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Hindi to English course needs some mellowing out.

A few months ago, Hindi to English course became more hard-cornered! Now, the users learning through mobile app are no longer asked to input Hindi text, they are provided with slidable text bricks/tiles which the learners are just asked to put in correct word order. No more possibility of different versions - just slide hard-baked bricks! Btw, this was done with a view to reach out to millions of Hindi native smartphone users who cannot type devanagari!

Thankfully, however, we can still type in devanagari in the website interface. There in the sentence discussion forum, there is a huge clutter of nonsense comments, most of which left by the app users perhaps. Amidst the clutter, however, we can still find some comments and sensible reactions. These are usually short phrases like: “... सही क्यों नहीं है” or “... (भी) सही होना चाहिए” or simply answer quoted.

Some of the comments remain unanswered for long time, some are answered well but there are few instances where I have found the justifications as untenable in my own understand of Hindi. I think the course contributors who are not from Hindi heartland should consider that we learners are Hindi natives. So, if we are objecting to a few instances which seems awkward to us OR we are suggesting that some alternative version that is also correct in our view so far as it concerns Hindi, it is expected of the learned moderators to give a thought to common parlance too. The common parlance i.e. the manner of speaking that is natural to native speakers of a language, in my view should be an important aspect of bilingual course creation.

Here are some of the instances, I am talking about: -

"हाथी दूध को पीता है।" translated as “The elephant drinks the milk.” suggestion: “दूध" के बाद "को" हटाएँ, और milk से पहले article 'the' को अनिवार्य न माने। I have discussed about it in the sentence forum, and I am ready write more on this, if required.

"I want a smaller sandwich." translated as “मुझे इससे छोटा सैंडविच चाहिए।” suggestion: “मुझे अधिक छोटा सैंडविच चाहिए।”

and here are some instances of confusion created by semantic differences, about the meaning of Hindi word चिड़िया, between Duo's Hindi team and Hindi Duolingoers

Duo's insistence: चिड़िया sparrow नहीं होती ! और चिड़िया का मतलब बस bird होता है !

some instances:

"कुत्ता चिड़िया को खाता है।" अनुवाद: The dog eats the bird. Why not sparrow? Because Duo's Hindi team is adamant on this: चिड़िया, पक्षी and पंछी can be translated to "bird" in general. "Sparrow" is used for only a particular family of birds, not for all birds.

Our insistence: We want sparrow be included as valid translation of चिड़िया. It is OK that the meaning of sparrow in dictionaries is गौरैया only. But, all my life, I have heard गौरैया being called as चिड़िया as most of Hindi Duolingoers have. The presence of the word गौरैया is almost nil in common parlance. And IMO, common parlance of Hindi world should override what is in some dictionaries /books /translated webpages.

So, please please please include sparrow as a valid translation of चिड़िया, thanks.

Here are a few more instances where we, the Hindi Duolingoers, have been denied our insistence that चिड़िया sparrow होती है और हमारे अनुसार bird का अर्थ पक्षी होता है: -

"The bird plays." अनुवाद: चिड़िया खेलती है।

"एक चिड़िया सेब खाती है।" अनुवाद: A bird eats the apple.

"चिड़िया वहाँ ऊपर क्या ढूँढ़ रही है?" - अनुवाद: What is the bird looking for up there?

20 June 2016

I am afraid that this post has been cold shouldered. Just for the purpose of record, I mention here that this post was created on 17th June, 2016. And the following day, I'd requested the moderators individually to respond to it.

Well, here is a note regarding the agreeableness of को with animate beings and its NOT so agreeableness with inanimate objects.

The objection against the use of को in the sentence "हाथी दूध को पीता है।" for the reason mentioned in the sentence discussion of the former sentence is not applicable to the sentence: "कुत्ता चिड़िया को खाता है" for the reason that the direct definite object चिड़िया is an animal, NOT an inanimate thing.

05 July 2016

One more comment here which, I think, might serve as a good advice to Duolingo Hindi Team

June 17, 2016

8 टिप्पणियाँ


I'm really sorry for the delayed reply. I was caught up in some important stuff.

As you correctly pointed out, Hindi input on mobile was disabled to reach people who can't type Hindi, even though they're native Hindi speakers. This has more to do with technological awareness, and not their actual knowledge of Hindi. Although I have no authority on this decision, the staff does, I empathize with their stand as re-enabling it would alienate all those users who don't know how to type in Hindi.

I'm not a forum mod and I usually don't go through posts in forum, so I'm thankful to you for making me aware of this post, I would've missed it otherwise. I'm from a Hindi heartland, Delhi, and I agree with all the points you've raised, regarding the language.

For me, bird = पक्षी and sparrow = चिड़िया

For, I want a smaller sandwich I'd say मुझे और छोटा सैंडविच चाहिए which is more or less the same thing as what you suggested. (By the way, this sentence isn't a part of the course since, at least, last month.)

I agree with rest of your points too.

I acknowledge that the course has some shortcomings, a lot of which might have come to be due to the limitations that the incubator had back when this course was originally being made. I went through every single exercise in the first 10 rows and made sure there's no such discrepancy, there. I haven't gone through other rows, yet, because it takes a lot of time to recheck and fix every sentence. It might be more efficient to just build the course from scratch, instead. That's precisely what I'm doing currently. All these shortcomings will be taken care of, and new improvements will be there in the upcoming tree. It might take some time, but I'll try to make it worth the wait.

Once again, extremely sorry for the long delay in getting back to you.


Thanks Devikanan for an awesome reply, and all your hard work on the course. Are you really rebuilding the course? What will be the main differences in the tree? And do you have any news on when the english to hindi course will (realistically) come out? Thanks again!!


Thanks a lot, Kanan, for you detailed reply :)

So, no sorry, I am glad that my post has not been disregarded. It has been read and appreciated so well by one member of the Duolingo's Hindi Team. :)

I'm also happy for the fact that the localisation of the course is being really worked on. And the work of refining and rebuilding the course is in the hands of talented young Kanan. So, we can hope that it will really be worth the wait :)


A few months ago, learner learn both Hindi and English through the app. But now, it's only way to learn English. IMO, please provide two version of app Or two options. In one, learner write sentences in both Hindi and English. And other, learner use brick model of Hindi language.


I am very thankful to duolingo team they provide free of cost Basic English course. But it doesn't mean that they don't think about reported comments or mistakes. IMO, if you don't think or consider about reported mistakes. The purpose of this app is nothing. Because it's also the way to improve this app. And learner learn correctly. Sry, for bad English.


R. S. McGregor in Outline of Hindi Grammar :

को occurs in association with direct objects which are individualized to some extent, and to which a degree of contextual importance is thus attached; hence usually where direct objects refer to human beings, and certain animals, and quite frequently where they refer to inanimate objects. Such words may be called definite direct objects.

I noticed today the individualization, about which Sir McGregor had written, beautifully effected with the word 'imagination' in a Hindi Ad jingle. Here is the jingle's relevent extract :-

मस्ती का पिटारा खोलो!
जोड़ो, जोड़ो, जोड़ो, जोड़ो!
इमेजिनेशन (imagination) को जोड़ो!
... .... .... ... ...
... .... .... ... ...
इमेजिनेशन को और उड़ाओ!
इमेजिनेशन को पंख लगाओ!
... .... .... ... ...
इमेजिनेशन को जोड़ो! ... .... .... ...
Here is the link of the jingle at youtube

And here is an informative article about Sir R. S. McGregor

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