"The letter h"

Translation:το γράμμα χι

January 2, 2017



Greek doesn't have the English 'h' sound so this one doesn't make much sense!

December 16, 2018


This is the ABC skill, there will never be a perfect way of teaching the alphabet and learners have to somehow start learning the language and also understanding the transliteration concept so that they can recognize foreign words of Greek origin upon encountering them. The Greek team has provided a lot of info on the pronunciation of the language throughout the course. The ABC is a skill for novice learners, not those who have reached level 25.

December 16, 2018


Yes, in fairness I was doing this mostly to turn my tree all gold :)

A general comment and a specific comment though:

1) The pronunciation material the team have provided is good for sure, but I think the Duolingo platform makes it difficult to put into a coherent "skill" - it pushes you into matching a Greek sentence with an English sentence when they don't exactly match.

If you define "equivalent letters" between English and Greek as the mapping usually used in transliteration, then there's a risk it misleads novice learners into thinking the pronunciation also matches. So you can look at word pairs like διάμετρος / diameter and draw a mapping based on the way English (and most Latin-influenced languages) have transliterated Greek words, and that's useful in recognising words - but it's unhelpful if it gives the impression that δ has the same sound as English d, or that γ is the same as g, etc.

2) Greek χ doesn't map to English h either in transliteration conventions, or in phonology.

  • When we write words of Greek origin in English, we transliterate χ -> ch. Chronology, archaeology; not hronology, arhaeology. [I believe where we have 'h' in English words of Greek origin, it comes from a rough breathing on a vowel in ancient Greek, not from χ?]

  • And the sound of English h (glottal fricative) isn't the same as Greek χ (velar fricative)

You can of course legitimately ask me "OK, so how would you do it?" - and I'd have to answer that I wouldn't have a skill for the alphabet, I'd provide pronunciation material (as you have) outside of the constraints of the skill structure.

December 16, 2018

  • 16

You have brought up very valid points which we have been struggling over in particular with the creation of the New Tree. Of course we are aware of the many issues surrounding the presentation of the alphabet in the standing tree and are making efforts to overcome them. Your comments and any others you have are greatly appreciated.

In addition your comment about the translations not always being exact. That's not at all uncommon and a phenomenon common to most if not all translations although we do try to make them as close as possible and it's also why we often have many alternative translations.

December 16, 2018


this seems kinda lenient. it considers a single letter wrong to be a typo, but when that letter is what im supposed to be translating it feels unhelpful to be marked correct. not entirely sure how to report it tho since it doesn't have a category

March 10, 2019
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