Latin @ Lexington – the Gathering

for breakfast at Ovid's
for breakfast at Ovid’s

Today was every bit as manic as expected. It began with a move from Blandings to Roselle, my new home for the next seven days. I ate a hearty American Breakfast at Ovid’s cafe – I don’t know why it is called Ovid’s but it seemed a good omen. I had a ‘platter’ of very salty bacon, quite salty sausage (flat and disc shaped, not sausage shaped) some tiny chunky salty chips and ‘gravy’ which was a bit grey looking but tasted reasonably nice, if salty. I followed that with a Starbuck’s coffee and ‘cream’ – I think ‘cream’ is actually anything white you put in coffee but not actual cream. Anyway that was nice too and mercifully salt-free.

Replete with calories, I was ready for the one mile hike to across campus. Learning nothing from yesterday, I got out the very strong suntan lotion, put it carefully away (forgetting to put any on my skin) and set off through the blazing sun scurrying from tree to tree, towing a large heavy suitcase and carrying a backpack, and shoulder bag and wearing cropped trousers (I forgot to pack any long ones) which exposed my ever-reddening calves. Pink and hot, I staggered into the welcome air-conditioning of Roselle, which is very up-market compared to Blandings. I have a lovely double room to myself but I also have a ‘Jack and Jill’ toilet with the lady next door. This is going to require a lot of concentration in terms of which lock to lock and unlock, but I hope to get the hang of it by the end of the week.

At Roselle, attendees were arriving, but I felt an urgent need for a pair of full length trousers to guard my vermilion shins.  The university bookshop (which mostly sells clothes) was just across the road so I treated myself to a nice pair of University of Kentucky jog pants – they are lovely and comfy and might just drop the hint that I would like to stay here again sometime.  I really like Lexington and feel very at home here.  It is a bit like a very warm and humid Ireland with friendly natives and lots of green.

A new friend, Ellen, with a much better sense of direction than me, took me to find Bingham Davis House, where we will be doing our Latin speaking and where we would be having dinner later.  This would be my only opportunity to interview people in English before the conventiculum (at which we may speak only Latin with each other) and the best time to get beginners to do my pre-test designed to assess engagement with a few lines of ancient text.  I focused on finding beginners to do both pre-test exercises and pre-conventiculum interviews but I did manage to interview two experienced Latin speakers and to arrange to interview a couple more when we are speaking English again.  I also bagged eight beginner interviews and six beginner pre-tests – the other two are going to do the tests tonight and give them to me tomorrow.  My head is now spinning with all the information I gathered and I must still make notes on my own responses to my questions as I will be including the effect of the week on my Latin in my results.

Tomorrow I will try to add a little Latin to my blog … and a little more each day … good intentions anyway.

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4 thoughts on “Latin @ Lexington – the Gathering

  1. Hi Mair, This sounds like a really interesting event. Is Blandings called after the Wodehouse castle, or does it have more prosaic origins? I thought you might be interested in this Kickstarter project that the Pericles Group is running – they are trying to put together a Latin dictionary that gives a sense of the diversity of ancient Rome, and avoids the assumption that everyone was a white man

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      It really is very interesting. I don’t know about Blandings – didn’t have time to ask while I was in English mode and now it would be pretty difficult in Latin. Your project sounds interesting too. There is already a paper picture dictionary in Latin (I will try to find you the name) but I think it focuses on commonly used words from the literature we have rather than everyday vocabulary.

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