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Guaraní: Another consonantal apostrophe comes to Duolingo

Of interest to Duolingo Team Klingon's ongoing efforts to deal with the challenges caused by the inability of Duolingo to recognise the apostrophe ' as an actual letter (as, of course, it is in Klingon).

This will no longer be a problem unique to the Klingon course. The newly-installed Team Guaraní announced this week (https://incubator.duolingo.com/courses/gn/es/status), that the course will be significantly altered to shift the course away from the "Jopará" version of the language (which apparently includes many Spanishisms) to Standard Paraguayan Guaraní. One consequence of this shift is that they hope to add a series of new letters that better reflect the original Guaraní sound system, as stated here:

En el curso se evitará el uso de caracteres con diéresis y acentos circunflejos para representar los fonemas nasales del guaraní. Se ha solicitado al equipo de Duolingo la inclusión de teclas virtuales que permitan introducir los siguientes caracteres: Ã, ã, Ẽ, ẽ, Ĩ, ĩ, Õ, õ, Ũ, ũ, Ỹ, ỹ, Ý, ý, G̃, g̃, y el apóstrofe (') que representa la consonante guaraní conocida como “puso”.

As we can see, one of these "new" letters will be the apostrophe, named "puso", that apparently (like Klingon) represents a glottal stop (or so I take from this website: https://es.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfabeto_guaran%C3%AD).

It may be useful to ascertain whether in Guaraní words can begin with the "puso"; if so, the Guaraní course will presumably have the same problem with "hints" as the Klingon.

Something, perhaps, for Team Klingon to discuss with Team Guaraní.


June 25, 2018



As DesC7 pointed to, I don't think this change will be relevant to the problems experienced with Klingon. The Guarani course currently includes many words with a puso. What they're asking for is that it be added to the (yet-to-exist) virtual keyboard when responding in Guarani.

I do not think Guarani's orthographic rules ever call for a puso to be present at the start of a word. I'm not 100% sure about this, but there are plenty of pusos in the present Guarani course, and none of them are at the beginning of a word.

This makes it sound pretty certain:

La consonante glotal (‘) (puso), es una consonante de uso intervocálico, es decir solo se usa entre vocales. (source)

(my translation: The glottal consonant (‘) (puso) is a consonant used intervocalically, that is it's used only between vowels.)

However, there will be another language that may share this problem with Klingon. In Hawaiian, the name of the glottal stop character is ʻokina (source). Take a look at that first character ;) Looks like there's some variation in which precise characters are used to represent it, including the apostrophe. And who knows if Duolingo's systems would be any more able to correctly process words beginning with a turned comma or opening single quote?


If using another variation of the symbol would fix all the problems with the apostrophe-as-letter, I think we might be open to changing them all in this course. I have my doubts, though, that it will fix the current problems and I suspect that it would create new ones. Maybe if I get a little free time I'll do some testing.


If we use ‘oH or ’oH or something like that, then we'd run into the problem that most people won't be able to type those non-ASCII apostrophes, wouldn't we?


Yeah. My guess is we'll still have the problems we currently have PLUS everyone will be told they are misspelling it when they use the regular apostrophe. But it might be worth testing to see what happens.


This is an old discussion, but just for the record: phonetically, Guarani has a glottal stop sound at the start of every word beginning with a vowel, but you're correct that it's never written.


Thanks for the clarifications!

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