"pourquoi faire simple quand on peut faire compliqué ?" (why make it simple when we can make it complicated?)
conference/conférence come from Latin conferre = lit. bring together
the French "conférence" therefore translates to "conference" or "lecture".
A meeting is about bringing people together, but "conference" or "lecture" are more specific because it implies that one or several speakers will deliver a formal speech, which is not the case with a simple "meeting".
I can see how one might say that, but no. Larousse indicates that ils sont en conférence = They are in a meeting. The key word here is en. Using "en conférence", allows a different connotation to be applied. Otherwise, either "conference" or "lecture" is appropriate. http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french-english/conf%C3%A9rence/17953
As to using identical words, this approach makes it easier for Duo to manage its database. However, there are times when the "identical word" approach can lead to misunderstanding. Large, traffic, napkin, assist, chair, coin, demand, etc., etc. http://french.about.com/od/vocabulary/a/fauxamis.htm So perhaps we might say, use identical words when the meaning warrants doing so.
please take a look at this: http://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/anglais-francais/conference/571755
What's wrong with, "How did the conference go?" DL didn't accept it. This is the second time IN THIS SAME LESSON that DL has not recognized what appears to be a correct translation (I acknowledge that this is not a verbatim translation, which DL seems to prefer - but it is an appropriate use of the [American] English form of expression).
Thanks for the reply. All three DL hints "conference/lecture/debate" could easily be used here. DL has used the first hint "conference" in this case. I can't see this short sentence being more applicable to "conference" without more context. Eg: A friend could easily ask a debater "how was the debate?" to see if the debater's team had won or lost. Anyway off to learn some more french!
Strictly speaking, it is not exactly the same thing, since "comment s'est passée la conférence ?" is the translation for "how did the conference go?". In conversations, the answer to either "comment était" or "comment s'est passée" would probably not be significantly different, so you can use it.
Yet, "passée" must be in feminine (auxiliary "être", past participle agreeing with the subject).