https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT

Could we include dialects in the Incubator?

TiagoMoita_PT
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I know the official stance of Duolingo on the matter of offering different language dialects (http://www.duolingo.com/comment/126103), but all that predates the Incubator tool. You would think this would completely change that reasoning, right?

I bring this subject once again to the table, as I've been reading posts about it, namely of people wishing there were an European Portuguese course.

I'd very much like to know if the staff are willing to reconsider their position, since all the work (or most of the work? I'm not sure I know precisely how that is done) would be performed by volunteer contributors.

I remember quite well what Luis said on the subject, about the existence of a "Standard Spanish", but I would argue there really isn't an equivalent in Portuguese. And if there is, I'd say Brazilian Portuguese falls somewhat outside of that. Just so you have a clearer picture, I'm finishing the Portuguese tree in order to give tips on language discussions, and I'm struggling myself with those lessons, even with some help from Google Translate, because I write things quite differently. It's definitely not just the pronunciation and a few words.

4 years ago

42 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Chartreux

I know there is a lot of folks who would like this, but I am not one of them. I am learning French and so I will speak only to that language. The reason, in addition to what Luis of Duolingo has already stated, is that it takes about 5000 to 7000 words in one's vocabulary just to have a descent conversation. Anything less and we sound like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Duolingo only offers about 1850 words in French. I would first like to see Duolingo greatly expand the vocabulary and grammar before branching off into Congolese French or Canadian French. Besides, there are many regional dialects within France herself. That said, having many, many Brazilian friends, I am sympathetic to the two distinct dialects between Portugal and Brazil.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

This.

I would rather have the staff of Duolingo expanding the trees to 5,000+ words before focusing on dialects that are only going to benefit less people.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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I don't know, you make it sound like it's a big trade off, but is it? Wouldn't the bulk of the work be done by the users?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

And wouldn't you rather have them work on adding two thousand words for everyone to use instead of adding 200 words for 10 different dialects? Spanish is spoken in what, 25 countries, with some countries being home to more than one dialect? Yeahhh... focus on adding words that everyone can use instead adding less words for a few people that might go to Paraguay one day.


As quoted from Charteux:

"The reason, in addition to what Luis of Duolingo has already stated, is that it takes about 5000 to 7000 words in one's vocabulary just to have a descent conversation. Anything less and we sound like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man."

The aren't even 1,600 words in the Spanish tree. Again, let's build up a strong foundation for everyone to learn and use before we invest resources on doing something that will be of much less benefit. I would rather speak like an educated individual in all 25 Spanish countries than speak like a native 10 year old in one region.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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I understand that. I may agree with you, I may not. It all depends on the crux of the mater which, seems to me, is: "How much work would be done by volunteers, and how much by the staff?" If all they have to do to enable this is to create a new item in the incubator language popup list, then I really don't see why you have to choose one thing over the other...

Despite this opinion, I do foresee two other issues worth taking into account: – Could we assure consistency in the common root of dialects? – Would this require more language experts and moderators, since they would be spread out across two or more dialects? Possibly, the staff would have to ponder which are sufficiently different and in demand enough to justify this, should these two factors be an issue indeed.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Larisa_L
Larisa_L
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I have no opinion on what is better, to add more common words or to create dialects, but I want to share my opinion about the incubator as a tool. It seems from outside that volunteers do everything, and there is nothing for the Duo team to do. But it is not the case. Whatever we, language moderators do there, we need constant support from the Duo team. We send them emails many times a day. And sometimes we just sit and wait till they resolve some issue as we cannot proceed. So no matter how many volunteers we have, the Duo staff is always the bottleneck as there are so few of them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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Thank you so much, Larisa_L. I think that sort of answers my question :-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gnorian

Larisa_L: I wonder if this is likely to change as the bugs are worked out of the system? If not, that's a problem.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
NickM98
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I haven't finished any tree in Duolinog (I mean, I could speak both Portuguese and Italian before I entered here), so I can't comment on this subject, but I also think that Duo isn't the only place you can use to learn the language, and, also, it's objective is to teach the basics. If your problem is vocabulary, you could try Memrise, for example.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PeelOfShame
PeelOfShame
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I can agree with that point of view. If the issue is purely regional vocabulary (American English vs British English), Memrise is fantastic. OTOH, where there are grammatical differences, it's a bigger issue.

It'll probably vary based on language, and I agree it might be difficult to judge in some circumstances. Still a shame that in some cases (like the original issue of European vs Brazilian Portuguese), there's no easy solution.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PeelOfShame
PeelOfShame
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I don't see why it's necessarily an "either or" proposition, personally. Especially with the incubator model, where interested parties could potentially work on either vocabulary expansion or a dialect, whichever fit better with their interests.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PeelOfShame
PeelOfShame
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I've been an advocate of this as well. Portuguese is a very good example of this - where two different dialects of the language are in broad use. Or where parts of a language are used in some areas but not others (vosotros in Spanish comes to mind).

I don't know that having the incubator complete changes the reasoning, but it certainly could open up to allowing interested parties to build 'branches' (as it were), in areas where the community is interested in learning, if permitted.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tarekkhelif
tarekkhelif
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I think it would get too unwieldy to have entire separate courses for different dialects, but I also think it's important to have that information available. (Personally, I'm interested in linguistics, and I like to see how things change from language to language, so looking at different dialects where there are slight deviations from the 'standard' language is really interesting to me.)

Since most dialects are quite similar to each other (although Arabic comes to mind as an exception), so it wouldn't make sense to create entire new courses, I think something along the 'branching' idea would be the best solution. I doubt there would need to be entire new sections of the tree, but there could be optional lessons, like a 'Vosotros' lesson or a 'Portugal' lesson (similar to the recent Christmas/idioms/flirting ones), for topics that are unique to certain dialects.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cloudhorizon

When duolingo first introduced the incubator, there were two things I understood from their announcement. One was that courses from X language to English can be created within the same year. They were going to choose language moderators, which in my mind meant that it was going to be still heavily controlled and worked on by staff. I didn't think too much of it. I assumed it would be more closed because it was still being tested too.

The second part was that at the start of the new year (if I remember the timeframe given correctly), when the incubator had been ironed out, you could create courses from any origin language to learn any language you wanted. To me, the way it was said sounded like it would be a free, open tool dedicated volunteers could use. Without any downtime waiting for staff response as Larisa_L pointed out it currently is like now.

After all the time spent on duolingo, crowd-sourcing and efficiency striked me as two very important things to duolingo. And keeping the incubator as it is now doesn't seem to walk hand in hand with any of those things. It if it really does become more of an open tool, the worries about "staff should be doing this not that" won't even be a problem. Any option is open, as long as there's someone who wants to help. Heck, if anyone feels something is lacking they could even possibly do it themselves.

As for the quality that comes with it becoming an open tool...well, I'm not too worried about it. I actually feel like the community is capable of sorting out what is good and what isn't. For example, anyone is allowed to comment about sentences on the courses already given, and as far as I can see, anytime someone says something grammatically wrong or silly, they are downvoted. I'm sure a lot of people trust the advice given on language discussions, so why not trust the same community to judge the quality of a course?

But I don't know how the "finished" incubator will be like. (It doesn't seem to be finished, since there is a topic on "Incubator updates" afterall.) I guess only time will tell. (Or staff, if they feel like commenting. :P)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Well, you certainly make valid arguments. I'm not sure what your expertise is, but in the software development world this is a common problem. There is the whole open vs closed vs hybrid(open + closed) debate.

A open model, can mean people create content fast, and can reiterate faster. However, the downside is that a castle with too many kings is sometimes bound to fall to ruin over petty squabbling of the royalty. So the end result is a model, where some individuals become curators or moderators, and the rest of the contributors become individuals interested in helping. However, the problem is quality, giving people a free reign means that now they have the possibility of adding any nonsense they wish, and in a language learning software this is troublesome indeed.

A closed model, on the other hand takes a different approach, there is a king and advisors, who vet and decide anything that happens or doesn't happen. The end result is that whatever happens is decided by the king, but of course the king also gets burnt if his plans don't come to fruition, however, it may ensure high quality since it is a monarchy and not a democracy.

I believe Duolingo has chosen a hybrid (open model), which emphasizes high quality, the results of which will still come to light in a couple of months or years, and seems to me like a good model. However, I believe in this instance we can have our cake and eat it too. Duolingo can give Owl approved courses their rubber stamp, and leave the community to create "unsanctioned" and unofficial courses for other purposes.

In a way they have indicated that they wish to do this since they previously stated that they shall approve conlags that serve no other purpose other than having fun, and only have fictional native speakers.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/il.malavit
il.malavit
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I would agree with many of the people that are commenting below, that I would first like to see an expansion of existing languages. However I think there are exceptions. For example, I am a student and speaker of Arabic. I would love to see Modern Standard Arabic taught as a course on duolingo. However, the various dialects that people speak on a daily basis are completely different from Arabic. I think this could be an exception the rule of dialects. I am not sure but I suppose there are other languages similar to Arabic in this respect as well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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Yes, I think that's the crux of the matter, the fact that "dialect" is a pretty broad term. While it makes very little sense to distinguish between some, it makes a lot in other cases where some "dialects" are practically a language in its own right (with several examples falling between these two opposites, of course).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hjordisa

I think that's exactly it. There are the dialects that are practically a different language(Mandarin vs Cantonese), then there are the dialects that are so different from the standard language that when they're spoken on TV subtitles are used(I believe there are certain dialects of English like this. If not I know they exist in other languages.) but speakers of those dialects can also speak the standard language when necessary, then there are languages that might as well be dialects but are classified separately for political reasons. Then if we look at a dialect we might find that it has subdialects, because dialects(as well as languages) are often more of a sliding scale than distinct entities that we can cut off and say okay so this dialect is this. They mix and mingle with each other and borrow words and grammar and get all tangled up, and they all do that with their neighbors so you can't cut any one off but pick two of them from opposite ends of the chain and they'll be clearly different.

So judgments have to be made about what to include, and I think the overall rule should be if they don't understand each other easily and there's not a common standard language they can both use(or if the standard language is still massively different from both of them such as Arabic) then maybe it makes sense to teach them both.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/paulscon

Definitely in favour of this...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/aquage
aquage
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i think they will start to have to really look at this more as new languages are added to the incubator. Chinese dialects are not understandable to each other, even though they fall under the umbrella of chinese.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alvarofid
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Hi Tiago! :) I am also a Portuguese (Portugal) speaker. I have just applied to contribute for a "English-Portuguese (Portugal)" course. From that we could expand to "Spanish for Portuguese (Portugal) speakers" easily. And french. It is so easy for us to get those languages quickly... It is a pity that they have not approved the europeen Portuguese yet. I am living in Norway and I work with Brazilian speakers. You should see their shocked faces when I talk to them in europeen Portuguese. :P So I definitely hope that we can work on such a couse in the near future. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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HI alvarofid! What do you mean you've "just applied to contribute for a English-Portuguese (Portugal)"? I see no such option in the incubator... Oh I've seen that baffled look before :-D I even heard some Brazilian guy in Italy say to me "Please switch back to English, I can understand you better." True story! Unfortunately, after reading Larisa_L's reply, it seems people will have to wait a long time for it, if the staff even decides to do it.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SuziQ

I haven't read through all the comments, but I would love this. I originally wanted to learn EP, but it has been so hard for me to find EP resources here in the States. Everything seems to be tilted towards BP, so I finally gave up. I love Duo and I'm enjoying the lessons, but I would really love the opportunity to learn EP on Duolingo.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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Well, you're in luck, SuziQ, I've just begun an audio review of the Portuguese course from Duolingo, but with EP grammar and pronunciation. Stay tuned, I'll show it to the community soon! ;-)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SuziQ

That's great to hear! I look forward to it! :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HerrArbo
HerrArbo
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Scots?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Comradesev
Comradesev
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Scots is so different from English its almost a seperate language. That would be awesome to add though.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HerrArbo
HerrArbo
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It is officialy a language! What I was getting at was that if we were to enclude dialects then there was a definate chance for Scots. It would be pretty awesome. This may be of interest: http://www.scotslanguage.com

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pctrollbreath
pctrollbreath
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Just about every English region has it's own differences. I speak Yorkshire English, and can have quite a hard time speaking to people with strong Welsh, Cornish, Ulster (by which I mean Scots-Irish) and, above all, Glasweigen, local dialect/accents.

You could almost write a separate course for every region in the UK.

A work colleague from north of border even jokes that if Scotland votes for independence, then they'll have to start teaching English as a foreign language :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/4oh4
4oh4
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Finally an a fellow Englander that shares my view. Hiberno-English (HE), the version of English spoken in Ireland by 95% of the population, has more features that separate it from standard English than Scots does, but it has little or not recognition. Both dialects share words which have passed out of common use elsewhere, which is a quality shared with a number of dialects in Northern England, particularly your own. HE also has elements of Gaelic, not just through lexicon, but through word order and pronunciation. It has even been described as a creole. just like in England, dialects drastically change. The rural South Tipperary dialect I understand, gives me no help in understanding certain people from Cork or Donegal, which only makes you wonder how people with little exposure to HE will survive.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

Wouldn't it be easier just to increase the amount of accepted answers? For example, allow "vosotros" and its conjugations in the Spanish tree instead of complicating it via the Incubator?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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One thing is to accept, another is to teach. First, you have to know people say "vosotros", instead of "ustedes".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/pleiadian_

Which is why Duolingo introduces "vosotros" in "Basics 2 and provides a conjugation of every verb with the "vosotros" form in the vocabulary section...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SvenDK
SvenDK
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I think a first step is already made. The English for Dutch speakers mentions that it is Dutch from The Netherlands. Which is interesting, as there is a common Standard Dutch used also in Belgium and the Dutch Antiles. While share the same grammar and reference dictionary there is a difference in frequency of word use. One of the main discussions in the Beta is about using Doei for goodbye. Very common in the Netherlands, but not used at all in Belgium. Being Belgian native Dutch speaker, I'm curious on how this will develop.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/NickM98
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I agree with this. I'd love to make a course in Argentine Spanish (I won't give up until I manage to), but I don't think that the difference between it and Standard Spanish are enough to make a whole course (though they're too many to make just a lesson). I don't know if it is the same in Portuguese, because I've never heard EP, always southern Brazilian.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TiagoMoita_PT
TiagoMoita_PT
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I cannot comment on Spanish dialects, as I'm not really aware of the extent to which they differ from one another, and therefore, I cannot also compare those differences to the ones I identify between EP and BP. But if I had to speculate, I'd say it makes more sense in Portuguese to offer the two. I say this based on the following:

ONE — There isn't, unlike Spanish (so said Luis), something we could call "Standard Portuguese".

TWO — Also unlike Spanish, we really don't have more than two major dialects. Sure, people in Angola and Mozambique also have their vernacular, but I don't think it's different enough from EP... and besides, there would be very little demand for those.

THREE — The pronunciation is really quite different, to the point that makes it really, really hard for most Brazilians to understand EP.

FOUR — I, like most Portuguese people, actually understand it really well, probably because we get a considerable amount of input from Brazil, in the form of music, TV shows, movies, and now of course, via the internet. And despite this, I struggle with its different syntax. I suspect that may be indicative of something...

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jkl
jkl
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I made a comment about this about learning spain spanish with vosotros cuz the flag is spanish on duolingo, but there r a lot of haters on here when i suggested including voseo and vosotros into the lessons

Also, there r many dialects in south america. In chile, the pronunciations of the letter s is dropped

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/PeelOfShame
PeelOfShame
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The latter, I'd think, would be more 'regional differences', kind of how words in American English are pronounced slightly differently around the country, but aren't really different.

I agree, though, about vosotros/voseo as I mentioned above. It's something that's not taught when you're learning Latin American Spanish in schools in the US, and might be an interesting set of lessons as a branch, if not really a full dialect. (Bonus lessons you could 'buy' if interested?)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rappa88

I have a lot of friends who want to learn Portuguese, and refuse to use Duolingo because of the fact that it only offers Brazilian. Though I have tried to explain that may still benefit from it, a lot of people learn the language because of cultural reasons, and they are not interested in Brazil. Though there will also be people more interested in Brazilian, that is sure. Now, even though I am using Spanish(Mexican, or whatever it is), I am well aware of how little differences there are with original Spanish, when compared to the differences between Portuguese and Brazilian. In Spanish dialects, it's mostly vocabulary, whilst with Portuguese, there is European Portuguese and all the other dialects, which have virtually the same grammar, and then, set apart, is Brazilian. The fact that Brazilian is less Latin, makes quite a few people lose interest. And like any other language in the incubator, all it takes is for the people to be able to create it, not the staff. The staff only needs to do the normal work it does for any language. I hope this will come soon, as it will only bring even more people to Duolingo. PS: If you will read about it in Wikipedia, you will see Standard Portuguese, the one applied in most countries, is not being taught here. Hence why I agree with OP

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Well it is hard for us as users to understand the intricacies of the different issues associated with adding a new dialects. From my perspective as a software developer I would say there are may issues associated with adding different dialects such as decoupling the "dialects" from the standard Target language (e.g. Standard Portuguese), the pronunciation for each dialect, the sub-dialects that may appear, and adding new content associated with the dialect. With decoupling, I mean that first a standard course would probably be created containing the "pure" target language, and then the dialects would be add-ons.

Most dialects just add slang, or choose alternative pronunciations or words, and call it their "version" of the "target" language. Most if not all of these can be learned from the web, or dictionaries once you have reached fluency of the language.

I personally believe the standard Portuguese would be PT Portuguese, and while some countries may refuse this or deny this, facts are facts, Portuguese comes from Portugal, ultimately their ancestors created the language.

I think that at this point in time it is an unnecessary burden to create many dialects, this will amplify the number of errors, require more storage space (for multimedia content), require the staff to buy new speech-to-text engines, and deal with more errors on that front too, and then create new language forums, and have to maintain those too. All this will require more moderators, and more people to correct this content.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hjordisa

I'm not terribly concerned about this for the most part. Most dialects will be similar enough that you can get the basics and if you have an interest in a certain country or region you can go more in depth into their dialect with different tools, although certainly some dialects even have different grammar which may be a difficult adjustment(e.g. Indian English)

I am, however, interested in how this will be treated with regards to languages where "dialect" really means "completely different language," mostly Chinese and Arabic.

With Arabic you have MSA, which will be understood pretty much anywhere(except Western Sahara but not many people will go there) but is not the native language of anybody. It is a foreign language for anybody who natively speaks an Arabic "dialect" and they may or may not be able to speak it back to you very well. I'd want MSA to be added for people who plan to travel to different Arabic speaking countries, but I'd also like for different dialects to be added, starting with the most popular, for people who want to focus on one country.

With Chinese, you have Mandarin, which is at least the native language of some people and is again understood by pretty much anybody(in China) and I believe spoken better than Arabic speakers speak Arabic. Just the same, I would support the addition, at the very least, of Cantonese which is much more useful in Hong Kong and Macau, as well as being the Chinese variant most spoken by immigrants.

As far as Portuguese is concerned, I don't know enough about it to know how different European vs Brazilian are, but it sounds to me like they might be different enough to warrant different courses, although not so different that learning one wouldn't be a strong basis for learning another.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/langlearnerZeke

Well, for certain "dialects" like Scots, Egyptian Arabic, and Bavarian/Austrian German, there SHOULD be separate courses, because they're actually separate languages. And that wouldn't violate they're "no dialect" policy. That's just my opinion. If you really want a dialect course to be made, convince them it's not a dialect, but a separate language in its own right. Of course, this won't work for say, Brazilian vs. European Portuguese, orw

2 years ago
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