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https://www.duolingo.com/Listrix

Thoughts On Toki Pona Course?

Hey Everyone,

If this discussion isn't allowed then please delete it. I have read and followed the guide to requesting a new language; Toki Pona is not yet on the list of "existing requests" for English speakers, I then went to the "Duolingo in English" forum and searched for Toki Pona but from what I could see, there's nothing recent about Toki Pona. The most recent mention of it is in a comment from a discussion posted a year ago.

I've been learning conlangs for years and am fairly confident in Toki Pona, I thought it would be a fun language to have. Due to Toki Pona's simplistic nature, it would be really easy to make a course for it, I'm very willing to moderate and work on the course and I could probably find another couple people to help me with it.

I understand if Duolingo doesn't want Toki Pona, if we have Toki Pona then why not include Na'vi, Volapük or Lojban? I don't know Duolingo's ambitions, but if they'd rather keep Duolingo mainly for real languages (non-conlangs) I completely understand, Duolingo could quickly become a website full of conlangs. But Duolingo already has Esperanto and High Valyrian and is working on Klingon and Dothraki, I'd like to complete the conlang circle and have courses for all of the most successful conlangs, which I consider Toki Pona to be a part of.

Regards, Listrix

1 year ago

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/rumnraisin
rumnraisin
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There have been previous request posts for Toki Pona, the one voted highest I believe is: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8194081

Purely as information: It is not on the existing language requests list because only languages with ISO 639-3 codes (if I recall correctly) go on there. Toki Pona has not been awarded such a code.*

There is nothing to stop you applying to make a course in the incubator: https://incubator.duolingo.com/

There would be some design considerations you might need to be aware of. It’s worth looking here to get some sort of overview of what it means to be a course contributor: http://duolingo.wikia.com/wiki/Course_contributor_guide

It has been suggested by others on other threads that a significant hurdle for Toki Pona would be that its vocabulary can be used to cover not only general meanings “kili = fruit, vegetable” but also specific meanings “kili = lemon, melon, orange, tomato, Kili”. (The last being valid as a proper name in at least Middle Earth.) This would increase the initial complexity of translation sentences in the incubator, and lead to a greater number of “my translation should be accepted” reports for missing alternative translations, which would increase the maintenance effort required from course contributors. You could of course take the view that only the most general meanings (fruit, fruits vegetable, vegetables, Kili) should be accepted which would reduce the effort needed somewhat, but the incubator translation notation may still prove a little fiddly to word for different sentences.

Just as an example of the incubator translation notation (bear in mind that I am not a course contributor, so I am guessing a little here) kili li pona would need a translation line (at minimum) of something like: [ [ [ [ [ The / A] [fruit / vegetable] ] / [Kili / Fruit] ] is] / [ [Fruits / Vegetables] are ] ] [good / nice]

I suspect it is possible to spread this across multiple alternative sentences, so as to reduce the complexity of each individual line.

You might think it should be easy enough in theory to have a list of substitutions to programmatically apply as standard across all sentences, reducing the workload of the course contributors, but my impression (possibly erroneous) is that this is not how Duolingo currently works and Duolingo have indicated an unwillingness to change their programming to suit particular languages. Here I may be over-estimating either the amount of valid answers that would have to be accepted or the unwillingness of Duolingo to adapt their programming to a language.

I have mentioned the above as considerations you may need to be aware of when applying to make a course - the people at Duolingo may well like to know what your approach to how Toki Pona would work on Duolingo would be.

I would like to see a course (at least similar in style to Duolingo) in Toki Pona, particularly one which introduced a wide range of the more common compound words. I do not dismiss learning Toki Pona as trivial - although it has only about 120 words (before compounds), it has its own grammar and just like any language it requires more than just learning the list of those 120 or so words and an overview of its grammar to comprehend and use Toki Pona.

Plus informative links for anyone interested:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toki_Pona

http://tokipona.org/


* As a side note of no concern to Duolingo: I have seen a 2007 quote from an official letter online rejecting an application for Toki Pona to gain an ISO 639-3 code, saying "If Toki Pona survives the next few years and continues to develop, both in applications and in user base, then the RA will be open to consider a new request for assignment of a code element for Toki Pona." http://tinyurl.com/y83aoq26

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/akunosama
akunosama
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I'd do toki poni, but the amount of words is so small you can't go beyond basic sentences.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Listrix

Yeah, that's the only downside. But Toki Pona works using compound words; for instance, there's no word for "fork", instead you'd use the compound word "eating tool" (moku ilo). But "moku ilo" can also reference spoons, knives and chopsticks. There's lots of compound words that the community has come up with over the years and once I've completed the basics, I'd love to have more lessons going over a good chunk of compound words that have already been created and introducing the learner the how they can compound words to express what they want to.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.
Woof.
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Wait... They're working on Dothraki??

Also, can you explain what Toki Pona is? I know it's a constructed language, I just don't know anything more about it.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Listrix

Toki Pona was created in 2001, it's a minimalistic conlang that only has ~120 words (varies slightly between resources). It has really simple grammar such as every sentence being structured exactly the same way and no verb conjugations, but being so simplistic causes it to be a very vague language. For instance, there's no way to differentiate between the past, present and future tenses and there's no way to determine if something is singular or plural. It wasn't exactly designed to be a full language to be used often, it's just a fun little language to learn.

And yes, they're working on Dothraki. If you go to the "apply to be a course contributor page" you can select to become a contributor for Dothraki. So whether they've started it or not, it looks like they're trying to get it on Duolingo.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.
Woof.
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Oh. I see.

If I have to be honest, I will say this: Why Dothraki? We already have High Valyrian. Why do we need another Game Of Thrones fictional language? Why not Latin or Catalan or Taiwanese or ASL or Finnish or Punjabi or Tamil or a more useful language? I'm not against Dothraki and High Valyrian, but why do we need another Game of Thrones fictional language?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaphneTheSnail

I agree. Fictional languages are extremely interesting and it's great that Duolingo has some on here. But in reality, a lot more users are interested in other languages. Finnish, Icelandic, Mandarin, and Arabic have been highly, HIGHLY suggested for a really long period of time and frankly, we have enough people who would volunteer. I completely support having Toki Pona on here, but most users are more interested in something else right now.

(Sorry if any of that sounded rude. I can't show my tone of voice through typing XD)

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Listrix

That didn't sound rude at all, I completely agree with you. I would love to have languages like Finnish and Icelandic on Duolingo, but the way I see it is that there's just not enough people who are capable of making and testing the courses. And in my opinion, working on one language doesn't take away from another being created. The fact is that there's heaps more people who have learnt languages like Dothraki and High Valyria who are much more active in the language learning community and thus are able to help out making Duolingo courses. Whereas the poeple who are fluent in languages like Icelandic and Finnish probably learnt it from an early age and thus aren't as active in the language learning community.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Listrix

"tesing principles of minimalism, linguistic relativity and pidgins" is what Wikipedia says. From what I interpret from that, it was a challenge to see what kind of language can be made using as few words and grammar constructs as possible yet still have it be "usable".

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DaphneTheSnail

That's a interesting take on it. I guess what I was trying to say is that a lot of the users are upset that we have enough volunteers for these languages (Including the ones I listed and you listed) but Duolingo hasn't let them create a course yet. XD there's a better way to word it! Just wondering, sense people have reasons for creating a language, what was the reason behind creating Toki Pona?

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Woof.
Woof.
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I've heard that they are planning to start Arabic, but that might have just been a fake rumor told by someone in search of a sensation. But it also might be true. Don't get your hopes up though.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/akunosama
akunosama
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Technically no, but it's all a matter of who is willing to contribute. I could just as easily take out my dictionary and start Prussian if duolingo was so lax. It's just a matter of finding enough people to contribute.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Listrix

Not sure why Dothraki, but it does seem to be a pretty big conlang. From what I've seen in the conlang community, Dothraki and High Valyrian are starting to reach, if not already, the same level as Sindarin and Na'vi. And because it's a fairly new language, it still has heaps of people actively learning and practicing it making it easier to make Duolingo courses for it. Unlike languages such as Sindarin that have been out so long that the people who did learn it to fluency have probably forgotten a lot of it.

And as for languages like Latin, Catalan, Taiwanese, ASL, Finnish or Punjabi, the only logical reasons I can see why those languages haven't been added already is because there's either not enough people who are good enough in both English and the chosen language or those people probably learnt it as a child in their home and thus aren't as active in the language learning community.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rumnraisin
rumnraisin
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I believe Duolingo wanted Dothraki. There is a forum post on Dothraki.org which indicates Duolingo will not get a Dothraki course because HBO already have an exclusive deal with Living Language for a Dothraki course: http://forum.dothraki.org/index.php?topic=484.15

Consequently, they're probably not working on Dothraki. (However, I could be wrong.) It is possible to apply to be a contributor for many courses which are not being worked on; I believe they have a large number of applications for many languages which they are not working on.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thatspanis4
thatspanis4
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hm. seems cool

1 year ago