https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geo_torno9

Sense Behind Duo's Nonsense?? -- Why psycho questions might help you learn

It doesn't matter what course(s) you're taking, what level you're at, I'm almost certain that you've witnessed Duo's uncurable and entertaining madness, expressed in questions such as "Translate this: 'There is an elephant biting her.'" "Translate this: 'They are both naked.'"

But there might actually be a reason for this!

Not only will certain phrases taught on Duo make you laugh (and read what the forum has to say until you're satisfied), they might actually be more effective than boring sentences like "Jane likes cats."

Why?

Well.

It's scientifically proven that sometimes when faced with trying to remember something, your mind will match that fact (or word!) with the memory of learning it.

For example, in a test, you might think, What's 2 + 2 again? (I trust that all of you know the answer, but it's an example!!). Then, your mind might think about how when you were studying your addition tables (:P) your cat came in and killed you (an example, though cats do kill you sometimes...), and you looked down after recovering, noticing that 2 + 2 = 4.

That's another reason why smelling something for every subject you learn is good, it will match each subject to a scent.

But how does that have anything to do with Duo?

You might think, How do you say owl in French again? and then remember, Oh yeah, there was that ridiculous question that asked me to translate 'L'hibou est en train de manger du choufleur.' (The owl is eating the cauliflower). So owl is hibou

.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL!!

It's also proven that funny sentences boost fun (DUH) and when you're having fun, more parts of your brain turn on, including extended memory!

So continue the craziness and keep up the learning! :)

EDIT: Thanks for so much love and all the upvotes!

November 9, 2018

46 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ontalor

Agreed. I've always argued that the ridiculous sentences are better because they demand that you truly know the vocabulary and can't just guess it based on context. You'll stare at a new sentence thinking, "This sounds ridiculous but I'm pretty sure I'm reading this right" and it makes you question if you've really learned what you think you have, which is a good test.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

It also stops you guessing the translation from context - because there is no context.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scorbett

I have definitely had a few moments where I had to pause and wonder who in the world is writing these crazy sentences, but I have to agree that it really does help it stick in your head. My favourite is "Help! That horse is eating the holy potato!"

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Julianbark6

Shades of the Monty Python Hungarian Phrase Book sketch: "My hovercraft is full of eels".

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judit294350

I actually have a copy of "Az élet értelme" (The meaning of life). It is great fun to translate.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tink629986

My nipples explode with delight!

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geo_torno9

Looks like thanks to some crazy horse, we can't channel the spirits anymore.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sapere__aude

I really like that one! I might never get tired of trying to imagine in which situation that would have been used...

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LaurianaB

But....the man put the woman in the fridge!! Are we going to call the cops or what...?!

Nice post. :)

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WaterPolyglot

I think the mean man "silencing" a little boy with a knife is much, much more important than the mean man putting the woman in the fridge.

Much, much more important.

November 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lemniscatarum

That's a good point; I've never thought about that. Some of the sentences come across are certainly interesting. Goedendag sap, and ik ben een banaan.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Marc41177

It can be really frustrating, IMO, when you get a translation wrong because it's a bizarre phrase and you enter something you think is more likely.

But on the flip side it's really satisfying when you get one right, because you're translating it entirely from your knowledge of the language, not from being able to guess the meaning based on what's typical/likely.

Personally, I really like the ''nonsense'' phrases because (besides being funny) they seem like the best way to really learn the language - the nuts and bolts of it - rather than just enough of it to be able to guess common phrases.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geo_torno9

Yeah, it's a good strategy on Duo's part to stop us from translating just because of context... And really, it seems to improve your confidence speaking a new language.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Judy_Blue_Eyes

Dutch has some amusing sentences involving a rhinoceros.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_DragonFyre_

I've not gotten many of those, but I can see your point.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/compsognathus

Very interesting!! You are absolutely right, sentences like "your bear drinks beer" does actually help! I like them to cause it sure does add a bit of humor to the lessons!

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sapere__aude

I have taken a little inspiration from Duo in creating crazy sentences for my child/teenage students to learn English with.

We only use English inside the classroom, so I usually use crazy sentences for dictation / memory games, as there's no translation.

However I watch each time during the games as the children excitedly spew out this "nonsense" without ever seeming to consider how ridiculous it is. They just go through it all automatically. Oh well - I can't say I didn't try!

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Best post for weeks. No poor me, or complaining. You get it! I lingot you happily.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kadanwi

Gabriel Wyner talks about this concept in his book Fluent Forever, and it really jump-started my learning Spanish. He talks about how it's all fine and good to brush up on grammar, but the true key to becoming fluent is to associate your language-learning with fun/interesting/unique memories, and hypothesizes that this may be another reason why it is easier to learn a language with full immersion in a foreign country: not only are you forced to speak the language, but you are also forming new language-specific memories every day that you are there, and he tries to help you recreate this experience at home as well. I highly recommend his work in addition to your Duolingo studies.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AlexiaSilv604316

I noticed this as well, those odd sentences are often hard to forget.

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rangdo

I agree entirely. As an ex of mine once said when lamenting not having paid enough attention as a kid in French class: "I don't find going to the chemist interesting in my own language. Why would it be more interesting in a language I struggle in?!"

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Hmm, an ex I note:-) So much more rewarding to ask for sinus medication in Italian than English. It started a conversation and we talked about all sorts of things. So satisfying after all those XPs and memorable sentences.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Deact1vated_User

I suppose this may explain why that random girl keeps eating spiders.

Or why there are birds reading a newspaper.

Or why there's a person asking you if you're an engine.

Or why someone's living in a basement. (@_@)

Or why someone said, "Excuse me, I'm an apple."

November 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jay204621

This is similar to when you learn a song to remember an idea! I’m glad you brought this up.

That being said, I feel it would still be beneficial to include helpful phrases and ideas (such as numbers) in earlier lessons.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Katherine203961

Have a lingot for being so positive. Yes, it's more memorable if the situation or phrase is notably interesting. I'll never forget the French word for monkey, having heard the Duolingo lady say it just as she steps bare-foot on a piece of lego. Or that's what I imagine she did to make her say it in that voice :)

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Roman_Huczok

Yeah, but then you get courses like Vietnamese with endless sentences about cats, which get old very quickly, and now 'cat' is just about the only animal I'm really sure about how to say in Vietnamese.

November 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AndyTompras

I never knew that duo’s mad questions had do do with this!

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter465778

Excellent concept, please keep this going.

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Duo's penguin has helped me enormously throughout my levels;-)

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/belridetulo

And sometimes Duo sentences may turn the dirty minds on :D e.g Auf die Knie! (Get on your knees!)

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geo_torno9

Definitely, some of the time I'm like, What the heck, Duo, that is so messed up!

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Belridetulo. There is one on Memrise that really took my breath away and is not repeatable here!

November 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/belridetulo

Probably, that was me...but how could I take your breath away on Memrise? :)

November 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Linda7Italian

Cannot repeat it. Spammers would totally take over!

November 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rangdo

I just had one in Italian: "Sembrano naturali"!

November 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/guntunge

My first association would be of course the bodybuilder action movie character of one of the Otto movies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d97vU1PYjS0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AjJPyTk-rSU

November 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CoconutMermaid

Thank you for backing up what I already instinctually realized with actual science/explanations. I've always thought the ridiculous sentences were good practice because they ensure you KNOW the words and not just THINK you know. It boosts (or tests) or confidence of your knowledge base, which is always good.

November 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PayKleind

σας ευχαριστώ για την εξήγησή σας! Πάντα αναρωτιόμουν γιατί υπήρχαν τόσα πολλά περίεργα ερωτήματα! Το Λινγοτ δόθηκε!

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geo_torno9

ευχαριστώ!

November 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Monica7168

Makes me laugh sometimes when a totally unexpected example turns up, like...

/Welsh/ Gaeth camera cyflymder ei gnoi gau arth ddoe. - A speed camera was chewed by a bear yesterday.

/Spanish/ Debes estar cansada de estar corriendo por mi mente todo el dia. - You must be tired of running through my mind all day.

On the other hand, in the early stage of learning a new language it can just make one feel confused or bored if the the examples used don't actually make sense and feel useful.

November 11, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/XxroartinyroarxX

Nice observation, but what's up with that profile picture? You in to satanism??? >.

November 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/geo_torno9

Lol, not really, but I'm weird beyond belief, and sometimes I choose pictures if they look nice to me. Not if they symbolize anything.

November 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/loyalist_

In the German course in one of the first few skills I can recall someone saying "Ich heiße Karl" but the picture was of a woman. lol

November 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/loyalist_

(that means "I'm called Karl", I realize not everyone here takes German sorry lol)

November 13, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/liam391677

That's really cool

November 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lola651219

Just saw this on the hinid course “ Do not sit on the cat, sit on the dog “... and I am a cat and dog lover and still laughed ,

March 8, 2019
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