A Collaborative Experiment In Learning Latin Style

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Theses for a collaborative experiment in learning Latin style

NevenJovanovic (Department of Classical Philology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb, Hrvatska / Croatia)

Hypotheses

  1. Style is a feature of language. Therefore, we learn a foreign style like we learn a foreign language: through being exposed to lots of data (i. e. while reading a text). We make hypotheses based on this data, and further data help sharpen our perceptions. We reject some hypotheses, form other.
  2. In forming these hypotheses, we, as learners, rely partly on previous knowledge, partly on data ("stimuli") we are being exposed to in the text.
  3. "Knowing the style" of a text means having formed a functioning network of stylistic features we recognize --- notice again and again --- in what we read.

Goal

Record the process of learning a style as it happens, to be able to interpret this process later.

Problems

  1. How to measure what a reader brings to the text ("previous knowledge" from Hypothesis 2 above)?
  2. Since readers have different backgrounds, how to test whether --- or, how much --- an individually formed "network of stylistic features" conforms to networks other readers of the same text may form?

Previous solutions of Problems (especially in Classics)

All readers use common "previous knowledge" --- the "system of rhetoric", as constructed (most famously by Lausberg) from teachings of ancient rhetoricians.

This solution is somewhat unsatisfying; it creates a network, but this network is not wholly ours; and it means explaining one thing we do not understand completely by another which we also do not understand completely. It can be compared to learning classical languages mainly from grammar.

Proposed new solution to Problems

Create a collaborative environment where readers can compare their networks, an environment for "learning a style together".

Comment / Invitation

I believe this environment can be realized through computing, especially on the internet.

But how? What should such an environment have? And how to get people to read together? And what to read?

These are questions that I hope we can discuss together on the DigitalClassicist.

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