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British English & Japanese translations

It would appear that this is using American English.

Whilst I understand that there are more words coming from American into Japanese, people creating the translations may only know the American terms, there is severe confusion when some words are used that have different meanings across the many English languages.

Such as 'pants'. This has a different meaning in the UK from America. There are less-colloquialised, more explicitly defined, terms for words like these, such as 'trousers'. Otherwise it gives the impression I am learning two languages (i.e. American English also) when the target of my learning should be Japanese.

July 28, 2017



Report such translations as correct. DL aims to cater for other varieties of English even if the default is usually U.S. English.
I hardly think the possibility for confusion is that 'severe', however, unless you're getting sentences saying 'the dog trousers after chasing the cat'.


Yeah... it's not severe just frustrating when you're repeatedly told you're wrong, even if in the English you're using it is correct.


I am very grateful for your linguistics


I recognize how annoying it can be, but report, report, report. It does get better at least in terms of what they accept even if the teaching cues will likely remain as they are since that is too complicated to change for region with how Duolingo presently works and will likely continue working.

The German and Norwegian courses in particular are very good about accepting UK answers even though many of the cues are obviously US English based, so it just takes time. More than that, in my experience working with adult Japanese ESL students in the UK, they mainly learned American English before arriving in the UK, so it does not surprise me that the people who created this course made it heavily based on US English considering most English taught in Japan appears to be American and also that Duolingo itself is based in the US. Their offices are in Pennsylvania I believe.

But do report. That will at least help British users and non-native speakers who have learned UK English be less frustrated than you feel right now.


Something I find frustrating is occasionally getting emails saying they've added "trousers" as a translation of ズボン but only in that one single specific sentence...

I'm fairly certain I've reported every sentence containing the word ズボン in the course, all of which should accept "trousers" in their translation. Yet it seems the contributors have no way to do a search to find all the other instances of ズボン, so they can't simply sort them all out in one go.

This means we can't be sure whether the ズボン in each sentence is one of the ones that are fixed or not. So it's not really safe to answer with "trousers" for any of them, having to instead answer with "pants" (a type of underwear in the British English). ^^;

Even just in the few rounds I've done tonight, I've again been marked wrong for writing "trousers" for a sentence that was something like「かれらは白いズボンをはきます。」

Do you happen to know whether submitting duplicate reports for sentences you've previously reported hinders or helps contributors? It's hard to remember which ones I've reported and which ones I haven't, meaning I end up having to report the same ones over and over again just in case...


Do you happen to know whether submitting duplicate reports for sentences you've previously reported hinders or helps contributors?

At worst, it does nothing and the system only accepts one report per sentence version per user (I sort of doubt it works this way). At best, it increases the report totals for a necessary translation. Identical reports are automatically joined in the system. What the contributors see is a list of reported translations with a number of times reported for each. I think it also sort of shows a picture of the tree with reporting levels by skill or some such, so it gives them an idea of where the need is greatest (although substantially influenced by the fact that undoubtedly there are more reports coming from further up in the tree b/c so many more users are active there).


I know they can end up with a bit of a backlog of reports, but if you aren't sure if you have reported, it's surely better to report than not. If you are entirely certain you have reported X sentence though, it's better to leave it. I get e-mails about reports from courses I haven't worked on in well over a year from time to time, so sometimes the backlog is so big that it will just take that long to fix it as it is all down to how much time the unpaid course contributors have to offer Duolingo. As many of them have their own jobs or studies to attend to as well, that does mean it can take ages sometimes.


Hmm, I think it may be because パンツ in Japanese is usually referring to underwear/knickers/panties, or shorts...not long pants/trousers or slacks, etc. ズボン is a loan word from the French word for petticoat/underskirt...but meaning has changed to just mean long pants/trousers in Japanese. As an English speaker this was super confusing, lol...


Oops, I meant to type「かれらは白いズボンをはきます。」 I didn't mean to type パンツ in that sentence. I've edited it. ^^;

Here in England, "pants" refers to the underwear/knickers/panties, and it doesn't refer to trousers or "slacks". As an Englishman, what you said about パンツ isn't confusing for me in the slightest.

However, jupon → ずぼん = trousers... I agree that this is a little confusing. :D


Like everyone else has said, make sure you report these linguistic variances as correct. It's just an oversight; it's likely that the course creators learned US English.


As a speaker of Canadian English, I've been bitten by this problem a number of times. Just report it. The course isn't even officially in beta yet.

That said, colloquial? Less explicitly defined? I hate to break it to you, but the American Revolutionary War was almost 250 years ago.


You guys (as well as, I'm sure, everybody else who's not American) must have loads of fun when it comes to the school grade levels part, eh? (btw, I don't say "eh" to somehow make fun of you; I'm just from a part of the U.S. where it's a perfectly natural thing to say :)


In Duolingo's Japanese course? I think I tested out of that section. I'm aware of the grade 5 vs 5th grade difference though, and I'm sure it would annoy the heck out of me if it didn't accept both.

The one that really bugged me was "restroom". Here it's generally either washroom or bathroom, and while I know what a "restroom" is, the term is generally never used here.


What's your nationality ?


I am different from you.


Ye sometimes it too, screws me over lol


Obviously British English should be accommodated; they'll get there.

As an American, I'll just point out that "pants" and "trousers" aren't synonyms in American English. (And there's nothing colloquial about either.)


Strange, cos if you ask an American dictionary what 'trousers' means it comes back as 'pants'. So in the definition of the language they are treated as being synonymous.


That is an interesting observation. Dictionaries these days tend to view their role as documenting the language as used, and there's just no question in my mind that they're off on this one. Of course, it would make sense that there would be one definition simply defining trousers as pants, just the reverse of how Oxford defines "pants" as "trousers" and marks it "North American."

Here's what I hope amounts to a pithy enough demonstration of my point: on the Macy's (a major American department store chain) website, there is a section labeled "Trouser" (oh, fashion industry and their strange disregard of plurale tantum nouns...). Notably, it is under the broader category of "Pants," one of 13 categories thereof. I wouldn't cite the products shown there as an authoritative reference for exactly where "trousers" begins and ends in the popular American imagination, but I think it shows that "trousers" are generally considered one type of pants, not an overall synonym for "pants."

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