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Dead languages

Is there a chance, in the future, to have dead language courses in Duolingo? Since now we have two fictional languages (Klingon and High Valyrian), I don't see a reason why not to have dead languages as well. Can you imagine? Latin (not a completely dead language, but still...), Ancient Egyptian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Sanskrit, Phoenician, Aramaic, Old English... or even lesser known languages, that are still alive today, like the Mayan and Aztec languages/dialects. That'd be the coolest thing. I love languages. Still waiting for the Arabic, Mongolian, Scottish Gaelic and Xhosa courses! Someday, maybe... who knows?

October 3, 2018



I think the main reason we don't see these courses is because people just aren't taking the time to contribute to them. I'm studying latin in school right now, and would love some on Duolingo, but I'm hardly an expert at it. Very few people that are experts in dead languages such as the ones you mentioned will take the time to contribute to new courses for them.


People have been offering their services for a Duolingo Latin course for several years. One of them was a recently retired professor of Latin -- an ideal course contributor in terms of language expertise, available time, and pedagogical experience. Another was fluent in spoken Latin, having attended an Italian school where (very unusually) Latin was actually taught and used as an everyday language.

Just as with Finnish, there's no shortage of willing and qualified volunteers. The bottleneck is entirely on Duolingo's side.



That is absolutely sad. I would understand if Duolingo was concerned in only teaching languages that are still alive, official languages of current nations... but after Klingon and High Valyrian came up I got confused. Latin should have much more priority...


But think of all of the new users that got hooked with Klingon and High Valyrian that wouldn't have come on otherwise.


And wonder how many stayed.


I don't get why the down votes. I like your comment, so here, have a lingot!


The lingot didn't seem to get added, but my positive thoughts go with you!


I see, you're right. I wish I knew how to start a course to contribute to. I mean, I've seen the list of courses at the incubator that we can contribute, but I don't think we can add new languages there, just contribute to the ones that are already there... sadly.


I'd like to see Dalmatian, Gothic, Norn, or Shasta.

Actually, what I'd really like to see is more user control over course creation. Instead of asking the high council to approve a course, I'd love to see a group of people be able to start working on any course in the background, and once its near a beta stage it can go to the powers that be to verify everything is in order and to make server space for it. If they had a donation system for less popular, dying, or extinct languages, I'd contribute to help for their maintenance costs, as I'm sure many others would.


It would be interesting to have a (Modern) Hebrew -> Biblical Hebrew course.


Isn't the problem one of finding native speakers of dead languages who are: 1. alive; 2. bilingual in the teaching language?


Well, there are many enthusiasts and students of dead languages out there! They may not be native, but they can reach an advanced level in those languages. Some egyptologists can read and understand Ancient Egyptian. There are dictionaries of Aramaic, Assyrian, Old English, Old Norse... Ancient Greek is one of the most common dead languages out there, along with Latin. They have a lot of information and data. Of course, we can't know for sure the correct pronunciation of the past, but we can still learn how to read, write and gain all the vocabulary and grammar known! I think that's so cool...


Isn't the problem one of finding native speakers . . . ?

It might be, if no people who can speak these languages had ever applied to Duolingo to develop a course. But pont's comment elsewhere in this discussion states the situation accurately.

There are people who do speak these "dead" languages, especially Latin, Sanskrit, and Ancient Greek, who would be quite capable of developing such a course. For instance, see my comment in this Latin discussion for plenty of examples, or carpelanam's commment here about Latin. And there are audio courses from Assimi, a French publisher, for Middle (Ancient) Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Latin and Sanskrit, although, basically, you must know French for these courses. (For each language, partway down the page is audio consisting of 3 lessons from the course, the first, a lesson halfway through, and the last.)

All these demonstrate that such courses can be made nowadays.


Latin is a good example. I learned to pronounce Latin in several different ways, depending on the context. I'm sure I could learn to read and write it. I'm wondering about every-day, man-in-the-street, mother-to-child language though. Do we know how Roman moms talked to their children in the 1st century, for example? Or common expressions in the vernacular? Slang from different parts of the empire? All that stuff?


Well, I recall reading about a few letters that were found from Ancient Egypt, familiar ones. Simple texts from simple people to their families. That gives us an idea to reconstruct their way of thinking, speaking and acting. Also, Archaeology helps a lot with their daily lives. Language goes hand in hand with Archaeology, Culture and History. At least, it should go. That's why it's so fascinating! ahahhaa


This question is asked often. Here is a discussion from earlier this week that lays out what anyone on the forums (who is saying, at least) knows about it.


Thank you, I'll check it out!


You're welcome. The discussion and its links are about Latin, by and large, as Latin is requested most often by far. The basic message is: no one seems to know what Duo will do, and it's been like this for years.

FWIW, my advice (you will see) is that if you would like to learn Latin or any other of the Ancient (or other) languages you mentioned anytime soon, don't wait for a Duolingo course. There is enough good material elsewhere that you could start today, should you like.

Over the years there has been plenty of discussion of online resources for learning Latin, and to a lesser extent Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, etc. If you want links to some (more) of those, or simply suggestions for useful material, ask.

How good is your French, by the way? There are some audio-with-text courses available from Assimil you could use, if you like their method.

[Added] See my comment, w/ links, to Spanishlea27779.


Hey, thank you for your support! I've been studying Ancient Egyptian through Egyptology books and articles. It's given me a nice basis, I just have to practice more. I have books that teach Latin and Ancient Greek as well. Even a Medieval Portuguese dictionary. There are also native teachers that can help on italki.com. I had a class with a Greek teacher that taught me the ancient pronunciation of the alphabet. It was really cool. I was just wondering about Duolingo because I really like its method... but well... my French is still not very good. I can give it a try, though, and learn both languages at once ahahahhaha


You're welcome. Forgive me for answering so late. You might find some of the books here good for Egyptian. (What I do w/ this site is treat it as a "lending library" and if a books seems good buy it elsewhere. Some of the Egyptian books would be rather expensive, but if you'll spend 3 months to a year using a book, a high price can be affordable.) Also, look at lexicity for Egyptian and most of the "dead" languages you might want to study.

Egyptian would be so cool to learn! After Latin and Ancient Greek, maybe . . .

FWIW, there's an amusing kids' book from the 1930's about ancient Egypt translated from French into Latin. It starts out: "Amicus meus Brocartius est Egyptologus. Iam a puero hieroglyphis captus est atque huic amori tota eius vita est dicata." (My friend Brocartius is an Egyptologist. From boyhood he was captivated by hieroglyphics, and all of his life has been dedicated to this love.) Its title, translated into English, which the book never was, is Makita: or the Story of a Mouse in the Time of the Pharaohs, by J. Capart.)

[Added] You can find a brief review of the kids' book I mentioned here. As far as I know, however, the Latin translation is also out of print, so the French original may be easier to find.


I hope that your wish come true even if I'm not a huge fan of latin, having more languages on Duolingo is essential so people can have more choices and definitely expand their knowledge and maybe fall in love with a language.

I really want to see a sign languages course here but I don't think it will come out.


wow i like languages too and i am an arabic native speaker i may help you in arabic


Yes i want Latin to be offered


I'd be soooo down for that. I've always wanted to learn Ancient Egyptian especially


There are textbooks available, usually for Middle Egyptian. Also, there's an audio/text course in French from Assimil. All the more reason to learn French. :)


Yes! I would love this! I want to learn Latin and Ancient Egyptian so badly.


Me too. I already know a little of both but would really like to learn more. There are some good books out on ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphics just for the record, though I'm not aware of an online course at the moment.

[deactivated user]

    Latin and Egyptian, yes, me too!


    Can somebody explain me difference between Assyrian and Aramaic?


    Depends on what you are talking about Modern Assyrian is a dialect ( and one of the literary standards) of Modern Aramaic. Ancient Assyrian is entirely different language from Ancient Aramaic ( and both had some very distinctive variants)/


    Assyrian was the language spoken in the Assyrian Empire, in Mesopotamia, where now is Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia... Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus! I guess that's an easy way to remember it ahahaha but pilpilon's answer was very good!


    Yes! I really want to learn Latin!


    I would love to refresh my Latin from university!


    I’m part Italian And part native American That why I’m here to Learn Italian Also love this site


    As someone currently studying Latin at university, si Duolingua linguam latinam obtenit tum multus felix ero! Amabimus te Duo!


    Mayan and Aztec languages aren't dead, they simply aren't spoken that much other than outside of Mexico where I'm from. I agree that possibly sometime in the future to create a course or two on a dead language.


    I would love to see a Latin course, I have studied ? Romance languages, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese, Catalan and Romanian (I have a good grip on two of them and a good start in another) and it would be nice to have a go at the language from which the originated.
    Ancient Greek would also be an interesting language to have on Duolingo.
    I'm sure there are plenty of fluent speakers of these languages who would love to build a course on Duolingo to make it easier for others to learn these fascinating tongues.


    Having graduated from Jesuit prep school and university, I had to study Latin for 6 years. IMO 2 years would have sufficed because it's a dead language spoken no where. Sure, it's the root language of a host of modern languages, but so is Ancient Greek which I also studied for 2 years. In this age where more and more communication is done over new devices, I am content to perfect my native English, as well as German and basic French. De gustibus non est disputandem.


    [Latin] . . . it's a dead language spoken no where . . .

    Not so, nowadays. see the links in my comment here, and I'd be happy to add more.


    Domine, lingua latinae est lingua potenta et cum lingua alia iuvat.


    The Arabic language could never be dead ! it still getting a high grammatical level and it spreading now , especially for business or for oriental culturelle studies.


    I didn't mean to say Arabic was a dead language! I'm sorry! I know it's widely spoken in many countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq etc. What I meant to say was: it's one of the language courses I'm looking forward to! Along with Mongolian and Xhosa, which are also not dead. Scottish Gaelic is dying, unfortunately :(


    if they ever do a latin course i hope the give us a choice in pronunciation systems and don't just use the reconstructed pronunciation.


    A whole bunch of us have been asking for Latin for a long time now... All we can do is hope I guess...


    I am also waiting for Arabic to be added ... I see all sorts of dates of when it will be available. The last I saw was Dec 1, 2018.


    hello i am an arabic native speaker and i can help you in arabic


    I would love Latin and Ancient Egyptian. I especially like learning Hieroglyphics


    Ditto. I would too. I know a little of both and would love to learn more. As I mentioned above, it's not the same as a course, but there are a few good books on reading hieroglyphics out there. https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_12?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=egyptian+hieroglyphics+for+complete+beginners&sprefix=egyptian+hie%2Caps%2C222&crid=2SI4PSHVL9E06




    This would be pretty good! I would love to learn latin.


    The problem with dead languages is that no one uses them any more. that's the reason why they went dead in the first place. So even if you take time to learn one you probably will not find much use to it and if you don't use it you loose it! the only reason to keep a language alive tight now probably would be for scientific and research purposes. But in my opinion it would be great to keep all languages alive. I'm not in favor of one language trend that the world is going right now. Whenever a language goes down a culture goes down with it. It would be great if duolingo community could do something! you know what i'm saying. I'm kindda tired of always waiting for governments to do something. https://languyesh.ir/%d8%a7%d9%86%d8%aa%d8%ae%d8%a7%d8%a8-%d8%a8%d9%87%d8%aa%d8%b1%db%8c%d9%86-%d8%b2%d8%a8%d8%a7%d9%86-%db%8c%d8%a7%d8%af%da%af%db%8c%d8%b1%db%8c-%d8%a7%d9%86%da%af%d9%84%db%8c%d8%b3%db%8c/


    Scottish Gaelic needs to be a thing. Arabic is in the works now. YAY. But I'd love to learn Ancient Egyptian, and Aramaic.


    Yes I agree with PatFagundes. I am particularly waiting for Igbo language.


    I really want a old english course


    looking fwd to Latin lessons soon , would be cool to have something like nahuatl too

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