Latin Duolingo

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seanjonesbw
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Latin Duolingo

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:49 pm

Hey look, they finally put Latin on Duolingo! https://www.duolingo.com/course/la/en/Learn-Latin

I'm going ab initio, so I'll report back on how it goes. I'm hoping I can get to the point where people on the Greek board stop telling me to learn Latin 😊. I've used Duolingo before but I must admit I remain to be convinced when it comes to a highly-inflected language.
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seanjonesbw
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Re: Latin Duolingo

Post by seanjonesbw » Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:28 pm

Image

My geography's improving if nothing else.
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Barry Hofstetter
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Re: Latin Duolingo

Post by Barry Hofstetter » Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:09 pm

The general consensus so far is that it's a fun supplement. I mean, where else do you get a psittacus ebrius? :D

The "placement test" asked me to write in Latin "Minerva is wise." I wrote "Minerva sapiens est." It marked me wrong and corrected "Minerva est sapiens." I also found the recordings at times practically incomprehensible, both the quality of the recording and the over-pronunciation of some of the speakers.

They could have adapted material from the colloquia for more realistic spoken Latin.
N.E. Barry Hofstetter
The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
καὶ σὺ τὸ σὸν ποιήσεις κἀγὼ τὸ ἐμόν. ἆρον τὸ σὸν καὶ ὕπαγε.

seanjonesbw
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Re: Latin Duolingo

Post by seanjonesbw » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:20 pm

Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:09 pm
The general consensus so far is that it's a fun supplement. I mean, where else do you get a psittacus ebrius? :D
Ha! Yeah I did actually screenshot that at the time. There are fewer jokes than other courses though, which is disappointing, but the course is also quite short so they might sneak a few more in later on.

Image
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:09 pm
The "placement test" asked me to write in Latin "Minerva is wise." I wrote "Minerva sapiens est." It marked me wrong and corrected "Minerva est sapiens."
From what I've seen so far, there's a pretty consistent problem with some synonyms (it will sometimes accept market instead of forum, sometimes not) as well as English articles and word order in both languages, which is understandable. They hand correct these one by one (by adding in extra correct answers) so do use the Report function if you spot errors. There's surprisingly little automatic parsing of the English.
Barry Hofstetter wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 12:09 pm
I also found the recordings at times practically incomprehensible, both the quality of the recording and the over-pronunciation of some of the speakers.

They could have adapted material from the colloquia for more realistic spoken Latin.
I think the reader with the Italian accent is Marco Romani Mistretta of the Paideia Institute, if that means anything to you. You're right about the recording quality - are there any audio resources you'd recommend for pronunciation?
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RandyGibbons
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Re: Latin Duolingo

Post by RandyGibbons » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:30 pm

You'll generally never get two people to agree on someone else's pronunciation of Latin or Greek, but for classically restored pronunciation of Latin I particularly like Evan Millner. Also, try Textkit's own Bedwere (for Latin and Greek).

seanjonesbw
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Re: Latin Duolingo

Post by seanjonesbw » Sat Aug 31, 2019 8:15 am

Thanks Randy! I came for Evan Millner's Latin pronunciation but I stayed for his extensive collection of cravats.
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seanjonesbw
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Re: Latin Duolingo

Post by seanjonesbw » Sun Sep 01, 2019 11:43 am

A short review of the Duolingo Latin course for anyone who’s interested:

Duolingo’s co-founder, Luis von Ahn, said in 2014 that he wanted to get Latin and Greek on the site “eventually, but I don’t think it will be within the next 4 months.” Well, he was right. The delay is understandable - Duolingo has always been focused on language learning with an end to speaking rather than reading - but it’s a bit galling that Latin has appeared on the site after Klingon and High Valyrian.

More annoying is that, compared with other languages on Duolingo, the Latin course is extremely short. How short? Over the course of 22 topics, which you can easily complete in a couple of days, it doesn’t get beyond the present active indicative. Because it’s a Living Latin course, there are some useful detours to teach you how to use volō as an auxiliary and the construction of questions is covered extensively, but if you’re hoping to be able tell someone “The weasel went to the forum” (the course is big on weasels and parrots) then you’re out of luck.

The course does have some tricks up its sleeve, though. Duolingo never explains grammar and trusts you to use your intuition to work things out. Coming to the course with no Latin other than what you come across in English and Italian, I found myself picking up cases pretty quickly and if I were going to recommend the course to anyone it would be the kind of person who hates memorising tables of paradigms.

What can I read (and say) in Latin that I couldn’t three days ago?

The worried old man tastes that peacock. Stercus non est in cubiculo. Dirty weasels live in the bedroom. Uxorem callidam habeo (this is true). The drunk old men dance in the temple. Pupa saltat! Weasels don’t have togas.

Every sentence comes with a recording of a real person saying it (lots of the other courses have synthesised speech), which I found very useful even though, as Barry mentions above, the recordings sound a bit like a Skype call.

In its current state, I don’t think this course is going to change the world, but if they extend it to include other tenses, voices and moods I can see it becoming the standard entry point to Latin for a lot of people. As for me, I suppose I’ll go crawling to Ørberg begging forgiveness. At the very least, I've developed a taste for Latin (and peacock).
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