"זאת תפילה עתיקה וקדושה."
Translation:It is an ancient holy prayer.
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In addition to being pronounced “u” before the letters ב,ו,מ,פ, the conjunctive Vav has to be pronounced “u” before a word that starts with a ‘sheva’, since two ‘shevas’ cannot appear at the beginning of a word: וּקְדוּשָׁה The following link has an excellent description for pronouncing the Vav: https://www.torahmusings.com/2012/12/on-the-prefix-vav/
Well, old is usually יָשָׁן (or זָקֵן, if you speak of people). עַתִּיק is an adjective, which is derived from the root עתק and meant originally removed, then developed through removed from our time to the meaning of ancient, thus it is not only old, but existent or occurring in time long past, usually in remote ages.
A couple things that would be helpful, if any revises this material: (1) to provide the nikkud at the top of this comment section so each sentence could be viewed with the vowel markings, and (2) writing each possible masculine/feminine, singular/plural reproduction where it applies, too, also easily seen.
While waiting for Godot, and if you're using the website, there's a browser extension that might help with your second issue.
For your first issue, if you're using the website, you can copy Duo's text and paste it into any of various "nakdan" tools. They require vigilance on your part, though, because some spellings have multiple valid nikud representing different meanings.
Apparently that Duolingo Forum URL will become a dead link about March 22nd, 2022.
So, this info should continue to be available here: The browser extension (not a mobile app) is called Duolingo Solution Viewer. It "provides access to the lists of solutions to both translation and listening challenges (only once you have submitted your answer)". Here are the links:
Chrome Web Store:
Roadmap / Known issues / Support:
I don't know if Duolingo has the technical ability to optionally show nikkud, but I don't think they would do this anyway, for two reasons:
1) adding nikkud to text is a pretty technical job because most Hebrew speakers don't know all the exact nikkud that should be used in a specific situation, just the common ones; this is related to: 2) using all the nikkud is an unnatural way to learn Hebrew and long term won't help/may even hinder you, because Hebrew is rarely written like that outside of education; over reliance on nikkud means a lot of actual written Hebrew will be opaque to you because you won't develop the necessary ability to infer what vowels are needed in a specific context.
TL;DR: you're better off persevering with Ktiv Male.
Also, speaking from experience, doing language exchange or lessons with native Hebrew speakers will help enormously with this; I did the ninety day challenge a few months after I started learning Hebrew seriously, and spending that time concentrating mostly on speaking Hebrew and understanding spoken Hebrew impacted my ability with writing and particularly reading far more than I expected. Of all the languages I've studied, which are MANY, Hebrew was the first where my confidence in speaking and understanding it outpaced my understanding of the written language and where the former helped the latter, rather than the other way around.