https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

Opinion about the possible future use of Macron here

Avete, firstly, if you don't know what macron is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macron_(diacritic) well, another user started a thread using a title from a video that has a chaotic and untrue claim (that "the Romans did use macron" - while in my point of view, a much better title (following truth and reality) would be "some Romans actually used a diacritical mark"), I had a brief discussion there with some members - but it seems that they failed to see that I was not even talking about the use of Macron itself, so I'm starting this topic to express my opinion about this and I'll be grateful to read yours. Duolingo is a very practical toll in my opinion, so it is awesome that we can have Latin here now, this changes the traditional way to learn - I remember Rosetta Stone software had a Latin course as well, but Duolingo has way more features (including the forum where we can share our knowledge), so this is truly a mark, in my opinion, in the didactic method. I think we can all agree that people that are here, will be learning Latin in the direction of fluency in all matters (id est, people here wont be studying just to be able to read some scientific terms or to use in some very specific academic work)... being like that, we can know that pronounce is, in fact, important. But lets step back a little bit, I think it can be very useful to take a look in the history (and I'll try to make things short as possibly here), Rome was an EMPIRE, and we can see that, for the most part of its history, it was rather permissive in the cultural matters, as far as I know, they wouldn't force the learning of the language in the conquered people (people would learn because it could be very useful and profitable for them), and they wouldn't forbid the conquered people to learn their language either (like the Mongols did, for instance)... from this two facts we can use our imagination to picture that Roman citizens wouldn't feel offended or go crazy when some non-Latin Italic or the non-Italic groups spoke Latin in a different manner (just like native English speakers nowadays don't go nuts when they listen to foreigners speaking English with a heavy foreigner accent), and lets be honest all the major languages face this issue, in big capitals we have a proper manner to speak, in the countryside another one - and then we also have the foreigners learning it (from many different backgrounds).... but at the end, somehow, everyone is able to understand each other without much trouble. So, what should be the goal of the macrons? I've seen people talking about the possible confusion that a non traditional way of speak could generate, and I see truth in that. But lets face it: we're not robots. I don't know how spread this issue is, but I've heard that Australians have a funny way to say "six" (that can be confused with "sex") and I'm sure that native English speakers can think of another example of some accents that can put people in funny situations - but if we pay attention to the content of the phrase, we would hardly actually have trouble understanding the real message of the person. I'm very glad that we have Duolingo now as another way to spread this great language and keep on this cultural legacy, I'll not be bothered, to be honest, if people will be not speaking in a way that would bring tears to Ovid's eyes, but in my opinion it's more important to people focus on actually LEARN the language and break the "code" of it, instead of, at first, be obsessed with a glorious pronunciation (that, I believe, will come within time). I think we should pay attention to a very important thing here: HOW macron would work in the course if it would be implemented? If you're using a touch screen device and have macron popping on your screen for you to pick, it's all fun and giggles. However, if you're using a pc, with an actual keyboard - that, for obvious reasons, doesn't have macron easily accessible, therefore, people would have to "code" macrons... so it'll come to the next question: Would the addition of macrons in the course actually demotivate some people of learning the language? And for the ones who defend that macron should be used because people learning can understand how the vowels are stressed, well, we're on internet, not in a 19th century library learning by ourselves... I bet that most people that use Duolingo also make use of Youtube and other sources to improve their learning... so the thing is that we can, in fact, learn the pronounce around the internet without the need of the Macrons in the texts - and I'll sure that many gold indications will come on this forum with external content.
So, to conclude my point: I think the decision to include Macron in Duolingo's Latin course should be left to the people that started this project, if they think it's in fact more didactic to put that, lets have it then, but I think anyway the writing part should always be forgiven (and not "you have a typo" type of forgiving, but to the course accept as right putted answers without macrons as well - that way we could please both "macronists" and "latinists" in a very efficient way). Furthermore, the course is in beta phase, I think it's unfair that people who didn't bring nothing to the table go around complaining about its quality, I just have a deep grateful feeling towards the people who have started this (and a friendly feeling for anyone learning). But I think discussions like this (about macron) are important to settle the basis of what will be the final version of this course here. Again, I'll like to read your opinions, so answer if you will. Sorry if I made it too long, I wish you all a great day!

August 28, 2019

8 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/8aKYoz1p

the macron tells you which vowel is short and which one is long. if you don't already know and actually care then you need to get the information somehow. a diacritic is just the most convenient way.

August 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

First of all, thanks for you opinion! It's dubious, as I expressed in the text, how convenient that may be here, and it's not hard to find content about that around the internet nowadays, in fact, people are already sharing some things here... and I know it'll come more. Tbh, I've seen some native english speakers that learned Latin using macron and they do have a nice timing, but they still transform words like "Romanus" in "Rowmanuls" sort of (and even if you had a long or short "o" in Latin, the "o" vowel by itself would never sound like the standard "o" in English (the same goes for "u"...)) - so it doesn't even make sense to have a right "tempo" and get lost in the basic pronunciation (a lot of people butcher that without giving any importance).

August 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/8aKYoz1p

it's not dubious to me. if you want to read a text but don't get all the information from the script you need to look it up. and - yes - the information is not hard to find but it takes time and is annoying. so why not mark it in the script? it does no harm.

August 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBasse

I explained why that can be sort of troublemaking in the long text in OP: it could give some problems to input in the writing part of the lessons to people that don't use touch screen devices (because standard keyboards don't have macron button).

August 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/8aKYoz1p

i was not talking about writing. should it be mandatory to write them? no, i don't think so. that would be ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ annoying.

August 28, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ARCANA-MVSA

I'm actually glad they didn't add the diacritics. I greatly prefer learning Latin without them (and not just because it would be a typing nuisance). The audio is good enough - it's not hard to figure out what's long and what's short when you try repeating it aloud yourself.

Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.

August 29, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MacBeatha

Your strategy is problematic because the course audio isn't especially faithful to vowel length. In the first couple of lessons I've already heard short vowels lengthened innapropriately (māle for male) as well as long vowels shortened (in Italia where it should be in Italiā). This is unfortunate because vowel length is important for distinguishing words (malus vs. mālus) and is vital for poetic meter. Macrons would serve greatly to help us catch these differences, and reveal clearly where the audio is erring.

August 31, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/odi_et_amo

Hawaiian uses macrons. If you leave them out, Duo doesn't say it's a typo, just "Pay attention to the accents" above the answer.

As for English speakers mispronouncing Latin vowels, that's going to happen because they aren't likely to be aware that they should strive for pure vowels. Language learners tend to go with the closest sounds in their own language until they learn otherwise. With clear pronunciation guides in the notes and carefully spoken audio, they can work toward good speech habits like they should in any other language. Sure, language varies over geographic areas, but there is nearly always some benchmark or "prestige dialect" to emulate for a faithful, consistent pronunciation. Even if we don't intend to impress Ovid, I think we should still learn a form of it correctly.

Macrons are also not just a matter of vowel length for Classical Latin, but indicate a different vowel, except in the case of a/ā, by most accounts. There is a very solid linguistic basis for different vowel quality as well as quantity. Having to crosscheck an external source for macrons in every word is not going to interest anyone except the most serious learners.

I'm very happy to see this course finally in beta, especially after so many people requested it and volunteered their expertise. However, I would never feel ok recommending any beginner Latin curriculum without macrons, just as I wouldn't recommend a beginner Arabic course without all the vowel marks.

August 29, 2019
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