Union Jack to represent English
On your home page you have the stars and stripes representing English, shouldn't it be the Union Jack?
Well at least they are calling it the English language and not the American language!
Why is this downvoted? It's a perfectly reasonable question, one that I was asking myself. Is there an emphasis on "Americanisms" at the expense of "Englishisms" or something. Good question.
I too agree that the Portuguese flag should be used for Portuguese. However in the case of the "Union Jack", if one was to be pedantic about it a) it is only called the union jack when flown at see otherwise it is the Union Flag, and b) it also represents Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each of which have their own language (Scots Gaelic, Welsh etc.) which would cause issue if those languages were ever offered on Duolingo. Really the most correct flag to represent England would be the Flag of St. George. But as I said that's only if being pedantic about it.
Also just to correct another poster, not all Europeans learn British English. In Ireland we learn Hiberno-English or "Irish-English" as it is sometimes called. This is another variant of English which has been impacted by Gaelic, the native language of Ireland.
I also read a recent study which shows that with the growth of the Internet and instant worldwide communication, languages are begining to slowly merge into each other. The often referred to Spanglish and Chinglish, while not true languages in the sense of the word, are having an affect on English. Think of the numbers of words in any language which are borrowed from another: siesta, Espresso, croissant, chow mein, ombudsman (Swedish). Languages transcend borders and evolve over time so identifying them with a single flag will always be problematic.
It might be a variant, but it would be very pedantic to say it was anything other than English. Why be pedantic though. At the level at which Duo operates, it's English. In Ireland one speaks English, same as the States. It might be fun for them to have Globish here though, which is an actual proposed subset of English.
The whole discussion about which flag is more appropriate universally is missing the point. It would be an entirely feasible technical change for the website to see where the logged-in user is based and set the flags accordingly, or (even more simply technically) to allow people to choose between different flags on the settings page - at least a few of the countries using it as the native language could be listed. Then everyone would be happy!! British (European?) users would see the Union flag (or Canadians/Australians etc their own flag), Portuguese users their own flag instead of the Brazilian flag, users in the (more-populous-than-Spain!) Colombia or Mexico their own flag instead of the Spanish flag etc etc.
Come on Duolingo - you can sort this out!
I like it! This seems like a perfectly reasonable solution. And who cares that the English here doesn't distinguish between American and British spellings?
Maybe, by a miracle, DuoL admins read this forum and will finally let people choose the flag icon (Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, USA, etc. for English; Brazil OR Portugal for Portuguese; Spain, Mexico, other Latin American country for Spanish; France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, etc for French;)
Of course, it could get a little unwieldy. In order to keep the number of flag icons at a minimum, I still think that the English flag icon should be half UnionJack and half StarSpangledBanner like this: http://icons.iconarchive.com/icons/icons-land/vista-flags/96/English-Language-Flag-1-icon.png
But a native English (or Portuguese, or Spainish, etc.) speaker would not be using Duolingo to learn English, so its not necessarily choosing the flag that represents you best. Instead a non-English speaker would only be choosing the flag that represents the version of English they wish to learn. But that in itself would require Duolingo to have multiple variants of English on offer, or modules to point of the differences between the different variants.
In the discussion and immersion sections, Duolingo shows a flag to represent the language you are learning/translating from, so it is relevant to native English speakers learning other languages on here. Probably people care most about the flag that represents their native language but there is no difference technically - they could let you choose from a dropdown set of flags for both your starting language and any languages you are learning.
Others have already made the point that variants of English (e.g. American English vs British English) are not very different. Duolingo could probably count (or maybe has counted?) the number of words where they have added variants to accommodate British (etc) English - I reckon it might be about 1%. Not worth a different version for! Maybe some people would find a module on it interesting though.
On the first point, agreed. I hadn't spotted that your own language flag is shown when translating, in that case yes I can see how a native speaker might care as well.
However I would disagree with the 1% idea. Or at least with the concept of it being the same 1 % between each of the variants of the languages. Check of the list of dialects of the English Language on Wikipedia to show a reasonably list of potential variants. But it also notes that the changes are just in words, but also in pronunciation and grammar. In Ireland for example, Hiberno-English grammar has been impacted by the grammar found in Irish/Gaelic/Gaeilge. As an example in England the question of "Are you going to the shops?" might be answered with "Yes" or "No", whereas in Ireland it would often be answerd with "I am", or "I am not". This is due to the more to the Irish languages use of "Táim" (I am) and "Nílim" (I am not), to answer the same question in Irish. In essence there can actually be dfferent grammar structure, rather than just chaning the spelling of colour to color when crossing the Atlantic.
I just think it would be interesting and useful if Duolingo could allow for these differences, even if it means getting native speakers of the different dialects to enter the differences they find themselves.