Latin student’s translation skills among top in North America


Fourth-year Classics student Aleks Mirosavljevic could tell you that’s the past perfect form of Brock’s motto “surgite,” Latin for “push on.”

And surrexit is exactly what Mirosavljevic did when he surpassed Latin students across North America to place in the top 9 per cent in the Classical Association of the Middle West and South (CAMWS) Latin Translation Contest (Advanced). Mirosavljevic received a certificate and book award last week in recognition of his accomplishment.

A peer mentor with the Department of Classics since 2017, Mirosavljevic didn’t start studying Latin until he began his Classics degree at Brock. He has since put a lot of time and work into his Latin training.

“Putting in extra time to practise translation and study grammar and vocabulary will raise one’s marks steadily while taking Latin,” says Mirosavljevic. “I did extra translation with peer mentors and professors throughout my second and third academic years of Latin.”

In addition to his regular course work, Mirosavljevic worked independently with Associate Professor Fanny Dolansky to translate additional texts and authors over the summer and during the Fall and Winter terms.

“These sight translation contests can be challenging but also great confidence-boosters as students see the rewards of their hard work,” says Dolansky. “They provide important external validation for students that their efforts are paying off.”

The CAMWS translation contest is open to students in Canada and the United States. Of the more than 300 university students who participated in the contest, Mirosavljevic was the only one from a Canadian university to win an award.

“Aleks’ success shows that Canadian Classics students are just as competitive, capable and accomplished as their American peers,” says Dolansky. “Brock’s Department of Classics has some very dedicated faculty members who not only organize the contests for our students, reaching out and encouraging them to participate, but who also help students build and develop their language skills beyond regular class time.”

Making his achievement even more impressive, Mirosavljevic wrote the advanced exam, usually intended for students with three or more years of university Latin, despite only having studied Latin for two and half years. The exam tests students’ comprehension of Latin vocabulary and grammar and their ability to accurately translate it into English. This year’s advanced exam was a prose passage from Aulus Gellius’ Noctes Atticae, which Mirosavljevic had just one hour to translate with no dictionaries or study aids.

Mirosavljevic, who will be starting his Master of Arts at McGill in the fall, is not the first Brock student to excel in the CAMWS competition. Matt Ludwig (BA ’16) scored in the top 3 per cent in 2016 and is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Toronto.

“I would suggest that students give Latin a shot, because they may find it comes more easily to them than other things,” Mirosavljevic says. “The department at Brock is very approachable and supportive.”

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