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  5. Please, include macrons


Please, include macrons

First of all, I am so grateful for the team and what they have done to bring us this epic Latin course <3

But this course feels empty.

I did not know that 1st person singular present tense had a long -o [ɔː], or that "milites" even has two long syllables. Nor do I have a clue about where the ablative pops up, because I am not good at Latin. That is why I would really appreciate the inclusion of macrons so that I know that I pronounce the language correctly and that I can differentiate between words like the infamous "anus" and "anus".


September 4, 2019



I am worried about learning vowel qualities correctly too. Still, the creators did a wonderful job so far! This course will hopefully only improve with time.


You said "macrons", I am think the chocolate/coconut candy.... I am weird


No, you're not. My students either read the word and think macaroon (like you did) or call them croutons :)


I thought it was something about the French President.


Yes, macrons are essential to the Latin language!


Adding my voice to the chorus of people who hope you put the macrons in eventually, even if it's got to wait a bit.


and thanks for the efforts


There won't be macrons in this tree, so there won't be macrons when it emerges from beta.

Macrons might be a part of the second tree.


Aren't macrons pretty important for learning the language? They're just a diacritic, what about them is hard to implement?

(Big thanks to you and the team)


I learned without macrons, but they are important. However, they are not akin to ñ in Spanish or ö in German, because no one actually uses them when they type the language.

Most of the team sends texts and emails in Latin. We don't use macrons for that. No one does. That means every sentence would require more time to type. Before anyone scoffs at the extra three or four seconds per sentence, keep in mind we might add anywhere from four to forty alternates. Macrons represent a huge investment.

We will add them, but we might focus on the audio first. We aren't ready to decide that yet.


"We will add them" That actually sounds fantastic! Happy to hear that.

I feel the main problem with people not using macrons is that they don't have them on their keyboard layout. That's a shame. If you do have them on your layout, you should use them, imo.


As I told you that is nothing that cannot be solved:

In the case of PC users they could do it as they did with the Portuguese course, it uses buttons to enter letters for example ã, ê, ô, etc. in the same way they can do it in the case of Latin, to enter the letters with macron.

In the case of Cellphones: I have no any problems entering letters with macrons, here in Mexico we use the Spanish layout, which let us type vowel with the acute accent(á, é, í, ó, ú). Then if you can type those accented letter you can also type letters with macrons. So all you have to do would be to install the Spanish Layout.

PS: I am not addressing you: you are doing fine.


I wasn't talking about users as much as the contributors. Typing with mācrōns is very time consuming.

I type Latin at around 100 words per minutes. With macrons it's about half that.


Wow, that is a long time. Do you have a "dead key" for macrons on your keyboard layout?


I think we all know that it can be solved and most or many know how.
But all solutions are either really impractical – clicking takes ages – or require the user to add a new keyboard layout and many people are too casual for that.


On a PC the Maori keyboard makes macrons easy.


It's a matter of time spent on each part. Everyone can make any character nowadays. Wē cān ādd mācrōns, but that slows everything to a crawl.

Does everyone realize that six months ago there was no Latin course and four people pulled one out of thin air? They performed a small miracle while I blinked in July.


If there's a lot of really good audio that respects vowel lengths as much as is reasonably possible, that's going to teach people vowel lengths intuitively, which would be more valuable in the long run than being able to see the macrons (though it'd be frustraing in the short run not to be able to see the macrons and be sure which was which).


It is tough for speakers of another language to hear differences they don't make, though. If they don't show up in writing that makes it harder still.

I find it challenging to distinguish the Scandinavian tone accents for example. (Since tones are spelled in Chinese Pinyin, I have mastered those though and can hear them by now. And they are surely more complex. That goes to show how important transcriptions etc are for language learners.)


Thank you for your comment.

It is sad that nobody types them, and it is optional. But it can't be helped, that is how the language is. So whatever you and the contributors decide about the macrons I will accept it.


Macrons aren't a "normal" part of writing Latin, the way that accents are a normal part of writing French and umlauts are a normal part of writing German. They're something that shows up in dictionaries, like the way that dictionaries separate the syl-la-bles of Eng-lish words. Or the way that you might write out the ACcented SYLlable of ENGlish words so that PEOple who don't know ENGlish can underSTAND how they're proNOUNCED.

It's an artificial practice which is helpful to learners but not a normal part of the orthography of the language, so it's not strange that people who use Latin day-to-day don't use it.


I believe this isn't completely correct (that it is 'artificial'); there is evidence from written documents and monuments that Romans marked accents at least some of the time (not with macrons, but with an 'apex').

So it may not be a current practice, but it comes in and out of fashion – you see quite a bit of accent marking in seventeenth century texts as well.


If I am correct, macrons were only used by the ancient Romans when writing poetry due to vowel length/meter specifications...is that true?


What is the second tree? Another Latin course? :o


A tree represents a major revision to the course. It usually entails new skills and new sentences for old skills. I'm sure everyone has noticed the newest courses are much shorter than the old ones. By releasing a short course, we can learn the best way to handle constructing the sentences. We won't know how users will learn and make mistakes until it happens.

The second tree (which is still a long way off) will be much smoother than the first.

Keep in mind, four people did over 90% of this course. I wasn't one of them. I added two exercises myself. The whole team is discussing the tree and will be doing so for months. We're coming up with idea and solutions to problems.

I would love to see macrons in the hints, but that might not be practical. Maybe we'll have all the macros in the next tree. It's too soon to tell.


That's excellent that you are thinking about this, thank you.


The entire teaming is discussing everything you can imagine for the Latin course. We are trying to not bite off more than we can chew, hence the small tree.


Ah, thank you for clarifying. This answers a lot of other questions I have been thinking about, too. Have a lingot!


I really appreciate the response.


That is the most hopeful response I've seen regarding this topic. With a response like this it feels like the team listens.
I have my doubts that this "might" is strong enough though... :(


I'm not going to make promises when it's not my decision alone.

Macrons are on the list with a number of other things. The Spanish course originally taught about 1000 lexemes, and now it's over 4000. There were many expansions. I imagine the Latin tree will keep growing.

A few contributors want to add skills particular to certain authors or certain tenses or moods.

We have a lot to discuss.


If it's on a list, that gives it a somewhat official note which is really good.


Is there a second tree?


+1 for macrons


The next revision definitely needs to add the macrons and also better spoken audio in classical pronunciation. It would be great to have Luke Ranieri from the Polymathy (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCLbiwlm3poGNh5XSVlXBkGA) and Scorpio Martianus (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRllohBcHec7YUgW6HfltLA) YouTube channels do some or all of the audio.


Don't worry, It's still in betta.


I don't know if this is too big of a change from beta to gold.


I see what you did there :)


Salvēte, amīcī! My first try of macronized DuoLingo Latin lesson. Could you please have a look? https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/34931826


This discussion is very enlightening to me as a first day (!!!) Latin student :) (I just discovered it and I already love it). I started Duo studying Hawaiian, and although macrons (and the other diacritical ' ) are often not used in everyday written Hawaiian (for convenience, lack of typefaces, etc.), they are actually part of the written language and so pretty important to learn from the get-go (plus the usual twin words where the one with a macron means one thing and the one without means something completely (!!) different...sounds like "anus and anus" cited above).

If it's that hard to include the macrons now (or maybe more importantly if they're not really used in the common written language? that's interesting?) I think it would be VERY useful to have a "Discussion" section or some such to talk about / explain this type of thing.

My understanding from this discussion is that the macron is mostly used to help the speaker pronounce the words correctly (i.e., which are long vowels and which are not) - is that correct?

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