https://www.duolingo.com/YimmyYams

Why is Duolingo forcing an accent on learners?

In Beijing and northern China, natives there will add 儿 to some phrases, like 一点, 一会, 哪里, and others. In the case of 哪里, for example, it would instead be 哪儿 with the accent. I do not want to learn the accent, but duolingo will often mark 哪里 as incorrect, along with the other phrases I mentioned. This wouldn't be a huge problem, but native speakers say that foreigners sound stupid when they add 儿 to things. It's like a german learning an american southern accent and going to new york. The lessons should be standard mandarin that can be used anywhere.

May 27, 2018

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor

Any sentence that is not accepting 哪里 as well as 哪儿 is just an error that needs to be reported.

May 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/YimmyYams

Yes, I have been reporting those instances. Thank you for the acknowledgement

May 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/El_Gusano

No matter what accent it is teaching, it could always be said that duo is "forcing an accent" no matter the language. People have complained that duo's English is American English and its Spanish is Mexico Spanish. But it would be ridiculous to try to cover all them at the same time. And they say foreigners sound stupid because they add a certain phrase. While that might be so I can say if it wasn't that phrase they would say foreigners sound stupid for another phrase. It's worth understanding the difference but not worth giving value to rude people who would complain that you are learning THEIR language instead of the other way around. Anyways, I doubt there is an accepted standard Mandarin that would satisfy everyone's accent needs.

May 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewKang4

This is extremely true. What the original asker is asking for (maybe) a complete other tree or maybe a switch just because of a slight accent. In my opinion, if you want to learn a language down to the accent, and ESPECIALLY CHINESE, don't use Duolingo, or at least use it alongside another learning textbook and real-life teachers. For god's sake, it doesn't have writing exercises and you're complaining about ACCENTS????

k sorry rant over pls no downvote k

May 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ryanmaneo

Thank you! I agree! This is especially true if you will be speaking to people from Taiwan, who will probably laugh at your face if they here you use 儿 too often. I think all courses (especially Chinese) should be more standardized rather than pushing "Beijing Dialect".

May 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/bertty8

The beijing dialect is <sub>the</sub> most proper dialect of chinese. It is the native language of which the people who live there that forms the basis of putonghua. If you go anywhere else in china with that accent people would be really impressed.

May 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ryanmaneo

It is not "standard" Chinese, though.

May 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Fraxinus

Oh yes it is. When I attended the Princeton in Beijing program world class teachers who have taught Mandarin for years, some decades, said that saying certain words without 儿. Is actually nonstandard. Of course, going full Beijing dialect and adding it to words like 随便 is nonstandard, but things like 一点儿 and 事儿 are widely considered to be standard. People will more likely praise a foreigner for using it than if they didn't, with the main exception being speakers in Taiwan.

May 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SBSandtorv

I don't think it's quite as straightforward as that. I've come across Beijingers who are amused when foreigners use the standard erhua that you can find on the HSK - and southerners who will insist that its dialectal.

I suppose the best way to describe it is that it is seen as a Beijing/northern trait and fully standard when they use it. However, since it is not necessary to use it to speak "standard" Chinese, it is considered somewhat dialectal when it is used by foreign language speakers.

A comparison may be foreigners who learn French. Everyone would say that educated Parisians speak standard French, but if foreigners speak as nasally, some would see it seen as them speaking Parisian rather than standard.

June 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LanguageAmbrosia

But still it wouldn't be the most standard version of Mandarin.

May 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Verix12

I think I might have a say on this, as a native Chinese. So I was born in Shanghai and confident to say that my mandarin is practically flawless(isn't influenced by dialect), there's still a lot of occasions where saying "儿" isn't a matter of dialect. For example, "出门玩儿" can occur on any part of China region, it's a matter of a more informal context, rather than a matter of regional dialect. But true tho, the northerners in China do tend to say "儿" a lot more often than the southerners (or say the official mandarin speakers), but I've seen the Chinese lesson on Duo and It's kind of safe to say that you don't have to worry about it getting you any accent.

P.S: Mandarin itself is developed from the northerners' speak.

May 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JohanssonP

If your mandarin is flawless, why do you take it on duolingo?

May 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/AndrewKang4

please note the english and italian symbols beside the mandarin symbol. Also note that they are on discussion rn.

May 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JohanssonP

Sorry

May 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Verix12

Man we really should do a language exchange!

June 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Fraxinus

I have studied abroad in China for two summers and have had hundreds of hours of conversations just in those two summers alone and I have not once been told I sound stupid for using 儿. This is a myth that people perpetuate in order to think they are speaking fancy or above others by not using it. Actually, native speakers have told me not using it in many cases is nonstandard, and that using it in the right places makes anyone, even foreigners, sound more educated.

May 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/garpike

I've not noticed '哪裡', '這裡', etc., being marked incorrect, whereas I certainly have noticed that these forms sometimes appear as the only possible solutions in the tile exercises on the app, so I don't think DL is pursuing any concerted policy to force learners to use erhua forms. Educated Beijing speech is generally regarded as the prestige accent in the PRC, however, so it is understandable that they appear in model sentences.

It's like a german learning an american southern accent and going to new york.

Practically all official media on the mainland are delivered in the Beijing accent, whereas I don't think New Yorkers are compelled to listen to Southerners drawling out the news headlines...

May 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CarolinianJeff

"It's like a german learning an american southern accent and going to new york."

Hi, I'm a native Southerner who's been living in New York City for the past six years. I really can't imagine that a foreign person speaking in Southern American English vs. Standard English would even be noticed, let alone looked down on or laughed at. Tons of non-Southern people here use "y'all", for example, and a non-native speaker probably won't end up casually deploying the over-the-top verb structures like "used to could" anyway.

(I don't even know that there is a best English dialect/accent for New York in general, since it's a city of transplants and ethnic neighborhoods where patterns of speech vary from neighborhood to neighborhood but everyone interacts with everyone. And what linguists think of as "New York English" dialect or what Americans would think of as a New York accent aren't present everywhere in the City... the current mayor doesn't even speak it.)

So learn American Standard English, learn Southern English, learn New York English, learn Californian English, learn Canadian English, learn British English, learn Australian English, learn whatever English you want. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters as long as you avoid Indian English numbers nobody else understands (e.g., "crore") or weird British slang nobody else uses (e.g., "take the piss").

Hell, I once met an Italian history professor who spoke in a very distinct Scottish accent. I thought it was cool.

May 27, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/hanspersson

Interesting. I haven't seen the construction "used to could" that I can remember. Would it be used like "I used to could earn lots of XP on Duolingo through the immersion feature but that's been discontinued", or when would it show up?

May 30, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/CarolinianJeff

That's exactly it.

You can also use it as a standalone phrase meaning "I was able to [previously referenced verb/ability] in the past, but I am no longer able to do so."

June 1, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/The_Tams

Australian English definitely takes the piss... Speaking Australian in the US is sometimes hard :p

January 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JoyceJo4

I don't know Chinese or Beijing but I understand the cross between American southern language and New York. I'm studying french on DL and the most frustrating Lesson is on learning plural and singular for pants, something we always use as plural in english but can still mean singular. I think DL should give more options but I don't think any language learning app is perfect. This is why they have options to flag a lesson. I agree that it should be universal. Maybe DL can find a way to teach both or decide what is necessary when you do the lessons.

May 28, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/The_Tams

A pair of pants are referred to in the plural because originally the item of clothing comprised one item for each leg (one 'pant' per leg) that were then tied up at the waist. They were, indeed, pants.

January 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/-..Ryan..-

ok! i agree

May 28, 2018
Learn Chinese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.