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Implied copula and pragmatics

Since the third-person singular copula is often not required in Latin sentences, have you given any thought to allowing something like the following?

Marcus is an American young man. Marcus iuvenis Americanus.

There are some good opportunities to teach something about pragmatics in Latin based on constituent order, though I imagine that would have to be supplemental.

October 10, 2019



This is covered in this post addressed to those with previous Latin experience (which really should be stickied imo). In short, it's not going to happen, at least for the moment:

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.

(I think this is inconsistent with the courses for other copula-optional languages, though)


Thanks for the link (and response). I'm surprised that is considered an advanced concept. I don't teach Latin, but I teach Hellenistic Greek and that concept is covered in the first-year course--however, students are being taught how to read (Hellenistic) Greek rather than conversational Greek. Maybe someday in the future!


I've taught Latin for fourteen years. Our textbook doesn't cover copula deletion until the third book. Some textbooks do, some don't.

I tried it with my students and most didn't understand. It's not the easiest concept for middle-schoolers. The course it meant to be accessible to all learners and Duolingo definitely wants us to consider the education market when making the course.

Colin brought up the idea and I agree with him.


I read the review by a new learner who had taken everything in this course to level 5 the golden tree. And they said that having done so they were able to go back to the first few pages of LLPSI and read them with confidence. That really is what this introduction is about. It's prolly more helpful to point out the difference with est with a short vowel and est with a long vowel. So Marcus iuvenem americanum est would mean that Marcus is a cannibal. Because that is more the level of confusion that a beginner has. But copulae and pragmatics, yeah some students respond better to that style of teaching grammar first. Lucky that we have so many choices these days.


I confess that I had my student base in mind when asking the question. A number of my students have expressed interest in learning Latin (classical then extended into Neo-Latin), but we have never had the numbers to warrant hiring adjunct faculty to make it happen. Despite being surrounded by universities, there simply isn't much Latin being taught here and I have had nowhere to send these eager students, so when Duolingo introduced this beta I was thrilled.


The standard that say Divines, or Seminarians get to in ancient languages when they already have a full curriculum of studies tends to be more about the idea of studying a language. Duolingo is a nice way for people to drill without a teacher. What we used to call language labs. LLPSI is a good follow on. But unless they have natural ability or are highly motivated it might be a bit much for them to take on Latin as well as whatever they are actually studying. But kids eh. Eyes bigger than my mouth is what mumsie would have said. All the best.

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