https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco

"Embrace and share regional language differences"

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Hey everyone, I've noticed a lot of bickering in the sentence discussions about language use and thought it might help if we addressed it here, instead of clogging the SDs.

Sometimes, your preferred translation is not accepted and that can be very frustrating. English is a pluricentric language. There is no one standard version we can look to. In the US along, we have many ways of saying the same thing. This is part of what makes the language rich and colorful.

If you translation isn't accepted, you can use the Report Button to suggest it. Just keep a few things in mind. Multiple reports do not speed things up. They just make the process slower. Actual human beings must sort through them all. Most of the reports actually contain errors. A common one is leaning instead of learning. We're all capable of missing a letter like that, but those types of reports slow down the system.

If you do report it, you don't need post it in the forum. The report is enough. One post letting others know it's been reported is great, but I often see a dozen posts like, "my answer is right! Reported!!!". Often, real questions are pushed to the button by these unnecessary posts.

Another problem I've been noticing is intolerance for dialect differences. From the guidelines https://www.duolingo.com/guidelines

"Embrace and share regional language differences A language can have many words, accents and ways to say the same thing. We think that’s one of the wonders of languages. Approach these conversations with an open mind and attitude."

I'll use a recent example to illustrate this. One user posted a few comments critical of Duolingo's translation:

"The English is wrong again: at a quarter to five."

"The English is incorrect, it should be at a quarter past eight."

Duolingo's choice of "a quarter of" isn't wrong. Both should be accepted, but please don't tell Duo to remove a valid translation. Ironically, the same user was insulted that "changeroom" be accepted next to dressing room and changing room.

Before you post "we would never say it like this," take a second to think about the purpose of your post. Does it help anyone learn or understand the Spanish? Duolingo isn't slighting you by not using your particular dialect.

I think we should all read the guidelines again.

https://www.duolingo.com/guidelines

I also want to remind everyone that the sentence discussions are there to discuss the sentence itself and understand the Spanish. We moderators have to clean the clutter from time to time, so don't be surprise that your off topic post or duplicate might get deleted. It is nothing personal or petty. We are just enforcing the rules of the forum.

Thanks everyone. I'll just go back to tilting at windmills :)

1 month ago

16 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/ignatznkrazy
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Duolingo may encourage embracing regional language differences, but there is clearly a line. Duolingo does not accept all variations. I am from the South, and I know that none of the dialectical richness of Southern English is accepted by Duolingo.

Now, I'm not advocating that "ain't" and a slew of double negative phrases be admitted, but I do think that if a line is drawn, those who are drawing it must be prepared for those encountering the line to feel it to be arbitrary or worthy of challenging.

Does debating English help anyone learn Spanish? Perhaps not, but it does help people learn English. Don't discount the number of people doing reverse trees (alongside those who don't remember any of the grammar they learned in grade school). The best source for me to learn natural phrasing in Spanish--to learn to think like a native speaker--has been all of the people from Spain complaining about English calques on the Spanish-to-English tree.

There are opportunities to learn everywhere.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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The line will always be arbitrary and annoy some people. The fact that there's a Report Button shows that Duo is willing to listen.

Accepting more is good. It's also important that we don't demean people who suggest regional variations. In on SD, a user demanded Duo remove y'all and you guys since it was "improper".

There's also Duolingo's (correct) usage of fun as a noun and an adjective :). I'm not sure how grammar can offend, but people become rabbid over certain things, with no regard for respect.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/tusiperu
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I really thought the complainings about "we don't say it like that" were only a matter on Spain/Latin Spanish. But, hey, English as well?

For me, reverse tree and comments of native speakers have been really great to learn french. You're absolutely right.

It is also true there's a lot of people saying all the time "my phrase should be accepted", and nothing more. Not even the phrase they write to see what the problem was. Not helpful.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AaronD.2
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I see a lot of Brits complain about this in the English to Spanish course. The most recent one I saw was complaining that the sentence Duolingo wanted would never be said in the UK, because the 'American version' Duo wanted was incorrect.

Turns out the phraseology being complained of was not only correct, but there was a slightly different meaning between the phrases because of it.

And multiple other Brits replied to him saying that it's not uncommon at all.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Heike333145
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Thank you! And a few lingots for the windmill job. :-)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16
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Good start to the New Year. We all need to read this post and keep it in mind when commenting. Thanks Danielconcasco.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Maltagerr

My version of English is the only correct version of English.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Seattle_scott
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I realize that Duo can't accept all translations, and some of the requests are far fetched. I also realize that sometimes for the sake of the format of the exercises that sometimes we need to be limited to the more obvious.

That being said, there are a lot of sentences in all the languages that don't accept very obvious answers, and some of those dreadful discussion threads help me a lot, so I know I'm not crazy. It's also helpful for me to see how long the issue has been there. So for me it is helpful to have someone report it and then put it in the forum. And sometimes it's even helpful to see it more than once.

All that being said, you mods do what you do and clean the threads the way you see fit. Good online forums need good moderation and nobody should be all bent out of shape if their comment goes missing.

Lastly, it would be nice to see Duo put more effort into fixing those with paid staff and not rely so heavily on volunteers for this kind of thing. It's a lot to ask...

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AbbyLuvsSpanish1

I have been wanting to say something like this for a while ,but I feel like you did a better job than I ever could have. Thanks for this wonderful post!

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Thank you.

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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I'm glad the people responded positively to this. People need to stop acting like regional English is bad English or shameful English.

Every time "fun" is used as an adjective people come out of the woodwork to say, "it's never used like that!" When it's pointed out that Americans use it as an adjective, they say it's improper. If you remove all regional English, there isn't much left :)

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sguthrie1

Dan,

I don't think this is true. "If you remove all regional English, there isn't much left.)

What is "left" is the standard English that is taught in English classes in the U.S. They same standard English is used in newspapers and magazines. and used by TV newscasters. That is definitely a lot of English.

To me, it is fascinating to listen to Hispanic commentators, or Black commentators, when they switch from standard English to their more "natural?" colloquial English. and then back. (I don't like the term "natural" that so many use. It don't really know what it means.) They clearly know the difference, and have learned standard English.

Many non-native speakers who wish to go to a college/university in the U.S. need to pass the TOEFL test. The TOEFL test is based on standard English (as is taught by English teachers).

The SAT tests and the ACT tests, used for college admissions, are also based in standard English (the English taught in English classes).

I suspect it's hard enough for English learners, and DUO assistants, to learn/keep up with standard English.

In addition, having taught writing (in English) to first year and second year students at three different universities, I know that many "native speakers" do not write well. That is, I too often read sentences and paragraphs that simply make no sense.

I suggest that Duo should focus on standard English, just as do English teachers. (And I believe that Duo is doing that currently -- I'm suggesting the resist the calls for change.) Yes, I can read and understand non-standard English, but the job of English teachers is to teach standard English.

When I taught in Maine, my college students could easily shift from "Maine-speak" to standard English. But they wrote in standard English-- they understood the differences.

They same is true of my professional colleagues from the South. They know and can speak "southern English", but they write in standard English.

I have taught many international students. I apply the same standards to them as I do to U.S. students. I have colleagues from Japan, Spain, England, Romania, Turkey, Venezuela, etc. , who all write in good standard English. Standard U.S. English is the standard in the U.S. for educated and professional people, including business leaders.

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Danielconcasco
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Here is some of the "regional English" that I've been told shouldn't be included:

apartment fridge hood (of a car) color favor honor truck pants (when not referring to underwear) soccer sidewalk highway any word ending in -ize

:)

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/nEjh0qr4
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sguthrie, I support the use of standard (yes, even "civilized" :) ) English as you define it, but also appreciate that DL will also consider/accept regional (especially UK) variations. The variations don't have to be the default answer, only accepted if someone uses them.

One of the joys I have found in studying on DL is learning about different ways of saying the same thing, stuck as I am in my early-20th-century-English-teacher mother's standards! I enjoyed learning that that "washing up" is washing dishes in UK English. I also loved hearing that "Ma'am" is still generally accepted in the US south. And, I certainly never realized before that there could be such emotional attachment to the proper way to say a date, to use the word "fun," or whether/when to use "sir(s)"!

Finally, I applaud the many people with different skills in English who are trying to learn another language. They all want to know how to translate the ways they usually say things. I believe Duo should encourage that by accepting non-standard variations, even when the default answer is in standard English.

(Daniel, please note that this post has used "standard" English according to sguthrie's terms.)

1 week ago

https://www.duolingo.com/samuel553514
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I THINK THE SAME

1 month ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ejH5MD
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Thank you for your clear explanation! There are times I think that people see it as a personal affront when their answer is wrong and they think it will help by repeating their dissatisfaction. Come on, folks, we are all learning!

2 weeks ago
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