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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VictorM245298

Opinions About the Latin Course?

Duolingo recently (on August 27th) gave us the option to learn latin! What are your thoughts about the course up until now? I have started yesterday, and I wanted some opinions about it...

October 11, 2019

34 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zia177448

I think it's very well done. Of course, it is still short and thus doesn't cover that much yet, but it's a great start and I'm sure that when the course contributors eventually expand it, it will be fantastic (and have even more wild and wonderful sentences).


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

It's a nice beginner's course. I'm almost at one-third of the journey. It's very good to refresh a language studied years ago at school. As an Italian speaker, I'm not very used to classical pronunciation preferred in this course. It tries to teach a living language and sometimes the phrases are not very realistic, but this is acceptable, considering how complicated Latin is. As other modern courses, it mixes up several rules, introducing irregular verbs before the regular ones, but you may judge that if you have already studied in the traditional way. Hope that I get to the end of the course soon. English sentences are often not very close to the actual use "give me the bread" "they study in the city": I'm not an English native speaker but I never heard that in real-world conversation.


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

It's interesting to see that an Italian find the classical pronunciation far from its native language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SGuthrie0

I find nothing strange about the English sentences in the Latin course. I'm not looking for a phrase book. And I'm sure I have heard or read sentences in English very similar to the ones you cited.

When I started reading English as a child, my first sentences were not "realistic" either: "See Jane run". "Look Jane. Look, Look. See Dick." See this for the Dick and Jane reading series. https://www.google.com/search?q=dick+and+jane+reading+books&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=b0eoN3Hs4yhUtM%253A%252CMLsa3B_F-t_OfM%252C_&vet=1&usg=AI4_-kRf9LEd-s1cjoQSaUqwj6tiPw1wew&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi02pyw8q7lAhWxY98KHVD3AWoQ9QEwBXoECAMQDg#imgrc=Kc0uuK6siFEgiM:&vet=1

More real sentences from early reading books:
"Look, Jane, Look.

See Baby, Oh, Oh, OH.
Funny, funny Baby.

"Jack and Jill went up the hill." They were just sentences to help us kindergarteners and first graders learn to read.

On a slightly different topid: Here is a very useful Latin phrase I learned a while back and which has stuck with me: "Semper ubi sub-ubi"!


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

A really nice start for someone to get comfortable with Latin, for either classical or ecclesiastical Latin. And if you already know some Latin, it is very good practice. It stays in the present tense and indicative mood in all but a very few sentences, so it's not a complete course yet, but that may be in the future, and there are ways to continue on with Latin once you've finished this course.


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

I am in choir and I've been singing Latin songs for a long time(7th-12th grade). Latin is such a beautiful language! I've fallen in love with every single piece I've performed. Somehow I ended up with the crazy desire to learn Latin(other than the few phrases I've picked up from music), and now I'm here! It's been great. Can't wait until more content is added :)


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

I have started a few weeks ago and I am really enjoying it. The weirdness of the sentences makes them easier to remember . The repetition is great for learning the Latin sentence structure and makes the vocabulary stick without realising it. At the moment it is mostly in present tense so looking forward to the expansion of the tree.


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

Latin grammar is both complex and fun at the same time. I've just now begun to have a firm grip on the grammatical cases. I'm enjoying myself so much so that my interest in other European languages has started to dwindle. Duolingo offers a firm but attainable challenge and is a good way to start your journey to the medieval world.


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

I think it's a great course for beginners. I hope next year or so there will be a part two. Hooray for the drunk parrots!


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

The Duolingo Latin course seems like it is somewhat elementary, staying generally in the present, active verb tense and avoiding any overly complex sentences. This is fine, really, as it establishes the basics and with them, hopefully, the motivation to study further on one one's own.

I assume as the course evolves here on Duolingo that it will grow to encompass more of the language.

That said I'm pretty sure by the end of the course I will be an expert in conversing with drunk parrots and angry weasels in Latin. This could be a very useful skill were one to meet one or the other in a dark alleyway at night....


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EMMA53100

I started some weeks ago. I find it quite interesting. We approach the language as alive. I learnt it ages ago. Very good for the brain.


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

It's amazing but we need more chapters. Alea iacta est :)


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

Probably the best done newer course. It doesn’t start out too simple like Hawaiian and Navajo and it doesn’t drag out topics like Arabic tends to do. Great for elementary-level learners. Would recommend even now.


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

I'm grateful to DL for giving me an opportunity to review my high school Latin. I'm also glad to be hearing a new lighter voice to balance out the threatening "deus iratus" voice.

A request, though: so many sentences involve drunken parrots, angry weasels, clever thieves, poop in the dirty latrine, fish getting slapped around,... Can't some lovely Latin sentences be included - on nightingales, garlands of flowers, clusters of grapes, young lovers walking in the garden - you get the idea. Perhaps some lines from Marcus Aurelius, or Catullus or Ovid? Or even silly/sweet sentences (a favorite of mine from the Esperanto course is "The kitten kisses the mouse.") (I must say though that I relished the sentence where the old man sacrifices the parrot at the altar.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/93k8nXGk

Marcus Aurelius wrote in Greek. There are several modern school books that take simplified quotations from poets and orators. So it's possible. If you don't ask you don't get.


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

I'm learning latin because it will be a good start to other latin languages (like french or spanish) as my main goal is german. It is super cool though to have such a language at Duolingo!


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

Glad to have it, but without macrons the course is somewhat limited in usefulness.


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

I'd like so much Ancient Greek now!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicholasW92237

Well, people looking to use Latin in its practical form, (learning Church latin in order that they might say the Extraordinary Form of the Mass), will have to look elsewhere for learning Latin. So I won't be using Duolingo's course. I would recommend using Father Henle's Latin course if your looking to become a Catholic Priest.


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

There are many reasons to learn Latin, the Latin mass is just one. Our course will teach you quite a bit that is applicable to Ecclesiastical Latin.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicholasW92237

Are the conjugations of the verbs the same at least? Because if those are the same, I suppose it would be worth a try. Anyways, the pronunciation is quite different and thus, in my book, since the only practical use of Latin is saying the Traditional Latin Mass as well as learning other Romance languages, this course may not be for me. I am still glad Duolingo is offering it to people who would like to learn this type of Latin, it's just probably not for me.


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

Yes, the verb conjugate the same.

That may be the only practical use to you, but other people find it practical for reading Virgil or Ovid, for expanding their understanding of English root words, or simply for better understanding an important language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicholasW92237

Oh okay then that is good. I couldn't agree more Daniel. I suppose I should have indicated this was the only practical use to me. I must admit I gained a better understanding of my own English vocabulary by learning Latin. So you are correct in every way. Also I read somewhere that you can better comprehend a conversation at a party where there's a bunch of people talking if you know another language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KatherineN33392

I finished level one, but level two did not open yet. Did anyone else have that experience? Thanks!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/93k8nXGk

The castle with the flag on it is a revision test. Once you complete the test it lets you move on to level two. Unless it's something else entirely.


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

I like this course and I'm grateful for it.

Some details that I like less, but, as the course very recent, so it can'be perfect.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Scoops11

I haven't done too much in it because the voice and pronunciation seems off to my ear.


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

Put your speaker off, like with a book.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Agnes347705

As someone who has taught Latin at university for years, I see some serious problems with this course, if it is to be anything than a weird hobby course for people who want to "speak Latin" as a party trick. I do sincerely wonder what the aim of this course is, because I cannot see how it could reasonably be used by someone who actually wants to read authentic Latin texts. The phrases are often not idiomatic and words are used in combinations where they can't be found in any of the preserved texts (e.g. pisces in mensam iacit, California referred to as a "civitas"). Also, the word order of the preferred "correct" solutions do not respect communicative values. I also have some doubts as to the phrases and vocabulary they have chosen to include: much of it seem to evolve around internal jokes (the drunk parrots?) and what is important to the makers (Philadelphia). How is this going to help anyone learn Latin? It just makes me irritated having to translate those kinds of phrases time after another. I know that it may be more difficult to make a language course when you are not a native speaker (and none are obviously to be found for Latin), but many of these problems could have been avoided by a more serious approach and use of the appropriate tools (dictionaries will inform you of the correct constructions for verbs for instance, and phrases could have been taken from actual Latin texts and slightly modified to make them simpler). And let's just not get started on the pronunciation but just say that maybe for the Alpha version ask an Italian or Spanish speaker with a basic knowledge of Latin phonology to read the phrases in order to at least hint at a correct pronunciation!


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

I've been teaching Latin for over fourteen years. I use this course as a supplement to my instruction. My students enjoy it and have shown an improvement in both vocabulary and understanding of the structure of Latin.

You may find it irritating, but this course isn't for meant for advanced learners, but beginners. It's clearly working.


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

As someone with exactly zero prior exposure to Latin at all, I struggle to understand your points.

I cannot see how it could reasonably be used by someone who actually wants to read authentic Latin texts

Well, of course not. I don't think that was ever an aim of the course designers. A course with 22 skills is obviously a simple introductory course.

The phrases are often not idiomatic and words are used in combinations where they can't be found in any of the preserved texts.... How is this going to help anyone learn Latin?

And I would hope not. While Latin is a "dead" language, it is not an "extinct" one. To introduce the basic concepts and grammar it isn't necessary to reach for Cicero or Caesar when something readily identifiable to a modern audience will do. This is the clearly (at least to me) reasoning behind the drunk parrots and angry weasels (or parrots drunk and weasels angry if you prefer).

And let's just not get started on the pronunciation... ask an Italian or Spanish speaker

From the tips in the first course, "This course uses Classical Pronunciation." Again, as a neophyte here, I've read that Ecclesiastical pronunciation is based on Italian due in a large part to Italian influence on the Catholic Church. So I assume it's the Ecclesiastical pronunciation you prefer. That discussion has already been had elsewhere.

With only 22 skills, no real focus on other verb tenses or moods or, it appears, any in-depth focus on prepositions it's sort of obvious that the course is very basic and has plenty of room to grow. As do most courses on Duolingo. But I have found it to be an excellent introductory course and I've used it as a springboard to find other resources for learning Latin.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/93k8nXGk

Agree with everything you say lectroidmarc apart from prounciation. For some the point of an education is to look down on those without it. And classics has a reputation for being that kind of education. So when if a teacher comes here with an opinion it's more passion and prejudice. On pronunciation that's different from say regional accents. So if a yorkshirewoman were to read following classical pronunciation she would still sound like a yorkshirewoman. So I would differentiate between classical restored pronunciation and say ecclesiastical pronunciation by how letters are soft or hard. Say the letter c it's ch in eclesiastical latin. On accents I tend to think Latin sounds nicer if pronounced with a modern Italian or mediterranean accent. Especially poetry. But that's got nothing to do with the Catholic Church or ecclesiastical pronunciation. There is a similar intenecine war going on in the pronunciation of ancient greek. Not going to start with the different types of ancient greek but essentially in Greece they follow modern greek pronunciation. The pronunciation sort of became fixed by the time of the death of Alexander so from Koine (the common tongue) onwards though the grammar and meaning still evolved. There's a whole other argument though with ancient greek on whether it should be a stress based language and if it appeals to you you can read and now hear youtube explanations of how one way is brilliant intelligent and makes sense and everybody else is just an ignorant conservative who learns nothing and forgets nothing or just some newbie keen to undermine thousands of years of scholarship. This is duo. And here there is a whole other set of passions and bigotries that kick in. I guess this course will not be on the required "reading" list of the university where Agnes teaches and I don't think that's a problem for anyone else at all. But hey some people find american accents sexy so you gotta choice.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/VZLplR9B

The only issue I have had with the course is that I wasn't catching on to the specifics of the case endings with it. I looked up a Latin grammar on the web which gave me a nice table of endings for puer and the basic meanings of each of the cases. That has sensitized me to what is going on there.

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