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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Riekman

Do we know why an Afrikaans incubator isn't available to English (or any) speakers yet?

The title is pretty self-explanatory. I have seen numerous topics over several years where people are willing to contribute to an [Afrikaans - English] course as well as a large number of people showing interest in taking the course. However, there has never been a word from the duoLingo team on WHY it isn't available yet.

In some ways it is sad to see that fictional languages like Klingon and High Valyrian have their own courses added in recent history, yet Afrikaans with arguably higher interest does not. I'd also like to mention Esperanto, which is an amazing language to have on this site, has less than 5000 native speakers and isn't considered an official language by any country. Yet Afrikaans, one of the official languages of South Africa and Namibia with ~6mil native speakers spread over multiple ethnicities, hasn't been considered to be added to duoLingo.

So my question to devs is this: Why isn't Afrikaans added yet? Is it not considered a unique language by the duoLingo team? Or is there a problem with representing the flag for Afrikaans (or any language from a country with multiple official languages)?

July 26, 2017

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/El2theK

Or perhaps there is another option.

There are numerous languages and as you can see (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15014194) loads of languages have been requested. As you probably know, or else can imagine, most if not all have been requested multiple times. And again, as you probably know, or else can imagine, it is Duolingo's goal to have as many (perhaps even all) languages available here).

So how come certain languages have not been added yet and others (including fictional ones) have? Duolingo's resources are not unlimited so they have to make choices. Only staff know how they make the choices though there are a few things that can be considered obvious:

  • How many new users can a course attract?
  • How much (free?) advertisement can it generate?

To stick with the fictional languages (as they seem to bother you most). Klingon was announced a bit for the newest Star Trek film, so it generated quite a bit of advertisement with media reporting on this. With the new season and popularity of Game of Thrones High Valyrian may do the same. Thus also bringing new people to the website.

Then there is the question on how many new users can a course attract? I think that is harder to judge, though perhaps that the developers of Duolingo have a better idea of that. However, regardless there will be people asking questions why one language was chosen over another. The fact is that it is impossible to add all languages simultaneously. Though if you believe that shouldn't be a problem you can always create your own (better) learning platform.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Riekman

Thanks. I appreciate the reply.

The point I'm trying to make is that my worry is not the fact that Afrikaans hasn't been added, but rather because we haven't received feedback on the status of when/if it is expected to be added. Some kind of transparency about why some languages are and aren't a priority to be added would benefit the community a lot. If the developers said "We don't see it gaining enough support", then we could work on that. If it was "flag issues", then we could work on that. If "other languages are higher in the priority list", then that too is understandable. However, not having a clear route to how and when languages get accepted can be frustrating.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/El2theK

Can you imagine how much unnecessary work and comments that will produce? Let's say they comment Afrikaans does not have enough support/is low(er) on the list of priorities. I can guarantee you that then you'll get a (large) number of posts calling for support for Afrikaans or discussing why other languages are higher on the list of priorities.

To take your post as an example, your main arguments are that Esperanto, Klingon and High Valyrian have been added. So to go back to the previous I doubt you'd be happy to here that it is an issue with support and/or priority and hence will bring forward the same arguments you have so far. Similar if Afrikaans is added I can see people comment on how that has more support or is higher on the list of priorities compared to Mandarin etc..

Regarding your issue on "we haven't received feedback on the status of when/if it is expected to be added". If they don't know exactly when they want to add it, it's in their best interest not to say anything about when it will be added. Why not? Because if they don't make that date it's going to create a bunch of posts from people asking why it hasn't been added yet etc..

If your keen on learning/teaching Afrikaans have a look at TinyCard and/or Memrise etc..


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qiunnn

If you were interested in learning it you could start the Dutch course, there's not exactly mutal intelligibility but most dutch speakers can understand Afrikaans although not the other way around because Afrikaans is a lot simpler but it would be something to do while waiting for a course that would help immensely with learning Afrikaans when it gets here


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DonFiore

I think it would be better to start learning Afrikaans elsewhere. It would improve his Afrikaans whereas Dutch might just end up confusing him.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Heilswahrheit

Resources for Afrikaans are exceedingly poor. Communities for discussing the language aren't very helpful either. I abandoned the language thereafter. It would be nice to have Duo represent the language, as it would be the only quality resource for learning the language outside of South Africa.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_shinkei

Hi Quinnn, just wanted to say that it is not actually good advice to learn Dutch as a stepping stone to Afrikaans, it would actually end up confusing many people whose actual goal is to speak Afrikaans. In many ways it will teach bad habits and ideas, at such a low level.

Also as a native Afrikaans speaker, I can tell you that I can quite easily understand Flemish, and Dutch - I actually had a great trip in Brasil with a Dutch fellow, who spoke Dutch while I spoke Afrikaans. The intelligibility is definitely better on the Dutch side, but it was not difficult to follow him.

I also cannot speak to the truth of this, but a few people I know have told me that if someone speaks Plattdeutch slowly, you can have basic conversations too. Anyone who could let me know whether they had a similar experience I would appreciate to know more :).

Many who speak Afrikaans (most I would guess, from experience), actually speak it more at an L2 level, and in these cases they will probably not be able to understand Dutch so easily (because you sometimes look for synonyms, or use more archaic words to understand each other). Depending on how well they speak, they should still understand Flemish though.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/iwc2ufan

El2theK is 100% right. Duolingo never announce that they are going to put a course out until they do. Like most companies, they don't make all of their long term plans known to their customers. One day it will just appear and likely be available for use within probably a year of that appearance. That is how it has been with all other additions.

What I am entirely certain of is that the flag is not the issue. They just haven't decided to create one yet in favor of other language pairs they have chosen to take on first. If anything, one of Duolingo's biggest pushes recently is creating English for X speakers courses for many Indian languages and getting more East Asian courses for English speakers out. For instance, they finally got a Japanese course out after years of people demanding that quite loudly and frequently and there is a Korean course due out soon. I am sure it's not a lack of interest in African languages in the long term, just a different focus on other parts of the world at the moment.

Number of speakers isn't the issue either. I mean, they have languages like Welsh and Irish here that have very few native speakers, but that was out of a desire to protect and promote endangered languages. Basically, the languages that already have courses were chosen for a variety of reasons that matter to Duolingo as a company and it wasn't some slight on any particular language or region that hasn't been chosen yet.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qiunnn

I'm not sure there a lack of interest for African languages. They did just release a Swahili course and I saw somewhere that there were plans for a Zulu course as well


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zyxwvutsrqpo

Ek vind die Afrikaans taal ook interessant om by Duolingo te voeg!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ChessGirl

I hope that they ad it soon, because i am hoping to start a English-Afrikaans course sometime soon.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Multi0Lingual4

Well, if you want to learn it, here are about 50 million resources:

https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23706841.

I see you're learning Dutch. Dutch is also pretty close.

Esperanto is important because it's an "international language" (although I wish it wasn't so European-centric) in place of English.

As for the rest, it brings in $.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DonFiore

That's the idea behind Esperanto. The reality is far, far from it.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Multi0Lingual4

True, that's why I put the quotes. :) I'm sure, in about a hundred years or so, it'll make progress...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Qiunnn

That's actually highly unlikely, I'm not directly against I actually know quite a bit so please don't assume I'm hating on the entire language here. Esperanto has no country or homeland therefore it's never going to be taught in a school because England for example only teaches French because we are very close to them but Esperanto will never have this therefore an entire country will never have any real motivation to teach it in its schools and will chose a language of a neighbouring country (English being an exception here) over Esperanto every single time.

Even if it did theoretically make it into schools it would turn into a way more hated language than it is now because most people grow to despise the language forced on them and tend to discontinue their studies, going back to the English French practically no English people speak French because it was forced on them so they stop as soon as possible and never look at it again.

So anthropologically it is highly unlikely, bordering impossible but then again nothing is 100% impossible, that Esperanto will make much progress or ever be a Lingua Franca.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Multi0Lingual4

Fair enough. I'm not arguing that will ever happen, I'm saying that was Duo's logic. In any case, it doesn't hurt to have it on here.


[deactivated user]

    As an Afrikaans speaker, I understand why Afrikaans isn't on here yet - just like loads of other languages.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/zyxwvutsrqpo

    Well, it's one of the easier languages to learn for English speakers which is a decent reason to give it some importance.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Landsberg

    I'm also happy to contribute as a native speaker.


    https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jack2092

    Well you can learn Dutch which is mutually intelligible with Afrikaans. On the other hand, since it's mutually intelligible, it should be easy to add when there's already a Dutch course.

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