Let's make the Latin course - Contributors wanted
I see the demand for a Latin course, judging from the amount of forum posts and comments. (I also want to learn Latin, that's how I got here.)
I also see that even though Duolingo did really a lot for us (and I'm grateful for that), they are not responding for Latin initiatives submitted in the incubator.
I propose that as a community effort we make it for ourselves. I imagine Latin teachers and pros making the curriculum, software developers making an app, and any other contributors testing it and adding content. The app would be tailored for the curriculum, not vice versa like in the majority of currently existing apps. (I personally could develop software and administer the project.)
Please, if you in any way support this initiative, comment below with what contribution could you offer. (If this gets significant support, I will connect those who are motivated and we'll start working.)
Edit 2018-08-18: Thank you all for the comments so far. Please also share the purpose for which you'd learn Latin, as we'll need to define a use case to focus on first. (I personally want Latin so I can understand medical and legal terminology easier.)
There actually are tons of Latin resources out there already, they just aren't here on Duolingo. Here's just a few of the ones I've collected:
Unofficial Duolingo Latin course built by carpelanam here!
Lingua Latina per se Illustrata - a book that teaches intuitively, like Duolingo.
https://tinycards.duolingo.com/search?query=latin (Unofficial) Latin on Tinycards, Duolingo's companion site.
https://www.memrise.com/courses/english/latin/ - Latin courses on Memrise.
https://ankiweb.net/shared/decks/latin - Latin decks available on Anki.
https://www.clozemaster.com/languages/learn-latin-from-english - Clozemaster, a language learning game.
https://mangolanguages.com/available-languages/learn-latin/ - Mango, another language learning site.
http://lexicity.com/language/latin/ - An index of resources, courtesy of no.name.42
It's really important that we get this going. It's not clear to my why Duolingo is waiting on this. My Latin is good enough to give some help on the fora, but I'm not in a position to lead on this.
Some people have raised the issue of different kinds of Latin. We shouldn't let this stop us. Every language has a history and a range of dialects. We English speakers manage to deal with national, regional and archaic usages all the time. Latin has actually remained much more unified and stable over time than most other languages. Some of us need Latin to read ancient texts, others will use it in Church. I myself need to do both. The bottom line is that we're all using the same language, and we can learn together. As for pronunciation, Latin has been pronounced in many ways over the centuries, and that's part of its richness. For our purposes, we just need a style that is consistent and teaches the classical length of syllables. People can learn the particular pronunciations that they need to use later: I would just recommend that the course should include some instruction on the most common pronunciation systems in modern usage, so that learners become aware of the diversity early on.
These are different kinds of Portuguese, French and Spanish and they didn't let that stop them.
I agree, that syllable length is an important thing to teach because you have to learn it for each syllable.
There are 2 types of Latin:
Classical Latin Church Latin
Classical Latin is the one that is taught much more. I would be very happy to see a Latin course, and I hope you succeed in making one!
I have been preparing myself to write an application actually. My grammatical knowledge of Latin is really good, but I don't speak it, so I wanted to work on that before applying. But am definitely willing to help!
I took 3 semesters of Latin in university and have my books. I would be glad to help make content.
I would offer recording sentences in a reconstructed Classical Latin pronunciation.
Why would it be reconstructed Classical Latin and not real Latin as spoken today in Vatican?
Because Classical Latin had native speakers and because it had more phonemes.
That means, if you learn the older variant you can just choose to speak/use the modern variant, but if you learn the modern variant you have no clue which vowels were long in Classical Latin and that may impede your word stress.
Basically Allen's description that the Wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latin_spelling_and_pronunciation#cite_note-4) is mainly based on.
I would do some additional reading too.
There's one problem I see that the vocalizations and assimilations of the nasals might confuse learners. But if you don't vocalise /n/ before a fricative then the resulting vowel lengthening doesn't make any sense (trans > trã̄s [the total length of the word remains the same]). One might want to find a compromise.
So you would use voiceless alveolar stops /t/ /d/ instead of voiceless dental stops /t̪/ /d̪/, you would use the opposition voiced : voiceless instead of weak : strong and the opposition between short and long vowels would be based on quality and not quantity?
No, I would use dental stops because they surely go back to PIE (as you can see in the consonant sheet, they are called dentals. IPA ⟨t d⟩ can stand for dentals and alveolars)
The opposition does not seem to have been a pure [voiceless] : [voice] opposition, as you can see in the third note regarding the consonants. Still, I would make sure that I maintain a [voiceless] : [voiced] distinction.
The vowels had both a quality and a quantity distinction. The quality distinction between /ɛ/ : /eː/ and /ɪ/ : /iː/ disappears in the hiat. (The most important thing, though, is that they are distinguished in the first place).
Length must have been more important in Classical Latin making it a quantity language. Long : short vowel, simple consonant : two consonants/geminate.
Latin spoken in the Vatican is not 'real' Latin, it is Church Latin, with many key differences.
I disagree. In what sense is 'church' Latin not 'real'? It is the direct heir of Classical Latin and as real as any Latin there ever was.
Exactly! It is as saying that English is not real because it does not resemble Old English. :)
But English didn't cease to be spoken. English is as real as Italian.
If you picked up Old English now and pronounced it however you liked and made some further changes that would be some kind of strange Neo-Old˗English and not the "real" Old English. (The only difference is that Old English would never be used by as many people as Latin)
Isn't it true that Latin continued being spoken, though? It continued being spoken as a 'native' language throughout Europe with many different systems of pronunciation in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages and then as a 'derived' language in the form of proto-Spanish/French/Romanian/etc. Furthermore, Latin continued to be used as the lingua franca in scholarly discourse (both written and spoken) well into the 19th century. I'm just not sure how valuable it is to set Classical Latin and its pronunciation up as 'gold standard' when, in fact, all it represents is a single and, by the measure of the longevity of Latin itself, temporally small, moment in the history of the language. More was written and spoken in Latin in all walks of life and intellectual endeavour in the post-Classical period than ever was in the Classical period. Maybe that's the leading argument to teach post-Classical Latin as the first experience of Latin?
I'd also add, by the way, that Classical Latin and so-called Church Latin do not really differ as strongly as people think they do/would/should. There were some changes in tense handling in so-called Church Latin and many prepositions lost their connection to single cases (a phenomenon one sees already even in some literary Latin). The biggest difference between Classical Latin and so-called Church Latin is the enormous broadening of the vocabulary of so-called Church Latin, the adoption of specifically Christian concepts and the rejection of pagan ones (and not even then entirely so). The broadening of the vocabulary is only to be expected, though, in a language that kept on living and had to be applicable to new situations that arose (the rise of Scholastic philosophy, current political situations, etc).
Yes, many words of Greek origin were adopted because of the Scripture in Greek (Septuaginta). There were also some spelling changes and some syntax changes.
There are number of people, myself included, who would strongly prefer the ecclesiastical pronunciation be used in recordings. As a singer, I use the Church Latin every week. I just don't know how to translate everything. The reconstructed pronunciation would be worse than useless to me since I'd have to keep the two separate in my mind while learning the vocabulary and grammar. Most people who would want to learn and speak Latin would probably want the church version.
You wouldn't have to use the audio. If there were two contributors, you could possibly choose – though, I personally don't see the need for audio recordings for ecclesiastical Latin.
Yes, I am interested primarily in ecclesiastical pronunciation as well. Is there ever a possibility of having the course, but choosing between the audio pronunciations?
I want this course here on DL!! If some courses like Guarani and Esperanto have had their places, Latin can take also its course!
I mean, there's a BIG difference between Guarani and Esperanto. Guarani is spoken natively or bilingually by 90% of the population of Paraguay, and has about six million speakers. That's comparable to Finnish, the most-demanded of all the languages on the Duo boards (for some reason I don't understand... y'all know there's still no Cantonese or Bengali course, right?).
Also, the fact that the course is Spanish to Guarani is important: Since 2011, there's been a huge push to make sure all Paraguayan officials can speak Guarani as well as Spanish. Also, Guarani has been made the third official language of Mercosur (along with Spanish and Portuguese). So there's a very real need for intuitive learning options.
But Latin without question outperforms Esperanto, High Valyrian, and Klingon in terms of real-world value and importance, so we're in total agreement there. I took two semesters of Latin in college, but have forgotten everything... I would definitely do a Latin course on Duo if one were available.
Learnt Latin at school as part of the first year curriculum. Happy to help.
It is a great idea. The very best of luck! But such projects almost always fail, mostly because there is not "One Ring [leader] to rule them all."
If you would like to learn Latin you would be better off learning it from a book, or an online course, or an e-mail group, or some kind of a class (probably not a college class), because any of those methods will take less time than writing your own course. How you would learn it would depend on how you like to learn. See my comments in What do we think about Latin? for suggestions. I'd be glad to comment more. :)
As I said, good luck!
I'm about to start my third semester of Latin and I probably wouldn't be any help until a couple years from now when I've taken all the Latin courses available to me, but I'd love to have some extra resources on here for practice! Concerning the controversy over pronunciations, I think the project should go with classical reconstructions. I know a lot of people like to argue about which one is correct, but most classicists are pretty consistent on the matter as far as I know. Ecclesiastical pronunciations are pretty easy to pick up if you just listen to some chants and hymns, and they match up with the variations in spelling present in medieval Latin, which shifted around for centuries. Classical Latin is very consistent in its grammar and vocabulary, more so than the forms that arose with church pronunciations, and has been the ideal of most Latin experts throughout history. Because of its consistency, newer forms are fairly easy to read once a student knows classical Latin. However, learning medieval/ecclesiastical Latin can leave several gaps. Just about any Latin course you can find (excluding those in seminary) teaches the classical form, so it only makes sense to teach the generally agreed-upon, corresponding pronunciation. That's my two cents.
Well, well, well.
What I would LOVE to see is an open source clone/competitor of Duolingo. So rich schools could take it in, modify it, use it however they wanted. No so rich schools, could still be using it.
Anyone with a webserver (running the right software) could make a course. More than likely someone would be willing to host quality courses.
That would be a GIANT step two (where Duo was step one).
And a multitude of course would arrise. Not just for English and Spanish, but for all kind of languages.
Conservators and language sages might make courses for dying or dead languages that they find interesting.
The next Zamenhof would make his own language available to the whole world.
I am currently working on a Classical Languages degree (Latin Concentration) and was considering offering to volunteer once it was complete, but if really want my help and really want to get this thing started, then I'd be glad to go ahead and sign on!
"Latin for English Speakers" is now in the incubator: https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/la/en/status
Contribute there if you can!;)
The app/program could be based on Anki which is open source and a really good flash card program.
Something that the finished program should support is typing answers like on the Duolingo web version.
This would create the need for the program allowing a multitude of different word orders without the contributors adding them all manually.
I can't think of any way that I can help but for whatever reason I'm interested if you do do this. I don't have any programming or Latin experience but if you think of another way I can help then I'm in
I'm taking Latin this year. I could give some very basic vocabulary. (It's the Introductory course though. I'm not allowed to take one that's for college credit until next year)
I'm very interested in this. I don't really know any Latin, so I wouldn't be of much use in making the course, but I'd be glad to test it out and report bugs.
More people know Latin than Esperanto, Klingon, or High Valyrian, so there should theoretically be plenty of support.
I have nothing I could contribute to the actual course, but I'd totally be willing to take it once it's finished. Latin sounds super interesting.
I think there should be one Latin course dealing with the Classical Latin and another for a modern times. The former would be based on works of Roman writers, and the latter would be suitable for using Latin nowadays, with words for smartphones, potatoes and train stations. I don't think we should mix these two together.
As far as grammar and syntax go, there's no reason to have two courses: Church Latin is just a subset of Classical Latin with sometimes different vocabulary. The Wikipedia article on Ecclesiastical Latin describes the situation well: "[Ecclesiastical Latin] is distinguished from Classical Latin by some lexical variations, a simplified syntax and a pronunciation that is based on Italian." It says further along in the article: "Written Church Latin does not differ radically from Classical Latin. The study of the language of Cicero and Virgil is adequate to understand Church Latin." With a simplified syntax, Ecclesiastical Latin is basically a subset of Classical Latin.
For a course on Duo, Classical vocabulary could be the basis, and modern words would be used as needed. Nowadays this is often done, if conversation is taught.
A bigger problem would probably be disagreement over pronunciation. As to that, I'd definitely urge the use of a restored pronunciation, although you would disagree.
Agreed, there's no need for two courses. But there's also no need to be precious about only using classical Latin. Let the course teach the whole language, not a single dialect!
Those people who want a course to learn Church Latin should be aware that for fluency they actually need to learn the whole vocabulary of the language and know its development, not least because classical Latin has been revived many times by later writers, especially in the Renaissance period.
that would be great and I could potentially help with some of the easier grammar. (studied Latin in high school and collage but it' been a few years so I"m a bit rusty and my Spanish is interfering with what I remember of Latin). But as great as it would be to have the course to polish up my Latin a bit I don't know how likely Duo is to give us the go ahead and without their permission there's nothing we can do
A Latin course would be a good idea --- it's odd that Duolingo has two fictional languages (Klingon etc.) yet not Latin, when so many of the languages on Duolingo feature Latin roots.