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For those Beta testers who have previous Latin experience


I'm one of the contributors who runs through each section, adding or rejecting sentences. This post is for those of you who have a bit of Latin experience, both to explain a couple things, and also to open up a (very limited AMA about my decision making process).

First off, a couple things I won't be accepting

I do not accept completely omitting the verb

I know forms of sum, esse can be omitted, you know they can be, anyone who's taken Latin for a semester knows they can be. But new learners do not, this course is not for experienced Latinists to learn the language, it's for beginners. New learners will omit verbs, nouns, and adjectives on accident all the time, and we have to ease them into the natural language later on. So please, include the verb. In sentences which have the forms of sum repeated (tu non es femina, sed puella es) You can drop one of them.

I do not accept every single possible translation for every single word

There are 39,589 Lexical Entries in the Oxford Latin Dictionary. Over twenty thousand of those have more than one sense, within each sense there can be five to six definitions (on a good day). If I sat with a dictionary pulled up, entering possible alternative translations, the course would be finished about the same time as the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae.

With that said, I don't ignore every possible translation, I try to be accommodating. However you must remember as well that this course is largely geared toward beginners. They will not have fifteen possible correct definitions for servare memorized, or know you can use conservare instead. When a specific definition isn't accepted, it isn't because we hate that definition, or would never use it, or want it burned from the pages of dictionaries everywhere, but more that it may be less common, or not ideal for the sentence it's contained within. I will very seldom add a new word (that hasn't been taught in the course) to a sentence, like salvo -are in sentences with servo -are.

I do not accepted outdated, archaic, or very specific translations

I have not to this point accepted dwell, thou, art, or at Rome. I have looked into at Rome, and honest to God, all that comes up is "the British school at Rome" which is not worth accommodating. Including things like thou would take days to weeks in order to implement course wide, so it's not coming.

I do look into (almost) everything you report.

When I go into the incubator, I look at the type of reports. If I see 9 reports of bad audio, I listen to it myself. If I hear issues, I may rerecord it. I look at the list of suggested sentences and begin ruling out every one which has obvious typos. If I see one which could be correct, I typically add it (with a few exceptions).

When I see in free-write reports notes about how and when a verb can be used, I usually look it up in the OLD, L&S, Bennett's Grammar, Wheelock's and the Oxford Latin Course (as well as wiktionary, wikipedia, the DCC grammar pages, and PHI) So if a particular thing isn't added, it's because I checked and either couldn't verify it, or found it to be proved false.

I know as Latinists we expect and want Duolingo to be our shiny new toy, but always try to keep in mind, it's not for you (yet). This first tree has got the training wheels on. You've got to be patient and know eventually we'll get to the high-speed, low-drag stuff you're craving.

Gratias vobis ago,


September 29, 2019



Thank you Colin! I'm a beginner in Latin, so I appreciate your efforts to keep everything consistent for now. At this point, it's hard enough to understand the cases and why Marcus can also be called Marce.


Marce and Stephane are part of a case called the vocative. Which is used in direct address. Here are 3 examples:

Salve, Marce Hello, Marcus.

Marcum salvere iubeo I bid hello to Marcus.

Marcus salvere iubet Marcus bids hello.

Each sentence should highlight the difference between the Latin case ending and the English meaning.


There's an actual non-apocryphal example of someone going through the Polish course without knowing the different cases - but all are explained in the notes at the beginning of the lesson. If notes aren't on your device and you have a question like this - do ask in the fora [is this whole thing one Duolingo forum or are there multiple] but also make sure to use an app/browser with notes to read the rules and often, how it's formed too.


Thank you Colin!


I suggest that you "Sticky" this post so that is doesn't get lost in the forums.


We mods don't have the power to sticky posts. If we did I would have nailed all of Colin's posts to the top myself.


Thank you for your hard work in making the Latin course a reality! It's been fun to jump back into the language I stopped studying in high school over 10 years ago :)


My feelings exactly. It was nice to revisit the language I last used some 15 years ago at the university :)


ex themate (off-topic):

It seems laudo/laudare is introduced but used in just one sentence ("Livia inscriptionem laudat"); at least I don't recall seeing another one in my 11k XP.


It's used in a few, I know someone praises a book, and I think the learner also praises something.


Understood. Thanks for the update


Dear Colin, thank you for your helpful (and wise) note... please, let me ask you this: at the beginning of my Latin tree (I mean the 'learn' portion) I can read the words "IN BETA"... what do they mean, exactly? BTW, I'm not a freshman in Latin (studied it for 7 (seven!) long years at school during the second half of last century)... Thank you again for reading and... have a nice evening!


IN BETA refers to the course's phase in the DuoLingo course creation process. First is ALPHA TEST, which is a limited set of testers and closed to the public. The BETA TEST is a public but not completed version of the course, used to help identify bugs and other problems.


Thank you very much, Colin, for your prompt answer, for your clarity, and for all the considerable efforts you are making for our learning... my kudos and... have a nice afternoon!


Thanks. The course is pretty short right now, are there plans to expand it?


Is the soil around Carthago salty? In order words: Heck yes! But that won't be until the course graduates from Beta.


That's the happiest info I ever heard in my life!
Yeah A1 at least!!!
I love you guys.


What is needed for it and can I help somehow? :) I'm not a Latinist, but I've been learning Latin before and I'm careful around the limits of my knowledge.


Thanks for all your work. It's a fun course, and I think you and the other contributors have been doing a great job of both accepting and rejecting things appropriately.


among your references you forget the Gaffiot, the most important one.


I only know really antiquated French.


Does archaic English exist ?


How archaic do you want it to be? First written materials in Old English are from mid-600s, predating first written materials in Old French by 200 years.


Check out The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer - written in Middle English. Or even read some Shakespeare and you'll quickly come across words that are rarely, if ever, now used.

Aggghhh. I'm doing it again. Sorry, Colin. I think it's compulsive...


The Gaffiot is very complete. It's a reference because we can find information not present in other dictionaries or books.

What do you mean by antiquated? The translations in French?

[deactivated user]

    Whew! I'm glad someone understands there are absolute beginners in this course!


    Yes! And this should help cut down on the nagging complaints by people who seem to think the course contributors don't know what they're doing - or at least seem to think they know better than the course contributors what the course contributors should be doing. :P

    Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


    What does mean "Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach"? xD


    It means the answer it's attached to is fairly well thought out and helpful ;)


    And what language is it? Lol o.o'


    It's my comment marker, written in one of my own conlangs. It means "Two rivers don't flow the same direction." Since Duo has no means of searching by username and my Followed list is already super long, I use it to mark my comments so the DL search engine has something it can search for.

    Thanks for asking! :)

    Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.


    Good idea!

    bas sake buxbeze sabeDev


    Please, teach us the art of conlangs!


    e'osai la Lojban pluka ko.


    Although our efforts might cause you additional work, I think we learners need to be especially aggressive in reporting variations and possible errors in this course because it is in beta. Please pardon us if we overdo that. We just want to help.


    It's mostly fine. Some people just try to insert the most asinine definitions they can. It's a small minority, but when you have to clear 1,000 reports from the Introduction section alone, it gets old.


    How many contributors are there for Latin?


    Come join us in Slack and you'll know ;)


    Besides macrons for vowel length (for some future version), it would be great if there were a classical alphabet mode, that displayed all answers in CAPS and disallowed J and W.


    Something like this could maybe work for an individual skill. But not for an entire tree. I like the idea though.


    I do not accepted outdated, archaic, or very specific translations

    Alright. I won't submit "whither runnest?" for "quo curris?" anymore. :) (it's an obscure book reference anyway)

    Would "whither do you run?" be acceptable?


    Doesn’t “whither” fall under “hasn’t been used in five hundred years”? Ok, I believe it has been used more recently than five hundred years, but how often do you actually hear it in everyday life?

    I mean, I have never had this conversation:
    Them: “Whither are you going now?”
    Me, pointing: “Thither”

    Similar for “dwell” and “thou”. And don’t point to the Religious Society of Friends for “thou”; they use “thee” as the subject pronoun.


    Of course you haven't ever heard "“Whither are you going now?”

    It should be "Whither goest thou anon?"

    But seriously, I use "dwell". Occasionally.


    I use "dwell", too. I think it is particularly often used in the context of animals, but I don't find it nearly as archaic as "thou" or "whither" even when referring to people.


    You hear whither and thither on occasion, but the grammatically incorrect (but way more common) 'where are you going to?' is also accepted, as well as 'To where do you go/are you going?'


    I'd hardly consider 'dwell' archaic if you're accepting whither/thither; all of these words might fall under a label of 'formal', but 'dwell' sees a lot more use than the other two, in my experience.
    Bear in mind, too, that opinions on matters like these vary with locale. In the US people tend to think 'whilst' sounds archaic, whereas it is in very common use in the UK, and vice versa in the case of 'gotten'.
    Seeing or hearing 'dwell' wouldn't cause me to bat an eyelid, whereas encountering someone using the second person singular certainly would. I haven't been responsible for any suggestions involving 'dwell', but I'd urge you to reconsider them.

    Thank you for all your evident hard work on the course, however; I've been getting multiple translation-accepted e-mails virtually every day since the course was released. And thank you for making illuminating posts like this one explaining your rationale.


    @colinjparry, for what reasons do you say “where are you going to?” is grammatically incorrect?

    Would you say that “where are you going?” is grammatically correct or incorrect?


    Doesn’t “whither” fall under “hasn’t been used in five hundred years”?

    Google News search yields "About 65,400 results (0.19 seconds)". It's mostly used in headlines though.


    like in a title of "Time": whither goest thou, America


    Doth google have all the answer? me think not, I am sure the phrase has hit upon mine ears once or twice in the last 60 years Harutu.


    Yes. Talking like this will not be accepted in sentence translations


    I think it's accepted on some of the sentences with quo but probably not all yet.


    Manzinie? Or Aristophanes?


    I checked, and it turned out to be an inaccurate translation existing only in my head. I thought it was Church Slavonic "камо бежиши" but it was not.


    Well, "Камо Бежиши" does mean "Wither runnest thou?" or "Where are you running?" in Church Slavonic, does it not? (Yeah, I once spent a little time with some Russian Orthodox monks - in Essex, believe it or not). Something from Saints Cyril & Methodius?

    Sorry, ColinJParry. Off topic... I'll try not to stray again.


    Every time I consciously avoid "whence" . . . maybe it's accepted? I'll try it next time!

    [deactivated user]

      Thank's for all the effort.


      Thanks for the clarification.
      I understand the reference, but do you have plans to accept "aedifico" for "condo"?

      BTW, what policy do you follow for "is", "hic" and "ille"? Are they "he", "this", and "that" respectively or we can use them interchangeably?


      Is and Ille more typically refer to he than hic. I don't care much for Ille being taught as he, I find it becomes confusing for new learners later. But I didn't write those sentences. I've also ensured Is and Ea are interchangeable anywhere I can find them.


      Hi Colin, I studied latin at school and I am completing the introduction. I noticed that there are many lessons repeating always the same sentences and the same words. I understand the value of repetition but maybe you might add some new word in progress.


      Thanks. I took some Latin in college, but am basically at a beginner level again.


      I'm happy for your work! Thanks to you, for became the basic Latin avaliable to us^^



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      Numquam Vis eadem non erit.

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