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  5. "muSchuq yIHmey tlhInganpu' j…

"muSchuq yIHmey tlhInganpu' je."

Translation:Tribbles and Klingons hate each other.

August 8, 2018



@Gadsden_1: jupwI', I don't think it is that difficult or stressful to remember that, when asked to translate torgh mara je for the purposes of a Duolingo exercise, you are expected to say "Torg and Mara" and not "Mara and Torg".

I myself have sometimes put them in in the "wrong" order when starting out the course, got marked wrong, groaned, and the next time I saw the question, remembered to put them in "right". I've accepted it as a design feature of the course, just like the strict correspondence between -taH/-lI and "-ing" in English, and have not let it diminish my enjoyment of the course.

I honestly have trouble understanding why this upsets you so much, and really don't think it is civil or helpful to be accusing the amazing people who worked so hard -- on their own time -- to create this course for us of "pedantic snobbery" or of "overbearing" behaviour.



This is what I'm talking about with the overly pedantic "right" answers. You're really going to mark "Klingons and Tribbles hate each other." as wrong? For what purpose? This doesn't seem to be teaching anybody anything constructive, which comes first is irrelevant. We are supposed to be translating the sentence, but as I know you know, translating from one language to another is very rarely a word for word process, rather, you are trying to convey the correct concept which in this case is exactly the same regardless of which group is mentioned first or second.


Don't be too frustrated. There are three very good reasons why only one order is being accepted.

  1. The course contributors very rightly do not want learners to get into the habit of thinking of Klingon as backwards English and just basically trying to translate every sentence backwards. I think they are right on this actually. It is a reminder to read the sentence in the order presented and translate in that order, only moving things around to conform to English grammar.

  2. By changing the order as you want to, you may be changing the tone or intended meaning of the author. There can be some significance, subtle though it may be, to what is mentioned first in a list. Sometimes that tells you something about what is in the speaker's mind.

For example, ask some random people to list the children of Prince Charles and Princess Di. I would bet that 99% of those people will name Prince William first in that list. That is not meaningless. We can only guess what is in any single person's mind as to why they would choose to list William before Harry. But I can well imagine that it is one or all of the following reasons: he is the first-born so they are just going in chronological order, he is first in line to be King thus some people might consciously or unconsciously feel him to have the higher status of the two, he is/was in the news more, he is the first of the two to have made an impression on them because he was the first born of the very famous Lady Di, they are more sure of his parentage (not a small number of people think Harry is a bastard--sorry Harry), etcetera.

If you were translating something that listed these two men and you changed the order in which they were listed, I think you could possibly be changing some of the subtle message being imparted by the original text. In other words, I feel it is important when you are translating to try to keep the same order of the original when things are being listed. I don't think that necessarily holds for other grammatical orders for things because sometimes other things in a sentence are ordered a certain way because that is the grammar used by that language. So I can see more flexibility for other grammatical orders. But lists are totally up to the choice of the writer usually and independent of how the rules of a language force you to order things. Therefore, I think it is good to preserve the original order of lists.

For example, Klingon grammar says you must put a time adverbial in front of the rest of the sentence. Therefore, I think it is ok to move that time adverbial around in an English sentence because the Klingon word order does not tell us that the time adverbial was the most important thing or anything else about it. It was simply first because Klingon grammar rules usually say it must be. Therefore, I can put it last in an English sentence without probably changing the tone or meaning of the Klingon sentence. Not so with lists or other things with a flexible order so the order chosen might have a significance.

Three. Being a course contributor is a bit of a nightmare in terms of having to hand type literally hundreds and thousands of sentences to be accepted for every single sentence entered. If you force them to also have to include every sentence variation where they have to account for learners choosing to switch around the order of everything connected by and/or then you have just doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their workload. Again, I agree with their choice to not allow this.

I do not think they are only working in their own self-interest. If it were better for the learner to be allowed to switch around the order of things connected by and/or, then I truly believe they would allow us to do it. But I think they are very motivated by not wanting learners to get in the habit of just translating backwards.

Anyway, I am sure you can see how much work they put in. They are unpaid volunteers. I am sure you feel grateful as do I that they have sacrificed so much of their personal lives to make and maintain this Klingon course. So let's be flexible where we can for them to make their lives easier. We don't want to lose them here because their personal lives have become a nightmare where they are constantly working on this instead of having time to do normal things like laundry, cooking, spending time with their loved ones....

It is a relatively simple thing and a good habit for us to accept the word order given for the sentences unless it makes ungrammatical English.


A good answer.

My idea of translation is that one changes as little of the original as possible while still maintaining as much of the original sense as possible. Tribbles and Klingons means something different than Klingons and tribbles, even if they logically add up to the same thing. Languages are not exercises in logic.

I'm curious to know if people taking other Duolingo courses complain about reversing order of conjunctions this way. Would the Spanish course let me translate hombres y mujeres as women and men, or would it tell me I've got it wrong, and then everyone complains that they should be able to say that?


This is a good question. I never translate reversed so I don't know. Next time I come across something like that, I will reverse the order to see what happens and report back here.

I also try to change the original as little as I can as long as it does not change the meaning.

I guess I have an example. I am taking the Chinese course. Yesterday I read a discussion thread in which at least a dozen people complained because 李老师 (literally Li teacher) was being translated by the course as teacher Li instead of as miss or mister Li. They insisted that they would never address a teacher as "teacher X" in English therefore it is wrong. I disagree with them. If I were translating a book from Chinese, I would translate it as "Teacher Li" instead of say "Miss Li" because I think that best preserves the feeling of the Chinese culture. It is much the same way as we would call a doctor "Doctor Li" as a mark of respect for their learning and position and you could offend the doctor by calling them mister or miss instead. Teachers are well respected in Asian countries. In my opinion more so than in the West. Sure we all applaud teachers here and tell them what a noble job they are doing but in the end, it is not uncommon for them to be totally crapped on by parents, students and administrators so I would argue it is mostly lip service. Maybe there is some subtle difference caused or revealed in the fact that in my country they don't have a title of teacher but rather Miss, Mrs. and Mister.

Anyway, I guess those sorts of things can be argued all day and different translators can choose different things. Personally, if I am reading a book translated from Chinese, I prefer it to stay closer to the Chinese way of expressing things rather than stretch very far to make their culture seem that it is really just ours but in a different setting. The way things are expressed in a culture is very revealing to me.


I just got a relevant phrase in the Greek course. It said "Οι κάλτσες και τα παπούτσια." The socks and the shoes. I reversed it to the shoes and the socks. That was accepted.


Greek is different that English in that like English it is predominantly SVO so there is no problem of learners translating backwards. I can imagine also that many courses accept any order because it is exhausting dealing with all the reports from users who want their answers accepted.


And because a native speaker would not care which is mentioned first since they convey the exact same concept.


Wouldn't care? You sure about that?

Constantine: My name will go down as the greatest thief of all time!

Dominic Badguy: You mean our names, right?

Constantine: Of course. My name first, then spacebar, spacebar, spacebar... your name.

Sometimes it DOES matter what order you use your nouns in.


Or imagine someone were translating Green Eggs and Ham and it came out as green ham and eggs in the target language.

We haven't got a native word for ham, but otherwise...

QIm SuD Ha'DIbaH SuD je


Ha'DIbaH SuD QIm SuD je


I think Gadsden would more want the option to translate it as "ham and green eggs" not as "green ham and eggs". But I think it would sound a lot less cool as "ham and green eggs" so I think the choice of what to put first was a good one by Seuss and those kinds of right choices are why his books are so good.


In the book, both the eggs and the ham are green.


lol. I didn't realize they were both green in the book. It is still a better literary choice for Seuss to have written it the way he did.


Klingon is not backwards! If reversing the order of conjunctions is allowed at all, it should have no relation to Klingon sentence order.

Basic Klingon sentence order is Object-Verb-Subject. More advanced Klingon sentence order is, with a few exceptions:

{TimeExpressions} {adverbials} {syntactic nouns} {objects} {verb} {subjects}

This is not just backwards English.


@Gadsden_1, we do appreciate the feedback and consider carefully every suggestion. Unfortunately some situations, like this one will have proponents on both sides and we will not be able to please everyone. I am sorry that this particular issue is discouraging you so badly. Others have appreciated our attention to details like this. By explaining our reasoning we are not trying to be overbearing or superior, we are just trying to let you know that we have considered it and decided how we are going to handle it. We all see the contradiction that you are pointing out and we see other contradictions too, which you seem to discount. So it goes with trying to teach any language - everyone's going to have their own opinions about how best to do it, but you are stuck with following your teacher's decisions. If you would like suggestions for other online course options, I would be happy to help.


How is it that only I can see this contradiction?

wIghna' SoHba'mo' 'ej QIpchu'wI'na' maHba'mo'.

Sure, I don't hold the reigns here, I'm just a student being squashed by the overbearing "teacher". Fine. You can engineer the course any way you see fit apparently, and I cannot. So you have the power, and I don't.

Help, help! I'm being repressed!

Who're you talking to? Not one person who has responded to you here is part of the Duolingo team.

I'm about done arguing about this kind of stuff in this course, I'm being pushed toward apathy with responses that support this level of pedantic snobbery.

Oh, please. bIvIngchu', Hom. qagh DaHoHtaH. You're seriously going to get this worked up because yIHmey tlhInganpu' je and tlhInganpu' yIHmey je are two different phrases?


That is the point I was making--or evidently failing to make.


But I'm not talking about flipping the Klingon. I'm claiming in ENGLISH, the phrase "marbles and onions" is the same as "onions and marbles". Simple concept. I'm not talking about proper titles, or switching whether one is plural and another is singular. The concept here is a group hates another group, and that hate is reciprocated by the second group to the first. So if you're going to say the blue group and the red group hate each other, then the statement, the red group and the blue group hate each other is exactly the same. This nonsense of "Tribbles and Klingons means something different than Klingons and tribbles" is utter nonsense. The next words in that response were " even if they logically add up to the same thing". Even after the admission to it being the same thing, there is an assertion that is is different. How is it that only I can see this contradiction?

Sure, I don't hold the reigns here, I'm just a student being squashed by the overbearing "teacher". Fine. You can engineer the course any way you see fit apparently, and I cannot. So you have the power, and I don't. But in my opinion, learning languages was fun, and interesting. And learning Klingon was weird, and fun and interesting. But this course is killing that enjoyment. If I was releasing something in a Beta, I would want feedback exactly like this, and points like I'm trying to make, about which group to say first when the original sentence picked one group to go first arbitrarily, and not by necessity or critical meaning, these issues should be reserved for some philosophical study by super users to discuss nuances that nobody else cares about when communicating a basic meaning. Yeah, just keep it up, see if you can suck all the fun and interest out of it, while convincing yourself you are "right". I'm about done arguing about this kind of stuff in this course, I'm being pushed toward apathy with responses that support this level of pedantic snobbery.


Hey Gadsden, I'm not a teacher or course creator or at all involved in making decisions about the course. I am just a student like you.

I know this is something that is really bothering you. I replied just hoping that you could find a way to accept dealing with the issue in the course so you can enjoy learning.

I don't want to squash your feelings or ideas at all. I think that the course creators can't create something that is all ways for all people so they made it as they thought best. Just play along with the rules.

Some battles aren't worth fighting. I don't see how this issue is so important.


Can't answer that exact question right now, but none of the other Duolingo courses that I have taken (German, Spanish) have these overly pedantic, super exact, high horse answers on a regular basis, perhaps once in a while. I just have noticed this course being far more frustrating because of all that, and the inconsistency, where some words mean whatever you want them to mean. To me, "I'm going to the store tomorrow" and "Tomorrow I'm going to the store" are the same thing. I think if you squash students into the ground for one and not the other, you achieve a negative net total, not a positive. I don't think translation is that exact a science.


That is not true. Lots of courses require very exact answers and reject many answers I give. In fact, often, the answer I gave was a better translation that more accurately translates the original. Often other courses even have mistakes in the English grammar and reject my correct grammar in favor of their flawed grammar. I am having that problem right now with a Duo staff created course that is an A/B test that I was put in.

I have truly not had hardly any problems with the Klingon course. And if I find something that I think is in error, they have never taken more than 24 hours to respond. Sometimes they fix it and sometimes they tell me I am mistaken or they explain what reason they have not to fix it. I have found them to be very fair on this. There is only one instance when I have thought they were wrong and it was on a point of English grammar not Klingon.

Honestly, I think it is possible that you haven't adjusted your thinking to Klingon yet as much as you will if you keep studying and really absorbing it. I think perhaps I am not having so much trouble with their choice of translations because I went pretty far in learning Klingon before I started this course so their choices make a lot of sense to me. When they tell me I am wrong, almost always (all but once where I still think they are wrong on the English grammar but who cares really; it is not important for me to quibble about it) it clicks to me right away that yeah, I was wrong and I can see where my mistake was.

I really like having you here. I very much hope that you are going to stick with Klingon. I would love to meet you in person one day. So I hope that you are not going to give up out of frustration. And I love that you are a fighter. I love all people and animals that are fighters. My favorite pets are usually feral ones or ones that stand up for themselves to me. I have a funny story about an abused cat I got from a girl I worked with who said how much she hated this cat. So I said give it to me. So she did. This cat was so cool. It was really shy and afraid of me at first. I think it was abused. Anytime I would put my hand toward it to touch it, it would flinch. So one night I started touching its nose repeatedly to annoy it to provoke a reaction. After a couple minutes of this, its annoyance became stronger than its fear and it sort of snarled and snapped at my hand. I thought this was great because it was finally doing something besides flinching. So I started laughing because I was so happy. It looked at me. That moment changed our whole relationship because that is when it knew that I would not hurt it and that I thought it had rights and I was just playing with it. That was like my second day with it. From that moment on, it never flinched again when I tried to touch it. It loved me so much it would literally walk with me anywhere. I could take it to the beach or anywhere and walk and it would follow right behind me ON THE SAND up and down the beach. I could go literally anywhere with him. People always said they never saw a person walk with a cat before. I really miss him.

Whenever strangers tell me that their kid is so bad and so ornrey, I always say, great, I love those kinds of kids. Give your kid to me then. So far nobody has taken my offer. But I keep trying because I got the most awesome cat that way that time.

I love your spirit, really. You are being a tad bit inflexible maybe....Please just stick with this and try to change your mind on some of the points that are frustrating you.


I tried reversing on this phrase and it was rejected. Maybe the Greek course only adds those after a complaint.


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