Proposal: Latin Language

So I've seen that some questions have macrons in them. How necessary will they be?

  • 1
    Because I can't type them...
    – ws04
    Mar 30, 2015 at 22:48

2 Answers 2


There are many options if you want type macrons for your Latin text:

  • create a keyboard shortcut
  • install a IME
  • copy/paste from other questions (or any other page on the internet containing letters with macrons)

See also Wikipedia's Help: Macrons.

Still, I think that macrons in questions will not be necessary. After all Latin literature is not written with macrons, which are usually used in textbooks or dictionaries for helping with pronunciation.

Whether we want to (strongly?) encourage the use of macrons or not (and edit existing posts or not) should probably best be discussed in a meta post once the site is online.

  • 1
    In Linux you can use the marvelous compose key
    – marmistrz
    May 31, 2015 at 17:12
  • You can always use HTML shortcuts. But I agree; I think we'll have to Meta the question out, but I don't think that they should be required. Jan 19, 2016 at 15:14
  • @marmistrz why do I feel like you just did this: xkcd.com/272
    – tox123
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:04

Certainly macrons should not be necessary in questions or answers.

I understand macrons as "training wheels" for Latin students. They're mostly used in dictionaries and in textbooks for beginners, not in "adult"-level writing in Latin—not even on the Latin Wikipedia.

I've been using them in my posts here on Area 51 for two reasons.

  1. If you're a beginner like me, the macrons are a huge help. If you're trying to pick up the language, it helps to know the sound and rhythm of it (especially if you want to understand quantitative verse), especially if you're picking up new words from context.

  2. Writing the macrons helps me internalize the vowel quantity, since it forces me to consider every vowel consciously.

I've been studying Latin at a gentle pace on my own for about a year now, and I am finding that I no longer need the macrons so much. I can usually infer the vowel quantity correctly, even in unfamiliar words. So, lately I've mostly given them up, as advised by Cerberus in this comment.

When the site goes live, though, I will certainly have a few questions about how you deal with ambiguous vowel quantity. When I saw Horace's phrase ab ovo usque ad mala, I thought it meant "from the eggs to the bad things"! Er, no, that's māla.

  • 1
    I don't think there is any problem with using macrons, if people are able and have the time, because they do help see the vowel length as mentioned. However it would be touch to insist on it as, I believe, they would make the process of writing a post much more difficult.
    – formica
    Jan 28, 2016 at 0:10

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