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

What's up with the new recordings?

Over the past couple of days, new audio recordings have been rolling out for the Esperanto course, replacing the old audio. The new recordings are very low quality and sound like someone recorded them in one take on a mobile phone in a bathroom. Does anyone know why this is happening? I'm hoping it's just a temporary fix for some sort of issue (perhaps copyright?) and that either the previous recordings will return after it's sorted, or they'll go back into the studio and make proper new recordings.

January 2, 2019

21 Comments


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

Duolingo added a new option to the incubator: Contributors can record their own voices. This is not for replacing the old recordings, but a possibility to add voice for the sentences where audio was missing (in Esperanto, it is mostly in the skills at the end of the tree).


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

I think this is great news, not just for Esperanto, but all the other courses that lack TTS voices, not to mention how it lowers the bar for getting useful audio in future courses in less-spoken languages, for which DL might otherwise be reluctant or unwilling to subsidise recordings.


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

Not sure if this is a good idea...

Is there someone checking the result, the same way DL does when you submit your own translation with the [my answer should be accepted] button ?


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

Haha - it's the very person who checks your submitted sentences that is making the recordings. Who else would check them?


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

Why not? Only contributors can do it, and contributors wrote the course in the first place; there is no reason to suppose that their spoken recordings are likely to be in error.
Having any audio for a sentence is always better than none, so long as it is of a competent, fluent speaker, even if it is not of professional recording quality. (Most DL users listen through the horrible speakers of mobile devices, anyway, so high-quality recordings are lost on them.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CoreyGraha7

It becomes a real problem during the audio only exercises.


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

Probably because someone recorded them in one take on a mobile phone in a bathroom.

[See update below]

It's the result of a new feature of the Duolingo development tool which allows contributors to add their own sound files. Previously it took an act of congress (or of Luis van Ahn) to get sound files updated. The Esperanto team had previously been told that Esperanto wouldn't be getting new sound any time soon.

I haven't listened to the new sound files - but I just might, out of curiosity. It comes down to whether we want home-brewed sound files, or no sound files at all, since Duolingo seems to have put other development goals higher on their priority list. (I am ever hopeful that these new development items will be worth the wait.)

Update: I just did a lesson under "weather" and heard two new sentences from a male voice (he knows who he is!) and I thought it was awesome. The level was a touch low, but it was great. It certainly didn't sound like something recorded in a bathroom. I'll keep listening tomorrow if I can.

Edit: I found the following "female voice" sentences in the unit on "health." (Side note: this must be a new exercise because it's showing as not complete for me.)

  • Ĉu via bofratino mamnutras siajn ĝemelojn?
  • La cerbo regas la korpon.

I certainly heard the "bathroom" echo, and the click at the start of several of the recordings - and the accent more noticeable than in the older recordings - but over all, I don't see the concern expressed here. Will the recordings help you learn Esperanto? I think they will.

(I'll bring up the concern about volume level, since that's a problem with headphones, I suspect.)


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

Thanks for the well reasoned explanation of what's going on. I also suspect that it comes down to "amateur" sound files or none at all. It's better to have something.

I did a couple of the more basic lessons a few days ago and noticed the female voice -- where you can hear the mic click on, and yeah, it sounds like a bathroom.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LanguageLe520096

Saluton! Mi nomo estas Josepho. Mi estas komencanto. Mi lernas Esperanton por kvin tagojn. Gis la revido.


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

Saluton. Estas bone, ke vi jam skribas en Esperanto. Vi bone progresos!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joseph640669

It's not just the fact that there are new voices. It is good to hear multiple people speaking the language. But, what is getting to me is the speaking slowly, like you're enunciating to a child, that is happening with these added user voices. It really makes me want to turn the volume to mute! Natural spoken speed is the best route to go in learning a language - any language. It's how you learned your native first language. Leave this slow speak to classroom settings! Please, get those slow speak recording replaced, so I'm not tempted further to mute - like I already do with Memorize Esperanto courses (terrible pronunciation some of them!). The original male voice on Duolingo Esperanto is right on point! More fluent voices of both genders speaking like him would be great!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Gaelic_Lady_20

I know… The Irish Audio sounds different too, all of a sudden. I haven't really been able to visit the website recently, but when I came back everything had changed, even the pronounciations. Now actually I'm not sure if I learned to pronounce Irish correctly in the first place, which is bothering me quite a lot.


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

I completely agree !

It was a complete surprise, the one that make you check your speakers, earphones, drivers and wiring before you realize that it is just someone else speaking.

The usual male voice is relaxed, clear and distinct, the diction is perfect and the recording is free of background noise.

I hope the female voice recordings will reach that level of quality too.

That being said, Esperanto has a straight forward pronounciation, and the audio is not mandatory except of course in the first lessons and for the "type what you hear" exercises.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dmitriy-kalmykov

I have a worse situation. In the lesson "the weather" exercise "write what you hear" without sound - you have to press "I can't listen to" (but not I can't listen to is a bug in duolingo). After that, the sound is turned off for an hour everywhere although in other exercises everything worked.


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

Yes, I have noticed the same thing on the "Weather" lesson. It's nice that contributors are adding recordings for missing things, but hopefully some audio issues can be resolved. I'm glad to have a variety of voices to listen to, though!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Q-Allat

I have been away for a while and am ambivalent about the new recordings. It's great to have more recordings but the woman's voice has very bad sound quality. Why? It's so easy nowadays to make a decent recording. I think Esperanto was spoiled with the lovely voice recordings we had from the beginning. And it's great to have more recordings, but I don't understand why the quality is so bad, and it is a problem when it's not just an illustration but you have to translate or write it down and can't hear it properly. I am still having to catch up after the changes. (Which is why I got fed up with Duolingo and have been away for a few months) But I have heard the new recordings right in the earliest lessons.


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

The recordings period sound terrible. Sometimes I can understand the guy...sometimes I can't. They aren't good. But, as they say, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

Likewise, if you can understand the poor recordings, you can understand anything.


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

Using my phone (Android) I don't hear any audio at all on the let's flirt and the last section (forget it's name).

It's completely broken. I reported it weeks ago and still dead.

I've enjoyed Duolingo but I think it's time to move on elsewhere. I need new variety in learning techniques anyway.


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

Interesting. Thank you. I was both happy with how much I understood and unhappy at how much I didn't. :)


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

Awesome. Keep pressing on!

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