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The Word List in the “Sounds 1” Unit

This is an observation directly mostly to the course creators for the purposes of beta-testing and revising:

Following the “crowns” update that I received yesterday, I reviewed the “Sounds 1” unit with a view to moving to “Crown 3”. While doing so, I received questions with a wide range of words that I had not encountered in previous work in the Sounds 1 unit or in subsequent units. I also checked the “Sound 1” unit’s official word list in Duolingo Schools and saw that none of those words appear on it. I believe I may have previously encountered a few of these words in “Timed Practice”, but assumed it was the well-known Duolingo glitch of occasionally throwing out words from later units.

Examples of such words: chargh, nguSDI, SIH, qeS. There are maybe around a dozen in total (with perhaps more to come; I have crowns to go). I have had to add a pile of new cards to my “Duolingo 2” Tinycards deck. :-)

I don’t know enough about the mechanics of Duolingo courses to know whether these words are meant to be present in the unit or not. I have been entertaining the hypothesis that the original word list for this unit was longer and it was pared down at some point (perhaps during alpha testing), but that the Duolingo Klingon wordbank was not fully updated.

In any event, I thought I’d being this matter to the attention of the course designers so that they can take corrective action, if necessary.


PS: The course is great!

April 7, 2018



The Pronunciation/Sounds unit is a bit of an oddball.

It was already there when I joined the team, so I don't know the whole story, but I believe the idea was that this would be mostly listening practice -- a chance for learners to hear words with all of the Klingon sounds.

All five vowels, and all twenty-one consonants both at the beginning and at the end of a syllable, if possible.

Since the course was released to beta without audio included, the unit has lost about 95% of it's reason for existence -- the listening practice. But even if there had been sound, it's not possible to specify "only listening/dictation exercises".

The unit isn't really designed to introduce any new vocabulary; generally, as much as possible, the words used here are one-off things, since they're only supposed to exemplify sounds. Later units generally do not rely on anything taught here; if we decided that this or that word would be useful to teach, we would introduce it somewhere else "properly" as part of a unit.

I'm not sure what you mean with the “Sound 1” unit’s official word list but I can say with almost certainty that it's not official, at least not in the sense of "blessed by the course creators".

What does the word list look like that you get through Duolingo Schools?

Perhaps you only got a list of lexemes?

The Sounds 1 unit makes heavy (ab)use of the "Forms" feature. That's really intended for situations such as alternate forms of one and the same word, where a learner can be assumed to know all of them after having been exposed to just one of them, as with English regular nouns and verbs (if you teach someone "ball", they are assumed to know the plural "balls"; if you teach them "open", you assume they also recognise "opening" and "opened").

But in the Sounds 1 unit, we have a lexeme such as say (all lowercase, because of the way Duolingo works) which has the four "forms" SoS, qeS, nguSDI', Say.

As you can see, those words are not related at all; they're just grouped into forms of the same lexeme for convenience in this lesson as all for words are examples of the sound S.

It's possible that when you go through the lesson once, it will show you SoS and then decide it has taught you the lexem say with all four of its forms. Then when you strengthen it later, it might choose to show you "a different form of the same word you already know", for variety, and you might see nguSDI' this time.

Similarly, all the other lexemes have between three and seven or so different "forms".

Perhaps we should have got rid of the unit before the course went to beta, if we had known for sure that sound would not be a part. Since we had tried not to rely on any of the words taught there, removing the unit should only have been a minor problem. (Although we had had problems in the past with units that we had "removed" but whose ghosts lived on and prevented the alpha testers from moving past a certain point because the system thought they had to do the removed unit first, but wouldn't let them in because it had been removed.)

Anyway, now that it's in beta, the choice is no longer ours: we can't remove any words or units.

If we ever start a new version of the learning tree, we may introduce the sounds differently, also perhaps earlier, especially if we have sound by then.

But for now, it's a bit of an odd unit.


Thanks for the detailed explanation.

To answer your question: HISlaH, the word list on Duolingo Schools for the unit (which is what I have called, perhaps incorrectly, the “official list”), includes simply the names of the letters in Klingon.

Forgive me for observing (recognising that this issue relates to decisions made prior to your joining Team Klingon) that the sudden apperance of random, non-beginner-level vocabulary words (like “water pipe”, “armpit” and “collide”) in Row 3, presented simply in vocabularly exercises not full sentences, not appearing in the Duolingo Schools list, and never reappearing elsewhere in the course, is rather distracting and I would fear potentially discouraging to beginners. This unit is, to date, probably the only unit I have not enjoyed doing and wish I could have just skipped.

If I may make a suggestion: If you can’t remove the unit in its entirety, can you delete/suspend all the exercises that prompt those “extra” words? This would no doubt trunctate the unit somewhat but I people would understand that until the course offers audio, the unit serves limited usefulness. This might not eliminate the problem but it would reduce its effect.

Alternatively/additionally, perhaps you may want to consider adding a line to the Tips & Notes explaining that some of the “new” vocabulary in the unit is there simply to illustrate different Klingon sounds and will not be otherwise used in the course.




I'm not a fan of the unit either, for much the same reasons you list -- a bunch of unconnected words which had never before been taught and most of which will never be used again, which have to be memorised for no good reason except to pass the lesson so that you can get on to "the good stuff".

Disabling exercises would be best, perhaps, though that's not possible for Klingon-to-English translations. Deleting everything might result in odd issues. (And since essentially the whole lesson is "extra" words, deleting those is pretty much equivalent to deleting everything.)

Perhaps one could delete everything except for the translation exercises for the letter names -- one "sentence" per lexeme.

The letter names are fairly useless, but if the lesson notes say that that's what this lesson is (currently) about, and since they follow a consistent pattern (Cay for Consonants and 'Vt for Vowels), they should be easy enough to learn (and ignore).

I'll mention the subject to the others and see what they think.

As for the line in the tips and notes -- good idea, but the tips are just about at the character limit, so one would have to delete something else in it somewhere.


Good news: loghaD agrees that the skill does more harm than good in its present form, and if we can manage to delete some (or most) of the exercises without breaking things, we will.

We'll probably do it bit by bit over the coming days and weeks, as we have time. I'll try to remember to modify the tips+notes afterwards to reflect the new direction.



One more question: Do you think it would be possible to let me know (whether through this thread or in a general announcement) which words are effectively removed, so that I can also remove them from my Tinycards sets (which aim to track the Duolingo course and which seem to be attracting users).


I'm going to try to remove all exercises except for the letter names: 'at 'et 'It 'ot 'ut bay chay Day ghay Hay jay lay may nay ngay pay qay Qay ray Say tay tlhay vay way yay qaghwI'.

(This means that the exercises are likely to be fairly monotonous, as e.g. the first lesson only has five entries now: "the letter a, the letter e, the letter I, the letter o, the letter u" which will be seen over and over again until you've done your 17 exercises, or however many there are in a lesson.)

Note that e.g. tlhutlh and vav are/were used in this lesson but are also introduced "properly" (in Food and Drink, and Family, respectively); this may also be true for other words, but those are ones I happened to notice.

So they're not removed from the course entirely.

Honorable mention goes to nuv which means "(humanoid) person"; it may show up elsewhere but the only word for "person" that we introduce "officially" is the synonym ghot. (I don't believe there is any difference in meaning between the two words.)


OK, so I have flagged the following cards to delete from my "Duolingo Klingon 2" set (which aims to cover Rows 4 and 5, but was also where I added the "extra" random words that popped up in the "Sounds 1" unit). I'd be grateful if you would let me know if any of these words actually come from other units in the first four rows, or if you would recommend keeping any of them for other reasons. The deck is shorter so there is room for keep a few cards for words that are taught later in the course:

wew (glow) let (hard) lut (story) le' (special) nep (lie) nap (simple) pIm (different) Suq (acquire) ngeD (easy) qeS (advise) 'ol (verify) yuD (dishonest) rav (floor) yIr (gather) tlhaQ (funny) SIH (bend) pol (keep) 'I' (armpit) mu' (word) nguSDI' (motor) qeq (practice) Do (velocity) chargh (conquer)

There is also paw (arrive) and paw' (collide), which are my "Duolingo Klingon 1" deck. I saw these words a lot for some reason doing Row 3 for the first time.

I'll keep in tlhutlh; it will come in handy down the road. I am tempted to keep a few other words that may be actually useful for beginners to know, such as ngeD, mu' and qeq.

I never included the word for "water pipe" in my decks; that one struck me as too bizarre even by Klingon paedagogical standards. :-)

Thoughts/comments welcome.



Oh....one more thing: note that vav comes up prior to the "Family" unit in the "Body Parts" unit (ie, "You have your father's ridges!"). I believe I saw words there with SoS in the "Body Parts" unit as well. This could militate in favour of leaving those words in the "Sounds 1" unit.


I don't think any of the list of words you mentioned comes up in any of the first couple of units.

Incidentally, I kept mu' because the lexeme qaghwI' (which contained it) didn't actually include the word qaghwI' (i.e. the letter name for the apostrophe) and mu' seemed the most useful of the words it contained (all of which had an apostrophe).

Also, you may be interested that the lexeme yay also included may which I also kept, and that qaghwI' occurs under ghay. (Which makes a tiny amount of sense, I suppose, since the word may contains a y and qaghwI' contains a gh.)

I think the pair paw and paw' was included on purpose, to get learners to pay attention to the presence or absence of the apostrophe; similarly with tI "vegetation" versus tI' "repair".

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