We’ve all been there, visited in the middle of the night by a mysterious goat-headed demon offering candy in exchange for your soul. You're more than willing to offer up your soul for just a taste of Mr. Goat's warm satchel of sweetness, but try as you might, you can't communicate with the goat. You’ve tried everything from English to British English, but nothing works. Finally, you break down and decide it's time to learn Archaic Latin, the language of goat demons.

Now you’re left with a choice, do you travel the ancient tombs of Mesopotamia in search of the ancient runestone coated in the blood of serpents or download Duolingo? Well, it depends.

First, let's consider the tech. I’ll be the first to admit, the tech used on the ancient runestone feels a bit dated. The act of searing the runestone to your forehead for eternity feels clunky compared to Duolingo’s smooth user interface. However, if you’re looking for something simple to use, then Ancient Runestone is just what the witch doctor ordered. Sure, the forehead sear will cause hours of excruciating pain coupled with vivid hallucinations of impending doom, but once it’s synced with your soul, using it could not be easier. That's because each of those horrific hallucinations will be chock-full of easy-to-learn Latin exercises!

Some users even find these terrifying hallucinations essential to the learning process.

“When a ghost man with the head of a jackal appeared to me and said ‘¿Dónde está el baño?' that’s when the Spanish lesson just clicked!” noted one Ancient Runestone user shortly before his untimely disappearance. A pretty nifty feature indeed, but there are still those of us who learn better via cartoon owl, and that’s understandable!

Sure, Duolingo might have a bit of a learning curve compared to Ancient Runestone, but it makes up for this curve with a complete lack of serpents’ blood. Since Duolingo is an app and not a tangible object like Ancient Runestone, it cannot be covered in the blood of serpents. So, if being eternally covered in snake blood is not your thing, then maybe give a point to Duolingo.

However, the cleanliness factor Duolingo offers via lack of serpents’ blood is somewhat overshadowed by its failure to include a skeleton army. Every Ancient Runestone features a skeleton army that is operated via Bluetooth. The skeleton army is a fantastic resource if you need help with language lessons or usurping a small island nation. Granted, sometimes the usurpation does fail, resulting in the death of all your skeletons, and pairing a Bluetooth device with each skeleton's consciousness can be a pain if you don't have a Necronomicon. But, if a skeleton army isn’t an absolute must-have, Duolingo still has a lot to offer.

Still undecided? Well, a great question to ask yourself when deciding on which tool is right for you is: Do I want to die? For most people, this is the deciding factor in choosing the foreign language learning tool that’s right for them. Duolingo and Ancient Runestone handle the matter of your demise very differently. One of the core features of Ancient Runestone is immortality, so if you’re an Ancient Runestone user, you’ll never need to learn phrases like: “It’s time I got my affairs in order,” or “It’s spread to my liver.” You’ll be too busy learning phrases only uttered by the immortal like: “Want to feed Velveeta to feral polar bears?” or “No thanks, I had Everclear for lunch.”

And whereas Ancient Runestone works like an immortality-granting wizard, Duolingo works more like Microsoft Word by just letting you die. That can be a bit of a downside for users who were hoping to take lessons from a cartoon owl well after the heat death of the universe. After all, immortality is a sizeable selling point!

But immortality doesn’t come without a price, specifically, $849.99. That means even if you manage to survive the journey through the Mesopotamian burial chambers in search of the ancient runestone, you'll still need to fork over a cool 850 bucks! Well, either that or defeat a half-scorpion half-WWE wrestler. And trust me, you don't want to fight the scorpion wrestler, so if you’re poor like me, death might be more within your budget.

But regardless of whether you choose immortality or cartoon owl, you’re in good company! And now you have all the knowledge you need to go out there and choose the language learning tool that’s right for you, so as they say in Latin, “Candy da mihi, caper daemonium”!


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