"I don't like mint very much."
I can't believe how bad it is. I understand it's a beta, but I'm a software engineer and this is not beta quality software. It seems like no one put any thought into handling kanji.
The kanji version of a sentence should be the canonical version for every sentence and the kana versions could have been mostly automated with occasional human intervention when there is ambiguity. Instead they've often chosen to store the kana version as the primary sentence, which is a much lossier (lower fidelity) system and it's much harder to automatically convert them to kanji. As a result Duolingo is now dependent on massive human intervention to add all the kanji versions all over again in the form of user reports by the users choosing to use IME/keyboard entry.
The IME entry is completely basically broken. I still insist on using it because I think using the word bank gives you zero production ability, but the complete randomness of when they accept kanji means I'm constantly being marked wrong when I should be right and it takes me about 300% as long to get through my daily practice as it should.
Make a thread out of this maybe someone will listen. This is just too annoying.
On a sidenote though the kanji to hiragana conversion is not unique (one kanji can have multiple kana readings) so basicially you would need a framework where they put in the kanji answers and then the reading for each kanji that appears in that sentence. You cant just accept all possible reading combinations from a dictionary because it is actually likley that a user puts in a wrong kanji reading as a wrong answer and you would wanna mark these as wrong. But then you have the problem that each time a new user answer is marked as "should be correct" they would have to convert it into kanji and then add the reading. So its probably too hard with the limited ressourses that they have and this course is just doomed.
You are completely right that no one put any thought into handling kanji. To be more precise, no one put any thought into handling any other writing system other than latin (maybe they put any thought in it for languages like russian and greek though).
Duolingo was in the beginning intended to work with a few languages. But when they grew they started to support other languages. Then there were some poor souls who had to bodge things together to somehow make languages without spaces like Japanese work and they had to find a way to make kanji work as well. But those poor souls luckily didn't have to make the Japanese course itself. That was left to some poor contributors who had to bodge hmthe course together and try their best to make the best compromises to makes things work as well as possible. And this is the result of that whole mess. Over time they managed to improve things rather well, but to completely iron out all of the issues they probably just need a whole redesign of their application.
(Btw, fyi, I'm somewhere in the beginning of next (calender) year I should be graduating as a software engineer. The software I was working on for my first internship was similar to Duolingo. Someone made something some day and they built upon that. Now the company has 600 employees and they're still bodging things together which is all built on top of the mess it started with..)
は is usually used about twice as much as が as it's used for talking about things in general. が beats は when it comes to mint. I suppose this is because many Japanese don't know what mint tastes like very well and so might be more likely to say this about actually having tried it rather than as a general topic. It's supposedly popular as a garden plant though for its fragrance. English speakers' understanding though is probably closer to the opposite sense?
好きじゃないです is just equivalent to 好きではありません. It does not make more sense or less. Comparatively 好きじゃないです is more verbal, casual and softer. It is commonly used by Japanese but we also need to acknowledge that it is not standard Japanese in a strict sense. Some people does not agree that ない+です is grammatically correct.
i have three questions:
(1) What is the kanji for あまり? i can only find definitions for kanji that mean "remainder" or "surplus" (余り,衍,贏,剩) which isn't exactly intuitive in English usage. even if we call it "extra"...
Let me try breaking this down myself, using Niko's notes on particles.... mint (subject) extra+affection (cause+contrast) does not exist. "an extra affection for mint does not exist (but a slight dislike might)."
that's not quite close enough, imo. (2) Should i memorize "x あまひ好き" as "like x very much" or (3) does では strongly affect the meaning of the sentence (ie what is the difference in meaning if i just used で)?
(1) The corresponding Kanji is 余り. However in this usage it is not usually written in Kanji. According to the dictionary the applicable explanation is 度を越しているようす i.e. the state of exceeding moderation.
(2) The way I memorize it is あまり…ない; We can insert any adjective or verb in the middle and ない reminds me of the negative form.
(3) では is a structural part and up to here you should be able to understand 好きです and 好きではありません.
For (1) you have a remainder, surplus, or extra when you have too much. 余りにも~ is the closest translation I have for too (much )~ -- better than ~過ぎ, say. I don't like mint too much. Liking something is always too much traditionally in this culture -- it's like a weakness.
What he said on (2).
For (3) であります・せん I've only seen it in writing, usually wishing something (happiness or health, say) comes to greet you. は or も, not the case particles but binding particles when they follow other particles like this, are required to make whatever it follows predicate (connect directly rather than indirectly to) the verb. で (or に say) doesn't do this on its own . . .
です does not have negative forms. It also does not mean "is". ありません is an imperfective distal negative of ある. ある (あります) means "is", ありません means "is not", whether it is alone or not. で makes the preceding clause an NP (noun phrase) meaning "the state of liking", then ありません negates its existence. は after で is a normal phrase particle は and it is there, because it's a negative sentence.