We've all tripped over "Duo." It would be easier for us if Duolingo's mascot were named Hans. But then it would have to be Hanslingo!—which doesn't suggest "two languages" at all and would favor German over French or Spanish or Russian. Poor audio is also a real problem, when it happens, but a separate issue from the mascot's name.
Your more general thesis, though, that "proper nouns shouldn't count against you since they aren't words in the relevant language" I disagree with. Proper nouns are an important part of every language. Hearing and pronouncing them correctly is an important skill. We need to know Wien means Vienna and also not mispronounce it as Wein (wine). Hearing and pronouncing people's names is both a language and important social skill. For example, there's no "th" sound in "Elizabeth," because there's no "th" sound in German, but it's spelled "Elizabeth."
Why not set your goals a little higher? Seek to understand and pronounce correctly anything you hear spoken in Hochdeutsch. (You can learn Bavarian dialect or Swiss German later, if and when you go there.) Mishearing German proper nouns is mishearing German. And thinking of the challenge of learning a new language in terms of what counts against you isn't the most productive point of view. Why are you here? To get a good grade or to learn German? If you're literally here for both, then what are your priorities?
Note: For those doing Duolingo on an app that gives you a certain number of hearts and then won't keep playing when you lose them all, that sucks! That's essentially the attitude that the grade is what matters being imposed on you! But try not to impose this attitude on yourself! Duolingo on a computer is overall a better experience. Among other benefits, on a computer you don't have to deal with hearts—except, understandably, when taking a test to skip up to the next level. :-)
Thanks. I assume it depends on what kind of phone or tablet you have and your contract. The computer gives you possibly better sound and definitely a larger screen, if that matters. The heart system sounds like an attempt to extort money from the user for a more user-friendly experience without hearts.
I disagree, especially in today's context: I once failed an exercise because I spelled "Hannah" instead of Anna. Too bad both are correct spellings, both in use in Germany. With names it's always hard to be sure, which is why we often ask the spelling even in our native languages.
"Quite" and "pretty" are rightly listed as synonyms, but the fact that two words are synonyms does not mean that in every sentence you could use either one with absolutely no change in the meaning or the tone. That shouldn't be too surprising. After all, they are not the same word. For example, saying someone is quite smart is a stronger recommendation than saying they're pretty smart. "Duo ist ziemlich schlau" is a strong recommendation. So "Duo is quite smart" is a better translation than using "pretty smart." Perhaps for some other German sentence using "ziemlich," "pretty" would be a better choice in the English translation, but at the moment I can't think of an example.
The quality of a translation is not (only) determined by the (in)correct grammar, but mainly by the meaning. The German adjective "schlau" is neutral (at least without any further context), therefore you'll have to use a suitable English adjective to translate this sentence.
"Duo is sly." rather translates to "Duo ist gerissen/durchtrieben/hinterhältig." to convey the 'insult'.
Perhaps the difficulty is that once a word has been translated correctly or incorrectly; there is still the possibility that the word can mean different things to different people, groups or cultures. Your German translation of sly is spot on, but to me sly has a positive shading rather than a negative one. Wily coyote was a great cartoon character. Ironic..currently out of favor but it worked for Swift, Shaw, Wilde and a lot of others. Bantering...who doesn't like banter. Insinuating...what is chatting your bird up in a pub all about if it isn't insinuating. Words can also mean different things to different subgroups. The current resident of our White House is a master of dogwhistles, malignant tropes, and unfortunate connotations. But maybe all this is just about sly sounds like schlau to a lot of English speaking ears and it's easy to remember associations correctly or incorrectly. Does anyone know if the two words share a common root?</pre>
Of course there are overlaps of meanings (and personal and regional differences don't make it easier!), yet "sly", to my knowledge, is not as unencumbered by any undertones as "schlau" is, without further context.
To answer your question: It seems like both words "sly" and "schlau" are derived from "slu":
"sly: [...] from Old Norse sloegr "cunning, crafty, sly," from Proto-Germanic slogis (source also of Low German slu [...])."
"schlau: [...] Herkunft: aus dem Niederdeutschen, vom niederdeutschen Adjektiv slu [...]."
So associating these two is very natural. Unfortunately it is never foreseeable how far meanings develop/have developed, even if they have the same origin and you fall into the trap of "false friends" every now and then. ^^
Do you think you could help by reporting it as a bug here?
We course maintainers can't really control the mechanisms of the lessons; just their content.
According to one of the notes that come with the various Duolingo lessons (click on the light-bulb icon after you click on the lesson or bubble), ziemlich can always be translated as "quite," regardless of whether "quite" intensifies or de-intensifies the meaning. For examples, ziemlich schlau = "quite smart" (intensifies), and ziemlich gut = "quite nice" (de-intensifies), in contrast to sehr gut = "very good."
Note: Entries in the Oxford German Dictionary suggest that ziemlich can USUALLY be translated as "quite."
Click on the LIGHT BULB ICON after you click on the lesson, so this is where the grammar notes went. Thank you so much.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Curiosity got the best of me and I CLICKED ON THE KEY
as well and was able to test out!!!!!!! Enough of the endless repetition of the same examples. Very good to know!!!
Duo is a TERRIBLE word to use in exercises - especially listening. Sounded a lot like "Du" to me, and I couldn't decide between typing "Du bist" (which is grammatical correct and makes sense with "ziemlich schlau", but isn't what I heard) and Du isst (grammatically correct, what I heard, but doesn't make sense), and Du ist, thinking you guys made a mistake. Seriously, it shouldn't be that close a call, if your robo-pronunciation were correct. Boo!!!!!
Fairly, pretty, really, all should be accepted in the place of quite, they are all synonymous in this case, none are weaker or stronger. In fact, quite is the worst word to use here (native speaker living in Canada). No one uses the word quite, except in old cookbooks or English teachers. I even think it sounds kind of snobby to use.