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Can you change the name of the 50 xp per day coaching level?

Using the term "insane" in this context is ableist.


Thank you, and thanks for creating such a terrific learning platform

July 4, 2017



I'm sure that in this case it is used as "Astonishingly good or impressive; amazing." https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/insane. So it does not belittle anybody.


Right, it's being used in the context of graded levels of language-learning intensity, related to more specific issues such as dedication/commitment, pacing, and goals, with "insane" being the highest intensity level or regimen that users can commit themselves to. I don't think they're using it as a slur or a pejorative to insult language-learners or anyone else, trying to dissuade them from earning 50 XP or more per day (quite the contrary).


Whether it's used in a positive or negative way, it is still bigoted language.

If I meet a person of race "x," and I say, "People of your race are sure hard workers," I'm still being racist.


Your “race” example is not analogous to your comment on “insane”, since the noun “race” in your example is being used with the identical meaning as the “race” component of “racist”.

If “race” were used purely figuratively, e.g. “The advent of the Internet has brought about a new race of entrepreneurs; people of that race sure are hard workers!”, would you also consider that to be an example of bigoted language?


There is no need to use ailments taken from the medical community to praise or insult anyone. It is an ableist use of language.

It's okay to be wrong about this people. Check it out. We can only grow by learning


It's not the words that are ableist but the way they are used.


You are exactly right. And that's why having the levels go from Basic, Casual, Regular, Serious, and then "Insane" is ableist. It is using the term "insane" to mean "ridiculous," belittling people who suffer from mental disorders


No, it isn't belittling those people, because the word insane has another meaning of "utterly senseless" which does not refer to mental disorders at all. The world is going crazy if it takes too much notice of the politically correct brigade which the author of your quoted blog obvioulsy is. Opps am I being ableist?


You've changed your tactic because you are wrong. Now you are using three attempts:

1: adding a definition to a word, based on popular use, which came to be because it was being used as an ableist slur;

2: stating that it would be "too difficult" for people to have to worry about being respectful to one another;

3: attacking me personally, rather than the issue.

Poor form.


I would like to first state that I do not want to argue. This is just my thoughts on the matter. While I do understand how many people do not understand how it belittles someone with mental disorders, it actually does. Yes, the word has another meaning but the meaning "utterly senseless" has been associated with the word "insane" because many neurotypical (which is a person who does not have any mental, neurological, or other related disorders) people perceived those who were considered clinically "insane" to be utterly senseless. People with any mental disorder were considered "crazy" or "insane" and were forced to live in psychiatric wards referred to as "insane asylums" or similar names. As someone who has been to several psychiatric wards, and who has been emotionally abused in one of them, I can say with utmost certainty that the conditions in those psychiatric wards back then were absolutely atrocious. I can't go into detail about how terrible they were because it makes me so infuriated. This abuse still goes onto to this day, even in developed countries, though not to the same extent. (I am a victim of this present day abuse. It took me two years before I found someone who took me, a psychiatric patient, seriously about what I went through enough to help me file a report. Keep in mind, this all occurred in New York, one of the best states for those with mental disorders, despite lacking an adequate amount of beds for inpatient care.) The "insane" people were considered nonsensical, or as you said, utterly senseless. We were and still are oppressed, mocked, belittled, and have what we go through trivialized by calling things like this insane., crazy, or psycho. These are terms that should only be used by people reclaiming them, similar to the n word. I do NOT equate this to the level of the n word, but I believe these should be reclaimed. Is it the most important thing? No. Do I think we have more important things to worry about? Absolutely. Does that mean we should be unnecessarily ableist because it's been like that for years, or it has a different meaning now, or (insert other reason here)? No.


using "unreal" in place of "insane" changes the meaning. the "insane" level implies that you have to be mentally sick to even consider setting this level. "unreal" means that this level does not actually exist. langage matters, and any bans on certain words make the language poorer.


comfortablytrev, thank you so much for that link, great points made, and a very thought provoking discussion in the comments.


My pleasure, thank you for the reply


I learned something new and I am 100% in favor of changing it.


You know what deeply offends me? These newspeak-y attempts to change our language(s) just because some words might cause offence to someone out there.

I suggest you read 1984 by George Orwell to find out what attempts to change a language so that a spade isn't called a spade anymore could lead to.


I suggest you pick up a book from the 18th century and check out how language has evolved in response to changing social norms.


Well, I've read 1984. Not once did he use bigoted language.

You're probably the type of person who casually uses the N-word, I imagine? If not, why not? It might offend someone, but who cares right?


You don't know me, so please keep your slanderous implications and assumptions about me to yourself, especially since I have not attacked you personally in the post above.

Long story short, start actually practicing what you preach.


Things that deeply offend wyqtor:

  1. Using terms that don't disparage other people.

  2. Being called out for refusing to use respectful terms that don't disparage other people.

You've signed up to learn 24 foreign languages on duoLingo, but it's deeply offensive that you should make a tiny tweak to the words you use in order to be more respectful to others when someone points out that some colloquial language and idioms are pejorative? This original post wasn't an attack on you. But you're the one who decided to wade into it, talking about how offended you were.


Well, I lived for a few years under a communist regime, and their attempts to change the meaning of words or to decide unilaterally what kinds of words are allowed to be used and what kinds are not, make me weary of any other attempts to do so.


I think that is understandable, but I also think context is important.

Most behaviors can take forms that are abusive or benign depending on a combination of the circumstances, intentions, goals and ultimate outcomes.


So that's a no? You wouldn't use racist words?

Why not?


You read the book, but didn't understood why and what the book was all about did you? The book was about freedom versus oppression. It was also about redefining words to have a nicer sound in our ears. Truth sounds better than propaganda, peace sounds better than war etc. By redefining words thing stays the same, but it sounds nicer. And the author was taken to court for the book... Guess why...

To make an example I'll make a story about a man:
There was a happy man walking down the street acting crazy. People described him as crazy, until one day someone said it could be offensive towards the man, so they started describing him as insane. The man was happy of his life. Then one day someone said you couldn't describe him as insane cause it could be offensive towards him, they started to describe him as mentally unstable. The man didn't care as long as he could do his stuff. Then someone said you couldn't describe him as mentally unstable cause it too could be offensive towards him, they started to describe him as dysfunctional instead. The man continued his life doing what he wanted. Then someone said, you cannot call his condition dysfunctional, as he is a person with special abilities, so they started to describe him as a person with special abilities. The man was living his life as he always had done, and was comfortable with it. So he nicked himself Comfortably... (the reader might put in their own name here).

Point is: whatever you word you think is a nicer description of the existing word, the new word will eventually become equally negative (or positive) regardless of word you replace it with. For a first time user of Duolingo, just doing one excersise a day is a challenge after you have learned 30 words or so, as you have to go back and redo the lessons as you don't remember the words nor are capable to catch the pattern. In such a context it is insane to try to do 50 XP a day and it would be discouraging to not be able to maintain a strike for a few days in a row. When you get the habit to do the exercise every day it's not so insane any more, but it's still insane to put it up as a daily goal. Personally I can do several hundreds XP in a day, but I also have periods that I just take the time to do 10 XP per language I'm learning. So my opinion is that the description "Insane" for a 50 XP a day is correct and not offensive at all.


I'm getting really tired of this discussion.

My point: Don't be rude.

It's not a ban on words. I'm not calling for the burning of books. I'm asking that people who do not have mental illness think about those who do before using words derogatory towards people with disabilities.


You started it and you knew what would be coming, and so did I when I wrote the story with changing word. After all we are on a language learning site.

You should read your posts here again. You are acting rude compared to most in this debate. Many will probably claim I'm the only one that went to your level of rudeness since I made the little story about the man to make the point about word and definitions. The ones that should feel insulted by the story are not the ones with disabilities, but the ones that preach limitations to the language. That's why I put in the last paragraph in the parentheses.

You're proposal is to limit the use of the word "insane" into one of several uses of the word, in de facto you do propose to ban the word and burn all books with the word used by the other "non-approved" definitions. No you do not say it out laud, but it is the consequence of your proposal. The path from your proposal to removal and putting a ban on all "might be offensive words" in Duolingo is shorter than you might think: Alcohol related word due to alcoholics, meat due to vegans, weapons due to anti-weapon associations, religious symbols due to other religions, political issues due to other political groups, etc. The list is endless, when you start. And if you start you will have trouble to stop before you ends up with a dictionary similar to the one described for NEWSPEAK.

To use a word that "might be offensive" in one context correctly in other context do not indicate any intention to be offensive. For most of the users the word in its context were not linked to the mentally illness before you started this tread. In its context it was emphasised to the more positive definition. Still everybody knew of the mental illness which is linked to another definition of the same word. The use were not derogatory at all until you made it derogatory and started your social harming.

In case you think I do not consider whether a word can be derogatory or not, I do, but at a language site there should be a high limit to claiming a word to be derogatory when used correctly. In the world today it is to easy to claim to be insulted. So your claim comes in to a much broader perspective than just the single word "insane". Again it is not the word, but its use in the given context that matters.


Here's a question: How do you feel about the word "gypped" as in "I was gypped"?


I have no problem with it. Descriptive in its form. Indicate that the scam is performed by a person who you no longer can contact and reclaim your right. Not necessary by a gypsy/Romani despite its origin. Again the word is not the problem it is its use.

Here are some Norwegian expressions you might also like and find offensive as they have similar origin:
"Helt Texas" = It's all crazy, reference to the early western movies where Texas became the symbol of the wild west.
"Chicago" = Lawless, reference to the given city and the mob in the early 20th century. Describes areas with local gang activities. Specially used in Bergen.
"Hawaii football" = Soccer match out of control, reference to waves coming and leaving.
"Klondike" = Economic expansion or something going out of control, reference to the gold rush in Klondike.
"Dra til Hutaheiti" = Go far away, reference to Otaheiti/Tahiti.
"Polsk riksdag" = Disorderly meeting, reference to the Polish Parliament.
"Det er helt Gresk" = Impossible to understand, litterally "Its all Greek", reference to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
"Du store kineser" = Large surprise, reference to the Great wall of China and a person from far away.
"Å ta en Spansk en" = Take a unsafe short cut, reference to Spanish windlass and a Spanish knot at the end of the rope.
"Svenskemetoden" = Chose the easiest, but foolish method, reference to Swedes.

None of them are racial in their normal use, despite reference to various countries and areas outside Norway and not necessary with a positive view. But they all have a racial twist in them. I have no problem with any of them.


Ok, how about "gay" when used as a synonym for "bad" or "stupid"?


Again no problem, both gay and guy comes from an old German word for wood. Both have several meanings and bad and stupid is some of them and of older origin than the reference to homosexuality. Again context.

You might throw word on me, but I'll keep my stand: It's the context, not the word that is insulting.


You're talking about something that is subtley different, though related, which is the tendency for euphemisms and neologisms to become as offensive as the words they replaced over time.

This is more about the tendency to use words that are offensive or refer to certain groups of people or hardships outside of that context as slang for something else. Like using retarded to mean "bad idea" rather than "developmentally delayed."

And, in fact, the tendency to adopt descriptive terms as slang is part of the process of converting a neutral term into a pejorative, as it gives the word additional connotations. That's precisely why that cycle exists.


I agree that medical terms tends to get negative associations to them, but it doesn't mean that you should abandon other uses of the word. In my example every word or phrase used to describe the man can be claimed to be offensive and should therefore be banned on equal terms. I hope you agree with me that neither of them should be banned.

If you read the book "1984", to which this part of the tread is tied into, the book were written in a time where the second world war were just finished, and there were a lot of political attempts to tighten the freedom of speech, the worker unions were on the brink of turning violent, the police were likewise likely to be violent, it is describing the war between a totalitarian state and a democratic state. The book also made the population and press aware of the power of the word, hence took the power out of the hands of the politicians in Britain. The author was accused for blasphemy and insult towards the political and governmental order and was taken to court for it. In this context it is far to say that it is the sender and receiver which define the true meaning of the word. The book is probably the most important book against totalitarian state in the history and it clearly made the western world more democratic in the period before the year 1984. By banning certain words the easier it is to get a totalitarian state as the meanings are less clear defined when they should be clear. Likewise when intended to have a double meaning it should maintain that double meaning.

My example might be offensive to some, but I was just trying to point out that what you tries to describe doesn't change. The man would still be acting crazy or be special to the persons trying to describe him. People will not change their view of the person or the act just because you change the word of description, but you have successfully made the language poorer by banning or abandoning the word.

The word "insane" has a double edge to it as it can mean booth extremely foolish and extremely well done pending on success, and as I point out it's exactly what the intention here is: To be extremely well done when you succeed and extremely foolish when not succeeding. And if you are offended: don't select "Insane" as your goal, because after all it's you who puts the label to yourself for you to see, no-one else.


Words aren't intended to have any particular meanings. Their meanings are arbitrary and change constantly over time, as well as falling in and out of favor as preferences, circumstances and societies change.

This is not the result of totalitarianism, but the natural progress of language evolution.

You are getting too hung up on the fact of the process being what is evil rather than the motivations and outcomes being the evil. The process is always going to happen whatever we do.

The trick to avoiding a totalitarian state is not resist any changes to the way language is used. That is a futile effort and liable to wind up allowing problems to go unchecked as time and energy is wasted on irrelevant distracts. The trick is to keep a close eye on the whys and hows of those changes.

There is a difference between suggesting that a family friendly site use a different word for something that frankly doesn't really matter to anything because the one it currently uses may be considered impolite by some people, and the government attempting to redefine the meaning of words in order to disrupt the ability of anyone to have a conversation dissenting from the preferred viewpoint.

One does not lead necessarily to the other, and nor does resisting the one necessarily act as a defense against the other. In fact, I think the refusal to draw proper distinction is liable to end up with people learning to tune you out when you run into instances where there really is a concerted effort to affect the language of political discourse.


I agree with most of your points, but removing a word like "Insane" due to it has a sharp edge where one has been used to describe a medical condition (or any other negative associations) is in fact a totalitarian attitude. It is a part of the war between a democracy and totalitarian state. Ban the words and you have banned the freedom of speech, then you have your totalitarian state. - It takes centuries by the people to build a free democracy, but it only take a minute by a single person to destroy it. Therefore some of us that has lived during the cold war do fear any attempt to ban any word. If they are obsolete they die naturally. New users may use new word with same meaning if they choose to do so.


Choosing not to use a word is, however, not the same thing as banning it. That requires a level of enforcement that no one in this discussion possesses.


I agree that the people in this tread has sharp edges, including myself. A good debate goes extreme and then return.

Selecting not to use a word is OK, but once you claim others should stop using it, it becomes a problem. It is totalitarian attitude.

The tread start with making a problem out of nothing. "Benhamil" were the first I've read that came with an alternative. Would we have seen that without going extreme in the debate?

PS. I keep up-voting you and everyone I debate with, even when I disagree, but I notice it's back on 0 for your post so someone else is down-voting you. My apologies.


Now you're taking credit for having encouraged the suggestion of an alternative word? That credit should go to the original poster. And there's truly nothing special about having come up with another word to replace it. You act like we're splitting atoms. IT'S JUST A WORD.

This isn't a debate. You're just obtuse.


I do not take the credit for the word nor the proposal, it was yours, no-one else. Personally I stand with the Doulingo team and the word "Insane", but as an alternative I found your proposal acceptable. As you can read from my post to "Delta1212", I do give you the credit you deserve. Even when I disagree. I would not give the tread starter credit for your word, he started by making a problem out of nothing (or splitting atoms as you wrote) without a proposing another word himself nor did he ask the community for it's opinion nor for a proposal for an alternative word. He asked for a change. Some of us in the community oppose and some support the request. I oppose and you support a change. And for the credit to push you there: The debate had last for 2 days without any real proposal. In 2 hours after my comment you got so fed up that you came up with a proposal. I take the credit for upsetting you to the point where you wrote the comment with your proposal, not for the word nor the proposal. If you consider upsetting people a positive credit you added another meaning to the word "upsetting".

Despite being opposing to "comfortablytrev" in the matter I've been up-voting where he has had negative points as I dislike that giving negative points to people who stand up for their cause even when I disagree. I can only up-vote once so he still have some negative points, you might contribute. I also always up-vote the comment I'm replying to also yours, even when you call me obtuse...

The debate is about whether the word "Insane" is ableist in the context it is used by the Duolingo, and if so should it be replaced. I argue no it is not ableist in its use, hence it is not required to be changed. I also argue that if every word that MIGHT be an offence to someone should be removed, then the language would be destroyed. Who say we should stop by the word "insane"? Why not go through all the languages and remove all words that MIGHT offend someone? I've given a short story where I've purposely changed the word everytime it was "banned" in the story to prove my point. I've even challenged you to write a story with your own words where only a limited factors were maintained as you found the story offensive. By simply banning every word we do not like we ends up with NEWSPEAK as "wyqtor" point to.

The book 1984 can be found here: https://www.planetebook.com/ebooks/1984.pdf
Please read the Appendix. starting at page 376, you might learn something important about language and the problem with banning and removing words. Yes NEWSPEAK is extreme, but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

PS. Now you made "extreme" to a problem as the word upset you. Should we ban it?


No, spending 10 minutes a day on duoLingo instead of 5 is not "insane" by any definition.

And instead, you could just call 50xp "extreme", which is only 1 letter more than "insane", and doesn't disparage anyone. This strikes me as such a trivial ask that anyone who can get to level 21 on duoLingo should be embarrassed to post tone deaf stories of the like you've written.

The point of the original post is not to discuss or debate the appropriate words to use when talking about mental illness. The point is to stop using a word. On duoLingo.

It's not complicated. Your story is completely off-topic and irrelevant.


When you did your first lesson in a new language, you spent probably 5 to 10 minutes per lesson. Today you can do the same lesson in less than a minute and you do others in 3-4 minutes. It is not insane amount of time spent, we both agree that to spend 10 or even 15 minutes a day. I did 300 XP today in far less than an hour. No big deal when you know the stuff. But if you are committing yourself to maintain the same level for weeks and months from you start your first lesson in a new language you may be insane in both positive and negative meaning of the word. And none of them are medical related.

We are all on a language learning journey here to only learn the positive words makes your learning lesser than when you know both sides. Its a part of learning process. How can you describe heaven without describing hell, and how can you describe hell without describing heaven?

My story were relevant as it was written with one intention: To show the power of the word, and every word can at one point be offensive pending on context, acting crazy is not the same as being crazy. If you feel that the story which is based on the use of the word "insane" is offending you, please rewrite the story to a more appropriate one, with a sting and related to the word "insane" both in context extreme and mentally illness, the removal of words from the language and the true intention of describing something with the word.

When claiming the word for ableist without giving a relevant substitute, it is an attack on the language. When you then attack people who object to this it is relevant to defend and put it into a bigger context. Some of us value freedom, and that include the free use of word. I will defend your right to disagree with me, even to claim I'm insane as long as you state why.

To make it extreme: The word "fan" is in Norwegian short for "Fanden" (the devil). If I should claim that all English speakers should ban the word "fan" because someone in Norway might be insulted would be insane. To make it even worse we have even adapted the English meaning of the word into our own language too. You could be a "fan" of Duolingo and be a "fan" on their forum. You can argue that I'm both.

You attack my level 21, but in this context you should attacked my 604 days of streak. Note, I do not use "Streak freeze", so I'm insane in that context. The word do not frighten me, to ban certain words because someone might find it as a problem is a problem.

PS. You propose another word with a double meaning without the same sting and I agree that for 50 XP a day "extreme" could be a good alternative: It's the first real alternative given in this tread. That means that my comment has given one positive impact.


If I may play Devil's advocate, I think it's cool to educate when there's a social harm taking place

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