Gail Hairston

By

College: Arts and Sciences

'Dead' Language Resurrected at UK

Published: Jul 24, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 24, 2014) — When in Lexington, do as the Romans do — at least if you're attending the Conventiculum Latinum Lexintoniense, a week-long conference on the University of Kentucky campus where participants from all over the world are immersed in the Latin language.

 

How immersed? UK Latin Professor Terence Tunberg, who has directed the conference since its inception in 1996, says all participants must sign a contract promising to speak only Latin until the end of the conference on July 28.

 

And they do. Sitting in a quiet corner of the Blazer Hall cafeteria around lunch time this week feels like a field trip to the Roman Forum. Even while eating their lunch, conventiculum attendees strictly adhere to the Latin-only rule.

 

Steve King, a 41-year-old IT manager from Lexington, says it's the best way to learn.

 

"I started down this road because I wanted to be able to learn to read Latin fluently like any English book. I figured the best way to do that would be to learn it the way we learn languages as kids. So that's why I came," said King.

 

That's just what Tunberg had in mind when he created the conventiculum. Though there are now a few programs at other universities (including one run by Tunberg at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa.), his perennial conference at UK was the first in the United States.

 

"What we’re advertising is that, if you know some basic Latin, if you have a reading knowledge of it, if you've done the grammar, we will add an active dimension to your knowledge," he said.

 

The first conventiculum had just 12 participants, but now the event boasts an enrollment of 85 Latin enthusiasts from all over the world. Tunberg has enlisted the help of fellow UK Latin professor Milena Minkova, a leader in the spoken Latin movement in Europe who taught at the Vatican for several years, to keep the conference going smoothly.

 

In addition to socializing, participants hone their skills through small-group activities such as games, riddle contests and paraphrasing Latin passages in their own words.

 

Erin McKenna, a 27-year-old doctoral student from Fordham University in New York City, said the trick to speaking Latin fluently is simple: "The most important thing is to have no fear. Everyone will make mistakes, and you just have to go with it. If you don't try, you'll never improve."

 

Most attendees are, like McKenna, either graduate students or professors from all over the country who came here to take advantage of the rare chance to converse with other Latin speakers.

 

"I don't have a lot of opportunity to [speak] Latin at Fordham," said McKenna. "I would love to create a space for students to be able to speak in Latin if they choose to, so I need to improve in order to help them."

 

Baylor University Professor David White, 52, said there are other classroom benefits to speaking Latin. "Learning to try to express things in Latin ourselves helps us understand why the writers express things in the way that they did and gives us a completely different understanding from the production end of the language."

 

Speaking an ancient language in a modern world does have its difficulties, of course.

 

"Obviously things relating to modern life can be a challenge," said White. "Sometimes you have to describe what you want, and very often people who speak Latin will take a word from Italian or Spanish and Latinize it, and that works."

 

But sometimes new words must be created. Aeronavis for airplane (literally air ship), for example. As a member of the Academy for the Promotion of Latin, Tunberg and other elected fellows from all over the world discuss and help maintain an unofficial Latin lexicon.

 

His membership with the academy could also bring Lexington some new visitors. The academy's last quadrennial conference was in 2012 in Vienna, Austria, but 2017's conference is slated to take place in Lexington, Kentucky.

 

Tunberg said the conference will take place concurrently with the Conventiculum Latinum, so attendees will have the added pleasure of meeting Latin luminaries from all over the world.

 

But for most conventiculum participants, it's the lifelong friends they meet that make the trip worthwhile. That, and a good teacher.

 

"Terence Tunberg brings us back every year," said McKenna. "He's just absolutely a wonderful leader."

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, 859-257-3302, gail.hairston@uky.edu

 

 

torence3.jpgtunberg_terence.jpglatin_conference.jpg
April
 
 
 
1
LNFS Presents: Inherent Vice
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Successful Networking & Job Search
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
The Arboretum presents a Party for the Planet! Celebrate Kentucky's Past
Mr. PharmD Pageant 2015
Wed
2
LNFS Presents: Manakamana
LNFS Presents: Donnie Darko
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
SEC-ACC Virtual Career Fair
Massage on the Go #3
Thu
3
Cultural Coffee Hour
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Fri
4
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sat
5
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Sun
6
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Age Friendly Community Panel
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Mon
7
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Tue
8
LNFS Presents: The Godfather
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Brazilian Conversation Hour
UK Remembers
SpeakBlue: Richard Sherman
Wed
9
LNFS Presents: The Shawshank Redemption
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
From Plows to Plates: A Journey Through Kentucky Foodways
Workshop on Publishing
Teached Documentary
Thu
10
LNFS Presents: Enemy
LNFS Presents: Seven Psychopaths
Cultural Coffee Hour
Last Day to Withdraw or Reduce Course Load
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Robert C. May Photography Endowment Lecture: Julian Cox
Fri
11
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
fab-ric-ate Exhibit
Sat
12
Tanya Habjouqa: Recent Photographs
Edward Troye: Theme & Variation
Same Difference: Michelle Grabner, Simone Leigh & Russell Maltz
Lexington Tattoo Project
Kentucky's Present - Learn about the Bluegrass region of the Walk Across Kentucky and about invasive plants that threaten Kentucky landscapes
Sun
13
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Get Your DIY On! Fix-It Station Demonstrations
Mon
14
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club - LinkedIn: Your Job Search Best Friend
Tie Dye Tuesday
#UK Kick Butts Day
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 2 p.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 3 p.m.
Take Back the Night Lexington
Tue
15
LNFS Presents: The Godfather: Part II
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 11 a.m.
Career & Major Exploration Session @ Noon
Career & Major Exploration Session @ 1 p.m.
Affrilachian Poets
Bike-In Movie: The Bicycle Thieves
Wed
16
LNFS Presents: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
CANCELED: Bike-In Breakfast
Human Rights in China: a panel discussion
Thu
17
LNFS Presents: North by Northwest
LNFS Presents: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Cultural Coffee Hour
Car-Free Day
Performance Conference
Audience Appeals and Performing Assistance Conference
Holi: The Indian Festival of Colors
Fri
18
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Bully Breed Awareness Walk
Spring Carnival 2015
Taste of Africa
GAYla Drag Show and Silent Auction
Sat
19
 
Sun
20
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Floral Sculpture
Pinterest Party #3
Mon
21
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Student Center "Farewell" Informational Fair
Tour de Downtown Art
Tue
22
LNFS Presents: Birdman
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
National Student Exchange (NSE) Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Healthy Smoothie Demonstration
Ping Pong Ball Drop
Shake the Stress Fest
Wed
23
LNFS Presents: Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
LNFS Presents: The Avengers
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Wildcat Wrap-Up
UK Elder Care Lunch & Learn
Kentucky's Future - Plant a Tree in the Pennyrile region of the Walk Across Kentucky
Thu
24
LNFS Presents: Batman
LNFS Presents: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Cultural Coffee Hour
Art in Bloom Weekend
Fri
25
Free Saturday Swing Dance Lessons
Network Publishing: Digital Writing in the Humanities
The Party for the Planet final event in April is Arbor Day at The Arboretum!
Art in Bloom Weekend
Art in Bloom Cocktail Party
Sat
26
Art in Bloom Weekend
Sun
27
Resumes & Cover Letters that Work
Wildcat Wellness: Expressions (Creative Stress Relief)
Fuel for Finals
UK Ag Equine Programs Distinguished Lecture Series
Mon
28
Wildcat Wellness: Relaxation
Job Club: How to Write the Perfect Resume and Cover Letter
How to Impress Your Boss: Employer Panel
Tue
29
Wildcat Wellness: Meditation
Internship Info Session
Brazilian Conversation Hour
Appalachian Research Day
Wed
30
Wildcat Wellness: Healthy Habits
Thu
 
 

Tue, 04/21/2015

Repeats every week until Thu Apr 30 2015 except Tue Mar 17 2015.
Tue, 04/21/2015

Repeats every 0 months on the fourth Wednesday until Tue Jun 30 2015 .
Wed, 04/22/2015

Wed, 04/22/2015

Reset Page