"Gaven er et smykke" (the gift is a piece of jewelry)
I have finished my Danish tree some time ago. I working on keeping it gold as a warm-up exercise as I work on stuff at the intermediate level. One little problem with Duolingo for me has been that the combination of the gaming and social media has worked so well, that now I am a bit spoiled for doing normal grammar exercises. And, there is a whole pile of exercise books bridging the space between where the tree leaves off and what is needed, for example, to be ready to take the Danish citizenship test. It would be so much easier if only someone (hint, hint....) would put all these intermediate level exercises into an "advanced tree." Another place it seems to me that the Duolingo tree method could be used is with pronunciation. For English speakers Danish pronunciation is a bear and "gaven er et smykke" points to a very typical problem for English speakers. Learning to hear the difference between "smykke" (a piece of jewelry) and "smukke" (beautiful) is hard. I know that Danish doesn't seem to do this sort of thing but why now have a series of exercises aimed at the oral recognition of some of these typical problems? I realize that this is dreaming. But doesn't something like this logically follow? In gaming, when a company gets a whole lot of people hooked on a game, doesn't it naturally lead pressure to add levels? Why not start using the Duolingo methods on intermediate level stuff, whether in grammar or pronunciation? Duolingo priority on adding languages rather than adding levels. With this, the Duolingo answers to this question to be (1) to suggest to people to start another language or (2) to tell them it is time to start using the language in the "real" world. Both are good answers. (Russian is tempting me). AND it also seems true that, just as with gaming, the more successful Duolingo becomes, the more people there will be who yearn to be able to have more levels. Thanks all. And thanks especially to our hard-working Danish team. The new material you have added makes it a lot more satisfying to continue to use the tree for practice especially when I come across a sentence I have not seen that displays the characteristic bit of Duolingo whimsy and attitude.
I'm a native Danish speaker, and it never appeared to me, that there would be a problem in hearing the difference between "smykke" and "smukke", but I just tried to say both them, and you're right... To the untrained ear, these two words are extremely similar. The difference would be even weirder between words like "lys" (light) and "lus" (lice). Where "smykke" and "smukke" may have a little in common, as the jewelry can be beautiful, lice and light have nothing in common AT ALL.
Yeah. And you better watch out for those wild chickens found on the West Coast of Denmark especially in the winter (kuling vs kylling). In my mind's eye I can just see a whole Duolingo tree or at least a series of lessons that would play off such pairs where anglophones have trouble hearing the distinctions between the vowels. So, in the wonderfully odd Duolingo world you can have drunk badgers and talking ducks. Why not "Jeg ser de dansende lus på bordet"? Wait a minute! Did I hear that right? Maybe it was "Jeg ser det dansende lys".
I encountered such problems very frequently when talking danish or just by hearing it. The problem comes with the increased pace they are talking. Makes it really hard to puzzle apart words even worse when they sound very similar. There is a wide range of words that are quite similar. It requires lots of training to hear the difference. I haven't quite managed that yet. In many cases you just have to figure it out from the context. Which isn't that easy to do in talking, since the time you can think in is very limited. But as with all languages, it comes with time and practice. At some point you get to know the kind of words you need to pay attention to. I hope it will get easier then :D
One of the best things about Duolingo is the wonderful support! Yet, here I partially disagree, as regard my own experience. Every language has its hard points (for me all those different noun endings were a bear for in Russian, for example). And, for Danish it is the pronunciation. Your advice of just talking--and listening--works well for some. It works great for my wife and daughter who are very musical have great "ears". I imagine it also works better if one is on a place where it is easy to find conversation partners, which I am not. I was feeling somewhat discouraged about it until I got a great tutor who said to me "no, Danish pronunciation is not hard, it is just complicated. It can be learned piece by piece." So, she and I worked for about three months on a book Dansk Udtale i 49 Tekster. There is a sound system to Danish which raises a finite number of problems, a largish but still finite number of problems. Like the multiplication tables these can be learned piece-by-piece. This is what worked for me. It would be far better to be one of those people who can pick it up as you say through "time and practice." In my next life I am going to be one of those people! But for now, my message is this for any of those for whom "time and practice" does not work with Danish pronunciation: there are a finite number of issues, of which the "lys" and "lus" is a good example. While it takes a while to work through the issues and is a bit frustrating, it is perfectly possible even for those who don't have much of an ear for it. One can overcome them by working on them, systematically, one-by-one. Gradually the sound distinctions will become clear, rather like objects become clear on a misty morning as you walk towards them. Just keep listening to and trying to mimic the key contrasting pairs where the difference in the sound creates differences in meaning ("lys" and "lus"). I don't want to get over-enthused here as regards my own achievements. A while ago my tutor began to encourage me to focus my attention on other issues (on word order, like where to place those darn central adverbs!). I asked her whether this meant she thought that I had mastered the pronunciation stuff. She wrinkled her nose and said, "let's just say it is not the chief barrier now to your being understood." Thanks, Mariana. Thanks all!
Thanks for your great insights. It shows how different people really are. Since the more I speak myself and listen to others speak danish, the more and better I get understanding and speaking myself. Over the course of the last year I can definitely see a huge improvement. Too bad this kind of learning didn't appeal to you. But it seems you have a great tutor that understands the way of teaching and helping you out very well. I'd really like to know more about the book you are using, if you might want to elaborate on that a bit and how it helped you, I'd be grateful - maybe it could help me as well to get a deeper understanding of the pronunciation. :) Since for now I keep learning word by word actually. Thanks for the great post. You are a great contribution to the community if I may add that as well.
To be clear, the this type of learning appeals to me greatly. Indeed, I envy those who can learn this way. Just does not work as well for me as it seems to work for others. The book is Dansk Udtale i 49 tekster, by Lisbet Thornborg published by Forlaget Synope (www.synope.dk) and comes with a CD. The same publisher has other things, including a more basic one which might work better if someone were using it without the benefit of a teacher. I have never seen these sold in the US but they seem to be commonly used by the Danish language schools in Denmark that help people with the prep for the citizenship test. Your compliment is gracious and appreciated. I will take it as a reminder find my own way today to put some positive energy out into the universe.