Learn ancient languages together.

Dead Languages Society

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Learning Goals

The Dead Languages Society aims to help us understand the cultures and societies of the past in their own words.

Each cohort, we take a particular ancient language and learn it together by working through a free or cheap textbook together. The textbooks we'll use include historical texts written in the language we're studying, so we'll be reading real material by the end of the course at the latest.

By the end of the cohort, you'll have a working knowledge of the writing system, pronunciation, and grammar of the language we're studying. You'll also learn about the life and times of the people who spoke this language. Finally, you'll have read excerpts from a number of important texts written in the language.


Each cohort of this club will run for 8 weeks. Each cohort we study a different language, but we spend all 8 weeks of a cohort on the same language.

Each week we will meet for 1 hour to work through the material in a single chapter of a textbook (or less, depending on the density of the textbook!).

Any necessary grammar explanations will be provided by the facilitator, who is a linguist – although not an expert in any of the languages we are studying.

In between our meetings, we will be able to use the forum to ask questions and do optional practice exercises.

Who Should Sign Up

This club is for people who are curious about the past and want to learn to speak its language(s). It is not intended for experienced students of the language that we are studying, who will likely find our pace quite slow!

No linguistics knowledge or language learning experience is required, although if you have any of either, it will be welcome.

  • If you're a more experienced language learner, you can use this club as a framework and accountability group, doing plenty of reading and exercises between sessions.
  • If you have more of a casual interest in the language, you can simply follow along during the meeting to get an appreciation for the language and its history.

So, in conclusion: Do you want to know what Beowulf sounded like? Do you want to read the Ramayana in its original Sanskrit? Do you want to check the accuracy of the Daode jing translation on your nightstand? Would you like to learn to tweet in Sumerian?

If you said yes to any of these questions, this is the club for you!

Join the Waitlist

The course isn't yet open, but leave your email and I'll let you know as soon as it launches.

Read on Substack