As the year comes to an end, I wanted to give you some updates on the Incubator:
It's working! As you know, we started the Incubator as a scalable (experimental) way to add new language courses to Duolingo. When we started, we didn't know if it would work at all, or if the courses made with it would be any good. At this point, I'm happy to say that the Incubator is a big success. Already two courses have been fully created by the community, with many more on the way. According to our internal metrics, the community-created courses are of the same quality as the ones developed by our own team were when they were in beta :)
Careful growth. We have received over 20,000 applications to contribute to different courses. Because we didn't want any low-quality courses, we decided early on that we would add courses slowly at first, and also be very selective with the moderators. The incubator was launched about 11 weeks ago, and so far we've added 11 courses, so we're adding about one course per week. If you applied to moderate a course that we haven't added yet, hang tight because we may be calling on you soon!
Courses to learn other languages from English. Our strategy for adding courses has been to first do the ones to learn English from other popular languages, and once those are done and ironed out, start letting the same moderators work on the opposite direction. So, expect courses for learning Russian, Dutch, Turkish and Hungarian from English to be started in a few weeks. We expect the reverse courses to be completed much faster than the original ones because they are about 75% the same, and the user interface does not need to be localized.
Courses in the mobile apps. For every incubator course, the plan is to first release it as beta on the website only, and leave it there to simmer for a few weeks. Once the kinks are resolved by having website users test the courses, we will add them to the apps.
Luis, thanks for the important update. I'm really looking forward to having new courses. I also hope we'll be able to have a lot of other languages available soon.
Also, is there any way to contribute to courses that already exist? For instance, I learned Spanish from English, and many of us found that the last lessons weren't enough to learn the subjunctive. There are surely other grammar topics that could have been improved. Is there any way for a native speaker of a language to improve that specific course? My native language is not Spanish, but I could do that for Italian, in case some topic was not fully covered.
There's actually some English natives that would like to do this too. I learned French very young and German very late, and if I could work on sharpening both of them together, that would be amazing!
I'm totally not posting this just for my sake, I just want to represent a type of case that is probably more common than you'd expect... roll on full-duplex two way language instruction along arbitrarily defined source->target axes!
I may need to work on a better slogan...
Skill points are already only dependent on target language. So if you currently learn English from French and Spanish, all your skill points earned will be put together in your English skill points.
On the other end, you'll have to do the new tree from the beginning. But you can take shortcuts.
I agree with you Highlander16! Generally for native asian language speakers from Korea and Japan, lots of western(?) languages are grammatically quite hard. (For Chinese speakers, it would be a lot easier because of the similarity on word orders) Actually I think many european people have some advantages on learning another european languages =]
That difference exists even among "European" languages. My experience as a Russian (who knew a little english) when learning German was that it was fairly easy and straightforward, because a lot of the structure translates quite well. On the other hand, I see native English-speakers struggle with German a lot, because many of the constructions are foreign to them -- English has no real cases, they don't have word genders, don't use compound words, prefixes and suffixes nearly as much, etc, etc. On the other hand, Russians regularly struggle with the definite and indefinite articles and "to be"(because in Russian "to be" is either included in the noun itself, or derived from context, and -- unlike, say, in Bulgarian -- the difference between definite and indefinite simply doesn't exist) and with what looks like five million different tenses in English.
Priviet, SomosTortugas! Yup, I see~ :) It was just, as for my own experience, very interesting to see how similar with Spanish, French and Italian, so far I know some. I envy my friends from those countries, because of the easiness to learn each other's languages..! (There should be added Portugues and Romanian I suppose.) I thought even Latin-which language is dead and I am very interested in- could be their original language. :D Of course those Roman(?) languages are very different from Slavic languages. Btw I really love to hear Russian, sounds so exotic and charming to me. So one day I looked over Cyril alphabets twice and I became able to read those beautiful characters! Happy me yay *^ㅅ^)// 러시아어 빨리 배우고 싶어요~! I wanna learn Russian asap in Duolingo3
The trick though is to focus on the letters that are different. H is someone's mouth clenching their teeth, going 'HNNNNNN'. П Is a post at the park for playing football. Maybe it's a pedestal. C is a snake. Hey, who said snakes had to be wavy :P? Etc.
I actually broke out the font authoring tools and made a mutant font halfway between the two when I wanted to learn the Russian alphabet. But the excercise of doing that in itself burned it into my head so I never needed to use it. It looks daunting, but really, 1337 5p34k is harder to read.
Anyway, it's kind of ❤❤❤❤❤, only installs one way, replaces DejaVuSans.ttf, assumes you know various other alphabets, is difficult to actually get the browser to use it in the right place and I don't know anything about this file site I just found but by all means, try it out! http://pastelink.me/dl/00c094
I just started learning Russian, and I found it much easier to memorize the "different" letters by going Greek to Cyrillic vs Roman to Cyrillic, since Cyrillic is directly derived from the Greek alphabet. I don't speak any Greek, but I knew enough from math and indirect exposure to make this work, If you have a casual knowledge of the Greek alphabet, it really does make things faster. http://www.greek-language.com/Alphabet.html
That's also a good way yes. It's almost like an extended Greek alphabet, or at least they contradict each other less than the latin alphabet does. Greek is also a very nice looking script, I actually fashion my own handwriting after it.
I did a visual comparison of them when I was learning it and there are only 7 letters that are 'stumbling blocks' between all three. We could use a new alphabet which is intelligible from all three directions really.
I like the principle of the I.P.A., but it would be horrible to actually have to write anything with it... such a wasted opportunity there. To be in a position to be able to sneak the rest of the 'european' alphabets into minds of the masses via the back door and not use it to full potential...but no, here's some upside down letters and ones with more lines through them... >:(
Rambling again, must stop now!
Yes definitely grammatically 'more correct' than what I have said. Just to explain to the German learners here: in every day (colloquial) German people often don't make a distinction between present tense and future tense. (Of course we should be doing that here! So thanks for your correction SomosTortugas.) So while what SomosTortugas said is grammatically correct (and commonly used), what I said is probably at least as common in colloquial German, though not quiet grammatically correct!
Franky, you are correct about Future Tense being a dying species in everyday German. However, "wird" is not actually future tense here.
Consider those two sentences: "Ein Apfel wird zu einer Orange", and "Ein Apfel ist eine Orange". Or maybe, more realistically, "Eine Kaulquappe wird zu einem Frosch" and "Eine Kaulquappe ist ein Frosch". The first sentence of each pair is a description of a process (in the present!), while the second sentence of each pair is plain wrong.
If you try to translate them into english (correctly), you will see that "wird" is NOT future tense here. It is "to become".
To finish up, in 18 years of living in Germany I've never heard anyone say "ist" for "gets" or "becomes", but it doesn't mean that no-one does it -- in Germany it generally just means "no-one does it where I lived", since even a Pfannkuchen are two totally different things depending on the region.
Bonehead, can't comment directly because the chain is too long. I am a native German speaker as well and 'ist' sounds perfectly fine to me. But than again I do not understand A WORD of swiss German - so I would not be surprised if this was different between the two, or more generally, regionally within German speaking countries.
Just did a quick google search to make sure I am not making this up :-) : http://german.about.com/library/blregverbsF.htm
My personal "feel" for those words is as follows:
Neuigkeiten literally means news (not the TV kind of news, that would be "Nachrichten", but "new information"/"latest gossip" kind of news). It has a connotation of being new information, as in "objectively new", not just "new for the recepient".
You would never use "Neuigkeiten" for software updates. That would be Aktualisierung.
Update (like Aktualisierung) has the connotation of bringing someone or something to a current state, even if it isn't necessarily "objectively" new information (ie if you ever talk with your mom on christmas, what you get from her about her side of the family is probably not really news, but it is an update ;-). However, Aktualisierung is pretty much never used in German for a purely "informational" update.
Ich kann mich nicht an solchen Loanwords (Leihwörter) gewöhnen -- ich sage immer noch "heruntergeladen".
After all the trouble of learning German, I can't get used to using such loanwords as 'downloaden / gedownloadet' -- I still use 'herunterladen'. But it's a losing battle to learn German, and not use any English loanwords ! Ach ! Still, I try to find German words for any English words… even though it probably makes my German look less fluent, instead of more fluent !
It is jarring to read "gedownloaded", but to be honest, it is just as jarring to read "Knallgastreibling" for "motor". Try this one: http://www.welt.de/welt_print/article1816254/Knallgas-Treibling.html
I can't say I'm the biggest fan of English loanwords... Unless they are rediculous like „body bag“ which I think means satchel. If only there was a commitie like the French have... In moderation I don't mind loanwords for things invented in other countries, but upload just doesnt sit well with me for some reason.
Turkish is a curious addition to the language list - it's not an Indo-European language. Has it got origins in common with Chinese? I imagine it will be very different in construction. We just think of it as a European language because Turkey is partly in Europe and the words are written in the Latin script.
Any thoughts on Persian? It's an Indo-European language rather similar to French and my efforts at it so far have shown it to be fairly doable (I might be mistaken). The only difficulty being the Arabic script. It can be learned in transliteration. Persian is a good stepping stone towards Urdu and Hindi - both of which are Indo-European Languages.
Thanks for all your work on this. Look forward to it.
hmm not really, Turkish is not in the same language family as Chinese and not even remotely related. It is remotely related to Japanese though (at least some linguists groups them together under Altaic languages), maybe you mixed up with this?
and the subfamily is the "Turkic languages", which includes most of the languages of central Asia like Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Azeri, Uzbek, Uyghur, Turkmen etc.
Anyway, you will see it soon, and hope you try to learn :)
@cellgene: Well, I'd like to add something that might be unique in Sino-Japanese language ecology. As far as I know, both Persia and Turkey are important regional powers and to a large extent enjoy comparable level of influence. Whilst at least since 7th century everyone, including Japanese themselves considered China much more superior than Japan.
Japan's ambition was so big at the time, just like what you would see a thousand years later, that Japanese ignore their own language construct and actively incorporated Chinese Character(kanji) to the language. In fact they actually use Chinese to write all their books and even poems( same with Korea ), just like Greek's place in byzantine. It might be helpful for you to think it as byzantine Romans speaking greek with heavy accents, or probably a Chinese-accented Japanese a French-accented American, with no offence. Of course, they still have a lot of earthy words of their own, but Chinese is deemed the language of the educated class until Meiji Restoration and sino-japan war period with anti-Chinese figures like Fukuzawa Yukichi. As China's incompetency in wars destoyed the faith in Chinese superiority of both parties, Japanese( and Korean) start to abandon Chinese in their languages. By the 20th century, I think English( US occupation ) and German( Nazi Allies ) replaced Chinese and begin to dominate the life of Japanese elites. Kanji at the same time still play a huge role, but gradually giving way to phonetic katakana reprentations as young generations prefer simple way to communicate.
For the Chinese part, numerous students rushed to Japan to study after the war, and many of whom already were or later became notable writers, engineers, politacians of recent Chinese history, and they directly introduced a huge number of Japanese words writen in Chinese Character, however not Chinese, to modern Chinese. E.g. 电话(telephone/litteral tran: eletric speech) as a Japanese word(which admittedly itself a translation) gained popularity with the people against official phonetic translation of English "telephone",得绿风(litteral tran: Receiving green wind), and is the official name today. And 社会主义(socialism), 马克思主义(marxism), 资本主义(capitalism), and all other -isms, or French -ismes were Chinese-adopted Japanese. Name a thing that a modern state should have, there's a big chance that Chinese simply copied it from Japanese kanji.
As my a lot of my peers but not myself becoming big fans of Japanese comics, I believe that Japanese is still expanding its use amongst young Chinese especially on the Internet, where you can see a group of people use Japanese as their way of showing off their personal identity ( not national identity ). So, there are really complex routes of exchange. Are Turkish and Persian the same?
Note: Taiwan went through Japanese control, and now official language Chinese, has more degree of Japanese penetration.
by the way, I wonder whether you share the word "daughter" in two languages. Because I just saw a great Iranian movie, it uses something like "Tochter", which is so German-sounding. Curious if that was the case too for Turkish.
Your description of historical relationship between Chinese and Japanese is quite true. But I don't think the following two suppositions are logically relevant.
- The Japanese elites used to prefer to use Chinese rather than Japanese.
- Japanese and Chinese are connected linguistically.
A similar thing used to occur between English and French. They share a lot of vocabularies, even some basic ones, culture, and sort of identification. That does make people feel more comfortable to learn another. But it is not valid to diminish the huge gap located between them. Personally, the more I learn Japanese, the more differences I may find, not only the obvious syntax, but also the ambiguous cultural psychology. (By learning Japanese, I mean I regularly read Japanese books, and watch TV serials. I have learned Japanese through an academical method for about a year. So I am far away from fluency in Japanese)
Thank you for providing a great historical view, which will definitely help them for whom Far-East remains in a mystery fog. :-)
Edit: I know that all languages are connected linguistically more or less. By "Japanese and Chinese are connected linguistically.", I mean that they are not connected so much to be arranged in the same family. Sorry about the ambiguity.
No unfortunately I am not.
I am just interested in learning languages and history.
Persian had a special status in Ottoman court and elites so we had so many words from Persian but during "language revolution" most of those words are changed with words taken from Turkic languages or created from Turkish stems with Turkish suffixes. But we still have so many Persian words in Turkish. Sometimes you may see at least 3 words which have same meaning. For example tabii (arabic), doğal(turkish), natürel (french)
Here is a Turkish folk song written by Shah Ismail, who was both Shah of Iran and one of the prominent Turkish poets of his time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M53Mbm837dk
Hi, considering similar experience of our languages in the history, I suggest that we read more about the language developments of each other. "Culture Genocide" happended to Chinese too, I mean, twice. You might be interested in this
and maybe Culture Revolution(when you're ready).
The Cultural Revolution ("smash all the old" destructive anti-intellectualism that did absolutely nothing constructive to further Chinese culture) could be seen as a self-inflicted cultural genocide. I don't have a problem with this characterization. The New Culture Movement was in no way whatsoever cultural genocide; it was cultural renaissance. Classical Chinese literature was made by literati whose cultural education came from studying for the imperial examinations. By 1911, when China became a republic, that Confucian-literati culture was already functionally dead, since no further generations would be taking the old exams. Rather than rote-memorize classics, New Culture intellectuals sought to critically (not a synonym for negatively, mind) analyze China's past and incorporate new ideas from other countries in order to strengthen China's culture and bring it more in line with new democratic ideals. Even if you just look at baihua literature from the 20s-40s, I think the results were a great positive for Chinese culture. There are many really wonderful works from this time. Chinese culture was dynamic for centuries, and pressing pause at 1900 would have had far more negative consequences.
Hi Anglea, I'm Chinese. I believe cellgene is correct, Turkish is not Chinese and two languages vastly diverge. However it did originated about modern day Mongolia( to the north of China ) . Chinese history records them as "突厥"( pinyin: tu 1 jue 2 ) people, which is not surprisingly an arrogant way of refering to peripheral tribes around the Middle Kingdom, suggesting ethnicity and barbarity. And they migrated west due to undesirable outcome of the chronical wars with Sui dynatsy(about 581AD - 619AD ) of China. As a matter of fact, they are the reason that led to the reconstruction of the Great Wall.
As for the Janpanese I am not so sure. But owing to various complicated interchanges bewteen Chinese and Japanese language, nowadays two languages are more closely interrelated themselves than with Turkish, I think. Am I right cellgene?
Hi votears, thanx for the history lessons :) That is indeed what I also know. I guess the relation between Chinese and Japanese is more like the relation between say Turkish and Persian. They don't belong to the same language families, the grammar is totally different but there has been a lot of word exchange...
Well, as a Chinese, I have heard about the relation between Turk people and the ancient tribes to the north of China. But I noticed that it has not been proven as a fact. Though I may be wrong, I prefer to consider it as a hypothesis.
You are right about the relation between Chinese and Japanese. They share part of vocabulary and a lot of Hanzi (Kanji). Besides, they are not resembled to each other. Japanese use suffixes and a few of prefixes to indicate syntactic structure, which is rare in Chinese, it is why it is sometimes categorized in Altaic languages. I know neither Turkish nor Persian, perhaps you can tell me the similarity between them.
well, you are sort of right with that it is not really proven, but as we see that all other people on our "migration route" speak similar (Turkic) languages, this is sort of taken as a proof. However, I think, SOME of our ancestors did migrate from east, but of course we mixed up with all the nations on our way and the people who lived in what is Turkey now... So if you ask me we are all a big hybrid of central Asian Turkish, Greek, Armenian, Arabic, Persian, and even others. As I am a geneticist, I can even provide proof for that: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-d0K7nmzSQjA/TjCJSnEtZ8I/AAAAAAAAAEI/dDiMr4Y7mjM/s1600/Haplogroups%2Bin%2BEurope%25252C%2Bpie%2Bmap.PNG
this is a Y haplotype map, you dont really need to understand it but you can see that many countries have mixed backgrounds but usually there is a big dominant one and a little bit of others, while Turkey has a lot of small contributions from several backgrounds and only few of the small colors belong to central asia.
For the language, Persian is Indo-European so structurally totally different than Turkish. However we had a lot of contact, therefore we borrowed tons of words from them and I guess they also borrowed some, although not so many.
I think the Uighur Turks in northwestern China is the thing to look at. They basically look caucasian and are muslim. Apparently they wanna fast during ramadan but the Chinese police insists they don't :-) Such hidden diversity in China!
And an important tidbit about the Turkish-Persian relations is that after the alphabet revolution, the people in charge unfortunately deleted %75 of Ottoman Turkish vocabulary, for short-sighted reasons only the military types would have the gall to come up with. Most of this 75% percent was the abstract vocabulary born out of the philosophical foundations of the Persian language and culture. Of course they tried to replace them by making up words in the upcoming decades, but 24,000 words that were "presented" to the public in the following 3 decades merely yielded in the adoption of 3 or 4 thousand of them. That's basically the reason it's more difficult to talk about abstract ideas and feelings in Turkish. Clearly interventions into people's languages never produce positive results; languages belong in the free-market of people and their usage habits :-)
I heard that Uyghur people and their language are closely related to them in Turkey. It is really amazing, for we have lots of side evidence of our neighborhood :-) About the fast during ramadan, they really do. I have some friends who are Muslims coming from the neighbor province of Xinjiang (where Uyghur people live). They do fast. (be quiet) And I used to share some mutton with them during the Eid al-Fitr.
About the words, it is really a disaster to ban so many words. 75%! SO unnatural. Power drives people into madness, imaging them as omnipotent. I don't want to see similar disaster happen again, not only on Turkish, but any other language.
@Baris_Obdan. I am checking the progress of Chinese course almost everyday to see if they made a progress, and also have considered to help. Yet, I don't think my English is good enough to contribute the course. (I can read and comprehend English rather well, but less proficient on expressing myself.) There are many Chinese living outside China, who master English probably far more proficiently than me. (4 of the 5 members of current team are students living in US, and the rest in Hongkong. They will definitely provide a more solid work than I can do.) besides, there is a task of PhD dissertation left in front of me, I don't think I can deal with both challenges at the same time. :(
I do willing to help, probably not in building the course, but in discussions of our upcoming course. Or, if the course should still remain in being built after several months, I would turn to contribute the course then.
Your Turkish team have earned my respect for your genuine energetic work and the rapid progress you have made. Looking forward the release of Turkish->English course, which means the reverse one is no far away. :-)
Hungarian isn't Indo-European either. I have to say, I'll be very disappointed if they teach us languages that use foreign scripts in transliteration. It really is best to learn the writing system from the very beginning so that you associate a native letter with a sound rather than latin letters, which can be confusing where one latin letter is used for multiple sounds or with some alphabets that don't have a standardized transcription system. It may be more difficult with Chinese, though. I'm curious how they will integrate that one into the courses.
I have every confidence that transliteration won't be used. I haven't heard anything about it and neither have I been paying attention, but when you get down to writing systems, the only one that is really 'hard' is Chinese - and that is more down to exposure to a different perspective than anything else.
You might have to install a new keyboard layout, or you might end up having something like google translate where you type the nearest latin keys and the program guesses it. You might have to resort to picking word tiles, like the mobile apps. Whatever happens, the fact remains that people WANT to learn the different scripts, so there will be something to accomodate that. I'm pretty sure the acronym IME will soon be pretty well known here though...
I think it does differ quite a lot grammatically from indo-european languages. Especially the agglutination makes the biggest difference, as you can say things that require several words in other languages in one word, e.g. Muvaffakiyetsizleştiricileştiriveremeyebileceklerimizdenmişsinizcesine (as if you were one of those we can not easily turn into a creater of unsuccessful ones)
**pay attention that this is not like in German where you just attach words to each other to make long words like Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz
Actually, that very article states that indoeuropean languages also posess a degree of agglutination:<pre>
However, both fusional and isolating languages may use agglutination in the most-often-used constructs, and use agglutination heavily in certain contexts, such as word derivation. This is the case in English, which has an agglutinated plural marker -(e)s and derived words such as shame·less·ness.")</pre>
And thinking about it from the point of view of "slots", Spanish has at least three slots in the verbs (tense, person, reflexivity), and Russian uses three to five regularly (case, number, time, gender, degree of familiarity and some preposition), despite not being classified as agglutinative and incapable of such complicated constructs as the one in the example above. It might be not as rich as Hungarian, Diné - or, apparently, Turkish - but I fail to see how it is principially different. (Might be my personal limit though.)
Counterintuitively, there isn't any historical evidence to countries switching alphabets and positive things happening simply because of that change. Also I can assure you that if a big decision is made by one person and one person alone, then it probably wasn't the right decision ;-) Hope you come and check out the Turkish course when we release it soon.
Yes, I am definitely checking the course out. I would like to actually speak the language that shows all signs of becoming the dominant language around here in a couple of decades :-)
The rest of this sort-of belongs into a different thread, but...
"Historic evidence" is a contradiction in itself, since you can't go back in time and re-try with a different setting, so all we can say about alternate histories is plain and simply guessing. I know quite well that Atatürk and his decisions are very contraversial in Turkey as such, and of course I can't say whether it offered any benefits to people back then, and I am sure the initial adjustment was an enormous pain in the behind. Change always is.
However as a sort-of-modern-day Russian who has spent a lot of his life outside of Russia with a lot of electronic devices incapable of Cyrillic fonts, and therefore having to use screwy, ugly and non-standard transliteration to communicate with other Russians, I can assure you that writing in Latin script currently, through a unique combination of circumstances, offers a number of benefits over other systems of writing.
- It is a system that pretty much all the machinery can use, so you don't have to screw around with transliteration
- It is left-to-right, which allows you to use left-to-right layouts without tweaking or re-thinking
- It is a system that is familiar to a very large number of people
- It is a system that is easy to learn for an even larger amount of people
- The script is very easy for machines to combine (contrast that with arabic), and so easy to implement
- It has vowels
- It is a phonetic system. Ask a Chinese why it is that they teach Pinyin before Hanzi, or ask Koreans why they have gotten rid of hanja in favor of hangul, if you want another view on "no benefit of switching writing systems". (Yes, I know Ottoman Turk was a phonetic script too, but you said "none")
I would also honestly like to hear the views of Serbians and Croatians on the subject, since they write what is close to the same language, but one in Cyrillic and the other in Latin. (I recently heard someone from there deriding an official giving him documents written in Cyrillic as an ***hole, saying "in the modern day, no-one does this any more, there is just no reason to except to be plain mean".)
I should've properly fleshed out what I vaguely touched upon--don't wanna look like a pseudo-science regurgitater :-)
What you can do is compare similar countries that did different things and follow their progress throughout years, as well as an eyeball rank of countries that have the closest relations with western societies.
Israel, has by far the closest relations with the western powers, America in particular. They use the hebrew script, have very high English proficiency rate, and juggle both just fine. Can't say the same about neighboring countries that also have semitic alphabets, let alone the Palestinians/Israeli Arabs who live inside that same country. (We also sadly all know why this is so).
It wouldn't really be going too far to say Greece, Macedonia, and Albania are basically one country. Albania switched to the latin script thinking it would lift them up to the standards of the western societies and we all know how that turned out. They also have laws in their constitution that literally say stuff like "there is no national religion and it is forbidden to practice it because it is a nation of technocrats who believe in the power of science to carry us forth blah blah". Greece on the other hand, with their millenia old greek script, is exceedingly involved with the western powers, England being their primary older brother. Macedonia, who has cyrilic script, is somewhere in the middle, closer to Albania.
Indonesia--switched to Latin script. Result: widespread abject poverty. Further horror stories regarding romanized Tagalog and English speaking Phillippines. Malaysia--switched to Latin script. Result: big economic power. Cambodia stuck with Khmer, they are not doing so well. Same with Laos and Vietnam. Then there is Myanmar that was held hostage in the previous century until very recently. Same region, different practices, many different results.
Russia kept changing their mind about what to do with the Turkic nations. They already made the mistake of sending useless people as missionaries to that region (re: the EXACT opposite type of people England sent to India) and dictated language rules with weak convictions, resulting in uniquely multi-lingual people who were just straight up annoyed.
And what happened in Turkey was an attempt to distance the newly found country from its Ottoman past. There might've been somewhat valid reasons for it but the sheer violence through which it was handled was basically cultural genocide. 75% of the vocabulary being deleted from history because they supposedly "weren't legitimately Turkish", making up stuff in their place which people simply wouldn't adopt, forbidding the usage of old script with disproportionately harsh punishments and the worst of all, shutting down of the majority of the schools in the country just to force people to become detached from what was there on those lands just a few years prior.
We are doing fine now and the current Turkish is rich and cosmopolitan enough but these types of (mostly militaristic [or sometimes technocratic]) interventions NEVER yield good results. Causes only stagnation and loss of cultural heritage. On the other hand, people's desires of change merely as a social demand, as you very eloquently articulated with bullet points, is the only legitimate and natural way that these changes in scripts and alphabets should happen through. The empirical evidence says that latin alphabet is not easier to learn than any other alphabet (again, alphabet though, not like thousands of characters like in Chinese). It's the other factors that determine whether you'll be inconvenienced by using a less popular script simply because you were born into it. Otherwise it does nothing but provides richness in our linguistic experience. I sometimes take the 20 minute ferry and go to Greece, and I don't get the kick out of slowly reading those characters I see there from anything else in the world :-)
Hmm... Given your list of examples, it seems to me that the simple act of changing the national script has very little correlation with the actual success of that nation. For example Malaysia is probably successful because it is well managed, and Indonesia - well, Suharto... It makes sense as well, you can't just change the wallpaper and expect your house to stop falling down.
Could it not just be that it doesn't directly affect anything in and of itself? At any rate, it makes far more sense to me to think 'Turkey is a successful nation because of its people' than 'Turkey is a successful nation because it uses the latin alphabet'
I think the only change worth worrying about is the continuity breakage of the written history. But I think every single country can point to some time in its history when that happened.
The closest example I can think of to relate it to myself is that we used to write with futhark runes. But you can still learn the runes, there's nothing stopping you, and it's quite fun; seeing a page of strange symbols that you know is in your language and you can't instantly read is strangely compelling, and mysterious at the same time. So I think that can actually be seen as an enrichment.
By far the scariest break in continuity is Chinese glyphs, because there are so many. But even these, if you know them well enough, a lot of the changes are actually hereditary, ie a change to one glyph propagates along the chain of the glyphs that use it as a component. So even that is not impenetrable. And far more damage was done to that country by bull-headed policies than anything else.
Sod it, let's all just switch to 한글, I'm failing to see any concrete drawbacks :)
Serbian=Croatian=Bosnian=Montenegrian.Once it's called Serbo-Croatian language,but for political reason,now,it is called by countries it is used in.Truth is...every word writen or spoken in latin alphabet is exactly same in cyrlic alphabet.Again for political reason cyrlic is not learned in Croatia,but in Bosnia,Serbia,Montenegro both alphabets are equal.How can one benefit knowing both alphabet?Simple,he won't be blind loking at signs in another country.That's it,no other benefits(economical,political or such).
Well, that isn't true. Cyrillic alphabet was learned in Croatia only because it was writing system in other parts of Yugoslavia. But it was never used here (except among Serbian minority). There are no "political reasons", except the breakup of common state. In Serbia is only Cyrillic alphabet in official use since 2006, but people use both alphabets (they use the same version of Latin alphabet as Croats, created by Ljudevit Gaj). In Bosnia, Serbian people use Cyrillic (or both), Croatian and Bosniak only Latin alphabet.
I'm sure they meant benefit from the point of view of a learner who's used to the latin alphabet, although I think there's a drawback in that you might pronounce letters like they're pronounced in your native language rather than the sound they're used for in the language you're learning. (But yes, Turkish really isn't similar grammatically from indo-european languages.)
You can submit a traditional Chinese course here: http://incubator.duolingo.com/
I will be very happy to see such a course here. But perhaps Luis and Duo team may not think so. I remember that he mentioned to provide a "neuter Spanish", and a dominant dialect of Portuguese here. He may make a similar choice with Chinese. If you are really eager to help to build a traditional Chinese -> English course, I think it is better to ask the team whether it is in their priority.
Having two Chinese teams here would be awesome. Especially when there is only one Spanish (which is considered to be global intelligible) on Duo. Good luck! ^_^
No, you're not the only one :) I am also impatient. I even started doing some lernu.net classes again... I think Esperanto might be done quickly, because there is not so much grammar to teach, but maybe it is not on priority list right now. But I hope maybe it will be the next one added to Incubator :)
iustitia, while you are waiting here are some beginning Esperanto texts with audio: http://www.lingq.com/learn/eo/library/courses/ ; perhaps they will be new to you. (This is a commercial site; you'll probably have to register, and to gain access to all the site's facilities you would have to pay a subscription fee, but the texts and audio are available without charge.
iustitia, you are welcome. Yes, that site is annoyingly commercial, and becoming more and more so. It would be a reasonable proposition if it weren't so buggy and (in my case) if e-flashcards were at all attractive. Yet the texts and audio there can be good; I hope there's something you'll enjoy at the site. (If you like I could provide some links for older French texts and audio, in case you are looking for such, although very likely they are sites you're aware of.) Enjoy the Esperanto.
Merveilleux!!! Awesome! Merci beaucoup!
Even though, I've just begun French, I absolutely must dabble in Dutch (from English).
Wow! This website just keeps getting better and better. So glad I found it. :-)
(I'm so happy, I gave you a lingot- I think you deserve all the lingots! Whoot!).
"To localize something" = "to translate it into the local language." Sounds simple, but with things like arabic it is not, since the writing is right-to-left, which causes a lot of changes in the computation of layout if you haven't thought about that beforehand. (Though nowadays a lot of the right-to-left stuff is handled by the browser).
I am curious what the localization implies for DuoLingo though.
It just means to translate the whole website. e.g. for English for Turkish speakers course we translated (localized) the whole website to Turkish so when they look at this post, instead of "Reply" and "Give lingot", they will see "Cevapla" and "Lingot ver" under my post.
As I'm Spanish and I'm studying German as an English-speaker, I hope I can help soon giving life to the (nonexistent yet) German course for Spanish-speakers and/or vice versa. :) Learn helping and help learning. That's what Duolingo let us do at the same time. It's brilliant! :D
Hi Luis! Half a year has passed since the last update -- can you comment on the status of the Russian from English course? I thought there was a link to see the incubator, but today I couldn't find it. Kudos to you and to all the hard-working staff, volunteers and professionals.
He can't. Search for posts by Larisa_L and ShadyArc for more information.
Russian courses are fully volunteer based courses and are built from scratch. Since Russian is a complicated language, and none of the volunteers in the course is a linguist, but we still want to do a good job, it is taking a while.
Gracias, Tortugas. For those who asked me the news, you can follow it here: http://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/ru/en/status
Would it be possible to start courses in Asturian language? There's some people interested in it; teachers and professors, for example, to participate with the students, or simply for exercised in that language.
We completed the incubator questions but we didn't recieved any answer.
For anyone who wants to support my initiative of creating a swedish course for Spanish speakers, please join my discussion thread in the forums.
Para cualquier persona que quiera apoyar mi iniciativa de crear un curso sueco para hispanohablantes, únase a mi hilo de discusión en los foros.
Please let me and my members become incubators so we can create a Swedish course for Spanish speakers!
Support our cause in the Duolingo forums!
¡Permita que yo y mis miembros nos conviertan en incubadoras para que podamos crear un curso de sueco para hablantes de español!
Apoya nuestra causa en los foros de Duolingo!
Lots of love, Tim Lind of Los Suecañoles
@Luis: I’ve been following a thread for 5 years now that asks (although we are in the point of begging now) why Duolingo is resisting the adding of Euskera (Basque) as a new language. There are a huge amount of people showing interest in this language and Duolingo is not even replying to this call. Why is that? Thank you for your time reading my post.
Oh. Sorry if I gave a bad suggestion. . . . If you have just a little Russian, then I think this beta would be very difficult. But if that's so, you don't have to abandon the tree forever. Wait for the English->Russian, do that, and then go back to the Russian->English. It will be great practice.
well thanks buddy. at least you helped me out to understand, unlike others. I didn't meant anything bad in the first place. I was so eager to contribute and couldn't wait that's all.
and the staff's silence was bit annoying. they are here to serve, not to rule, and people like me want to devote a portion of our times to make the site blossom by contributing and thus making more comprehensive. they get donations, not us. though I don't expect anything, but at least a little respect and attention... I could have understood. each of every one of us is human being. and this text is not written by computer and but a caring person behind it. sorry in advance for any misunderstanding. it just breaks my heart they get the people wrong. thanks again for that concise reply. guess these things happen. I am still up for contributing.
I have been noticing this on the site. Don't get me wrong, I love the community on duolingo, and it has an extremely positive vibe to it. I also love the incredible service that the site provides, but there is a little bit of an over-zealousness on making sure that every one is perfectly nice and completely positive that can be a little mean when people mean well. It's kind of weird, a little culty. Even saying this I feel the urge to write another paragraph saying how much I honestly love the site in order to not receive down votes.
WanderingSeeker, I am pretty sure they are simply overwhelmed by users sending in support requests and offers of help that they cannot get to them all in a timely fashion. Probably the number of paid employees can be counted on one hand, and the rest are zealous, or sometimes zealous, volunteers. One way to try to get a timely answer is to post on the stream of a moderator. If you don't know the names of some moderators, you'll have to do some homework. The reason why people are always offering sugary compliments is that they realize that Duolingo was spear-headed by one person and that it is successful and growing despite the fact that it is not paid for by advertisers or users. That's a pretty significant accomplishment. :)
...eerm, well that was a long time ago. :) ... still haven't got the permission to contribute ...and yes, I didn't bother mods nor request again cause nowadays, I'm busy with learning several languages at once, reading my favorite books and studying for uni, now beginning for a master's degree...wish I had the time I had before :( ... but thanks for such a sudden, but honest comment :D
my personal opinion: I understand your personal love for this community, but me, though this place is great, thrilling and innovative in its kinds, I don't like getting emotionally attached to any community and thus include this place. sorry, not being ungrateful. came from personal experience...all in all, just saying... also, your love for it is admirable :)
perhaps it has something to do with the language. what I am going to contribute is Persian, which is mainly spoken by Iranian people. the problem is many westerners really have certain annoying stereotypes about these people. like they should be treated brutally as terr*rists. what I can say in short version: people are not as same as government, and media doesn't show what really things are and how they work. many are simply living their own lives. many still don't know English. I was raised bilingual, and I'm not a Persian, but from a minority. I thought such a famous site could help educate those people the international language so they can get in touch with cultures of the world, to see things through their own eyes rather than filters of dubbed media. bringing the people together globally...
Wandering Seeker, I think what you mention is basically the reason people bother to learn languages; so hopefully they are open-minded. I think Farsi is lovely; I like the sound of it. Khaled Hosseini (author of Kite Runner and other novels) lives near here - I have met him - I hope his depictions of Afganistan are accurate, more or less. I think Californians are a little more open-minded than some areas of the USA, but I believe the whole world is improving. Take care.
Since they are already working on Chinese, Japanese should not be a problem. As for hebrew, from what I can see looking at the Russian course, most of the input issues are handled by the browser and your OS, so hebrew shouldn't be a big deal to implement. Making the input comfortable for beginning language learners will be a big deal with the current system though, unless they have something amazing up their sleeve that they haven't shown yet.
I now study languages by spurts... Duolingo always surprises and challenges me every time I go back to visit the site after a dormant period. It's good to have to take a few steps back before I go forward again, reviewing what I worked on weeks or months ago. Thank you for always challenging me! Looking forward to see the new languages that were added.
I'm happy you got what you were waiting for. I doubt that lobbying is the reason and if it takes lobbying to get things done on Duo I'd be very disappointed. I think the staff is working on all applications and releases them as they are complete. We have all heard how heavy the workload is for the staff. Hope others don't decide to "be annoying" to get what they want.
My goodness! I was kind of joking about the annoying part - I certainly hope you don't think I was advocating irritating duolingo by posting on threads discussing language preferences. As for lobbying - I disagree - I think duolingo does pay attention to forum threads, they care about user experience. They are also, I assume, interested teaching languages which will get translated and I suspect that that is one of the reasons they created the incubator program.
For those of you who are curious about the status of any given language, go to your homepage and click on the flag of the language you are studying - this appears at the top of the page near your profile pic (to the right of the word "immersion"). From the drop-down menu, select "add new course". A new page opens up. On the top right, where it says, "I speak" scroll up (or down) to select "all languages." This will show you the status of every course. Clicking on the course will show more information, such as the names of the contributors (whom you can contact, if you need to do so).
Hi guys. Would anyone answer the following question? Who is judging whether a person is suitable to be a contributor? I would like to apply but I am a bit confused about what to write in the cover letter (point 3). Is it just to find out the fluency level or does it require any persuasive points regarding commitment? I really want to try but I am just a little cautious to give promises. Could anyone tell me what is expected?