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Duolingo Hungarian Translations and Translators

I know from reading the scores of comments on this course that many people are struggling with the English translations here, the many inconsistencies in the answers, the limited choice of answers, the complicated and rigid word order etc etc. Yes it's still in Beta Mode and for sure these problems will be sorted in time. Respect btw for all the guys offering their time for FREE in order to create what will become in time a great learning platform for the Hungarian language. However what I have noticed now coming up to my 90 days on this course is that certain sections are much better prepared/organised than others. So I guess what I'm after is inside information, do Duolingo allocate different sections to individual translators to create and maintain? It would make perfect sense to me and it would also explain why some sections are much easier to navigate around than others. Regards

October 5, 2016



I am just guessing here, but there is a team of contributors. You can easily find them via the incubator page (incubator.duolingo.com). I guess they divided up this huge task, and they must have different levels of English (and Hungarian) fluency. So, what we see is indeed the work of several people.
Bear in mind that team members can come and go, the current members are not necesarily the ones who wrote those sentences. (But somebody did release the course in this state). I seriously wonder if some non-human translator had been involved in the project at any time.
Anyway, it is indeed a huge undertaking.


"non-human translator" :) yes I know what you mean vvsey, some of these translations could quite easily have come from "Google translate" But of course you are quite right it's a huge undertaking and many times there's not a direct translation between the Hungarian and English sentences which can make things very awkward. I'm sure we both have the same respect for all the people doing this design and translation work, but that doesn't stop us from tearing our hair out when trying to complete some of these sections.


Sometimes I have to stop though.... and let some new hair grow... :)


It is a team of several individuals with possible variations in their English proficiency. Also, and perhaps what may make a difference, is us the users/learners submitting errors to the team for review. Actually, I think this is crucial and I encourage everyone to do exactly that as often as possible. Think of it as, "help me, help you."


I couldn't agree more about submitting the errors, in fact if I meet a sentence for a 2nd or 3rd time I will adjust my answer slightly and report the various options should they are not be accepted. As it happens I've probably had my worst Hungarian Duolingo day today. I won't mention the section I was in but I'm sure the people that have come across it will know the one I mean. I really couldn't move forward for poor grammar, spelling mistakes, very poor translations etc, etc. From the comments I've read most of these problems were reported 2/3 months ago. This really brings me back to my main point I'm now quite convinced that certain people are responsible for various sections, and why there seems such variation in quality. Here's hoping I'm dealt a good one tomorrow :)


I have recently seen improvements in some of the lessons, not in all of them. It may be surprisingly difficult to offer a sufficient range of alternative answers. Especially because the sentences in some sections of the course are quite complex. I can recall a post from a creator of the Czech course (release in 2017) revealing how he had to submit almost 3,000 translations for the sentence "We like milk, and so we drink it often". Once you have 3,000 translations for such sentences, I can imagine that the course will be very flexible and forgiving (like the German course, for example). However, I don't know if the creators of the Hungarian course are aiming for such flexibility before going out of beta.


Hello, I am Abenhakan, one of the Hungarian moderators. I was mostly engaged in the HU-EN course and did minimal work in the EN-HU course, however, I would like to comment on your note. I hope this will give you a clearer picture of the difficulties my fellow Hungarian developers faced here.

Let"s take a very simple sentence for example: "The man goes to the cinema by car". It is very easy to translate this sentence to basically any Indo-European language. L'uomo va al cinema con la macchina. Der Mann geht ins Kino mit dem Auto, etc. You may recognize that the word order is almost always the same in these languages and with a few exceptions this word order is remarkably rigid. Now, Hungarian word order is much more flexible. Actually, you can almost freely permutate the words and you will receive a grammatically correct and legitimate sentence. (Autóval megy a férfi a moziba, Autóval megy a moziba a férfi, Az autóval a férfi a moziba megy, Az autóval a férfi megy a moziba, Az autóval a moziba megy a férfi, Az autóval a moziba a férfi megy, etc.). All these sentences are fully perfect from grammatical point of view and have slightly, but absolutely distinguishably, different meanings. So, only permutating the words you have 24 (4 factorial) different translations. Add some word variations like car (autó/kocsi/gépkocsi), cinema (mozi/filmszínház), man (ember/férfi) and the fact that you get, again, slightly different meanings with our without articles (moziba/a moziba), (autóval/az autóval) and you will have 600 (24*25) different possible translations! From one simple sentence. The Czech 3,000 is a nice number but I have many many times met the 10,000 barrier (this is the largest number of variations Duolingo permits) when I worked on the Hungarian-English course.

This is only one area where Hungarian is quite different and believe me, there are many. I agree that the present quality of the course is far from satisfactory, It took a lot of time and effort from our side and even more patience from our users in the Hungarian-English course while we were able to say that the course is "ready". We are very far from this point in case of the EN-HU course.


Thank you for your comment.

The experience you discribe as an author of a course I know from myself. Since April 2015 I am editing a course for German speaking people to teach Hungarian. With every sentence I ad I have to think about possible variations as well.

So you will surely agree: the longer a sentence becomes, to more it is impossible to ad all the possible versions in the database.

Exactly that's why I do not understand at all, why the course authors implement so much run-on sentences in the way as: "The italian man, who goes by car to the black cinema, is not as fast driving as the dutch woman, who wants to go by motorcycle to the crowded concert in the foreign city."

(This sentence I constructed right now on my mind, you won't find it in the ENG-HUN database. But everyone knows, what I mean.)

That's why I was arguing several weeks before in a comment, some course editors prefered self-fulfilment instead of respecting the needs of learners.


To everyone here and the makers of the course, a big thank you for your input! I am grateful for the chance to work on my Hungarian, and share my journey with other people. Here are some thoughts to try to help improve the course- not meant as criticisms:

Andreas, I agree- the sentences are more elaborate than necessary. They are trying to both teach and recycle so many things all at the same time, so, although you may be learning about colours, you find Zsuzsa and some tall, beautiful "kindergarten teachers" flying between the fast, red cars, not the famous purple cities!

It's good to look back and recycle, and look forward to prepare you for the next thing. The H course does this but tries to do too much at once, meaning even more possible translations!

I think that the course needs to accept that H is challenging, and maybe needs a greater number of shorter exercises, rather than trying to squeeze so much into a small space.

I'd say- keep it less complicated- at least until the higher levels- and have more vocabulary sections in between the grammar ones. H vocab is do-able and leaves you feeling you have learnt something solid.

It is not only difficulty, but the length of the sections and time they take. 2 blocks of 10 questions, please, not one of 20. Finishing one gives you a sense of achievement, which is important. Too much at once, and you get overwhelmed and forget things, too.

If a topic needs you to take 30 lessons, then fine, but separate them- teach a bit, rest it, do something else, come back to it. H is not simple, and we all need to be encouraged. Breaking it up into swallowable chunks helps.

I suggest more conversations in the course. Spoken H is not all long and complex. It also usually has a context to help you- You are in the kitchen and the old lady tells you to chop up the potatoes, you are on the street asking talking about a statue or something, you are buying chestnut icecream, or you are out in the countryside looking for tuzok. Context and dialogue paint a picture, and make it come to life.

The clickable boxes are helpful. They take away my frustrations as a speaker of non-US English. Much time, (and hair) saved!

I want to end with saying thank you to everyone. Please don't give up! :-)


Well all the one year old comments are in the past. We have Hungarian 2.0!

I like it. There are so many corrections. I recognize sentences that I had before that were marked wrong and now there are multiple correct responses.

The custom lessons take the learner to the right place.

I have been getting emails about my previous corrections being accepted and others have received them too.

So the squeaky wheel does get the grease! :)


Piguy3, there was no reply button under your message. Now that I posted my response there is. So I can delete where it is and put it here. Another bug to report!

So: In the French and Spanish courses there are fewer questions, at least in the beginning.

I don’t remember if there were only 10 questions in HU at first.


2 blocks of 10 questions, please, not one of 20.

I don't think the Hungarian team has control over this.


Yeah, the magical reappearing reply button is a bug of somewhat recent vintage. I think the idea is that comments should be able to nest for six levels, but then no more (which makes sense; things get awfully strung out).

It looks like early lessons in Hungarian also have fewer sentences. For instance, I just did a lesson in Accusative 1 to check, and it was 9 sentences long. Hungarian seemed to be more of an outlier previously (which I also don't think was a choice the team made; I presume it was a choice the algorithms made for some reason, which was also apparently the case for Italian); things might be more standardized now.


Thanks for the insight

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