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Nice, i was trying to think of something. I would've said "when it rains, it pours". That expression is well used here, (explaining for others) basically meaning that a a small amount of trouble or misfortune is usually followed by a lot. It's usually said when things start to get worse and worse for someone.
Man in a bar, "I lost the big account, got fired, and then my wife left me."
And the bartender replies, "when it rains, it pours" while setting a whiskey glass in front of the gentleman.
"Yep, when it rains, it pours," exclaims the guy as he commences to crying in his whiskey.
How odd! As a southern-England UK English speaker, it would never occur to me that "singly" was an unusual word. In the COCA (Corpus of Contemporary American English) it is listed as occurring 338 times in the 450, million word corpus. That's not that uncommon; neighbouring words in the rankings include hubbub, barbarism, recklessness.... It must have some odd distribution, either geographically or in terms of kinds of writing. The best definition is probably "one at a time"
Duolingo needs to translate all the idioms directly and then give an explanation bc I'll never remember them if they make absolutely no sense to the translations and also idk why but every time I press comments it goes to different conversation that's not about the phrase I'm on.
The literal translation to English should use the word "disgrace". Considering an idiom on its literal translation gives insight into the culture better than forcing a translation to a saying in English that uses different metaphors... How about this for a (nearly) literal translation?
"Disgrace is rarely/seldom a silly thing."
It might be a good idea to offer the literal translation for informational purposes, but this does not help the learner understand when/how the phrase is used; a non-literal translation to a similar phrase in the learner's native language will do a much better job of that.
"Disgrace is rarely/seldom a silly thing" is not the meaning of this phrase, literal or otherwise. This would be something like "Desgraça é raramente uma coisa boba" (perhaps one of the native speakers here can suggest a more elegant translation of your phrase). The "pouca" in the idiom modifies the "desgraça," not the verb "é." A small but meaningful distinction.
I would agree with both of you (drmartinyoung) for various reasons. 1.) Duolingo is telling us to write the translation of the phrase; 2.) The words used to construct an idiom usually have something to do with its meaning but even more importantly when using an idiom you are using those exact words and not the meaning of the phrase. 3.) Even in a native language the meaning of idioms is not that self evident and are learned through experience or explanation of the usage. A good example of this would be the phrase in English "Kick rocks" which MEANs "get moving, go away, time to go, or run," such as "Kick rocks or your in trouble." But the phrase is actually alluding to the action of rocks/debris being kicked up by the action of running.
I think that like ShaneSmith6 says their should be a literal translation to inform about the vocabulary used, and I think a better option would be an explanation which also includes an idiom in a native language that could be seen as analogous.