Can we be expecting Mandarin or Cantonese in the next few years?
I'm just wondering. I'm eager to learn those.
Considering Japanese will be released in a few months, I'm sure Mandarin cannot be far behind (I think Luis von Ahn might have said something vague about this year at some point—although he said a similar thing about Arabic last year and it didn't happen) .
I imagine Cantonese has a considerably lower priority, however, in addition to being primarily spoken rather than written.
Here's a link to Luis's announcement that they're expecting to see Japanese and Chinese courses this year.
Hopefully the Mandarin course will be one of the next few courses started in the Incubator. I think they'll probably let the Japanese course settle in first, though.
You can expect Mandarin this year or next year!
Japanese is a good sign for Mandarin.
Cantonese is unlikely (though I would definitely contribute, I'm a native Mandarin and native Cantonese) because Luis said they would not do any dialects of any language. They could make exceptions, though!
What constitutes a 'dialect' is very ill-defined, so saying 'no dialects' really means very little. If the same criteria for considering Cantonese and Mandarin dialects of the same language were currently used in Duolingo, Portuguese would be considered a dialect of Spanish and Norwegian a dialect of Danish.
I don't think that Cantonese would be included in what he meant with "dialects". I think he was talking about just variations of a same language. If we have a US English course we won't have a British English one, if we have a Brazilian Portuguese we won't have an European Portuguese one (I would like we had both EU Portuguese and U.K. English, but this is life :P).
As Cantonese is linguistically a separated language from Mandarin, it could make it to the Incubator in some way. However I think that Mandarin stills being a priority for Duolingo rather than Cantonese.
There is the following quote from the language request guide:
Duolingo uses at the moment Mandarin Chinese as Duo's Chinese language. They may not teach any other Chinese languages in a mid-term future or even long-term.
There is some wriggle room in there, but it looks fairly negative regarding Cantonese. (Also, I would think the above text was OK'd with staff.)
Cantonese may not have an official standard but that does not mean they cannot pick the Hong Kong or Canton version of Cantonese. It is already done in other courses that teach Cantonese. They appear to usually use the Hong Kong version. And besides, how did Duolingo decide Brazilian vs. European Portuguese and Latin American vs. Castillian Spanish?
It is really difficult since designing an interface for switching back and forth between English (or other languages) and the characters of Chinese is nearly impossible, unless it's more "multiple choice" style questions. Of course, I think a pinyin based course would be a great option and it wouldn't have the interface problem that characters present.