I'm wondering. The word email in English can be either a mass noun or a countable noun. Meaning "She is reading my email" can imply that she is reading a single email that I sent to her or that she has access to my email account and reading all of my email(s).
So "She is deleting my old email" Could mean she is deleting one email or all of my emails that are old.
Is there a similar usage with email or courriel in French? Or is courriel always used to refer to a single email?
If I understand correctly, you're asking if "courriel" can be used uncountably. I haven't been able to find any information either way.
emails are referred to as messages often in English. There are many such instances as that in this particular unit, and I'm considering scrapping the course. referring to devoirs as assignments in translation was also marked incorrect. That's pathetic and obviously wrong. What does a teacher say in English when they want you to hand in your homework? Hand in your assignments.
The problem is one of exactness. While emails are messages, not all messages are emails. If I saw the English sentence, "She is deleting my old messages", my thoughts would assume that text messages are being deleted, or possibly voicemail messages, not emails.
When translating, your goal should be to preserve all the information in the origin language while still sounding natural in the target language. There are always synonyms and slang that come into play and some thoughts are almost untranslatable, so there is never one right answer, but when deciding between two possible translations, that both sound standard in the target language, always choose the translation that preserves the most information.
I'm with you on "assignments" as a translation of "devoirs" though. While "assignments" do not have to be "homework assignments", in a school context there is no loss of meaning. And, if you come across answers that you think should be accepted, report them, it's a learning process for the software as much as for the users.
"When translating, your goal should be to preserve all the information in the origin language while still sounding natural in the target language. " The examples of that not holding up are too numerous for that to really work. I appreciate that it's a learning purpose for the software, but the translate page on Google certainly has proven itself to be more of an authority on the language than Duolingo has.
the translate page on Google certainly has proven itself to be more of an authority
A real authority! And a reliable one! Far more reliable than human-made translations (as on Duo), especially for very complicated sentences. Like this one for example:
EDIT (few minutes later): I thought it may have been that use of two pronouns (what a silly and complicated idea!) that was making it intrinsically far too difficult to translate for almost anyone, hence for Google Translate, hence I tested with only one pronoun and to replace the second one by something explicit.
Well, Google Translate keep failing on such a basic sentence...
P.S. : For those wondering: the above Google Translate's translations are plain counter-sense, they are totally wrong, as they too often are.
- Elle leur plaît. <-> They like it. or They like her. (depending on what elle stands for).
- Elle plaît à mes frères. <-> My brothers like it. or My brothers like her. (depending on what elle stands for).
Well, I'll make a point to make screen shots where Duolingo proves that it doesn't know how to speak English, even basic phrases, in the future. There will be many examples. Too many examples. No better than the examples you give from google.
"Duolingo" doesn't know how to translate, because it's not Duolingo who translates, it's human beings who, yes, can make mistakes, hence resulting in wrong or missing translation. Mistakes that are (sooner or later) corrected, by humans, if reported (=with the dedicated button during lessons).
Duolingo provides the platform and the content manually created by humans (by volunteers up to Tree 3 of "French from English" course and now by persons contracted by Duo for later tree versions, which doesn't necessarily mean the content gets better :( ).
I do understand your point about some of the English translations in Duolingo; they are, well, awful. Whenever I see them, I report them so they can, hopefully, get better.
But, the bad sounding Duolingo translations are very rarely incorrect translations, in terms of the intended meaning of the French sentence. (There are rare exceptions.)
I think the problem your addressing, with the Duolingo answers that do not sound natural in English, reflects a language educator based moderator/developer pool.
For example, there was an exercise to translate "C'est un japonais". The only responses that were accepted involved either "a japanese" or "a japanese + noun". So, the recommended translation was "He is a Japanese.: Most English speakers I know would just say "He is Japanese", but that wasn't an accepted answer. The moderator specifically did not accept the adjective only "He is Japanese", because he wanted to stress the difference between the languages. He knew it was a strange wording in English, and kept it that way to cause a mental trip up in the users minds. Those little moments of mental disequilibrium are proven educational tools to get students to think about and remember a new fact.
Now, I don't agree with the moderator in that specific case, there would be other ways to hammer in that particular difference, and that is a somewhat extreme example, but that kind of education-based moderator thinking is what leads to a lot of weird sounding English translations in Duolingo. They first and foremost want the English sentence to accurately state what the French sentence meant, because, hey, we're learning French, not English, and then they consider how to do that and try to sound normal in the translation. That prioritization of meaning first, then wording can lead to some verbal gymnastics that do not sound natural in English.
In any case, if you don't like an answer, report them and speak your mind in a discussion. If enough people get together and talk about a problem translation, someone is likely to come up with a better translation that is close enough to the intended meaning for the moderators and sounds natural enough for the users.
This is not right. "C'est un Japonais" has a set of possible translations which does not include "a japanese" nor "a japanese + noun". All variants have the correctly capitalized "Japanese" word and include "He is a Japanese man/person" or "It is a Japanese one".
That exercise was meant to teach you the differences between French nationality adjectives and nouns, which you apparently have not totally understood. In those lessons, nationality adjectives translate to adjectives and nouns to nouns, except when the English language is defective for cultural or historical reasons, which do not apply to French-speaking countries, where all nationalities get adjectives (non-capitalized "français, allemand, américain, japonais, chinois") and simple nouns (capitalized "un Français, un Allemand, un Américain, un Japonais, un Chinois).
Sometimes, the only way we have to hammer some grammar rules is to reject imprecise and inexact English translations so that you are well aware that you won't be able to say or write "un homme japonais" when you mean "a Japanese man".
I'm sorry, I had a memory fault, the suggested translation was not "He is a Japanese", it was "It is a Japanese one". Which is still a strange English sentence.
I wasn't trying to be critical of that exercise per se, I was trying to explain the language education methodology.
That is, most English speakers would see "C'est un japonais" and immediately go to "It is Japanese" or "He is Japanese", but you challenge the English speakers to think about the French nationality nouns and the differences between the languages. So, the accepted English answers are not necessarily how a native speaker would phrase a particular idea.
I think we are arguing on the same side here, so I'll back off from this discussion, but, for the record, "It is a Japanese one" is still a very, very... very rarely used English translation for that sentence. :)
It’s easy to nitpick Duolingo, and nothing is perfect, but I’ve found it to be the single best online application for language learning.
Can't "Elle" also be used for "It" and not just "She"? Like a software that removes or deletes my old emails...."It removes my old emails"
I assumed the whole sentence was in plural, would that be Elles suppriment mes vieux courriels? Would it sound the same, or elisioned?
I agree with others that both email and emails should be accepted. I've worked in high tech for years and am a native English speaker and feel I can say with confidence that both should be accepted, and it's rare for someone to refer to emails, plural. Email is used as the plural as well.
Unfortunately it can't be flagged.