Dead languages

I came across a rather interesting article in favour of learning Latin:

(Sorry for the long link)

Has anyone ever studied Latin or Ancient Greek? What were your reasons? I plan to in the future, but I notice it seems to create less interest (for obvious reasons) than living languages do.

I’m studying Latin at school… I think that, at least to me, who love languages, Latin could be learnt fairly quickly… The problem is we don’t learn vocabulary, and we don’t really use the language, either to read or to speak. When we use it, it’s like a really important and difficult event, and we need to take dictionaries and consult the teacher very often… I’d like to use it more, but I don’t feel confident enough to use LingQ for it… I know some grammar more than in German, even though I understand better a text in it, while with Latin, the text would seem Latin to me xD

When I tried to use LingQ for it, it still seemed very hard, because I had to check everything in the print dictionary and I had difficulties with simple words… Like pronouns…

I had to study it in high school (6 years) in Austria. It’s still required as a prerequisite for studying languages, medicine, law etc. at Austrian universities. If you haven’t taken Latin classes in high school, you can take an exam at university. You don’t need it for business or technical subjects.

Actually I liked it, because I was interested in foreign languages. But many students hated it and many failed. They told us it was good for understanding German grammar and for learning related languages (English, Romance languages). It helps with word etymology, but you could probably use French or another Romance language for that. We never used Latin for speaking, only for reading and translation, which I regretted. It’s clear that you have to get used to the many declinations and verb forms but it may be worth it if you are really interested in antiquity.

I would have liked to learn Ancient Greek, but could never bring myself to start seriously. I recently bought a French textbook, though, which claims to be “Accessible à chacun, quelle que soit sa formation, commode à celui qui étudie seul…” It’s called “Initiation au grec ancien” by J.V. Vernhes and comes with an extra key. And then there is Assimil’s Le Grec ancien, for which there are even CDs.

In the meantime I want to stick to my Russian studies on LinQ and just as an experiment in “starting a language from scratch” I’ve started the Swedish “power of the linguist”.

I’m not sure I would ever bother learning to speak them, but I would try and find a pleasant pronunciation to use for when I am reading aloud or to myself. A focus on just learning to read - maybe listen as well - would greatly reduce the workload. And then you have access to a treasure-trove of literature!

I think it would be great if we had Latin on LingQ one day. I just wonder what we would use as the correct pronunciation?


I am interested to hear about your experience with Swedish. We have only limited content there. I am hoping that we can add content in the coming months. I hope also that some of our Swedish speaking learners will help us.

By the same token we would love to have some German content with an Austrian flavour in our German store.


As far as Latin pronunciation is concerned, it differs a lot depending on the national tradition and the influence of people’s native language. English speakers have different pronunciations than French or Italian or German speakers, which would make it difficult to understand by others. There is a reconstructed pronunciation though (e.g. all c’s pronounced as k, v like English w, ae as a diphthong), which is descibed in the Assimil course, but I don’t have the cassettes.

As for Swedish, the limited content does not bother me so far :slight_smile:
I’d really like to read and speak a Scandinavian language too. I tried Norwegian once with cassettes (Hugo’s “in three months”) and liked it, but didn’t continue long enough.
I like Swedish too. Trying out your recommendations I listened to the first two parts of Makten av linguist for half an hour, then my brain started to get used to the rhythm. I find the similarities to and differences from German very interesting. I like to guess at the meanings of all those funny prepositions and phrases that sometimes remind me of German words but are also different. I’m doing part 7 now.
I’ll think about some German content, just need some time for that.


One problem I encountered with Swedish is the dictionary widget because I have no previous knowledge of basic vocabulary, so I have started to look up even very basic words in an online dictionary (Schwedisch Deutsch Wörterbuch mit 85.750 Übersetzungen). Sometimes I can guess the meaning because it is similar to an English or German word, but there seem to be many false friends. I guess I’ll just have to keep going. For the time being I don’t want to use a textbook, I kind of like the language to build up slowly and naturally and don’t want to be distracted by grammar.

That’s quite a good dictionary. I use this one = which you might also find helpful. It seems to be pretty comprehensive. For some strange reason though, they don’t offer it in German.

I have a book of Latin.
I think it’s a very interesting language,mainly because many languages came from it.There are many English words that came from the Latin.

One day i hope we have Latin at LingQ.

Latin as dead language is pronounced in “restaured pronounciation” (the pronounciation rebuilt by philologists), the Humanistic pronounciation is the pronouciation used by Romance languages’ speakers and as “alive language” in Vatican State. There is a very nice course of Latin for English speaking people (^top^home), morover Vatican Radio broadcasts also in Latin language. Latin knoweledge helps to understand roots of words in many languages. Do you Know Eurocom system (a method to learn languages by using roots)? If yes what do you think about it?
And a question a bit out of context: What do you think about “Esperanto”?

Thanks Navigante,

One day we will do Latin here,and even Esperanto. All we need is content and people interested in those languages. For the time being I am more interested in living languages where I can meet the people of that language. Latin interests me more than Esperanto because Latin has a literature and a culture that I can connect with.

I studied Latin in high school and the experience is what made me want to study other languages. It may have been the teacher, who was excellent and made learning a lot of fun, but I remember loving the mental “feel” of learning to look at a sentence or paragraph and see not just a collection of letters but something coherent. It was like learning to read all over again. I regret that we didn’t do ANY aural comprehension exercises, though, because it fixed in my mind a method of learning from a book that has been hard to erase.

For increasing one’s vocabulary I think French is actually better, since it is closer to English but was heavily influenced by Latin and retained a lot of the Latin and Greek roots in everyday words that became “advanced” words in English.

The pronunciation issue is funny; we used the “classical” method (it sounds like what Alleray is describing), which is the supposed pronunciation during the classical period. For some reason I tended to pronounce it with a Spanish-esque accent that my teacher liked. I’ve no idea if the Romans slightly rolled their R’s or spoke with a rythmic lilting or not, but it sounded better to my ears when I read a passage aloud.


I am learning Latin right now. The verbs are killer, but everything else is pretty easy. Right now I’m finally getting to the very difficult (for me at least) things like the Pluperfect tenses, and the passive subjunctive :confused:

It would be great if LingQ offered Latin. I have to take a test in it before I apply to the university I would like to go to. I think that I understand the grammar well, but I only know around 300 words after two years! LingQ could help greatly with that part!

I learned Latin at school. It was considered important back in the twentieth century, for some reason.

Moving onto languages spoken more recently in Britain:

There are some keen speakers of Manx, the language of the Isle of Man, despite it being officially dead. Also Cornish, Welsh (nearly dead at one point but now alive and well thanks to government funding and Welsh determination), Scottish and Irish Gaelic (alive but not widely spread), Jersiase or Jerriase (the language of the island of Jersey) and several other British languages. What their motivation is I’m not clear, but their determination impresses me :slight_smile:

If Lingq were to offer Latin, I would take it.

We would love to offer Latin. I believe there are recordings of readings in Latin. It will have to wait until we open LingQ up to more languages, which hopefully will not take too much longer.