"Hodi mama!"

Translation:May I come in mother!

February 22, 2017



I have a suspicion that most of these phrases should be translated merely "hello," "good morning," etc. A number of languages have greetings for various times of day or various degrees of respect, but to translate them literally into English would be ludicrous. I understand the worry that the student will try to use the greeting in the wrong context, but that lack of context is simply the great weakness of Duolingo. It has many strengths, especially for those of us whose only interest in most languages is reading and the pure joy of the language itself, but for those who want to learn to speak properly in context, Duolingo could only be a starting point.

February 23, 2017


I think you are right in general, but maybe not about this one in particulat. "Hodi", as far as I know, is really specifically used in order to request entry to a home.

February 24, 2017


Exactly, it's the East African alternative to knocking.

February 27, 2017


Which is a great example of why those that really simply mean hello at different times of the day or with different people should be identified that way. It's actually something that has caused discussion on a number of Duolingo discussion boards.

February 24, 2017


That's a really good point, James!

February 26, 2017


You see? The problem is that with your simple sentence you explained it better than Duolingo itself. I'm new to this website but I can already see problems with some of its teaching mechanics.

February 28, 2017


Except that my simple sentence is part of Duolingo, which is crowdsourced at every point (if I understand that word properly). I find that the original program is very good at exercise and most of the time not very good with elucidation, though the Swahili has very good Tips and Notes to begin with here. In a sense, it is a bit like immersion, except that the sentences have no context, so one cannot rely on context clues. I find, though, that when I need a particular form explained to me, these discussion boards do quite nicely. The Welsh and Vietnamese programs, for instance, have very few Tips and Notes, but there are always native speakers on the discussion boards enthusiastic about explaining any nuance of their language.

February 28, 2017


I couldn't disagree more. While I understand that there are a lot of people who feel like you do (maybe even the majority of people), not all of us see it this way. I understand and appreciate the value of a "human translation", where one translates the spirit of the message rather than what's being said (like translating all of these phrases as "hello", "good morning", etc.). You're certainly not wrong.

But some of us (myself included) also find great value in the literal translation. From this perspective, we're not translating English phrases in our minds. We're instead first telling ourselves, "okay, this English phrase is arranged 'this' way in X language", and then we translate 'this' into the target language.

Whether you're dissecting the literal translations and remembering what they're used for (which can be a mnemonic device in and of itself—it's almost comparable to method acting, in a way; trying to 'get into the headspace' of someone who speaks the language natively as much as we can), or remembering the human translations and thinking about them as just alternative versions of the same set phrases, I don't think it's important. I think what's important is that you're doing what works for you. I think that both methods have merit.

As such, I've always held to the idea that—especially due to the lack of situational context inherent in the nature of this platform—Duolingo should allow both human and literal translations. I also think it would be an improvement if, upon correct translation of a sentence, it would specifically tell you if your translation was literal or not. And, if literal, it could also tell you what a valid human translation could have been. Then everyone would finally be able to put this argument to rest and just approach it whichever way they want to approach it.

But that's just like, my opinion, man.

August 7, 2018


In another sentence 'mama' (in 'mama asante) was at the beginning and in this one 'mama' is at the end. So is there a difference between 'hodi mama' and 'mama hodi'?

February 22, 2017


In this case Mama would come afterward, otherwise she does not know you mean her. "Mama asante" would be used when already in contact or conversation. This one opens the conversation - and just as in any culture (or knocking to stick with the English) you would knock/get attention before starting to speak to the person.

June 28, 2017


I wouldn't think so. Both phrases mean the same thing.

February 22, 2017


"May i come in mama" was not accepted until i used "mom". I doubt " mama" is Swahilli

December 10, 2017


This should be a question but is a statement

August 31, 2018


I'm here mom is wrong?

September 5, 2018


Yes, "hodi" corresponds to a knock. "I've arrived." or "I'm here." would be "Nimefika." or "Nipo." (which I've only heard in answer though...)

September 28, 2018


Sounds like "Kodi mama"

March 14, 2019
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