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I would be interested in people's considered opinions of the utility of interlinear texts* in learning to read Latin (or any other language)? Do they help or hinder? Are they a pedagogical resource or are they merely a crutch?

My question was prompted, in part, by this article: "The New Old Way of Learning Languages"

*such as this one:

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    Are you also interested in parallel texts, e.g. Loeb editions? It would actually be quite interesting to see if any good research has been done on this. It's well known (and obvious) that we don't retain vocabulary as well if we don't spend time looking it up, but I wonder if that is offset by the enormous benefit of getting through much more text. – brianpck Jul 20 '19 at 14:32
  • @brianpck I had to give that some thought but in the end I think I'm only interested in interlinear texts. This is because they claim the word-for-word translation is an aid to gaining fluency in reading Latin. Conversely, I understand parallel texts, with their more polished interpretation of the Latin, have accessibility to a non-Latin reading audience as a chief aim. – Penelope Jul 21 '19 at 1:02
  • @brianpck Although, on reflection, an interesting question might be to contrast the pedagogical usefulness of literal translations with more polished translations. Do literal translations, for instance, turn reading into more of a code-cracking exercise? Perhaps I should try to formulate another formal question about this to post? – Penelope Jul 21 '19 at 2:32
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    When I was relearning Latin a few years ago, I found Loeb editions very useful. I would have hated an interlinear text....too much help. With facing text, it was easy not to look at the English unless I was really stuck. – C Monsour Jul 21 '19 at 2:35
  • It's subjective, but I find this format hideously distracting. I would rather have a clean text, and then a translation or notes elsewhere. I want to have at least one run through a completely clean text to form my own ideas before looking at anything else. The mental effort it takes for me to not look at the helps keeps me from reading. – Kingshorsey Jul 23 '19 at 1:20
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Depends on your purposes I suppose. Instead of interlinear, I'd much prefer reading a text in Latin you've already read in your first language. For example, I have a facing text of Caesar's works. I will read through a section in English first, typically a long one of multiple paragraphs, not a sentence or two, then read the text in Latin.

What this does is help me identify what's going on and contextualizes things. So I don't have to stop every so often to look up whether an unfamiliar word is a place, person, etc. Also, it helps me wire connections between various words. If I know what's going to happen, subconsciously I'm already looking for cognates or stems that are tied to what's going on in the text.

If you're trying to just read the text and enjoy it, without needing a dictionary, being able to cheat with an interlinear text would be fine. If you're trying to improve your Latin specifically then I'd say it would be more of a hindrance long term.

That said, the most important thing to improving one's Latin is to read Latin. It doesn't matter what it is.

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