Nuntii Latini is a weekly review of world news in Classical Latin, produced by YLE, the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Started in 1989 by Hannu Taanila, it is edited by Professor Emeritus Tuomo Pekkanen and Docent Reijo Pitkaranta of Helsinki University. They take turns putting together a five-minute weekly audio bulletin of international news headlines; Finnish news of international interest; and arts, science and sports topics of general interest. Broadcasts can be heard on Radio Finland via satellite or short and medium wave radio; and over the Internet via RealAudio http://www.yle.fi/fbc/latini/recitatio.html. Except for a brief overview page (optional) in English, the entire site is in Latin and is intended for students to practice reading and listening comprehension.
The news covered is an up-to-date summary of world events and is well-composed. Recent headlines include "Mir Cum Fragore Praecipitavit" ("Mir Goes Down with a Bang") and "Unde Venerit Febris Aphthosa" ("The Source for Foot and Mouth Disease"). The audio portion is clear and well-read, an exact transcript of which is available. The site is similar to the many sites modern language teachers have available for enhancing instruction, and while it may not qualify Latin as a fully living language, it does credit to its versatility.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Nuntii Latini provides what many instructors need-new but short assignments requiring little or no background information--at no cost and appropriate for students at the intermediate to advanced levels. Since the subject matter is current events, students will find vocabulary and syntax, not context and culture, as the only barriers to comprehension. Reading-speed should increase quickly with repeated use and American students will sometimes find perspectives on world events different from those they are accustomed to reading in domestic reports.
Excellent features are the audio portion, which can be used with or without the text, an archive's section which offers the possibility of additional assignments, and a letters-to-the-editor section, which contains mostly short greetings from students and sometimes comments on more serious matters, allowing students to practice and improve their composition skills with letters which may become part of the weekly online publication-something that may motivate them more than the daunting task of imitating Cicero's prose.
In many cases the vocabulary in the description of contemporary events has necessitated coining, or stretching the meaning of Classical Latin,
words--for example those to describe nuclear waste and tanks: reliquiae nucleares and currus cataphracti. This is a necessary feature of any attempt to cover modern events and is not itself a feature of concern-indeed the words are well chosen--but students should be advised. To assist with this, the site has a page with citations that include Egger's lexicon of 'recent' Latin. Also students may be encouraged to draw upon their own experience, intuition, and imagination to figure out meanings.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is easily navigable. The audio streams load quickly even via 44K modem connections and the sound quality is more than adequate.
From the point of view of a newspaper, Nuntii Latini is lacking in one area which might easily be improved. The reviewers suggest the inclusion of news photos where appropriate and possible (sometimes readers send these in with their letters, but these are not news photos) so as to give the page more of a living feel. The audio streams could also be broken down by section, with links placed nearer to the appropriate text.
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