible will studying Latin be?

Ok, after several years of switching majors, I finally settled on history and am a semester or 2 away from my bachelor’s. I will be applying to grad school soon, with the intention of specializing in medieval European history.

Latin, being the official, scholarly language of the period, is something I need to learn. Luckily, to get into grad school I only need to be proficient in an unspecified language, and my French takes care of that.

But I do need to think about Latin, and soon. I’ll probably take a couple of begining Latin courses, then try to study on my own.

I just want to know, how frustratingly difficult will it be? I’ve heard the horror stories about how verbs have 30 different conjugations and all that. I have some aptitude for language, and a good memory. I’ve studied French sporadically since high school, so I do have some experience with a Romance language, I figure that’ll help a little.

So, will I be pulling my hair out in frustration, or is it not as bad as all the stories I’ve heard?

I’ve absolutly no facility for foreign languages, and I was usually able to eke out C’s and C+'s in Latin when I was in high school. Actually did better there than I did in my Spanish classes, where I was lucky to not get D’s. It’s a pain in the ass, but it’s not impossible.

I enjoyed Latin. It certainly made me more aware of grammar, syntax and the history of the English language.

There are lots of conjugations and declentions to Latin, yes. But if you’re already familiar, through other languages, with the basic introduction to those things, I really don’t think that Latin will be a huge problem for you. I think that you’ll find, too, your French will help you with providing more of a framework to hang your Latin on. It’s not that French is all that similar to Latin, but it is Romance language and heavily influenced by Latin. You’ll be seeing a lot of things that are look familiar as you get into Latin, I think.

The majority of the people I’ve heard kvetch about Latin were either: not too serious about it their complaints; or monolingual - and would be having culture shock from a lot of the assumptions in the language compared to English.

The exact same thing happened to me. Latin was fun. And you don’t have to worry about speaking it, we only learned to translate and read it. It was fun, like a puzzle.

I didn’t find Latin difficult. I started out taking it by correspondence course because it wasn’t offered at my school (correspondence school sounds rather quaint nowadays, but it was useful out in the hinterlands way back then), then a few of us talked a teacher into offering it. If you love language, you’ll enjoy it.

Maybe that isn’t true. I love language, but did not enjoy studying Old Norse. But the person teaching it the year I took it was not good. If you are able to choose instructors, take the class from the one you find the most inspiring.

Probably will be fun. If you like medieval European history, you’ll have the motivation to learn Latin, and you’ll begin to see all the nuances of the texts. You may also learn that the translations may or may not do justice to the originals!

I studied ancient Hebrew in order to study Tanach (aka Hebrew Bible), and discovered that no translation could ever be completely accurate. One presumes that medieval texts will be a bit better, since they weren’t written down from an oral tradition, but there will still be plenty of room for interpretation. You don’t get to the meat of this until you read the native language.

Medieval Latin (which is the Latin we study) is highly structured and orderly. The words have of course migrated into modern languages, especially the Romance ones. With these cognates, vocabulary won’t be particularly difficult and the grammar is all memorization. Have fun!

Same experience here.

Latin was certainly my favourite subject at school. I think you’ll enjoy studying it.

I enjoyed learning Latin.

Do your homework and you’ll be fine. Any basic course will probably not introduce you to crazy stuff like semi-deponents and the like until you’ve got a good feel for things.

Not horrible at all.

Try the Oxford or Cambridge Latin courses for some indepepndent learning and a headstart.

I took it for 5 years at school, enjoyed it immensely and now find that although I have never studied Spanish or Italian, I understand much more than I expect to.

You can either spend hours reciting verbs, or learn it just as you would learn any modern language. The choice is yours.

4 years in high school, 2 years in college - you’ll do fine.

Latin is super easy. I didn’t find the conjugations and declensions difficult at all. Then again, I took it after a year of Ancient Greek, which is a candidate for “most screwed up language in the world.”

I took it my freshman year of college and got a horrible grade - but I never studied and didn’t really do much homework either. Got behind right away being lazy, then it became too late to catch up (I’m not too hot on tons of memorization). It was actually a pretty neat class though. So just keep up, don’t let yourself fall behind, do homework, do whatever you need to do to memorize what you need to memorize, etc.

I studied some Latin on my own this summer and enjoyed it a lot. I have to admit that I feel like we’ve thrown out a really useful and neat thing by no longer taking Latin in school. (This is a new opinion; I never gave Latin a thought before a couple of years ago.) Anyway, I found that the Russian I took in college helped a lot, because I was already familiar with declensions and so on. Since I had no grammar whatsoever in English classes, I learned all of that “dative, genitive” stuff in Russian.

I’d like to continue studying on my own, but the school year is overwhelming me at the moment. We’ll see, I guess.

Well, your opinions are certainly comforting. I kept having a vision of Life of Brian when I thought about studing Latin- “The people called Romanes, they go to the house… ?”

I am interested in etymology, so I think it will help. I made a point of memorizing Latin ( and Greek) roots in classes like biology.

Now I just have to fit it into my schedule.

I did it in the opposite order, but this was my experience as well. In Latin, most of the words are roots of some English word, so it’s easy to remember what they mean. And while there are a lot of declensions/conjugations, they follow regular patterns, so they’re not that bad to learn. Greek, on the other hand, is miserable. Stay away.

I loved Latin. The really cool thing is that it doesn’t take all that long to be able to translate the likes of Ovid and Virgil - albeit with a dictionary to help with vocabulary.

*Et hoc in primis - illegitimi non carborundum. :slight_smile:

(Quidquid Latine dictum sit altum videtur.)*