Monday, June 4, 2018

Latin Snail Mail Project

If you are a Latinist who is wanting to incorporate more active Latin in your own daily life or to become more adept at writing in Latin at your own level, then here is an opportunity for you. My colleague Miriam Patrick (of both Pomegranate Beginnings and Stepping into CI) has started up a Latin "“pen pal/writing” project called Latin Snail Mail which focuses on getting Latinists to “find their own voice” when writing in Latin. There are two ways in which you can get involved:

  1. writing postcards in Latin – allows for very short messages in Latin.
  2. traveling journal in Latin – allows for longer messages, such as compositions, stories, poems, etc.
Each week, there are writing prompts so that you have a subject on which to write. Upon signup, you will receive directions about how this all works (to whom to send postcards, journaling). Most of those participating are here in America, but there are a number of folks who are overseas.
I joined the postcard share right before Memorial Day, and already I have sent a number of postcards in Latin to some of those who are part of this. Last week’s postcard topic was de temptestate (about weather), and since we had days of rain/cloudy weather due to Subtropical Storm Alberto coming through here in Atlanta, it was very easy to write short messages in Latin on the topic. This week’s postcard topic is de urbe (about your city), so again, a very broad topic which one can address personally.
If one wants to write lengthier sentences in Latin or to wax more eloquently in the language, then I would suggest signing up for the traveling journal option.
  1. It is very enjoyable communicating in Latin via postcards - this is not old-school translating random English-to-Latin sentences involving soldiers and catapults in Gaul! I get the chance to write about personal topics related to my life. 
  2. Since I do not know the Latin level of those to whom I am writing, I am forced to be very comprehensible, and due to writing a postcard with very limited space, I have to be very succinct (no Ciceronian sentences!). This is why something like this is perfect for those Latinists wanting to try out active Latin or for someone who does not have a lot of time.
  3. You only have to write one postcard a week, although some write 3-4 a week. Honestly, it does not take much time to write down a message, although sometimes I do have to think about what I want to communicate in Latin (and if I have enough room on the postcard to say everything I want to say). 
  4. Finding postcards was an issue - apparently, the local drug store/Target no longer sells postcards, so I had to buy sets on Amazon (I bought a whole box of Pixar-themed postcards). The next time I pass by a truck stop on a road trip, I will stop in order to stock up on tacky, tourist postcards. 
  5. In order to participate, you do not have to be a master communicator in Latin - you just have to be understandable in the language!
  6. It is actually quite fun now going to the mailbox as I anticipate possibly receiving a postcard that day. Who would ever have thought that I would look forward to receiving a postcard written in Latin?!
  7. I love that in doing this, I am continuing the historical tradition of using Latin as a daily communicative language.
So consider being a part of this, whether it be through the postcard share or the traveling journal. You can also follow this on Twitter using #latinsnailmail - folks are posting pictures of both the postcards and messages which they are receiving.

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