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What type of Latin does the course teach?

I keep getting the word america which I don't think is found outside of medieval latin so I just want to make sure what type the course teaches.

September 29, 2019



The accent is the classical, that doesn't mean that all words are locked and you can't use anything new there. Also you could easily find that info in the "tips & notes" part, or here in the forum.


Any thoughts on how soon Duo may create an Ecclesiastical Latin option? There are truckloads of Roman Catholics who would flood this site if there was the option to learn the language of the church. Duo could get in touch with the church and get Catholic priests involved to ensure accuracy. This would be a good move with 1 out of 6 humans on this earth identifying as Catholic.


Or Koine Greek (the Greek from 300BC till about 300AD)... ah, some day.


None of the Catholics I know cares about Latin BTW. After Vatican II there is not that much need.I do not think there would be any flood, there are many existing resources.

Anyway, the language is the same, just add some vocabulary, as you would do for Medieval or Neo-Latin in general. Just use the Italian pronunciation rules and you are there. Alas, the Catholic textbooks that used to be used in my country did not even use the Ecclesiastical pronunciation but the regional one, somewhat closer to the reconstructed one.

I wouldn't be surprised if the course creators prepared an Ecclesiastical skill or two in the next tree or the tree after the next one. I even recall someone mentioning they were considering it.


I appreciate you responding so promptly. I do feel that there is a large push back toward Vetus Ordo in this generation, and I am happy to ride the wave. If jumping from Classical Latin to Ecclesiastical is as simple as a vocabulary learning tree, I look forward to this potential learning tree with enthusiasm. I will continue to delve into Classical Latin and Spanish in the meantime.


There is more to it than vocabulary: style also differs, and quite a lot of concepts evolved through philosophy and theology, so reading classical meanings can lead to serious misinterpretations.

There are a very few introductory books on ecclesiastical Latin but they're expensive and very hard to come by, in my experience. More material is now appearing for medieval Latin, giving a bit more access to the less formal kinds of Latin that were out there. Since you're learning Spanish at the same time, maybe you could dip into Romance philology for a taste of other directions that might work well for you.


Also — I mostly agree that ecclesiastical pronunciation is like Italian, but not quite. For example, the c in "caelum" and the t in all those "-tio" nouns are not Italianate.


What I understood it that it would be just one of the skills. Like now you have Shop there would also be Church or something. Anyway, you the grammar is absolutely the same and the meaning of most words changed only slightly. Those that are specific to the Christianity you will always learn best in church literature. I really doubt Duolingo would ever go into transubstantiation and or other specific terms from the teachings of old theologists.

Remember, many ecclesiastical Latin texts were written before any Medieval Latin appeared. If you want to read your gospels in the Vulgate version, the credo, the teachings of old apologets, it is all classical Latin (if not Greek). Saint Augustin is around 400 A.D., basically classical Latin. You just have to pickup the specific vocabulary and Duolingo will never get there. Of course, the Tridentine mass is much later, but originates from the old sources.

And the Ecclesiastical pronunciation is really just reading it like if it is Italian.


I know lots of Catholics who care about Latin, and many of them are young.


Well, you don't know me, I am Catholic, and I do care about Latin. In fact, this course is what brought me to Duolingo. I agree, though, that Duolingo should focus on classical Latin as this is an introductory course.


They also talk about "universitas" which is from medieval Latin. Latin-speaking places didn't have universities in classical times. Even when they did appear the institution was typically called a studium generale, not a universitas until a fair bit later, and it was so long after the classical era that the word wouldn't have been said using classical pronunciation in most Latin-speaking places. So what do you choose? Latin has split up into lots of local variations by that point.

So I agree that a classical framework is a better foundation for most beginners than going straight to medieval or modern Latin. When you get to the later Latin, you find that a lot of what's written has shifted towards whatever the writer's native language happens to be, and sometimes even the native language transliterated into Latin words. (Then the Renaissance tries to fix it with a return to classical norms.)

But if your purpose is something like medieval or modern philosophy, liturgy, science or music, having examples and vocabulary from inane topics can be very frustrating. Language learners have complained about this for decades. There doesn't seem a simple solution to it.


Without the word America we wouldn't have pax americana.


The style is classical, which I think is the right way to teach it - not that it makes very much difference at the level the beta course here is able to achieve.

But Duolingo have - correctly in my view - made the effort to demonstrate that Latin is not a dead language. It may not be spoken as anyone's native language any more, but so much of it runs through so many languages and cultures; new words can be added - with care to maintain the proper style and references - and context can be updated to reflect modern society.

It may be wonderful to study Ancient Rome, but Latin is so much more than that. And I think Duolingo has done a very good job in giving us a taste of what it's all about.


Here, you can find latin names of interesting places:


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