Duolingo Cantonese: it's coming
Hey everyone, I'm the guy that makes the Chinese plug-in for Chrome on Duolingo that allows you to switch between simplified and traditional and get add all kinds of useful stuff, check it out!
Since day one, around 2012, I've been asking if I can make a Cantonese Duolingo course, with no response.
70 million people speak Cantonese, it is by no means a small language. The frustrating thing is, as the text is the same and we can translate it in most instances in a second we could take the existing course as a template, and make some changes; but I don't think Duolingo is interested.
So I've decided to go ahead and make a full extension for people to learn Cantonese.
and here are some screenshots
Anyway if you're with me on this mission please give me a thumbs up, a comment about what you'd like to see and any other thoughts you may have! 濕濕碎啦!
Keep working, Robin! Don't be frightened by the sneaky downvoters here. :D
R.I.P those comments at the bottom of this page.
I grew up speaking Cantonese at home, but never went to any formal Chinese school, and so never learned to read/write. My vocabulary doesn't extend far past everyday conversation, so I find a hard time with things like communicating about medical matters (I'm an RN), following the news, or keeping up with a sermon at church. I would love love LOVE to refine my Cantonese on duolingo though! I'm using duolingo for Chinese and loving it, but would consume the heck out of a Cantonese course! Even more so if it were in Traditional :) thank you for your hard work!
OMG I've been googling "duolingo cantonese" every vew months ever since I discovered duolingo, hero! <3
Informal Cantonese or formal Cantonese? I hope you will teach the informal one.
I live in HK, and I am a native speaker of Cantonese, English, and Putonghua/Mandarin. Firstly, I can definitely say that Cantonese is extremely difficult, more difficult than Mandarin/Putonghua, which most websites already say is the most difficult language there is. Cantonese has 9 different tones. e.g. for the original sound jan, there is jan1(因), jan2(忍), jan3(印), jan4(人), jan5(引), jan6(刃), jan7(壹), jan8(no such word), jan9(日). Moreover, Cantonese is kind of like a very ever-changing language, with numerous slang words created all the time. e.g. (食鷄) from PUBG, (爛gek1)(There isn't a word for gek1) which means that doing something stupid to attract someone, (夠僵) which means kind of like trying to challenge someone whether the person is brave or bold enough to do something. Lastly, Cantonese is also quite unpredictable to a new learner, as there are many exceptions in which words might be spoken with a higher or lower pitch. Yet however difficult Cantonese might be, it is definitely a very interesting language. Did you know Cantonese dates back to more than 2000 years ago? Cantonese is way, way older than Mandarin/Putonghua! Also, Cantonese is a very interesting language once you master it. Therefore, I greatly recommend learning the language.
PS. If there is a beta version, I would greatly love to volunteer to try it.
What does "濕濕碎啦" mean? Google Translate says it means "wet broken friends". 唔該晒 !
Sup sup shuii la! It's Cantonese slang for "easy" or "piece of cake.
edit: never trust Google Translate!
It means "no big deal".
I think it's not a bad idea to develop such an extension, but calling it Duolingo Cantonese may cause some problems, after all it's not an authorized course.
Despite being a Mandarin speaker and there are many people here who don't like your work. I don't think your contribution is a something bad. But the flame war here is somehow expected.
You should know that there are a lot of conflicts about Cantonese language, especially the "standard Cantonese" inside Chinese-speaking area and even among Cantonese-speaking societies. Since the oversea Cantonese-speaking society is comparably larger and relatively uniform, I'm not sure whether you have experienced all the conflicts listed here or not:
- People argue about whether Guangzhou dialect or Hong Kong dialect should be regarded as the prestige dialect. If you take one dialect as the standard you may offend some people from the other city. Even you say that you are teaching Guangzhou / Hong Kong dialect, some people may not like it.
- The de-facto Cantonese orthography standard is not well accepted by all Cantonese speakers. For example, 嚟 actually represents the vernacular reading of 来, 佢 is actually an alternative form of 渠. You can see that both the literary and vernacular reading in MSM (for example, jué is the literary reading of 觉, jiào is vernacular) are represented with the same character. In a similar way, some people think characters like 嚟 are just nonsense and should not be used for writing.
- Cantonese people not from Zhujiang delta often find that there Cantonese is looked down upon by people from Guangzhou, which really upsets them. And they may not support the notion of "standard Cantonese" at all.
- People who live in Guangdong province but speak other topolects (like Hakka) just don't like Cantonese-speaking people advertising their language all around and pushing their language to them.
- People from Guangdong and other provinces have long bragged about which Chinese topolect is more "authentic" and should be used as the lingua franca of all Chinese-speaking societies, which causes a lot of flame wars.
Hi, Thanks for your reply, it is really appreciated. Let me give my opinion on all of them, and how I came to the decisions.
Before I do I would like to point out that every language has these issues.
Take English. Firstly there is no official English, there are many versions, even multiple versions from the same country (take Cambridge and Oxford English) Even within the England, which is a very small country we have words we use in the north that people in the south have never heard – and then American English and so forth.
1) The language that will be taught will be Hong Kong/Macau accent which is a Guangfu dialect just like Guangzhou just with a different accent and some different terminology or words that are used more in one place than the other (diu in HK vs lan in the mainland. haha). The other issue is it is easier to get a computerised voice that sounds good for Hong Kong, in fact, I don't think there are any for Guangzhou, otherwise, I would just make it an option, like I am doing with Poutoungwa in my first extension. You can select a Beijing or have it overwritten with a Taiwanese accent (this addition is coming soon).
2) The orthography used will be, as it implies vulgar Cantonese, not classical Cantonese, as it is for everyday usage. There will be debates about characters. 麵 vs 麪, but that should be fun and part of a debate where we all learn rather than people getting angry at me.
3) There are also hundreds of English dialects. Put an American and an English person into a room and get them to agree which is THE standard English and you'll have the same problem. That's no reason not to learn English.
4) British people may not be fond of a lot of American English being pushed around as the standard, but again, it isn't a reason not to learn English.
5) Well, that is their prerogative, this isn't a political course, it is just an opportunity to learn a language and philosophically speaking I think an opportunity is better than not.
In any case, it is a very narrow view of things because Cantonese and Guangzhou are very closely related Guangfu Yue dialects. There are many, many more Yue dialects that someone who only speaks a Guangfu dialect like Guangzhou or Cantonese would not understand. Speakers of Cantonese and Guangzhou have more in common than they don't. Again, however, this isn't a political course. It is an opportunity for people to learn another language if they want to.
The similar thing happens to Mandarin (with less contradiction though). If I have the chance I always tell a Chinese learner that you are learning MSM (modern standard Mandarin) instead of Mandarin. Mandarin is a large topolect (actually, the largest and most variant one). And MSM is one of its standardized, partially-designed variant instead of a dialect of some actual place. And Taiwan or mainland accent / words? Whatever. Everybody will understand.
And the whole Mandarin / Cantonese dichotomy is a illusion caused by the demographic composition of oversea Chinese societies. Unfortunately, that's the main reason why so many people are interested in Cantonese while ignoring other topolects which also have many speakers. Geography is also an issue. Cantonese has a de-facto standard due to the dense population around Zhujiang delta. For other dialects, it's hard to find such a center. And learning wouldn't be as useful.
Basically, yes. 普通话, 国语, 华语, etc. All counts.
Of course, when you speak of 普通话 people may think of a written standard. But that is not important to me. MSM is the language you can find in publications, television, and what people speak when meeting strangers. It's just an agreement that exists in real life. You can imagine what kind of English you'll speak in these environments. It's more formal, sometimes less vivid than your everyday speech, but not completely literal.
While this is an awesome idea and I really do want a Cantonese course, I have some concerns. From what I understand, Cantonese is a language in its own right, with differing grammar and word choice. While there is much similarity, I would imagine that doing a one to one conversion from the Mandarin course might not always create properly translated sentences.
Nice touch with the Hong Kong flag btw.
You're 100% correct. Mandarin uses 什么 a lot as a sentence particle. It would be understood in Cantonese but it would highly unusual. Technically Cantonese can be written totally differently to Mandarin, luckily it is flexible to allow for Mandarin word-sentence-order too.
Luckily the Chrome Extension API is incredibly flexible. So I'm hoping to overcome to these somehow. I've already overcome some things like bringing jyutping into the system, so hopefully, we'll be able to do something about these grammatical differences too,
It's great to hear you have some degree of flexibility to tweak the course. It also sounds like you have a good deal of personal familiarity with Cantonese. Accordingly, I'm really looking forward to trying out your extension.
Thanks for your hard work!
This was the first thing I looked for when I first heard of Duolingo, and I have been waiting for it ever since....
I'd make 1 suggestion though. Please use the Yale Romanization system. It is so much easier and more intuitive for native English speakers to use, and all of the best material out there today for people to learn Cantonese uses the Yale Romanization system. It is so much more engaging and quicker to learn and read than the numbered system.
Mate, you are a savior! Thanks for all your work, i'd be glad to contribute something if you have a patron page or something, hope we can get Cantonese on Duo lingo soon!!
Hey! I'm very happy that you have attempted to create this course. I hope this is a reality on Duolingo in the near future. Keep us updated! Also I had a question, How do I apply the traditional characters on iOS?
Ahh, yes!!! There are a lot of languages I want Duolingo to add but Cantonese is definitely top of my list. So excited! Thank you for your hard work
So far I learn all my Cantonese from a forum called 高登, watching HK films, and adding subtitles to HK youtuber's videos. When I do the Chinese course, even when the characters are spoken in Mandarin, I can't help but to read them in Cantonese in my head, the thing that put me off continuing duolingo Chinese was how rigid it is in accepting answers, and the 兒化isms. I have never found proper courses online for Cantonese, so I really look forward to it! 支持你！
Just taking the current 書面語 and adding Cantonese pronunciations would be helpful enough to me, because I actually struggle reading this more than written Cantonese.
I'd be super happy about the arrival of a Cantonese beta/course.
Words cannot express the gratitude I feel over all the hard work that has gone (& continues to go) into developing all these beautiful course offerings.
RobinCard & all other course contributors,
Merci beaucoup <3
As a Cantonese native speakers, I should provide some difference of Standard Cantonese from Standard Mandarin for potential learners. Cantonese adverb is placed after the verb while Mandarin place adverb before the verb. Cantonese have phonemic contrast with both pitch accent and tone contours while Mandarin phonemic tones differ only in their tone contours. Cantonese vowels have length contrast which is suspected to originate from Old Chinese by some linguists but this is controversial. Cantonese medial glides lost its phonemic status and are merged either with the syllabic vowels or the initial consonants. Cantonese have more distinct syllables than Mandarin so Cantonese have more mono-morphemic (one character) words in contrast with Mandarin which have more di-morphemic words. Cantonese have more final consonants which include the -p, -t, -k endings which is not easy to perceived from the lack of audible release.
"-p, -t, -k endings which is not easy to perceive from the lack of audible release."
These glottal stops are not exclusive to Cantonese, we have them in southern dialects of British English. Think how someone from London would drop the -t in got to make it sound like go' and other example is the word "it"; the word is pronounced with no -t. Burmese also has them.
Many English dialects replace t's with glottal stops at the end of words. It's not unique to southern British English. I think what's challenging is the fact that the consonants are unreleased but their presence is still phonemic.
I have to admit that I'm not very familiar with Cantonese. But according to my experience, I don't think "Cantonese adverb is placed after the verb" is true. Are there examples?
I should elaborate: not all adverbs is placed before the verbs. Some adverbs that precede the verbs in Mandarin will follow the verbs in Cantonese. Those adverbs may also have an entirely different pronunciation which suggest different etymology. Three examples are the words for first (/xian1/ in Mandarin and /xin1/ in Cantonese), also (/ye3/ in Mandarin and /mai4/ in Cantonese), all (/dou1/ in Mandarin and /saai2/ in Cantonese). I do not know the exact pinyin for the three Cantonese words but I should had approximant it enough.
太好了！ I support your idea! I've been studying Mandarin for a while and I love it. I have friends from Hong Kong and would like to be able to speak some Cantonese as well. I've heard those friends speaking Cantonese and it's a beautiful language!! Please carry ahead. If you make a Cantonese course I will definitely do it!! :-) 加油加油！！！
Thanks for the encouragement! I find it to be a far more pleasing sounding language than Beijing Chinese. By the way, a Taiwanese accent option will launch with this extension when it is finished.
This is great! Do you have any idea of when this will go live? Can't wait :)
This is blowing me away. You are a hard worker indeed. I enjoy seeing your responses to the constructive criticism in the comments as well.
If you have an easy way to set it up, I would like to volunteer in helping with alpha and/or beta testing as you create this plugin.
Also, as a suggestion to keep you motivated, you should consider setting up a Patreon account. https://www.patreon.com/ For those who believe in your work, want the product, and have some spare change, they can contribute. You might find that on the days you feel demotivated, a little profit will help keep you on track.
I look forward to your progress.
Hope the progress is steady. I am very excited to see this finished.
bro i would love to learn Cantonese even though i have Cantonese myself i want to learn how to read and write it because Mandarin is different from Cantonese so it's hard for me to learn Mandarin and trying to read it in Cantonese
i would be totally on board with this mission and would help to develop a duolingo course for cantonese if i had the chance
When is this coming out! Please, I need this. Us second/third generation Asians (from personal experience) need this desperately as I know of some Asian-Americans/Australians that have lost touch with Cantonese. This would be amazing and I don't want the language to die out.
Don't worry, the language is definitely not dying out anytime soon with over 80 million native speakers. :)
Yeah just in future time when we can't teach our kids Cantonese it made me sad :( But learning it now! :D
This is so exciting! Cantonese is my favorite language in the world. Thank you so much for doing this. I only dreamed that there could be a cantonese course for duolingo. This course will be loved by so many people!
guys... please... can someone in the higher ups just let this guy be a part of the duolingo system? He's crafting an entire course completely alone, is there no one who can just let him drop his code into "hatching"?????? i'm sure there are many others who would love to help him develop this course, and i'm very interested in cantonese as well, not to mention it would clear up things for users who want the traditional writing as well who just want to have it on duo
Is he actually looking for help other than thumbs up? I would be happy to help. I am a cantonese speaker and would be happy to help!
Wow, splendid! Someone hired people/robots to downvote all my comments, and RobinCard's in order to hide people's comments. In the future, I can show how irrational the sneaky downvoters can be by showing them this thread.
You sneaky downvoters “won”. Haha…
This would be awesome. I hope it comes together soon! Much better than slogging away at Mando which I’m not even gonna use much anytime soon :s
Thank you! Cantonese for Duolingo would be AMAZING! Any idea of the timeline for this course?
Yes please add this course. I was fluent in Cantonese from living in Hong Kong, and now that I'm back to the states, I'm losing it a lot! This would benefit me so much!! I would do a BETA version if that's out there!
I would love to see Cantonese on Duolingo - good luck with your efforts!
Yes yes yes! Let us know how we may support and see the Cantonee course to its launch! Clearly there’s a ton of a demand for it.
You, my dear sir, are a hero!
I hope you manage this. I started learning Cantonese as a teenager but shifted to Mandarin because of its universal usability. Would be great to be able to take it up again.
Is it feasible to have characters translated to traditional Cantonese and then turn the sound off? Can listening and speaking be disabled in DuoLingo?
You have my full support on this. Cantonese is one of my native languages. I am sure there will be volunteers who will gladly support you on this. And i will be happy to provide feedback as well.
Wow that is so good of you to introduce Duolingo Cantonese. I was born in Hong King and speak a bit of Cantonese. I am not Chinese but I wish to brush up my Cantonese.
I would love to learn Cantonese. Most of my friends are from Hong Kong or Macao. I don't understand why Duoliongo does not have Cantonese support.
Thanks for working on this. This would be fantastic. There are so few resources for learning Cantonese, and learning with Duolingo is particularly fun/easy.
Thank you for your efforts! I hope we can get a Cantonese Duolingo someday, my partner's parents only speak Cantonese so it would be really helpful for me if I could learn in this format.