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It's 'amo' to Latin grammar

PUBLISHED: 07:26 09 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

Ask most of us what we prefer to do on our lunch breaks - go to the hortus (park) or stay and exercito (work hard) - and those in the know will plump for the great outdoors every time.

Ask most of us what we prefer to do on our lunch breaks - go to the hortus (park) or stay and exercito (work hard) - and those in the know will plump for the great outdoors every time.

After all, who wouldn't prefer a leisurely summer stroll amid the trees and flowers to a soggy sandwich at the desk?

You would have to be - as they say in Rome - a stultus (moron).

But Fenland District Council staff have caused amazement, and put the rest of us idle shirkers to shame, by ditching lunch breaks in favour of Latin lessons.

"Most of us are finding it fairly difficult," admits business analyst Harry Rooke.

"The lessons are run once a week at lunch time and are very informal. We usually do a bit of grammar and sentence-forming and each time some new words are thrown at us.

"Then we will often have a small piece of film about life in Ancient Rome shown to us."

The Latin lessons are the brainchild of Peter Allen, another business analyst at the council, who took part in an online Latin project and decided to spread the word.

The free course is known as Latin-4-Fun - a name that might surprise anyone who did the subject at school.

Mr Allen said: "I did Latin at A-level but had not used these skills for more than 30 years. The online project rekindled my interest and I am delighted so many council colleagues have caught the Latin bug.

"As they say in Latin: 'qui docet discit'; he who teaches learns."

"Learning Latin has far more benefit and significance as a brain stretching exercise than doing things like Sudoku.

"We have great fun and everyone is keen to master and discover more about modern languages as well."

At the moment, 10 members of staff - ranging in age from their mid-20s to 50s - are signed up to Mr Allen's course.

By the end of it, workers from the IT, accounts, and customer service departments should be declining verbs and demystifying ablatives with aplomb.

Mr Rooke said: "My main motivation was because I enjoy researching the etymology of words and it is interesting to see their derivation and how many of them come from Latin.

"The thing I was most proud of saying, was in class yesterday. I was the judge and I was able to convict somebody and find them guilty in Latin."


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