Very awkward sentence to translate into English. Some latitude would seem in order, and "The library is being worked on" should be acceptable.
Salut Peg471311. As I have written elsewhere in this forum, I believe that answers referring to « repair » may be rejected because there are many « works » that are not repairs – general maintenance, redecoration, building extensions, etc. « Naturellement », being Duo, there might be another reason entirely ! Have a good day.
I thought that was a good translation, too. how would you say "the library is under repair''?
La bibliothèque est en réparation.
'Travaux' can mean "repair" in some contexts, especially if one says " travaux de rénovation", as well as its more usual meanings of "work", "building", "construction". In the current context, it seems more likely that it means that the library is under construction or is having (new) work done, rather than repairs.
Hi SuhailBanister. There is, of course, a difference between ‘context’ and « couper les cheveux en quatre ». You are absolutely right to question context. Superficially, this phrase, like so many Duo exercises, admits of so many interpretations, and hence even more paraphrasings, which inevitably may ‘overwhelm’ the marking algorithms, and so cause a lot of students needless frustration.
Hence my (albeit tongue in cheek) observations in this forum that references to ‘repair’ cannot be assumed – and neither can a building that is still ‘under construction’ be defined as ‘a library’, although that may be the intent at some point in the future !
The English translation makes it sound like the library is getting plastic surgery
"The libarary is undergoing work" was refused. On what grounds Duo.?It is perfectly good English. I despair!!
Hi Mac244295. You’re right. Your offering is « perfectly good English « . Is it, however, as close and as rigorous a translation as possible ? Or is it tending towards paraphrasing ? I suspect that there are faults here on both sides. Would Duo accept, for example, the literal translation of « the library is in work » ? I doubt it. And, of course, we have to remember that we’re dealing with fairly dumb ‘marking’ algorithms here, and there is a limit to their comprehension and flexibility !
The library is under construction.
It's a common English idiom that matches the intent of the original French. "Having work done" usually implies that a person is organising work to be done. A library is not a person. You see this sign "Under Construction" so often on the web that everybody knows what it means: The website owner/ administrator is having work done on the site, and the site itself is under construction.
Hi Jim606185. You’re absolutely right that your suggestion is, « a common English idiom that matches the intent of the original French ». However, that only highlights an ongoing Duo debate. Students are frequently unsure as to whether Duo is going to demand a ‘literal’ (or almost literal) translation, or, as is frequently the case, will show considerable latitude in accepting idioms, paraphrasing, or colloquialisms.
It must, at times, frustrate most of us. However, I suspect that it would involve many more paid staff to monitor and ‘correct’ all of the seeming inconsistencies in translations across all the courses, which would prejudice Duo’s ‘free at the point of use’ mission. Furthermore, it might, perversely, reduce the value and appeal of the forums, which are such an integral and inspired part of the program !
Yes, you are spot on about the frustrations especially when using an ipad and you "lose" a lesson as a result of something perfectly correct in English ( I can live with the occasional coloquial disagreement) but I cant live with incorrect phrases and sentences being set as questions for translation. They really need to clean up the act especially if they wish to encourage folk to pay for their services Try telling Duo that "the couple is playing on the beach" is perfectly grammatically correct because in English "the couple is singular (despite being two people).....but that nowadays we mainly treat "the couple" as plural and say "the couple are playing on the beach". The "is" version is correct but now alien to the English ear! But Paul I still prefer your translation of "Appropriately qualified persons of non-specific gender, race, or sexual orientation ". I am still laughing!! And despite its faults Duo has helped me to receive compliments in both Portugal and Brazil from locals amazed that I can get by in their language. Mac
Hi Mac244295. I’m encountering similar frustrations to those that you express, on a lot of the forum discussions. Are you ? I wonder if there’s any way in which we can effectively draw Duo’s attention to this, as I get the impression from the mods that Duo staff don’t necessarily have anything to do with these debates ? I feel that Duo is trying to be « all things to all people », which is understandable in trying to attract the largest user base. However, one runs the danger of satisfying neither the « casual learner » nor the « advanced student », in which case, the strategy may end up being counter-productive. I’m sure that the majority, like you and I, regard the facility as well worth it’s little foibles, but I’m equally sure that there will be many who are less tolerant, and it would be a shame if these students were discouraged, because I don’t think they’ll find a better resource than Duo, even if they pay for it !
I have found that some of the moderators are not competent in the language which they are moderating. Paulio, on the Portuguese Forum, is very good however. It should be a DUO requirement that a moderator be a Natural speaker ot TOTALLY fluent in the language to which a translation is being made or which is being set as an example. Even then we could argue "which version of English or French or Portuguese etc!! And as to moderator involvement they must have a feedback process. After all someone appointed them. Any Moderator reading this please raise our frustration with central command!!!!!!!!!
Mac, I imagine the mods would rather spend their time teaching us French. Their job is not to referee these endless quibbles about which "version" of an English word is "the best translation." I applaud them for remaining aloof from these pointless spats, and keeping us focused on the task of thinking about French.
Good day, Mac and Roody-Roo. I agree totally with Roody-Roo’s thoughts on how students can and do help each other on these courses – long may it remain so.
However, I would respectfully suggest that it is not our job to tell the moderators how to do theirs ! However frustrated we may sometimes be, always remember that one man’s « pointless spat » is another man’s « informative and educational discussion ».
« One man’s meat is another man’s ‘poisson’ », n’est-ce pas ?
Just one extra observation for you Paul. I am confident that you would accept that except for those who are employed to do literal translation (EG at the EU Commission) most people want to learn how to be understood or understand. So If I said to a French person "La Biblio est en travaux" he or she would know what I mean and vice versa! My french coach always said to me "Mac I am teaching you to speak French without first thinking in English and then translating it. I am not totally there yet but Duo helps me every day. Mac PS What is your first language?
Wow, Mac ! Getting a little militant this morning, aren’t we ? Obviously, students must have faith in the moderators, but I’m not sure how, or to what degree, Duo determines their competence. You will probably find more info on this if you delve into the non-course specific discussions. I only discovered them recently, thanks to Sitesurf. I’ve found that the easiest way to access them is directly from Google.
Perhaps you’re suggesting that Duo insist that every mod should have formal third party accreditation in the langage set that they are moderating – which is fine, but there are limits to what one can ask of people if you’re not paying them ! Which again, is part of the problem, although free access to learning is a worthy keystone of Duo’s mission.
Maybe there are discussion groups somewhere that are addressing these concerns, but we’re not aware of them ?
I completely accept your comments on why most people use Duo – I am amongst them. The only thing that it doesn’t really help with, for me, is that most difficult of all tasks for us all – the instantaneous translation of the spoken ‘foreign’ langage, and one’s assembly of a suitable answer ! As you say, the ‘holy grail’ is to avoid having to mentally translate into and from one’s native langage. I’m only just beginning to get there – helped by my French neighbour who constantly delights in winding me up about « le Brexit ».
As you ask, I am a UK born architect, retired and living ‘la vie française’ in beautiful Normandy. Yes, it’s tough, but I guess somebody has to do it !
"However, I suspect that it would involve many more paid staff to monitor and ‘correct’ all of the seeming inconsistencies in translations across all the courses, which would prejudice Duo’s ‘free at the point of use’ mission. "
It doesn't cost anything if they use volunteers to act on the suggestions that we bring up (within appropriate parameters), and I'd be quite happy to volunteer to do exactly that.
However, I will say that it is more difficult when it comes to idioms because there is often regional variation and a lot more variations in the words used.
Paul, I agree that these forums are very useful for comparing notes.
HI Jim606185. You’re absolutely right in your comments, and I, for one, applaud your generousity in offering to volunteer. I’m sure that many of us would be equally happy so to do. However, the obvious problem would be the determination of whether a particular ‘suggestion’ should, in fact, be acted on. We all know the issues that arise when apparently ‘obvious’ responses are rejected by Duo, only for a moderator then to explain that the awkwardness of a translation, or indeed, an original exercise, is designed to teach a specific construction or point of grammar.
The course content might, albeit with everyone’s best intent, become ‘corrupted’ if those without moderator-level knowledge and committment were allowed to tinker with them.
So, it seems to me that the expertise of the moderators would be needed to determine which ‘suggestions’ should be acted upon, and in what way – in which case, they might as well carry out the alterations/ corrections themselves. But where would Duo find, say, twice the number of moderators for every course pairing, with the required in-depth knowledge ?
I think the idea is that we the users are supposed to assist. We can answer questions when we know the answer, we can provide links to other online resources, we can help maintain focus on learning French, we can encourage fellow users, we can use the dictionary instead of asking others to do our research for us, and so forth.
I do not disagree with that at all Roddy Roo. BUT as to your earlier post. Surely a moderators job is to feed back inside Duo as well as help us. I dont worry too much about nuances or "best translation" just as long as the answer is correct because in most languages there are many ways of saying the same thing. I am sure,however, that you will agree that clear mistakes in questions and/or answers must be brought to the surface
The great strength of Duo is the Comments! I am continuously amazed by the interest, expertise, knowledge, humor and patience demonstrated by the questions and answers. It is reassuring to know others are having the same questions as I. I have used a number of systems with my periodic runs as revivifying old College French and German or trying Italian and Russian and this holds my interest and works better for me. Thanks to everyone!!
The library is having work done sounds like the library is having a facelift. I don't know if that is the intention of this sentence. It seems ironic to say such a thing.
Salut Joanie735811. This simple phrase illustrates perfectly how difficult it is for course compilers to ‘get it right’ in the way that they require answers to be expressed, and in the wide (and possibly equally valid) number of interpretations that can be placed on the sentence without any other given context.
Any one of “repair”, “reconstruction”, “facelift”, “maintenance”, “extension”, “refurbishment”, “redecoration”, etc. may be the subject of the “works” referred to in the accepted answer, and many students are, indeed, putting their own specific interpretations on to a generalised term. Which, on reflection, suggests to me that one must, in the absence of any other clue, stick to “works” as the correct translation.
As to the further possible variants of grammar in describing the process – that’s yet another hurdle for the compilers!
I managed another natural English translation which means the same and was rejected. The trouble is that the literal translation sounds clumsy in English. It is annoying having to learn when Duo wants literal and when he wants natural. But overall he is helping me practice French for free!
Travaux is the plural of "work" so why isn't "in the works" accepted?
In amongst all of the various suggested translations, I believe that those including the word « repair » cannot be justified. There are all sorts of « works »that could be being carried out to the library that do not constitute repairs. For example, the building of a new extension….
Therefore, to give Duo’s marking systems a chance, we must remember that this course is not about improving the elegance of one’s English. We need to stick as closely as possible to a literal translation, and not transpose a French phrase into a ‘comfortable’ or ‘natural’ English phrase.
Hi ArnoldCohe1. The more one thinks about it, the more unsatisfactory is the ‘approved’ Duo translation. It makes the library seem as if it is a sentient being that has, itself, decided to « have work done ». Whereas, as a non-sentient artefact, it is unequivocally passive.
Therefore, surely, in either US or UK English, a correct translation would have to be « The library is having work done TO IT » or, perhaps, « Work is being done TO the library », which gives the opportunity for even more variations, n’est-ce pas ?
That's why I was a little surprised. I sometimes play around a little with translation, trying to move away from word-for-word translation and instead going for a fast gist translation that would be natural for me in English. The translation Duolingo gives ("having work done") is not something I could ever imagine saying in English. I might say "undergoing repairs" or "being renovated". But it happened that "under construction" was the first thing that came to mind for me.
Hi AM54. This balance between literal and/ or academic rigour, and the acceptance of ‘common’ usage, idioms and colloquialisms, is something that Duo struggles with perpetually ! And is Duo pitching at the mass audience who want to learn relatively straightforward ‘everyday’ French for holidays or occasional social use, or does it also aim to please the advanced learner or formal ‘language student’ ? One can’t easily ride those two horses ‘au même temps’ ! (Although even our highly respected and erudite moderators occasionally struggle to justify some offerings!)
And, remember, that Duo is full of phrases in both langages that « one could never imagine saying », because they are either crafted for the mirror translation required by the ‘reverse tree’ nature of Duo, or constructions are as bent as an award-winning ‘bonsai’ in the interests of teaching a particular grammatical point ! Bonne journée !
I'm just here to have fun and exercise my brain. So I appreciate the fact that duolingo is flexible, and I'm glad that I can read a sentence like this and understand what it means. I have a picture in my mind of a bunch of construction workers inside the library, with a big mess and lots of work and commotion. C'est la vie!
Salut DoubleLingot. There is seemingly a large number of equally viable translations for this phrase, only some of which are currently ‘accepted’ by Duo. However, your proposal has the merits of brevity and clarity, which are lacking from the slightly tortuous answer ‘preferred’ by Duo.
And, of course, as the forum demonstrates, there are many other alternatives that may be equally valid if only there was any context!
I wrote "The library is undergoing renovations" which is happening to our local library right now! I believe that is the same meaning as 'having work done".
Salut 4MaryAnn7. Your reply is technically paraphrasing, rather than a strict literal translation, but you have perfectly captured the most obvious meaning of the original French phrase. I can see no good reason why your answer is not accepted. But, then, these days, one never knows whether Duo is going to want a literal translation or a paraphrase. It seems to be getting more arbitrary with every new ‘tree’!
I think we’re back to the age-old Duo problem that there are too many possible valid answers to the exercises, and too few volunteers trying to input them all and maintain the courses. If Duo fails to monetize the resource sufficiently to pay for additional full-time course maintenance, it will eventually have a very negative effect on it’s reputation and popularity. Which would be a tragedy!
The point is, that like so many Duo phrases, there IS no obvious context. Almost all of the suggested translations seem (IMHO) to be more or less valid. If one wanted to be one of the (sadly too many) seemingly indefatigable Duo nit-pickers, one could insist that the context of repair was correct, rather than construction, because if the building was under construction, then, obviously, it hadn't yet even become a library!
that doesn't even make sense... if you knew that a library was being built, you'd say "there, a library is being built" even though it isn't a fully-built library yet.
I'm sorry, but although you are, of course, correct in the sense of everyday usage, in the context of the intellectual rigour of learning a language, your assumption is unfounded. One must look at all possible contexts and the translations and intrerpretations that flow from them. It's tough, but it's true.
I wouldnt like to confuse some of Duo's translations as having "intellectual rigour".
"In the works" means in the process of being completed. At least "works" is plural. Lol
"The library is under maintenance" is also rejected. It can be under renovation too. I wonder if that is also rejected.
dear beautiful owl called Duo. may i tell you that the sentence...or translation of this sentence The library has some work done is equivalent ( the same) to the translation...the library is having work done I know you are very picky with the translation of this sentence for many months now. but at least accept your own version...of how it should be translated. the little insertion of " some" work should not make it wrong.
Dear beautiful owl Duo... I must thank you that , although you had marked me wrong, for my translation ( that I had thought was correct and good enough) you have not penalised me with losing points. I forgive you and thank you..... you have eased my frustration
The context is simple. Usually it's a bright yellow placard with two words on it: En Travaux! We used to say in English, "Men Working!" I wonder what the gender neutral version is? Whatever it is, that might be the best translation.
Oh dear Paul. I wish that you hadn't posted that. I now fear that some bright spark at Duo will program the machine to include it as a translation test'
The library is in the works. What is plural about having work done?