Would you like to see Ancient Greek and/or other dead languages on Duolingo?
With Latin coming very soon to Duolingo, I would like to hear people's opinions on adding more dead/extinct languages in the future. Do you think it's a good idea? Why or why not? Are you interested in learning some dead language yourself? Which one? What's your motivation?
Personally, I am interested in Latin and Ancient Greek. I actually tried to self-study each of them over a decade ago, when I was still a teenager. Unfortunately, I gave up very soon (just about after the first 5-10 chapters of the textbook, I had no persistence back then) but I regret it and they both remain high on my language list. So I am glad Latin is coming to Duolingo and I hope for Ancient Greek to be added in the future (yes, I know it's not coming anytime soon). And yes, I am aware there are other learning resources, but the Duolingo system suits me very well so it would be great to have this option, too.
Generally speaking, I would like to see as many languages as possible on Duolingo, including the dead/extinct ones, even when I may not be interested in learning the language myself.
I'm sure many people are going to say things like "what's the point of learning a dead language, no one actually speaks it, it's useless, what a waste of time". Well, I beg to differ. "Usefulness" isn't the only reason to learn a foreign language. And in my opinion it's not the most important one either. People learn languages for many different personal reasons - they want to learn the native language of their ancestors, they want to re-read their favorite books in original, they want to read books and watch films that haven't been translated/dubbed/subtitled into their native language, they are interested in a specific country or culture, or they may simply find some language appealing without even knowing why (this happened to me with Spanish). All these reasons are completely valid.
I think it would be great to add Ancient Greek, and maybe Sanskrit, and Old Norse, Old English, etc., etc.
We'll see how good the Latin course turns out to be, and how people take to it, I guess. IMHO there's no reason why courses for such languages shouldn't be as good as or better than courses for Russian, Ukrainian, Czech, Polish, etc.
It would be fun, but I'm not sure how realistic. We have a pretty limited corpus of Anglo Saxon works. There's a clear north/south divide, with the north being, I think, the more prestige dialect. Very limited for the purer period, before the Viking invasions. After that, there's a simplification of the inflections, and a growth of more positional grammar. English was in a pretty much constant flux from 800-1400. (At least, this is what I remember from a 'development of English' class from 28 years ago!).
This is a language probably best learned in a classroom where the sources can be discussed in depth, in their historical context. Any duolingo course would probably be highly artificial. Our sources are too few and spread over too big a period of linguistic change.
That said, I would mind a mini-course gamification to just learn to read Beowulf!
I agree! I have been studying Latin (not on Duolingo) for a while. Duolingo has quite a few Latin-based languages anyway, so I think it would be really interesting to add Ancient Greek, especially as they have Modern Greek. It would also be very interesting to compare both Ancient and Modern Greek to see how the language has evolved and changed. I think Old English would also be quite interesting.
But let's take our time, see how the Latin course turns out and then if it's successful, Duolingo can (maybe) start adding more older languages!
I am familiar with classical Greek, Koine and modern, and I can tell you that many words are the same or similar and there is a continuity present AND it is still in use. You can't say the same for languages such Latin, Hurrian, Akaddian, Egyptian/Coptic, etc.
And if an ancient classical Greek speaker were to be transported to modern Greece, they could read the signs and get around. Conversation would be challenging, but after learning modern words for things invented since the ancient days (like car, TV, radio, etc), there would be a good sense of understanding, even though the grammar has changed to a degree.
One correction: Latin has been used continuously by the Catholic Church up to today. In the Vatican and in the thousands of churches around the world where the Traditional Latin Mass is still celebrated (and which is now becoming more popular again). Pope Francis even has a Latin Twitter Feed. Granted, the church uses the Ecclesiastical pronunciation and vocabulary, which is more in line with Vulgar Latin (the Latin spoken by the common people not the elite). And it is the Vulgar Latin, not the Classical, that morphed into the Romance languages.
Restored Classical Latin (and its vocabulary and unique pronunciation) is fantastic and necessary to read many of the great historical works, but it is only known to have been in use from roughly 100 BC at the earliest until around 50 AD. So it is not the be all and end all of the way Latin was spoken throughout history, even by the learned.
That being said, I think the differences between Classical and Ecclesiastical are often overstated.
What is your point, exactly?
It is true that some people will support pronouncing ancient Greek with a "restored" pronunciation, and others will support pronouncing it as modern Greek is pronounced, and yet others, maybe, in a sort of middle, "Koiné," pronunciation. But that is simply a detail and has no bearing on whether the language should be offered or not, does it? The dialect of ancient Greek--Epic, Ionic, Attic, Koiné, whatever--will be in question too.
Any of these older languages would be so cool, you're right! But how many more, if any, Duolingo would be willing to develop ...
It is mostly the American Protestant tradition that teaches its clergy what they call an Erasmasian pronunciation of Koine Greek-- which was never used outside of their classrooms.
However, Greek Orthodox Christians all over the world read Koine Greek with a modern pronunciation. It is preferred in European Protestant Christian classes as well. And it makes more sense to use the modern pronunciation with Koine if you are going to create modules.
As a Greek I have to say that we use the same pronunciation for modern and ancient greeks. It would be a torture to ask people to learn to pronounce the same word in two different ways. Par example, the ancient greek phrase "Εγώ ειμί καλός και αγαθός" in modern greek is "Εγώ είμαι καλός και αγαθός" (I am beautiful and good). Almost same words, different pronunciation. I am realistic, so I recognize the fact that after 2500 years the pronunciation must have changed dramatically, as in every single language, but it is too difficult for me to pronounce the same word in two different ways. Moreover, nobody can be sure how the ancient Greeks used to pronounce the letters and the words. We have some clues but nothing sure. So we have chosen the only one we know best, modern greek pronunciation.
So, for the relatively few Greeks in the world, you would have everyone else learn a pronunciation that cannot be understood accurately by ear?
To quote a Wikipedia article, "In Modern Greek the letters and digraphs ι, ει, η, υ, υι (rare), οι, are all pronounced [i]." That is, they all represent the sound of "ee" in English "see." They all sound the same. This is not to mention the changes in some of the consonants. How would one be able to tell words apart, listening to them pronounced as in modern Greek?
For instance the ancient Greek pronouns meaning "we" and "you" (plural)--ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς, respectively--although spelled differently both sound the same in modern Greek pronunciation, so that Greek now uses a different pronoun for "you." But the two now-like-sounding pronouns were used in Ancient Greek because they were pronounced differently from each other then. In fact, in ancient manuscripts, which were written later than the texts they contain, there are instances where the scribes, themselves, confused these, because pronunciation had changed to be more like Modern Greek, by the time the texts were copied.
Although, unless some sort of time machine were invented, we can't be absolutely sure of how ancient Greek was pronounced, we can come close, with a pronunciation that allows one spelling for each sound and that is MUCH closer than is modern Greek pronunciation. There is no comparison between the two for people learning the language from the beginning.
The phenomenon of different combinations of letters being pronounced the same way is not unique to the Greek language.
People learn English all the time and yet:
there, their, they're
and countless more.
Another interesting phenomenon is when the same combination of letters can be pronounced in more than one ways. This occurs in English:
live read lead close
The latter does not occur in Greek. Therefore, once one learns how to read (modern) Greek, one can pronounce any written word even if they've never heard it before.
English has nothing to do with this, and you did not directly address what I said about Greek.
... once one learns how to read (modern) Greek, one can pronounce any written word even if they've never heard it before.
Certainly any word can be pronounced with the modern Greek pronunciation. But will it be understood when heard? Or will it be confused with another word because the two are now pronounced the same in Greek, although they were not originally?
Again: why use a pronunciation that causes words to be confused when there is a perfectly viable way to pronounce the language--a way that is closer to the original--that does not cause confusion? You still have not addressed that question. Please don't go off on tangents about English.
Not understanding something because of pronounciation is not a real thing in greek. There is nothing that gets pronounced two ways and in the really rare chance that two different words sounds hte same you can always tell the meaning from th context. In your example ἡμεῖς and ὑμεῖς even if we pronounce it the same you can tell if it's we or you by the verb that follows.
As one who has casually learned Koine at different times, yes, this would be very helpful.
Personally, I dont see why not. Aslong as enough of the dead language still exists to be taught properly (I suspect some of them might have not just lost their native speakers, but written accounts of grammar and vocab) and enough people fluent enough can be locked into a room to make the course here.
And as someone who has spent an unhealthy amount of time learning Esperanto, some people just want to learn for the fun of it, regardless of the practicality. I have zero need for latin, but I will atleast be trying it when it launches.
Both High Valyrian and Klingon have a high number of active learners but few people get to the end of the course. A lot of people just have the Klingon badge in their profile to show they are trekkies. I'm totally in favour of having all 7000 languages available and many conlangs, artlangs and ancient languages, I'm just saying there is a cost for the site to keep these courses running and maybe there is no demand for them. I'm going to do the Latin course and I did some of the Esperanto course but then I took it out.
I have always wanted to learn Latin, Ancient Greek, Ancient Persian and Sanskrit simultaneously, the four pillars of modern Indo-European language group. This can give the learner a great window into the entire spectrum, and I suspect they will be relatively easier learning side-by-side.
Good insight pointing out that classical language "quad," if you will. Of course of the four, only Ancient Greek and Ancient Persian would have direct modern descendants. As for a course for the latter, it's hard enough getting a modern Farsi one going, despite ready volunteers and expressed demand for it.
In any case, being that Sanskrit and more-or-less Islamic Persian would be the "parents," if I may, of Hindustani/Hindi-Urdu, I would especially like to see courses for both of them.
I am always in favour of seeing a new language added on Duolingo whether it's an existing language, or something endangered, or reviving a language that is (seemingly) extinct. Though I personally wouldn't use an extinct language, I think people who work as archaeologists and historians would benefit, allowing the rest of the world to find out what they've discovered from old texts.
That said, there would have to be a team of people willing to donate a lot of time to reconstruct the language and format it in such a way for learning. Then there is the maintenance needed for the course.
When I first used Duolingo I remember seeing a topic from a Duolingo staff member who put out a call for those who were interested in contributing to any rare languages. This was an indication that they are certainly willing to include just about anything!
I don't know how the creators and contributors do it all, but it's amazing how they can come together to upload a course for the world to learn.
The Coast Salish Tribal group of the Pacific Northwest features a trading language known as Lushootseed. It has a dictionary, college sponsored courses and a long tradition. It's domain spans the waterways and coasts of Washington State as well as most of Southern British Columbia. It was not a written language so it is entirely represented by phonetic Western lettering. It's spoken by many of my relatives but it is a risk of dying out with the elder generation. More than 100k younger natives would join up over night. It would be the talk of tribal gatherings for years to come if it were available through Duolingo to be transmitted to a younger generation.
I love the idea of learning ancient languages! I learned Latin in school and can definitely testify to its usefulness. it doesn't have to be spoken in everyday conversation. Learning Latin helped me understand grammatical structures (something I never really got in English), and made it easier for me to learn Romance languages as well. And either way, whether it's something you use in daily life or not, I've seen a lot of people interested in learning ancient languages.
A widely accepted theory says that Greek is a continuum that is there was no interrupt in Greek. So Modern Greek can be used as a buffer language. The same can be accepted for Italian with Latin, even though Sardenian dialect is the closest ancestor to Latin. It is sure that Modern Greek is the only ancestor of Ancient Greek. As soon as Latin launches it would be a pleasure to start a course. I already know much Italian and Spanish so it would be easy. Latin is more compound than the modern Romance languages. The same is valid for Greek. Ancient Greek is so. But if you know some modern Greek Ancient Greek has the same alphabet and some forms are the same. You can understand easily a lot of expressions. Specially those of Ancient Koene.
I wish it could be done soon. Even it didn't start yet.
Not a dead language, but I'd be interested in Yiddish. As far as Biblical Hebrew, maybe a few lessons highlighting the differences between Modern and Biblical, added to the Modern Hebrew course, would be interesting. There are lots of Biblical words we really don't know the meaning of. Even some of the grammar is unclear in intent.
Prakrit, Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Latin, Scots. Please for the love of god give us dead languages, People need this for intellectual purposes. Just for that reason it is objectively extremely important that they are added, we also need Icelandic, and Estonian, Slovenian, Slovak, This should not be up for debate, Duolingo is a great way to learn, Its helped me alot, and its fun. somebody needs to give these fools a grant, to get these languages quicker, I see others requesting Old English and Old Norse, that would be nice, But please give us everything else i just said plus Scots Gaelic, Urdu, Basque, Finnish*, and Persian. Please.
Aramaic. Aramaic rose to prominence under the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–605 BC), under whose influence Aramaic became a prestige language, and its use spread throughout most of Mesopotamia and the Levant. At its height, spoken in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Eastern Arabia, northern Arabia, southeastern and south central Turkey, and parts of northwest Iran. Aramaic was the language of Jesus, who spoke the Galilean dialect during his public ministry, as well as the language of large sections of the biblical books of Daniel and Ezra, and also one of the languages of the Talmud. (info from Wiki)
I studied Aramaic in university (along with Hebrew). One day, one of my fellow students told us how she had helped a lady fix a flat tyre (of her bike). The lady spoke to her little son in a language that sounded like Hebrew but wasn't. So she asked the lady what language she was speaking. She explained that she was originally from this little village in the Middle East where they still spoke Aramaic. So, at least back in the 80's Aramaic was still spoken by some people.
Depending on how you look at it, Aramaic isn't entirely dead.
I had a close friend who studied classical Greek in college--this was more than 30 years, at UTexas, mostly under the legendary professor Douglass Parker--who used to say he couldn't stand reading Biblical Greek, because it was so simplified and uninteresting.
He used to mention odd things he encountered, like a verb in an Aristophanes play (LOTS of studying Aristophanes, because Parker, of course) that looked like "to radish", that upon looking up in Liddell & Scott, meant to insert a radish in someone's rectum as a punishment for adultery.
About 25 years ago I did too, really enjoyed it, and read Koiné Greek for a couple of years--but ran out of things I really wanted to read, and stopped after changing jobs. Not that my work had anything to do w/ Greek, but "life got in the way," especially as I had not yet tried to make the transition to Attic or Ionic or Epic Greek, which I figured would be more interesting. And now it's all to be learned again. :( Still I plan to get back to it after improving my Latin. W/ the Internet thriving, I could actually interact with people who are interested in Ancient Greek. What a concept! What a difference that will make! I hope.
→ → What book did you learn it from? I used Machen's New Testament Greek for Beginners--very old fashioned and clunky, but I truly love the book, seeing as it worked perfectly for me.
In fact I was just looking at it yesterday, drawing up a spreadsheet to compare how the Russian translation (which I have) changed the presentation of the language to suit Russians, who are plenty used to declining nouns, etc., but not at all used to complex verb conjugations. Now that I'm done with Duo for today, I'll get back to it.
Even on the grounds of usefulness, it's not the case that someone who'd just speak the language as a tourist or in the occasional encounter with a native speaker has more use for it than an academic who might well use an ancient language every single day for their work. I think it actually happens far more often than with ancient languages that people start learning living ones with no clear idea how they'll use them - and vague ideas about it being maybe neat to be able to speak another language are not that. Even ideas about making friends from other cultures beg the question about what they're expecting to be different -native English speakers already have lots of people they could hypothetically be friends with but aren't, including many many non-native English speakers-, and statements about liking the culture are often equally vague or downright stereotypical. I don't think 'I love the food' is a more practical reason to learn Italian than 'I just want to read that one thing Tactitus wrote in the original' is for Latin. 'I specifically want to study cookery at this place in Italy' on the other hand, is one of those more considered reasons. Usually the people who imagine speaking, which tends to be envisaged on a basic level, as the automatic focus of language learning don't seem to have gone very deep into a language and culture or imagine doing so, which is after all harder to do without reading.
I'd be interested in Old French, though for me, think it would be easier from French than English. If I go ahead and try Latin, when I make my own Anki flashcard deck I'll use a Latin-French dictionary, then I have more continuity between the three. Medievalists have a lot of use for these languages.
(in re Latin-French dictionaries, see this lexilogos page. Actually, there is a HUGE amount of material online in French concerning Latin, and even a classic Assimil course available. At the link above, click on "Dictionnaire" on the upper right, and you'll find materials from many languages from French, including grec ancien.
You can learn some basics in David Silverman's free course here: https://www.coursera.org/learn/wonders-ancient-egypt/
A good place to start with ancient, dead or classical languages would be languages that are still used in liturgical and/or religious contexts. Sanskrit, Pali, Koine, Hebrew, Old Church Slavonic, and Classical Arabic all have people who are knowledge about them and would be available to work on the courses.
I would love for this to happen. I have interest in widely spoken languages like Spanish, Japanese, French but i also have interest in small languages like Xhosa and Navajo, and i have interest in Latin. I'd love to see more endangered and dead languages on Duo (although i'm guessing not many people are interested in dead languages other than Latin and Ancient greek)
I would love ancient and dead languages! Ancient Greek is almost as influential as Latin, and I would love it, but I don’t really like learning new alphabets, I find it very confusing. There wouldn’t be too many ancient languages where we know them very well, we wouldn’t have a clue how to do an ancient Mesopotamian language course.
I’d love every language on Duolingo, the more the better! Even for future purposes, having them here would be great because they’re here whenever I need them. Maybe Duolingo will help languages survive!
Exactly. You have my uttermost support. Duolingo should get more financial support though. I love that it's free, but the more they add the more servers and stuff they need.
I still want it to be free and not completely stuck between ads. ... I wonder how this whole thing figures out
I would also be very interested in Ainu! :3 I love the fact that Latin is getting released in maybe half a year or so, as Latin and Ancient Greek are both languages which dominated developments and all the other things in Europe for centuries.
I would also like some old Germanic languages and further on I definitely support your suggestion!
Norse and Anglo-English would also be great to see. It would be interesting to see the commons between those languages and German.
Overall you can say that I am a language lover and nearly love any language, the old ones a little more than the modern ones, if the modern are too different from the old ones. I am a History-Geek and therefor just crazy about anything in between.
Yes. I'd truly welcome dead languages in DL. It's just another part of our cultural heritage.
Plenty of them: Ancient Greek, Sumerian, Akkadian, Ancient Egyptian, Sanskrit, Classical Nahuatl, Classical Maya, Etruscan, Lydian, Hittite, Old Norse, Old Prussian, Old English, Dalmatian... So many actually...
The high number of upvotes, comments and awarded lingots answer the general title question resoundly in the affirmative!
For what qualified answers contribute to the overall discussion, I think that besides Latin, other major "zombie" languages, to name dead but still-used ones, including Sanskrit, should be taught on DL, given their historical and cultural significance.
However, let's not forget the need for nearly dead major languages to be taught by the Owl. Can I get witnesses for Aramaic in particular?
I was going to make a case for the fairly recently departed Chagatai here, but it ended up being so long that I decided to make it a separate title post instead. Alas, wouldn't you know, after pouring so much time and energy into the pitch, it's been downvoted multiple times already for God knows whatever uncommented reasons! :-( If I may provide the link and ask any readers thumbing down there (or here) to explain their reasons: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/33830644
In an case, thank you, HawwahResurgam, for giving so much food for thought! I agree with the point that an excessive focus on “usefulness” or mundane practicality in language study (or any other endeavor, for that matter) limits one's horizons and worldview.
I also read it and upvoted it.
Why is it downvoted? I guess it is the usual mix of cherised but misplaced and mostly useless control by DL believing the downvoting system fights trolls and other monsters and general ignorance/tiredness experienced by a tiny bunch of Duolingers who have been honoured with the sacred power to bury anything they don't like or approve of whatever that might be.
Thanks so much for your interesting post on Chagatai.
I am looking forward to the Latin course. Ancient Greek would be great. I had not thought of an Old English course before - but that would be useful. The literature of these languages is very much alive in translation. It would be good to have a bit of the original languare. Latin is a good place to start.
I would be glad to see a course on Ancient Greek added to Duolingo, and one on Sanskrit as well... Perhaps even more ancient Asian languages such as Classical Chinese, Old Korean, and Old Japanese? I am currently learning Latin, Ancient Greek and Anglo-Saxon in college and would like to dabble in antique languages that belong to other parts of the world.
It's hard to say that there's any language they "shouldn't" add, especially if we assume that adding one language isn't at the expense of adding others. How "valuable" a language is has more to do with the desires of the prospective student than even the characteristics of the language itself. Everyone has different languages they want to see added, and different languages are valuable for different reasons. So while I might not find dead languages particularly practical or useful, especially given the speculatory nature of many reconstructions, I'd be reluctant to say they shouldn't be on Duolingo (assuming, of course, that their presence doesn't stifle out the presence of other languages).
Yes! First of all, it would be so cool to know how to speak Ancient Greek! Even if no one speaks it, just being able to show off that you can would be awesome. Secondly, knowing dead languages would give you an appreciation of other languages, and you would see where words in English come from. I think it would be an amazing thing to learn because it would bring us back to our roots.
Yes I think it would be very great to have latin and even greek on duolingo. I am a latin teacher. And we teach this langage in my school as a living tongue. Duolingo would provide a big help to children.
The benefit of learning latin as a living tongue is that it is easier to learn because it follows the natural way of learning. The appropriation of words, grammatical strutures is much easier.
Plurimas ergo gratias ago his de rebus. Valeteque !
There was a reason we used to teach the Classics in schools, and it wasn't so we'd be able to order a latte in the Vatican twenty years later. Anyone that stuffily asks what the point is of learning a "dead" language is going to have a hecking surprise when they see two made-up languages sitting proudly in the middle of the list with more Duolingo learners than half the real ones XD
I know a little bit of Latin already, but I don't really know anything that would help me speak Latin except for salve, frater, soror, mater, and pater (Hello, brother, sister, mother, and father). I do want to learn more Latin and also I want to learn Old Norse. I think adding older languages could help people learn other more modern languages. Latin can help you learn all the Romance Languages.
Except for moderately mainstream dead languages, like Latin, the body of people who fluently read and understand them will probably be limited to faculty at universities. They'll probably be associate, non-tenured staff because these aren't prestige positions for most schools these days. Low pay, lots of teaching hours, and a desperate desire to get tenure.
The language develop process on Duo is solely volunteer, correct? I mean, they don't receive any compensation for their efforts. Like, none. The process involves spending a substantial amount of their free time for months on end developing and maintaining the language.
There are people that have that kind of motivation to do a lot of work for free, for the fulfillment of it, but they're relatively few.
As many as they can roll out. I used to only know a bit of German as my mom and dad were stationed in Germany, but have come to love piecing together multiple languages and how they relate to each other. I am highly anticipating have a butt-load of fun learning Latin and hope to see Old German, Old English, Old Norse, Old yadda yadda and so forth and see how they were pronounced. I understand you can only do so much at a time, but let's get this party started!
I think that it is a great idea to look at adding languages that are either extinct or in danger of going extinct. Latin and Ancient Greek are two obvious candidates, for which there are lots of resources. But there are currently 7000 languages spoken and many of them are in danger of becoming extinct. It might make sense to try to preserve these languages in a resource such as Duolingo for posterity, including the written and spoken word(s) as well as the grammar.
I agree. That's the sad reality.
And sadly again, most of the available information on, about and of endangered languages is horribly difficult to access due to the usual socio-economical momentum that acts like a persistent brake/break. The internet has the potential to greatly help both scientifically and socially with this but when almost everything is business, reality, apparently, disolves... Only a paradigm change about our own perception would make possible to successfully salvage an important chunk of the flotsam of the worldwide cultural wreckage we are becoming.
For sure! I'm study Languages at University and I've been having Ancient Greek classes since April. It's really challenging and I wouldn't imagine myself studying it on my own, as resources out there aren't really well suited for my learning style. I enjoy Duolingo system very much and I would be so happy to see it included here, so I could boost my studies while having a lot of fun reading some Ancient Greek literature!
I would like to see Latin, Ancient Greek and Biblical Hebrew on Duolingo. Though there might have to be a different learning structure for these languages, maybe Latin will provide a template that other ancient languages will be able to follow. I'm not against any other ancient languages, but in practical terms you need a dedicated team of people to set up a language on Duolingo. In order to have a realistic chance of offering a language you need people who know that language to be active on Duolingo. At the moment Duolingo is still a strongly English based learning platform. If more people from other languages and cultures become more involved in the decision making, people who do not speak English, then it will become a more global learning platform, and as well as being more open to all it will benefit from the huge reserves of knowledge and scholarship in the rest of the world. In terms of popularity, the number of people studying a language is not the only factor. How many people complete their tree in a particular language? How many study for several hours a week? How many are still using Duolingo on a regular basis? I am sure some of the Duolingo bosses could answer these questions, but they would not be seen as positive statistics... I think there should be a Hebrew course, also a Biblical Hebrew course, for French speakers. Why? Because there is a hugeJewish population in France and a huge and growing Christian population in Sub-Saharan Africa who are mainly French speaking. The demand there for Hebrew instruction is immense. A final thought about the 'usefulness' of learning a language which is significantly different from your own. Language changes perception. Learning them builds bridges and keeps you forever young...well at least it reduces the risk of Alzheimers in later life... ; )
I agree that learning a language opens your mind to new ways of thinking and a better understanding of the others' culture. I was listening to The Public Philosopher on BBC Radio 4 this week (26 Aug 2019) and he asked the students at LSE if they would want the technological equivalent of a Babelfish...the room was split 50:50, but none of the against cited understanding a new culture and thinking in a new way as a reason not to use one.
I agree with you!! I've wanted to learn cuneiform for some time, because I'm half Persian and it would be interesting to see how the Achaemenids of the Ancient Persian Empire communicated.
Of course, cuneiform isn't really that popular of a language, even for an ancient language, and I don't think it's going to appear on Duolingo, but I would still love to learn maybe just a little of it. It might not be useful, but it's the language of my ancestors.
I'm also very excited for Latin. Learning an ancient language is another step into understanding the culture where it was used, and Latin influenced so many other languages we use today.
I think the Latin course'll be fun. I hope so!
My own personal motivation is that I'm a chronically ill student majoring in Classical Languages. I went in it for the Latin, realized I needed Ancient Greek for grad school as well. And I've made it through 202 (for Ancient Greek), but I've had A LOT of absences, had to retake 102, and was barely around for the 200 levels.
As for other dead languages... I'm very interested in learning languages as old as, or even much older than ancient Greek and Latin. I love love love seeing the evolution of and the connections between languages. It's so cool!
I agree with you. I am interested in learning Semitic languages and now I am trying to learn self-study Hebrew and Arabic. The Semitic languages, previously also named Syro-Arabian languages, are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East that are spoken by more than 330 million people across much of Western Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, as well as in often large immigrant and expatriate communities in North America, Europe and Australia. The terminology was first used in the 1780s by members of the Göttingen School of History, who derived the name from Shem, one of the three sons of Noah in the Book of Genesis. My mother tongue and native language is Persian that in ancient times known as Pahlavi. These languages are the oldest surviving languages of antiquity and the era of the prophets, and all sacred books in various religions have been written in these languages. It is very exciting for me to learn the language that God has spoken to humankind in the land of divine revelation (middle east; Where I was born and live).
I would be more than happy if they add Ancient Greek, it is a beautiful language where you end up finding that they made made major contributions to philosophy, science, literature, theatre.. Not to forget that some words (mainly in Romance Languages) come from the Greek and therefore from the Latin. And nowadays we still make neologisms with greek words.
I hope they add Ancient Greek, at least there is a Latin course coming soon :)
Yes, that's a totally awesome idea! Try holding a poll or something on this Forum, and maybe Duolingo will see it and try adding some new languages ! Not that they havn't worked really hard to make all the cool languages we use, but still... Plus, I saw someone use a poll on here and it's making a difference. I forget what the user's nickname was but it was a poll on this really cool thing called Chatbots. Check it out and vote! (-:
I would like to see Ancient Greek and Norse/Old Norse (is there a difference?) as options. I'd love to reread the Odyssey and other Greek myths in the original language. It'd also be fun to be able to read Norse runes... I think they might be called Furthark from reading Harry Potter fanfiction stories, though I could be wrong.
Yes, I would support Duolingo having as many of the ancient and or dying languages as possible, but I think it should be on its own site. Insert ancient and or dying language here, and I would support it! I wouldn't have the time to learn most of them. I even want to see Dwarven, Quenyan (spelling?) and Sindarin (probably saying this wrong , but I mean the Tolkien languages. I've just not been able to look at this in over a year due to family.)
Why separate site? It would just be easier to sort and maintain. Those who want living could come here, and those who want the other languages could go there.
I started learning Greek. But the problem was translating english to Greek, in a question. I would constantly have to look at a sheet to tell me which letter makes what sound. So I gave up. Now ancient greek is a different story. Ancient greek would be a very useful language to learn. It is the root of a lot of other english words, especially scientific words. As for dead languages. I personally don't know any. I would prefer it if they brought in more fictional languages. Like the Inhertiance ancient language, or the Lord of The Rings elven language.
there is on one ancient greek but there are several changing in time we also learned that the very beginning of greek do not have consonants only vocals, you learn a lot at the time that the famous authors were writing their poems, stories and the time that the new bible was written differs. So good luck with it, because you also have to combine it with the stories poems etc.
Latin is not a dead language. Many English words are directly derived from Latin or Greek. Knowing more about the words we use on a daily basis reveals a lot. Boosting our esoteric knowledge was never so important as today. The here so called "dead languag" is the bridge or tool for a better understanding. Besides the old languages, it would be nice to learn quantum grammar, as given to us by David Wynn Miler. To stop the greedy corruption as much as possible. Duolingo is full of esoteric knowledge. Like the little owl logo, it is representing our spheroid bone in our skull. Shaped like an owl spreading it's wings. These are slowly flapping, pumping our brain fluids around. Stand up with your eyes closed. You will notice that you move back and forwards. We are the "owl", if we are awake.....
So, old and forgotten languages YES. Brand new grammar YES. Shine a light Duo.
I very much believe that language shapes our thoughts. If there are nuances of language in Latin or Greek that could possibly influence how we think, then it is worth preserving.
I know it's not a one-to-one comparison, but many times I think of learning a human language as equivalent to learning a programming language. To express an idea, I often have to think "in the language" rather than trying to convert code from one programming language to another. And oddly enough, when going from a more advanced language to a simpler one (e.g., Python/Golang to Bash), I find myself thinking more about how I structure the code rather than the pure syntax of the language. This helps me be a better programmer.
So, yes, I think there are benefits to learning ancient and dead languages because it potentially opens new (forgotten) ways of thinking, and will improve my skill in my native language.
That's the Whorfian hypothesis. Popular before the mid 20th century among linguists, not so much these days. The old "inuits have 30 words for snow" gave way to yeah, the Inuit language is polysynthetic, but there are probably more ways to describe snow in English. It kinda survives in a weak variety these days.
Now, computer languages, to me, feel more like religious systems than human languages. If I have to write something complex in Bash, I'm going to spend most of the time cursing whatever cruel and uncaring gods put me in this situation, where I have to spend most of my time writing multiple arbitrary invocations to handle exceptions or unexpected input, and then furthermore I'll be worried furthermore about local heresies depending on what OS or distribution I happen to be writing for.
What I'm getting at is a bit more simplistic than this (I had to Google 'Whorfian hypothesis' before memories of a freshman philosophy class clawed itself back into memory). For me, even the act of learning a new word opens up areas of thought that though they would be possible without the new word, would follow circuitous and meandering path.
There's also the opposite sense in that the limits of (my ability with) a language, at least practically, influences the thoughts I have in that language. It's not that when I'm trying to write German I forget concepts, but that I cannot communicate them. My four years of Latin in high school has allowed me to relate a story about a soldiers meeting a farmer on a road and chatting about frogs in a clay pot. I'd be hard-pressed to discuss finance or film theory in Latin, however.
To the programming example, Latin would be akin to using C after growing up with Python. Heck, it's like C on pre-PC hardware because spaces were optional, there was only upper-case, and it feels like everything etched in stone has been #DEFINEd to something else entirely.
When I took a C programming class in college, it was the first time the instructor had taught it. She said something like, now compared to the languages you've seen before, this is going to look like Swahili. A Very British voice came from somewhere in the back: "But Swahili is not very hard!"
In Greek's description on the languages page, it says that one will be able to read the Oddyssey (written approx 2700 years ago, in the oldest form of Ancient Greek we know) in the original language with that course. If that's true, there's no need for any Ancient Greek course. I have my doubts though...
its probably true, for the most part, There is a difference between ancient greek and attic greek is there not? Please correct me if i am wrong, but attic greek is the one that is really hard. For example its not difficult for native english speakers to understand or pickup quickly old english verses of shakespear. I really wish they would add attic greek. But i guess inorder to add ancient greek they would have to add both attic and ionic?
The Oddyssey is written in a composite dialect that was probably only used in poetry at the time, called 'Epic Greek' (after the poetic genre) or 'Homeric Greek' (after Homer). It has some fewer irregularities than the later Attic Greek, but remember that we are talking about going 2700 years back in time here. It is not comparable to Shakespeare, who wrote in Early Modern English, not Old English, around 400 years ago. And the Shakespeare we read today has also been modernised a lot in terms of spelling.
From what I have heard, Homeric Greek is utterly incomprehensible to someone who only knows modern Greek. That's why I think it is quite bold and misleading to put that in the description for Greek on the languages page.
If they were to add ancient greek, there would probably be lots of discussions about which variant to add. Homeric, Attic and Koine would the obvious alternatives.
I would do Latin, but I'm not sure if I'd do any other dead languages. You mentioned how usefulness isn't the only reason to learn, which I agree with, but I'd much rather see something like Tagalog, Thai, Afrikaans, Finnish, Icelandic, important languages that are alive and well but are missing from Duolingo.
As a Greek, I regard Greek language one unity, as more languages of the world. So i do not separate Greek in Old and Modern Greek. Moreover, i have noticed that Greek are missing Duolingo. I would like to see my mother tongue to be taught as well in Duolingo. I am curious to see, how one could learn Greek today by using Duolingo because this may sound as my progress to learn a language which i regard very difficult, as it is for example Chinese. I believe that Modern Greek would be also an asset since one could use them to communicate with Greeks or Greek literature nowadays.
Calling Latin a 'dead' language makes no sense. It evolved into French, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and many other languages. If it evolved into other forms how can it be exinct? Also Ancient Greek evolved into modern Greek and added thousands of words and ideas to many languages throughout the world. When people speak of democracy, atoms, geography they are using words that were given meaning by people in Greece 2300 years ago. Is the word atom dead or extinct. Lazy thinking...
In truth I would love to see Duolingo branch out to other kinds of learning than language, as appropriate. I'd like to see a whole section on alphabets or scripts of the world, since I find those especially fascinating. Plus that's the first step to learning a language, so why not make it its own thing? Include runes, alphabets, tengwar, deseret alphabet, hieroglyphics and other glyphs. The more the better!
That's something that would not comport with the Duolingo model at all. It could be gamified pretty successfully, I think, but it'd take a lot of work.
Though a musician all my life, I never studied it in college. This book helped me tremendously: https://www.amazon.com/Modal-Counterpoint-Renaissance-Peter-Schubert/dp/019533194X
Also, I took a couple community college classes in my 40s.
It's really hard for us non-singing instrumentalists! One of my motivations for learning Italian is to read Vincenzo Galilei in the original!
The Italian of Dante is mostly the Italian of today! The dialetto toscano of the trecento became the literary model for Italian when printing arrived in Venice in the second half of the quattrocento. See Pietro Bembo's earnest efforts to make Dante & Petrarca & Boccaccio the standard in the early 1500s. A good comparison of Dante to English would be to early modern Elizabethan. A light glossary of antique terminology is all that's needed to understand Shakespeare.
What we call Italian didn't become a living language again until well into the 20th century!
I would feel alright with adding more, but if Duo is going to make a habit of adding lots of Conlangs and Dead Langs I kind of hope/wish they would segregate them into tabs when selecting a language. Like when you go to add a new language you have the choice of browsing through "Living Languages, Constructed Languages, and Historical Languages" While they are all indeed languages, I do feel like their target markets hit pretty different groups (Although there can be overlap among the biggest of language nerds) and when I look for other languages throughout the ever growing selection, I would prefer just to see living languages for me personally.
It indeed is posible to make a course for Ancient Greek. Currently there's a book for Ancient Greek learners called Athenaze, and it aims to teach you Ancient Greek naturally as if it's not a dead language, so why not expanding this language to Duolingo as well? I would like to see it!
I was pretty dissappointed when I found out that modern Greek and ancient Greek are pretty distinct from each other. The only Greek I'd like to learn is the ancient one so I can read. I mean, isn't that a big group of the Greek learning community... Those who love Greek history? I'd love Ancient Greek and Old English! I would drop everything right now for Old English if I could only pick one language. I love seeing any dead language on here, though. Welsh and Hebrew both have seen dramatic rise in speakers... perhaps the right cirucmstances will come about so that another dead language is used... for why I am not sure. ^_^
I wish to see Gothic here. It's in a revival process now so there are people who know this language. The goal with the revival is it will be a spoken language again by those who want to speak it. The revival movement are not based on ethnicity. I have seen people from around the world to be interested in Gothic that have no known connection to the Gothic people.
Ancient Greek! It's hard to get into by way of google/other autodidactic routes & I for one, would greatly benefit from a structured course. Dead languages are precious roadmaps in modern academia when going over the ancient texts--especially the preambles of modern vocab (Latin, Greek, Nørront/Old Norse). O Great Owl of Wisdom, Honor my Plea <3