https://www.duolingo.com/Mandelmassa

What happened to the 5 languages?

I have a memory of an official post (from Luis I think?) which announced that Duolingo would release five unspecified endangered/ minority languages on here maybe over the course of a year or so (or longer I guess). I might have gotten the details wrong. Is there any news on that? I checked the incubator but I'm not sure which languages it could be.

September 4, 2017

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/rumnraisin

I can't find an official post on this, but I suspect these are some of the posts people are remembering:

We are planning an initiative next year so you should hear from us within the first few months of 2016. It'll be an opportunity to save dying languages and we'll be able to pick 5.

Source: "Cherokee course update and other potential courses in 2016." https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12249447

We were very keen on getting started with Native languages right away and were working with the White House on an agreement to promote it but it got very bureaucratic on their end and fell through, unfortunately.

Source: "Some bad news regarding the Native Language courses..." https://www.duolingo.com/comment/15670097

These and other similar posts can be found with search terms such as (5 OR five) AND endangered.

Perhaps Luis von Ahn's reddit AMAs are another place to look, for example:

Audio is one of the big problems for small and endangered languages (scripts is the other one). Usually we cannot find a TTS engine for them (i.e. computer audio), so we have to manually record the voices, which requires quite a lot of effort.

We'll be working on 4-5 smaller languages this year, but there are over 6,000 languages in the world, so we won't have the resources to make a big dent any time soon.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/duolingo/comments/5pr3sv/comment/dct8vh7

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mandelmassa

That was very informative, thanks.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/PotatoSanta

There was a post on that somewhere, unfortunately it seems that they had to give up on that plan.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mandelmassa

Very unfortunate indeed, if that's the case. :/

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/territrades

There is a GuaranĂ­ course from Spanish, the language only has 5 million speakers, I don't know if this already counts as endangered.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/garpike

Hundreds of languages have fewer than a dozen or so speakers each, rather than 'only' five million (and I think that this is an underestimate). GuaranĂ­ is not in any great peril of dying out.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Qiunnn

There is also both Irish and Welsh

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mandelmassa

I believe those languages predate the announcement which was either this year or last year. I'm unable to find it.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/psionpete

Well, 'a year or so' only indicates intention, it is not a schedule. It may take 1, 2 or several years for them to begin if they begin at all.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mandelmassa

Yeah, finding people able to contribute might take time. Hope it hasn't been forgotten.

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/tiramisues

I remember reading something in that regard as well. I don't remember there being a specific number attached, but definitely that there'd be an effort for endangered languages.

Maybe one will get into the incubator now that 3 languages (Czech, Korean and Klingon) are very close to going to beta? We can only hope...

September 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Mandelmassa

Right, I will hold my thumbs firmly.

September 4, 2017
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