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  5. High Valyrian Now In Beta!


High Valyrian Now In Beta!

We are so excited to share a freshly brewed High Valyrian course (beta) for web users! If you are curious about a fictional language that started out in George R.R. Martin's books, and then further developed by David J. Peterson to be used in the TV series, this is for you. If you have never heard of this before, check out some explanations here and here. In short, it is the language of "Valar Morghulis."

As a fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, I am fascinated that David himself wanted to be responsible for leading a team to build a Duolingo course to share with us all. (!!!)

It is worth addressing the inevitable “Why is this language available before this other language” right away: this launch does not interfere with nor take away resources from other languages we are planning to launch.

Now, look at this thing:

If you are curious about the beta version of High Valyrian, check it out now!

Thank you for sharing the language you worked so hard on with us, Dedalvs!

Now, skoriot ñuhyz zaldrīzesse ilzi?

July 12, 2017



If any course (I feel I need to specify) doesn't take away resources, why aren't there courses for language pairs that are clearly technologically possible and have volunteers you have already deemed qualified, like Italian and Portuguese for German? Seems like those would be easy additions if there truly were no resources involved on the staff's part.

Unless you simply mean the team working on this is different from the Czech and Korean team, for example.


I would guess that it used very little staff time - as it probably required very little oversight.

After all, the language is whatever Dedalvs says it is. Same for the translations.


Do other teams consult the staff in terms of the language? Sure, those courses aren't constructed by the creator of the language but unless the staff has native speakers of all the other 41 languages (minus Klingon), I don't see the staff providing much help with the translations or grammar. Tools to teach them, yes, just not with the content.


FWIW, over my entire tenure in the Incubator, I have not once seen anyone consult Duolingo staff on language. There are various chatrooms where this communication would have taken place. In one of these rooms, I saw an unsolicited directive being given to another team to expand leniency in accepting a particular synonym. But the culture most definitely is to deal with your own languages--that's why you are there.

As far as non-language specific support is concerned (how do I...), the contributors have learned to rely mostly on each other, as the alternative is to wait a very long time. I have benefited a lot from some of the bright minds in there, and I hope I paid some of this help forward, in fact even to the HV creator.

There are things none of us contributors can do jack about regardless of our languages, but then those are global issues that we just report to staff and hope for the best. Unless there is a difference between HV and whatever other language in the probability of adding to staff load by exposing a bug, it is all the same, a course is a course is a course.


Most of those courses didn't have licensing (and all that it entails, namely big bags of cash) provided by HBO, I think.


I would be surprised if they did. HBO paying for this course doesn't mean the staff didn't use any resources to help building this (or any other) course.


That's part of my point. This course appeared in the incubator and graduated to beta in record time for any Duo course, likely due to the factor you just mentioned.


This course appeared in the incubator and graduated to beta in record time for any Duo course

Huh? The course took 254 days to complete phase 1, making it the 7th fastest course for English speakers (not counting Japanese or the original five) and it hasn't graduated from beta.


And not counting it has less than 1000 words, which is half what most languages have.


I said to beta. My mistake about the time! I've been waiting to get a look at the course, so it seems to have flown by for me.


My bad, I don't know where I got the "from beta" from.


PR stunt. I doubt anybody will use it in 10 years.


Given that A Song of Ice and Fire was released in 1996, and is now a major HBO production twenty years later, there's a high chance this is a fantasy series that'll stick around for a while. Just look at Klingon - a language invented for Star Trek in the 60s and 70s that people still use to this day for a whole slew of things. What's to say High Valyrian won't also stick around with that same level of interest?


But Star Trek movies are still being made. It's more of an achievement if either franchise survives 10 years of no new media, or if new GOT is still produced in 10 years. As for the slew of usage, there are certainly things like watching Star Trek, going to Star Trek conventions, rewatching Star Trek and going to more Star Trek conventions.


GoT has been airing for 7 years already. 17 April 2011 was the first episode. 3 years to go and there will be a prequel and possibly a movie after that. So yeah 10 years is easily done. There is so much story in the GoT world the prequel series could be another 7 seasons so add another 7 years on top of the 10.

The current season will end in 2019, that's 8 years of air time.


Congratulations Team High Valyrian! You've worked really hard to get this into beta, and your hard work has gotten you there! <3


To be honest, I'm extremely disappointed in how Duolingo thinks they can push the bird out of the nest before it can fly. The contributors were doing an amazing job on the course, then Duolingo suddenly decides to rush them to complete the course for a certain date, causing it to be half-complete. Duolingo will now advertise the course 'Learn High Valyrian today!' but do they ever say *without audio/missing tips and notes! It has happened for Swahili/Japanese/High Valyrian, and if this does become a trend, I'll probably leave Duolingo for good and look elsewhere for a course that can match what Duolingo was. Please Duolingo, don't take the muffin out of the oven before it is baked, we can't eat it raw!


In this specific case I assume it was HBO and David Peterson who wanted to meet this deadline, so I wouldn't blame it on Duo. And at least for Japanese I can say that it is already enjoyable in its current state.


But I'm sure Duolingo didn't have to agree to that date. I doubt it was agreed upon when they started the course last year. The same with Swahili it was for the Design Indaba event, but they could have just said that it would be ready shortly. I mean, it usually only takes 1-2 weeks to implement the audio anyway. I wouldn't really say Japanese is enjoyable because of the course. For me, Japanese is a fun language anyway, because of the writing system and the sounds, but would it really be fun when you are learning grammar and have no Tips and Notes to guide you?


Do you think there is a TTS for High Valyrian? Because I kind of doubt it. So the team will have to record it themselves, which takes time. Probably less time than for Swahili, because I think the team had trouble finding a studio for recording, which shouldn't be a problem here.

I'm not a beginner in Japanese so I can enjoy it without tips and hints. However I don't know if the problem lies in the tips and hints not existing yet, or simply the mobile version not supporting them yet. And the webversion is still waiting for a way to input Japanese in a beginner friendly way.


Quote Rhabarberbarbara: "What are the advantages of Mondly?"

Sorry, that is already too deep in the tree. Therefore I have to reply here (more above) instead of more down below.

If you maybe know a bit about German (reading) language (or maybe send it through Google translate):
I posted a thread written in my native German language about latest Mondly changes (introducing 19 new topics/skills) to their tree and some general Mondly summary points I already know about: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23527077

This has been my (much shorter) English Mondly thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23524002

"Mondly languages" also have a blog where they announce regulary some news (e.g free Oculus Gear VR app): http://blog.mondlylanguages.com.

The "Mondly" web portal and apps have been discussed previously in several other threads on DuoLingo in more detail.....well, very hard to find with the forum discussion search function.

But thankfully you can find those threads by using the following search keywords on Google: "site:duolingo.com Mondly".


Schau ich mir vielleicht mal an. Danke für den Tipp


Mondly languages uses often (easier) tapping excercises on their web interface, even if you put "intermediate/advanced" into your difficulty level settings.

Japanese (L2 target) seems to be available from multiple base langauges like L1 German, English, Portuguese, French, Italian....

At least the systems allows me to select any combination in the course dialog ("I speak" / "I want to learn").
Sorry, but I would not like to press the SAVE button and test it out as I do not want this course to be added to my Premium Mondly profile.

BTW: Mondly is also available on mobile apps besides web (I probably test the Android app on Bluestacks at a later time).

I am testing Mondly (want to) for Portuguese (Brazil) and it's Grammar 1-3 excercises.
Currently I was / am more into Memrise (especially offical PT1-7 courses which also contain longer phrases/sentences), so I am not much into it to tell about details.

Have you already tried it?


I have not tried it. I learn Japanese with a combination of books, duo, memrise and real life lessons. What are the advantages of Mondly?


would it really be fun when you are learning grammar and have no Tips and Notes to guide you?

Having started as a complete beginner in Japanese, my answer would certainly be in the affirmative. Of course, it would be preferable if they were there, but their lack probably doesn't even make my list of top five issues with the course.

For whatever reason, most courses seem to be released into beta half-baked in some way or other. Updates to existing courses, too. I don't know why it's such a custom to fail to include even yawningly obvious alternative translations: with or without pronouns in Spanish, the fact that possession in Portuguese can be with or without definite article, etc. FWIW, Japanese seems to have done quite well relative to other courses on this count.


Welsh started without (much) audio in beta, I remember it being extremely awesome even back then


Is it bad that I have pretty much no interest in the show and still want to learn a bit? (polyglot much?)

Anyway, congrats to the team!


No, you're not. I couldn't get into the show and stopped after a couple of episodes, but I kind of want to check out the language.


How cool is this?!

Congrats, Duolingo and David, on your latest great accomplishment :D


No way! I'm not even a big GoT fan, but would love to try my first fictional language. Let's get started!


Question: does it have audio?


Like Swahili, I dare say this course has been prematurely released without audio in order to meet a deadline (in this case, the forthcoming new series of Game of Thrones). There is still no audio for Swahili, so I shouldn't expect any for this course for months.


In High Valyrian's case, that's actually good.

See, adding a conlang while it's still being constructed is a great opportunity for Duolingo, and the fact that the course isn't finished either means the opportunity's not over.

What is this opportunity?

The opportunity to try out features of a language that are difficult for today's version of Duolingo without messing up a course in a language with native speakers and probably some painful history.

Suppose Duolingo wants to add another language with some feature that none of the languages it already teaches have. Peterson could add some more words to High Valyrian, use that feature in those new words, and then add those words to the course in some High Valyrian for English speakers 2.0 or 3.0 or whichever...

...and collect a lot of user reports of problems.

Then, once Duolingo solves those problems with that feature, the staff can more confidently add other languages with both that feature and native speakers. :D


I'm not sure any of things are actually happening. A course needs to be finalised and locked before it is released with or without audio. The only sense in which this course isn't finished is its lack of audio, the provision of which is a time-consuming process of recording, cutting and manually assigning each clip to the right sentence.

Secondly, I don't think Mr. Peterson has been making up the grammar of his language on Duolingo, merely vocabulary for Duolingo sentences that had not previously required inventing for the purposes of television dialogues. I am sure that all the grammatical features of this language are entirely settled.


True - OTOH, some courses do get more updates after they enter Phase 3. For example, English for Spanish speakers recently had some lessons added. :)

As for Peterson having entirely settled the grammatical features, that's a pity. :/


It doesn't seem to, at least not yet


Or is it just me with no audio?


I have no audio either.


thank you Deldalvs for the high valyrian course!


The course description says "Now you can learn High Valyrian as if you too were tutored like Tyrion."

Does this mean that we'll be good enough to say things like 'my Valyrian is a bit nostril' or to tell people that we want to eat their babies?


"this launch does not interfere with nor take away resources from other languages we are planning to launch."

I'm both happy and impressed that David was allowed to bring his own team of programmers and QA guys.

Congrats on the launch!


How much of the programming at Duolingo needs to be added in order to add a course?

How much of the programming already applies no matter which courses Duolingo has? For example, adding one more course to Duolingo probably doesn't mean the programmers have to add more code to the program keeping track of how many lingots you have. :)


"How much of the programming at Duolingo needs to be added in order to add a course?"

If the answer is anything higher than 'none', then the statement that no resources have been taken away from other projects is inaccurate.

Every course requires backend work as well as work from the course contributors.


I was just reading about when this was going to be released a couple hours ago haha
Congrats to everyone involved!!

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Valar dohaeris


Very interesting initiative from the Duolingo, I'm sure many people will love it!


Seeing that High Valryian now has a flag on Duolingo made me curious, so I took a look at https://d7mj4aqfscim2.cloudfront.net/images/flag-sprite13.svg and noticed that Duolingo now has the Haitian flag too. :) It's not on https://incubator.duolingo.com/ yet, though. :/


I must say I think it's a pretty dreadful flag. The dragon in the Welsh flag would be smaller than the dragon in this:

It would look far better if Duolingo miniaturised the whole thing.


How much detail can fit in a circle 25 pixels wide?


It's remarkable what the brain is able to construct from a handful of suggestive pixels. Detail isn't the problem, but recognisability; the current flag looks more like an earthworm than a dragon.


It looks like I was a little too fast, as usual. And I notice Japanese has been added as well.


I noticed it before I saw the postings on the forum. It wasn't a glitch after all.


yay! This is so exciting. I hope audio is added some point soon, though - it makes such a difference.


I've never had interest in watching this series but I admit that I'm very curious about this language.


I brought this up on another post but more people seem to be going to this one. Are other people getting past phrases 1? For me the lessons stay locked from that point.


It seems like there is a bug there—we are investigating. These issues are expected when launching to beta. If you notice anything else, let us know!


Ok, there also seems to be a timed practice bug, where it doesn't work


Sounds cool! But as long as there's no audio, I'm not wasting my time on it.


I only did the first lesson but according to description given there the spelling is very phonetic and the sounds are not difficult for English speakers unless you can't roll the R . A course with audio is best but in this case I don't think it's a problem.


I find that I do not retain new languages very well if I am not hearing audio from an outside source (that is, not just pronouncing it to myself)... But that probably varies from person to person. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


Fair enough. ;- )


Do we have any idea when Pronunciation will be available in lessons, so we can make sure that we're saying things correctly?

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