https://www.duolingo.com/jared.mcka

Is Latin a possible upcoming language?

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Being that Duolingo has begun creating courses for learning fantasy languages, is it really that far out of the question that they might ever add Latin? I know it is a "dead" language but it would still be a beneficial language to learn for many. Many of the languages already on Duolingo have Latin roots, and it would certainly serve a purpose in helping anyone going into certain majors for college to have at least a basic understanding of the language. I for one have always wanted to learn it and I know I can't be the only one. If it's not a likely language to see in the future then why? All thoughts and opinions are welcome, I am simply curious.

1 year ago

79 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Rhabarberbarbara
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According to Luis AMA in january the interest in Latin and possible contributers have been noted. So I do think they will add it sometime, though I guess it's not a priority https://www.duolingo.com/comment/20421039

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SprightBark
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"interest [has been] noted" is far from a promise. (Normally I would take it as a flat out refusal while trying to keep face.) What was the actual wording?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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Just "Noted!"

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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> . . . interest in Latin and possible contributers [sic] have been noted.

Well, a few years ago "vohnahn" said, "We will do it eventually, but I don't think it will be within the next 4 months." Dead on the money. Latin is prob. dead in the water, is my guess.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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Is that the only time they have gotten the time scale right? Personally I liked this one from April 2014:

In a few months I'm hoping we'll have a truly scalable system that allows us to add hundreds of languages at once.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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Wow. Vaporware to the max . . . "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for?" ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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Well, the software I suppose actually is there. They just chose not to use it as such.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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You suppose? Big pie-in-the-sky projections not delivered: vaporware.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MaggiBlood

I agree, the duolingo method would lend itself well to Latin. I took a semester of Latin in college to help me remember the scientific names of plants and animals in my biology classes.
Also a neighbor of mine wants to learn Latin, so that makes 2 votes FOR !!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I'm ever optimistic. Latin is easily in the top 4 languages studied in the U.S., with three times more K-12 students than 5th place Japanese. It's probably the most popular would-be course missing from several base languages, the only language that could bump Russian back to the third row of the English "Add a new course menu." Why's it still missing? Who knows really, but on expected user interest grounds alone (sorry, Finnish, 450 more upvotes does not provide the same level of evidence of interest as Latin's actual presence with actual students in actual classrooms in any number of countries), it's coming sometime.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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Why do you think Latin could bump Russian back? According to this there are less than 140k secondary level students in the US, UK and NZ combined with another article talking about 1,2k in Australia. Sure, the whole world combines to almost 4 million without any Spanish or Portuguese speaking countries (2 million of those in Italy) but would they be taking the English course? If the number in Latin America is high, maybe Latin for Spanish would be a better first course.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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Russian, independent of my particular love for it, is just not a very commonly studied language. There are only 30,000 students of it in the US, about a seventh as many as Latin. I based my statements on this which is based on this report from the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages. The source you found does seem more up to date (although doesn't give its source), but even if the fall in K-12 Latin instruction in the US is as precipitous as the two figures make it out to be, that still means there's a much larger stock of people in the US who have studied it in the past, who I assume to be some of the most likely folk to pick it up again in the future if suddenly the method for doing so is as straightforward as Duolingo.

Could people from Germany, Austria, Flanders take an English-based Latin course in large numbers? Certainly the answer is yes. And I'm pretty sure Brazilians are in the top five or so among users of the English-based Russian course, so I wouldn't be surprised to see them showing up in large numbers for Latin.

So, in short I think it's a pretty safe bet that Latin could overtake Russian. Is it the only language that could? There I'll admit to a certain bit of shortsightedness. I really meant "only language that could overtake Russian without major technical improvements to Duolingo," a consideration that used to seem far off, but obviously doesn't any more. Gotta shake those cobwebs off my thinking.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/daughterofAlbion
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You need also to consider that people who are being taught satisfactorily in the classroom do not necessarily look to supplement their experience online. A language that is a minority interest over a wide demographic (and hence not readily available in physical schools) is likely to have a large take-up rate when taught online.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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As a Latin teacher, I feel like I'm doing everything I can to teach it and reinforce it in the classroom. However, outside the classroom is another story. I have my students practice vocabulary on Memrise, but it would be even better if they could practice using Duolingo. Duo helps with composition more than anything else I've used. The summer months are when my students lose what they've learned. They will not open a book to review. I can sometimes coax them into using an app to review.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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Despite the many complaints one sees to the effect of Duolingo going to the dogs... er, schoolkids, school-age folk are a small minority of users. But the numbers of people using Duolingo courses for commonly in-school studied languages speaks to the reality that language instruction tends to not be all that good, at least in English speaking countries (not just the US; ask the average western Canadian about French...), leaving a large stock of post school-age people with a possible lingering interest or desire to "complete" the task of learning a language begun long before. And the fact that a language might have simply been an option for someone means it's a much smaller jump to starting it since it's a familiar notion that one might study said language. For instance, a friend of mine signed up to review his high school German. Within days he'd added Spanish, a language he'd never studied for a day in his life: because we're in the US, so the notion of learning Spanish is a highly familiar one. This is an advantage Latin maintains (at least in the US) to a much larger extent than Russian.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/daughterofAlbion
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I think we may be seeing the difference between our educational systems again piguy3! I am quite happy with the quality of the fairly intensive language education that I received at school, which left me able to both converse comfortably in French and tackle its literature unassisted. Certainly if I was spending 15 hours per week (minimum) on a language (i.e. studying it at 'A'-level), during which I would be both reading classic and modern literature (unadapted) and holding discussions in that language, I doubt that using Duolingo would add much.
The problem for students in countries that follow the British education system is whether your school teaches the language you desire - bearing in mind that it is extremely unusual for the curriculum to permit you to study more than 3 languages simultaneously.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iSamuelHoffman

I asked the same question when I joined Duolingo. I've been learning Latin in other ways and I think Duolingo would be an awesome way to learn Latin. I think that's it's easier for me to learn other languages since I've already learned a lot of Latin.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Noah_sport

I agree as well to that.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ProDuoExtra
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Latin is a dead language in the sense that it is no longer spoken as a first language by anyone alive. But it would be a very interesting "language" if they will add it though...

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iSamuelHoffman

Well, they're adding Klingon. So why not Latin? :D

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ProDuoExtra
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Yeah, that's not fair. We want Latin!! XD

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Noah_sport

Yeah they have so many languages and just they have no Latin. Latin could give tons of people a good education. When i first got on here i looked for Latin but there was none on here. I just agree with all of you.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Windsaw

Well, compared to Esperanto, Latin should still be given priority. So many people have Latin in school here but due to stupid, outdated learning material which seems to put emphasis on that the language will never be spoken again, only very few pupils actually get to master the language.

A useful, simple learning resource would greatly help the estimated 800000 children learning Latin in Germany alone at the moment at least for the first or second year. I don't know how many learners there are in other countries.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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I'm a Latin teacher. We don't teach spoken Latin, since the goal is to prepare a student to read original works. As cool as it is to text my Latin teacher colleagues in Latin, my vocabulary is geared towards The Gallic War, The Metamorphoses, etc.

My students can't converse about the weather, but know more about grammar and how that grammar affects how a story is told. The focus on grammar means my students can read real literature at the end of level II, while most spoken languages can't tackle the equivalent until levels IV or V. One approach is not better than the other, they have different goals in mind.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue
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I find Duolingo better for the written part of a language than the spoken part, so it may be especially good for teaching kids to read Latin. :)

What if the Skills in the Latin course were also geared towards The Gallic War, The Metamorphoses, etc.? ;)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I wonder how you would respond to the "argument" laid out in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61Kk7VkoWbc

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Oh, I should have been clearer. We don't teach modern spoken conversation, but we do teach students to write and speak the language, using the vocabulary for literature. Most Latin teachers aren't still using the stuff circa 1900 methods that everyone assumes.

Dr. Terence Tunberg spoke at my university (in Latin) about the benefits of teaching speaking. I was sold then. That being said, we don't speak as often as the Spanish classes, since we are still aiming towards that eventual literature class.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jared.mcka
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Personally, I have always wanted to have both reading and speaking abilities in Latin. Not necessarily just for my schooling but also out of recreation. Maybe that's no longer the popular vote though.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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piguy3, speaking of which, you can see and hear some of the Latin of the clip's poster here in a blog that unfortunately seems to have lasted only a couple of months (the posts by Joseph Conlon). To see the others, change the numeral at the end of the URL. There are only 8 or 9 entries in the blog.

Have you seen this site which just recently came online? Check out [Menu] > Our Lessons > Latine discere aude: Our Method . There are lots of sample "hangouts," which seem to be how he's conducted his lessons, posted on Youtube here, as well as one in the method description, too.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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Really cool! One of my friends (an alum of Dr. Tunberg's program) is trying to start up a year-long Latin immersion program where people (mostly future Latin teachers one assumes) come, work on an organic farm, and live their lives only in Latin.

It is with him that I have had my three days and a half days of formal Latin instruction (enough to get a third of the way through Familia Romana), taught in Latin of course :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Windsaw

That way of teaching Latin is the reason why pretty much every pupil tries to forget everything they have learned once the classes are over. I know where this way of teaching came from but it is wrong, cruel and should be laid to rest and forgotten ASAP.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Read my above post. Don't make any assumptions about how I teach and how much my students forget.

I teach so that my students can read a 2000 year old work and realize that they have more in common with ancient people than they ever realized. I teach so that they realize that "old" doesn't equal bad and that some things are timeless.

Today my students will be speaking only in Latin from bell to bell. We're recapping all the grammar from the unit by using it to describe what is being done, what was being done, and what is finished.

Don't judge my "way of teaching Latin".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Windsaw, again, read my posts. I don't Latin as a stuffy, dead language, the way it was taught a century ago.

I just finished a lesson, with my Latin classes where they showed their understanding of Latin by using it and describing how they used it in Latin. We speak as much Latin as the Italian or Spanish classes here speak their own respective languages.

Please don't assume I teach Latin in an outdated way just because I'm a Latin teacher. I prepare my students to read literature by reading, writing, speaking, and listening. They love the program and love the language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Windsaw

I have read your former post and your current one. The only way that I would find this kind of teaching acceptable would be outside of school but in university.

And I will give you one example why I think that way: I had a lengthy conversation with a old german man. He had english in class for about six years. He said that he is fascinated how much the children of today can speak already after only two or three years. They do not need German during classes anymore by that point. Back then they couldn't do that after five years. I asked him what they did in fifth or sixth grade. He said translating Shakespeare. I further asked him how the teaching was done in general. What he described was pretty much exactly how Latin is still being taught today. Not to be spoken but as a purely literary language. And no: They couldn't properly read Shakespeare after all that time. We, today, in school, mostly could.

I have plenty other examples like these.

So: If you can't speak a language to a certain degree, I wouldn't bother going back to the classics since you will fail. Almost all people will have to chew your way through sentence after sentence and it will usually get them nowhere. Teaching only to read is equivalent to teaching them not to do anything with it.

Now in university, things are different. The motivation of the students is different, their goals are different and they have different experience. But even then my personal feeling is: If they would not be able to converse about the weather, then they have proably done something wrong.

PS: I have done some research on why Latin is treated that way today. It is interesting that the people who introduced that way of teaching are the same that killed Latin as a spoken language and that step was fully intentional. Many of them didn't even want new Latin prose to be written because the classics are all that matters and it would be some kind of blasphemy if you tried to imitate or even outmatch the old masters.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Windsaw

Okay, what you wrote now sounds much, much better. But please understand, the way you wrote about "My students can't converse about the weather" I just had to assume the worst. Especially because it was followed by "but know more about grammar and how that grammar affects how a story is told" since such a focus on grammar is often what causes learners of a language (and Latin in particular) to quit enjoying to learn a language.

This is BTW the gap that Duolingo could fill very well: while Duolingo courses ususally do not explain grammar very well, they offer simple, short and easy practices to get used to the rules.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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800000 children learning trLatin in Germany alone . . .

a sampling, and there's even a German-produced and -accented (but not -translated) Latin recorded version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RSvanKeure

A Latin course in Duolingo would be great! I had it in high school and college and would love to sharpen my skills. I'm working on Vergil's Aeneid, but it's very slow going.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/slogger
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> I'm working on Vergil's Aeneid, but it's very slow going.

You will certainly enjoy reading this blog posting.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/michisjourdi
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If Duolingo added Latin it could end up with so many learners that it might lead to a resurrection. People using it all the time. Maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.

I remember when I first came here and was told that Latin was a "definitely never" because it didn't fit into their translation business model.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Deo.
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It would be awesome especially since many words in English come from Latin it would be easy to understand.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IsakNygren1
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And then the question is which kind of Latin? Classical, Ecclesiastical, Modern etc or what?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Every Latin teacher I've ever met or read about teaches Classical Latin. If you can read Classical, it's a easy to read Medieval. Classical Latin literature is the ultimate goal and even Medieval writers strove to sound like Cicero.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I'm pretty sure they teach ecclesiastical Latin in the local Catholic seminary — surprise, surprise :) This textbook was after all published decades after Wheelock. A few years ago the Vatican's Latinist came for a seminar at the University of Michigan, and at least some of the classical Latin scholars there purported to have difficulty understanding the ecclesiastical version. Don't quite know what to make of this counter-intuitive fact.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Sure, a lot of seminaries teach the ecclesiastical pronunciation, but not all.

When I said teachers I mean middle and high school.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I figured :) Just having a spot of fun. I have heard back from my good Latin teacher (in the K-12 sense) friend. He teaches ecclesiastical. So now you've at least heard of one exception :) He is the Latin teacher for the twice-weekly classes of a Catholic-focused homeschool enrichment program, so obviously one of the most likely environments one could dream up for favoring ecclesiastical usage.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/daughterofAlbion
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Well, some seminaries admit from age 13 - doesn't that equate to your "middle and high school"?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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In English speaking countries, most seminaries start at college age. Even in Catholic high schools, the Classical pronunciation is still common.

It's easier to learn the Classical pronunciation and then ignore vowel length when reading medieval texts than to try to learn vowel length later.

These aren't great differences, but in the end, Virgil doesn't sound right if read with a Medieval accent and Adeste Fidelis sounds strange with a Classical accent.

Vowel length nothing separates an old woman from an anus.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/anus

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/daughterofAlbion
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@DanD8: I wasn't aware that we were restricting the discussion to learning Latin from English! In any case, I have British acquaintances who entered seminaries at 13 and http://www.saintmeinrad.edu/priesthood-formation/frequently-asked-questions/#q7 suggests that it still is possible even on your continent!

That said, I totally concur with your reasoning for starting with the Classical form, them progressing to later versions as a variant - not to mention that mediaeval Latin pronunciation varies by country.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iSamuelHoffman

I study all the kinds of Latin. It's a very amazing language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IsakNygren1
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For a Latin course on Duolingo I think Modern Latin would be the best because then it will be easier to talk about more contemporary things in the modern society.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Neo Latin (or Modern Latin) is the modern use of the language with new words introduced like autoraeda (car) and the T.T.T. (World Wide Web). They would still have to choose between the Classical Latin pronunciation and the Medieval.

They chose Brazilian Portuguese, American English, and Latin American Spanish based on number of speakers and demand. I imagine they would choose Classical Latin, since most Latin programs are geared towards reading reading Classical works.

It wouldn't be hard to include some modern words.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IsakNygren1
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Perhaps, the only thing I know how much it differs is the pronunciation of C when it was pronounced as K in Classical Latin. I guess there are plenty of more things that differs too.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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The big ones are the C, G, V, and the diphthong AE.

Classical Latin has but one pronunciation for C and G, while Medieval Latin follows Italian's lead by having hard and soft versions.

These changes represent a real shift in pronunciation at the end of the Roman period. It frustrates me when people declare one pronunciation wrong and the other right. Both are valid.

This video covers it well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_enn7NIo-S0

NativLang is one of my favorite Latin YouTubers.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IsakNygren1
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Thanks for the info, DanD8.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I think one might reasonably add silent H's and lack of contrastive vowel length to the list.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue
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Good question!

Maybe Duolingo should ask a whole bunch of Latin teachers who would like to use Duolingo for Schools, and ask them which version or combination of versions to use. :)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I suspect that method might beg the question ;)

[which isn't to imply that I think classical isn't a foregone conclusion in any case, despite what the teachers down the hall in the choir room might have to say about it]

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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I teach the Classical pronunciation and our music program occasionally sings Medieval Latin pop songs. The students go through a short adjustment period and usually have no problem juggling the two.

A few of my students only use the Medieval pronunciation and have no problem meshing with the rest of the class.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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"Medieval Latin pop songs" — four words that should be seen together much more frequently! :) Gaudeamus igitur!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ErnstSchmi2

I would like to learn Latin, too!

Best wishes,

Ernst

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Captain_Duo
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hello there!! if you upvote this discussion, and it gets a ton of upvotes, Latin could be considered. here's the link https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1689107

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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The staff isn't interested in upvotes. They have proven it time and time again.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Captain_Duo
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they said if a language discussion is upvoted enough they'll consider it

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DonFiore
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Link, please? It's neither here nor here.

And what would be "enough"? Luis basically refused to acknowledge the popularity of Finnish recently despite the fact that the Finnish request was the third most popular post in Duolingo history (now up to second with over 2100 upvotes).

And adding to that, they have added three languages since the voting Guide was added almost a year ago: High V (literally one request with negative votes), Japanese (very popular but they had already been working on its problems for years) and Haitian (around 60th in votes).

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SnapeC
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Upvoted the discussion, although I also noticed that the post is over three years old!

Agree with Jared in thinking that Latin is useful. Many students learning unrelated subjects such theology and history among others would benefit immensly from even a foundation in Latin.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SprightBark
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Over three years old, but still we have hope!

Anyway, it's number 5 in the all time top posts. Which is, optimistically, a good place for it to be.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salivanto
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I mean, it's taken a few thousand years, what's a few more decades?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Daniel5476

Upvoted it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/memo60710

latin is not dead if it is in your heart ! Vatican City has no formally enacted official language, but, unlike the Holy See which most often uses Latin for the authoritative version of its official documents so it is still alive!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CharleneLe623768

isn't it the mother language of all romance languages? I wonder if that should be taught first before all the others? I think arabic is like that isn't it?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MuqtadirKuchiki

Yes, it is.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpelanam
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Two years ago I started offering unofficial Latin lessons in the Duolingo discussion forum; you can find the directory here. At the time I thought I was only filling 4 months or so until Latin would be added to the incubator. Now the course is at an intermediate level and I can probably keep going for quite some time, with fun sample sentences and basic grammar instruction. Although the forum course is not interactive, the course content is also available on Memrise, vocab and sentences, where it is interactive. I'd invite everyone who wants to learn Latin to come and learn while we wait. And to the powers that be at Duolingo, I will once again point out that Latin is the 4th most studied language in the US, and there is a vast potential market of students who would benefit from Duolingo's support in learning their chosen language.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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I want to thank you for all of your work. Can you post a link to the Memrise courses?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/carpelanam
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Libenter! Hoc feci.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Gratias tibi ago

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/iSamuelHoffman

I've actually been using those lessons, here's a lingot as a thank you for making them!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3
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I like the thematic vocab lists :) Thanks for all your work!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MuqtadirKuchiki

Yes. I mean, if Klingon, High Valyrian and Haitian Creole are in the incubator, why not creating Latin?

1 year ago
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