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Unnatural word-choice in Vacation lesson

I've just finished the Japanese tree, revisiting it after a long time. I now live in Japan and am taking classes on Japanese grammar which has helped immensely with the final lessons.

However, I've noticed some misleading translations in the travel "Vacation" lesson. I'm not sure if it's just this lesson (although I hope that it is) or I've noticed it more here since it's a topic I naturally discuss a lot here as a foreigner living in Japan.

For Example:

I come from Australia オーストラリアに住んでいます オーストラリアにすんでいます

This actually means "I live in Australia". This is fine is you're a tourist and live in your home country. For foreign residents, this is misleading, especially as Japan already has a lot of misconceptions about non-Japanese people (外国人 がいこく人).

More accurately:

Where do you come from? あなたの出身はどこですか? あなたはしゅっしんはどこですか?

I come from New Zealand ニュージーランドから来ました。 ニュージーランドからきました。

Where do you live? どこに住んでいますか? どこにすんでいますか?

I live in Sendai City 仙台市に住んでいます。 せんだいしにすんでいます。 This is a common topic for meeting people in Japan and it is common for the answers to be different, even for people visiting. I hope this helps for people who actually intend to meeting Japanese people.

Unfortunately, for a site that promotes itself as more useful than a textbook, sometimes you'd be better off with one. While I understand why some of the translations are not literal, in some cases the language is not natural for conversational Japanese. Actually, the entire course is polite Japanese to address people you don't know but that is not unusual for this to be taught first so you don't offend anyone.

November 3, 2017



Kelsi, could you add hiragana to your kanji to help me (and maybe others) understand your sentences? Those examples sound like something that would be useful to know.

I haven't seen Duolingo promote itself as "more useful than a textbook" - that would be a misleading claim. I agree with you: without a textbook or extra instruction these courses are hard and somewhat frustrating. (I'm noticing this with Korean right now where I have no background at all.)


Sorry I will edit in furigana for learners. I do understand your frustration as there are still many Kanji I don't know, I'm probably not even JLPT N4 level yet. Although trust me, learning Kanji is worth the effort: you need it for daily life in Japan and it's way easier to read Kanji you know than guess where the words and particles are in a string of hiragana.

Protip: Copy any Japanese kanji into google translate and it will give you the reading in Romanji.


I now live in Japan and am taking classes on Japanese grammar

Nice!! (slightly envious) ^^

I come from Australia オーストラリアに住んでいます

Which lesson did you see that in? I haven't come across it to my knowledge.

Lesson 2 of the "Vacation" skill has the exact same English sentence "I come from Australia", but the source text and default translation example are listed the following way for it:

  • オーストラリアしゅっしんです。→ I come from Australia.
  • I come from Australia. → オーストラリアしゅっしんです。

It won't even let me answer it as "I live in Australia". Unfortunately, I haven't had any luck making the reverse direction translation question appear to get a screenshot, but I found it listed that way in the my testing notes taken only six weeks ago. ^^

*EDIT* I just realised a more sensible solution: to simply use the discussion search feature. Here are the two sentence discussion links:

*EDIT #2* Oh wait! I just noticed you wrote "in the travel lesson". My bad.... ><;

*EDIT #3* ... Now I realise that there isn't a skill named "Travel" (and that I should have known it was this from the very first two words of the thread title anyway)! Gah, too many edits. ^^;


Sorry, I'm getting the hang of Japanese but US English still eludes me: the "Vacation" lesson as you say. Sorry, was on the iOS App and couldn't figure out how to comment on there. It may have been しゅっしんです but I remember it as すんでいます. Either way, I don't use them in daily conversation in Japan. ニュージーランド人です or ニュージーランドから来ますた are much more common.

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