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https://www.duolingo.com/ktal

Why I don't translate...

ktal
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I quit translating because it was so annoying to see my English mangled by people whose grammar and style are terrible. It's worst for poetry and literature, where I'd capture nuance, and someone would translate literally. Can't we rank translators and give the good ones priority?

4 years ago

22 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Samquilla

I don't think duolingo is suited to translating poetry at all. There's no way to reach a crowd-sourced consensus on poetic translation. Duo is best for things like Wiki articles that have the goal of conveying factual information, not artistic writing. Translating art is an art which requires much more than basic knowledge of a language.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pell_mell
pell_mell
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I think we can see previous translations, and choose a more appropriate one if it's there. Many well-meaning people don't understand the nuance, and that's just the flaw of crowdsourcing. They're usually new at this - sometimes learning a second language for the first time, many in their teens. If your translation is best, it will float to the top of the pile eventually. Don't forget, the main purpose is practising your skills. If you enjoyed translating otherwise, I'd suggest changing your account notification settings so you can't see what's been changed... I used to get emails, and they drove me up the wall too :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Alipaulam
Alipaulam
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I'm not sure it's true that the best translation will necessarily rise to the top of the pile, because

a) a lot of people, especially newbies, obviously don't bother to read previous translaions, because they just want have a go themselves (i certainly did this) and

b) more seasoned translators can't be bothered to be constantly going back and re instating (their own, or others') better translations, because they know that tomorrow there'll be another change, and you begin to look like an egotist if you keep reinstating a translation. Often the new versions will come several weeks after you first looked at it, and you've moved on.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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That's theoretically what the tier system is for. Although whether it achieves that goal or not is anyone's guess.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ziggKogg
ziggKogg
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Honestly, nobody cares what someones tier is when it comes to evaluating a translation. It's all about "me, myself and I".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pdawes

Popular articles are pure chaos. 10 word sentences with 30 translations. Sentences with 50 upvotes being replaced with inferior versions.

Imagine how bad this problem will be five years from now when Duo is 10 times larger.

95% of the problem will go away if Tier 1 users are prohibited from editing a sentence after the fifth version.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/0liwia
0liwia
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Problem is, you change Tiers if you're upvoted. I've seen people translate only titles in a article to be sure they'd get upvoted and help their general number of upvotes, especially if they get downvoted a lot otherwise. I mean that you can still change Tiers without being a really helpful translator.

I stopped a long time ago as looking at other people butchering good translations (not only mines) made me cringe.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ktal
ktal
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I think that only review boards of native speakers can judge the quality of translations. It would be nice to have native speaker volunteers who could provide some objective feedback.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ziggKogg
ziggKogg
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It seems like a failure when you read everyone's comments on this page. The tier system was intended to encourage article translation (and therefore make money) but so many people are just annoyed with the infantile behavior and turning away from the feature.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/magiaaron
magiaaron
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I agree with you completely. It's very frustrating to have someone come along and mangle something you already translated well. I've had that happen several times in the last day and I've edited this comment several times now as I started to rant about it. ;) Suffice it to say, you're not alone. I'm not really sure what can be done about it, though. As someone else mentioned, simple ranking like we have isn't sufficient because people translate stuff they can't get wrong. I've even seen people translate just the numbering in a list! Hahaha Of course, they get upvoted without ever doing any real translation. On the other hand, I've also had some Level One folks catch typos and slight mistranslations, so you don't want to just lock people out. Heck, I bet there are plenty of people at level one that have a much tighter grasp on Spanish than I do. Hopefully, over time, Duolingo will be able to see the trends in the translations and figure out a better formula for calculating this.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samquilla

When I have had this happen I have changed it back and written a long comment about why mine is better. At least that gives later raters the opportunity to understand your side. I have also had one really good conversation with another user on this topic in the "discussion" section of the article Cucuta. I tend to try to stay away from really popular articles, but I've found people to be overall pretty willing to either let it go or engage in a discussion. I tend to only bother to discuss with someone if I think that what they've changed it to is wrong or much worse than what I had, rather than different but equal, etc.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ktal
ktal
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I guess I'll try to give more detailed comments then. It's the poetry that depresses me -- I'm a literary writer in English, and I know my translations for some poems are much closer to the author's intent than the literal translations. My most frustrating was a case where people kept mistaking a woman's name for the literal translation of the word.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samquilla

It may also be that there are different community norms/better norm following in some language communities compared to others. I have never participated in German immersion, my experience is only with Spanish. It could be that some immersion communities are better/worse with this stuff.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CaliSurfer

FWIW, I have stopped returning to my translations for the same reason. I'm happy to learn by someone who has a better take on it and I welcome the input. This is a wonderful way to learn. However, there's really no time to get into a back and forth with people who have obviously "butchered" a well thought out translation. All we can hope for is that the "best" translation finds its way to the top. Turning the email feature off is an excellent idea!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MJBS
MJBS
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I've seen quite a few cases where someone has changed a correct translation to one which they have literally lifted straight from Google translate (I checked because it made no sense whatsoever in English so it made me suspicious). I've also had downvotes for translations which I'm quite sure are fine. I think you should get rid of downvotes as I've seen that people use them as weapons from people who have annoyed them, rather than as a learning tool, sadly.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/evilmeow

I think that in times like these it might be good to use the comment option to explain why you didn't translate word-by-word so that beginners won't get confused and those who aren't sure about it can learn.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hohenems
Hohenems
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Comments don't get read by people just looking for points.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sigmacharding
sigmacharding
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I think that we should be given the option of both literal and poetic translations and the more fitting being the victor in each case

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CaliSurfer

It seems that many people take too much "liberty" when it comes to "capturing nuance" while others are way too literal. This is a fine balance and a challenge to reconcile for any good translator.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ktal
ktal
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I do use the comment option, but the people who most need to read them don't bother. And literal translations of poetry are simply... wrong.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mercutio

I studied literature at university and I totally agree translating poems In particular are very difficult as each language has it's own rhythms and a few syllables can dramatically change the flow.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/dirkgently31

The "Immersion Section" of Duolingo faces many difficulties. Ideally, optimal translations would be reached and contributors would be rewarded for their efforts. However, as many of you have pointed out, translations ,by their nature, are a result of culmination of language knowledge an individual possesses and trade-offs in the translation process.

For example, do you translate an idiom in one language into an idiom in the other language or do you translate the spirit of the idiom? If you doubt the difficulty selecting the "correct" translation, look no further than the number of translations of ancient works like Dante's Inferno. Countless editions exist and each possesses a unique character and approach.

Given that this site is based around learning, Duolingo should be focusing on choosing a gamefication approach that rewards learning progress for the individual. Frankly, until you reach a 'critical mass' in the language, translating titles or lists may be the extent of your ability whereas individuals that have much more knowledge, may blow through articles that deal with familiar topics.

As for complaining about people who translate "easy sections" for points, I think you may be confusing motive. For example, in the current point set-up I receive no points for rating other's sentences until I am tier 2. Depending on my mood, I prefer to read sentences and see how they were edited instead of simply editing sentences myself. In the current system, that is not rewarded at all unless you have already reached tier 2. Thus, since they have implemented this system, I have tried to focus on translating easy content and content at the top of articles to receive upvotes more quickly and progress to tier 2.

I certainly would need to dedicate more thought to the problem; however, my initial instinct is that translation tiers/assignments should be directly linked to the skill tree progress. Perhaps you would be locked out of "easy sections" (1-4 word fragments that would be associated with titles and lists) after you progress far enough. Similarly, at early levels, you would be locked out of translating whole sentences (except in special articles that have already been translated or something of that sort).

Ultimately, if you are using the site for learning, I wouldn't worry about other people trumping your translation. If they leave constructive feedback or you notice a considerable improvement, take that as a learning opportunity. Otherwise, shrug it off as translating the sentence has already strengthened your language skills.

TL:DR - This is probably one of Duolingo's most complex problems that the platform needs to conquer as the community continues to grow.

P.S. Those of you thinking that adding languages is the big problem would be mistaken as the community already has a successful pattern to follow for writing new language curriculums.

P.P.S. Sorry this post is rather long for the forum section ^.^

4 years ago