https://www.duolingo.com/DrJake2

More advanced magyar lessons rife with inconsistencies and errors in translation to english.

I am very committed to learning magyar. However, as i advance to higher lessons, progression is constrained by the errors and inconsistencies in your program. I realize this program is a robot, but the value of duolingo becomes nil when it performs so poorly. Most of the errors are related to translations into english phrases that I (as a native U.S. person) would never use or find bulky and inefficient as the meaning can be assumed for instance by “we are not sitting down onto the table, but rather onto the chairs”. We would never bother to say i sat down onto the table. We might say i sat down upon, or i sat on the table. Niether was accepted. And more recently use of the verb ‘allni’ has been applied to a car driving (all) up to the fence and me walking (allok) up to the car.

I find myself wasting time by simply memorizing the correct answers for the retry rather than learning the language correctly. BTW, my wife is native hungarian. WE (and my kids) all use duolingo for other languages but do not experience the same poor quality at higher level lessons in spanish, german, and french.

In short the frustrations due to the poor job anticipating acceptable english translations and inconcistent or erratic use of vocabulary and verbage has left me with no desire to pursue your advanced lessons. Please vet and fix at your earliest.

All the best

Dr. Jake

January 13, 2019

26 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

I agree! I think choosing literal, word for word translations not only makes the English translations seem unnecessarily akward but it also disregards the flexible nature of Hungarian word order and phrasing. In my opinion, the whole course could use a serious overhaul.

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Angryfatcat

While I agree with the original post, I disagree with thinking the course needs a serious overhaul.

If there is a better online course than Duolingo for learning Hungarian, I have not found it. What the course needs is to have additional acceptable responses added to it. I think the only way that this can happen is by reporting it when you find it instead of just trying to memerise the exact phrasing.

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

I understand that resources for self-studying Hungarian are limited, but personally, I just don't think I could recommend the course for an absolute beginner as it currently is.

Just because there is nothing better around does not fix its serious issues. I do report errors and try to provide alternate translations when I come across them, but unfortunately this is about every fifth sentence and I am only reporting the really obvious ones. However, if you are learning from the course I commend you. I just worry it might turn some people off learning Hungarian or give them bad habits. However, I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who already speaks conversational Hungarian.. so I don't know what the experience is like for an absolute beginner.

As HirundoPanda says, this course is difficult even for native speakers, which shouldn't really be the case I think with a well thought out beginner course. Anyways, I am really not trying to downplay the efforts of the course creators, who probably worked very hard, but I see a lot of issues with what I have seen of the course. Not least of which is obscure, archaic English. It marked me wrong for not knowing the difference between a 'deer' and a 'roe deer'. (in English) and also for not knowing that a 'trotter' is a pig's knee, in the body section. I find this sort of ridiculous in a course designed to give someone a basic overview of the language.

The one good thing I can say, is I think the audio itself is very good. The speaker they recorded speaks well and clearly.

For anyone perservering through this course though, I commend you!

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Angryfatcat

I can completely understand your view on this. Unfortunately, I am an absolute beginner that has a need to learn Hungarian. Sadly, there is a lack of resources outside of Hungary to actually learn Hungarian. So, as they say, "in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king."

With regards to your examples, I think you are bumping into the differences between American English and British English. Neither of these terms are common in American English. In fact "Roe deer" refers to a European deer not found in the United States.

So while the course is Hungarian for English speakers, there can be significant differences between American and British English and it looks like this course is based upon the British syntax and not the American one.

I agree the audio is very good, but it is also a bit fast for beginners.

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

To me all deer are Bambi ;) The Foreign Service Institute also has a free Hungarian course online: http://www.fsi-language-courses.net/fsi-hungarian-basic-course/ however, I have never tried any of their courses, so have no idea on the quality (also, probably less fun than duolingo). I think Mango languages also offers Hungarian, but again, their courses seem to range more in quality.. and focus more on conversational topics, so I have no idea what the quality of their Hungarian course is like, but I enjoy using it to supplement other duolingo courses. Good luck with your studies!

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Angryfatcat

With regards to other courses, I'm either using or have tried all of them that I've found.

FSI - this is close to Pimsleur in content and style. It is oriented towards learning speaking basic phrases.

Mango - I'm using this on/off. I've found the format/features to be better in Duolingo (for Hungarian).

To date, the best I've found is Duolingo, with memrise courses to supplement and enhance. It would be nice if there was an official Tiny Cards deck for Duolingo.

The big thing I see missing in Duolingo that memrise has is the concept of spaced repetition. Of course you can go back and practice it on your own, but in Memrise, the space repetition is integrated into the learning pattern. This is something that could be done outside/independent of the course creation.

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/HirundoPrima

I have to congratulate you, Dr. Jake! A level 12 of Hungarian on Duolingo is quite the achievement.

As you can see, the Hungarian course is still in beta, which means it has some quality issues. Lessons are sometimes challanging even for me, a native Hungarian speaker, due to the inconsistencies and unnatural translations you mentioned.

In my opinion the overly elaborate and so unnatural translations are there to make you understand the exact meaning of the Hungarian sentence and so teach you the nuances. Yet correct translations are still not accepted in many cases. If your correct answer is not accepted, report it. I do that, and I get a ton of e-mails telling me, that now they accept the translation I reported.

Keep up the good work!

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BrandedBastard

Hard for me too, as native Hungarian speaker. But i find it useful, because the logic and vocabulary of the Hun->En / En->Hun courses are very different. (Sorry for the mistakes!)

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

What is your opinion of the quality of the Hungarian sentences themselves? Do they sound like natural Hungarian to you, or more like literal translations from English (following English word order, prepositions, etc.?

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BrandedBastard

The sentences are very unnatural and much harder like in the English course. They sound like a perverted Grammar teacher's sadistic lessons. :D After the first two checkpoints it seems impossible for me to 'Test out of' lessons.

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/HirundoPrima

They doesn't sound natural in Hungarian in many cases, but not the way, if they were translated from English (think about the unnatural English translations), but they are too... how to say it? They are too sofisticated, unconstrained or finicking.

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/jzsuzsi

Yes, they look like grammar book sentences.

Can you suggest some more natural sentences we could include in the second tree version?

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

Finicky is exactly it! My Hungarian is a bit colloquial/ kitchen Hungarian I suppose, but that was my feeling too. I think I wouldn't even mind if the English sentences were off so much if the Hungarian ones just seemed a bit more natural. The sentences seem technically correct, but I cannot imagine a real person phrasing things that way. At least I know it is not just me now!

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

The examples in DL match the style we learnt at Summer School. So possibly literary rather than colloquial.

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

Thanks Judit! So far I have only read a few children's books in Hungarian (very slowly) so they probably don't use as literary language (but they make up for it in puns). Good to know that the course matches other teaching standards.

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

You might have failed to notice that the course is in Beta. Well, it's in Beta. I find these self-important declarations from relatively new users pretty annoying to be honest. As if one more person adding him or herself to the multitudes observing that there are difficulties making use of the course is somehow going to magically change the reality that it's a titanic amount of work to get a course like this out of beta (and "out of beta" certainly does not mean "fully mature" either) — a titanic amount of work done by volunteers, incidentally.

The relevance of the situation with the French, Spanish, or German courses escapes me. They're not in beta. They're much closer to English. They have paid contributors. None of these things apply to Hungarian. Why would one expect the situation to be similar?

January 15, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

Isn't part of the point of Beta though is that contributors should be open to feedback and constructive critism? I hope the volunteers who made the course take these comments in stride.

January 15, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/bookrabbit

They are adding new answers all the time. İ reported lots of correct answers and am continuously getting emails to say they have added them even though İ haven't used the couse in nearly a year. Hopefully it will be a better experience when İ find the time to review it. Just today İ got yet another flying kindergarten teacher answer accepted. You have to remember it is a team of volunteers working on the course. They do a fantastic job. When a course uses complicated sentences the number of possible translations can be enormous. It is inevitable that many are missing especially in the later sections as the bulk of reports will be for the earlier sections as more people try those and they will be dealt with first.

The Ukrainian course used to be notorious for not having correct answers accepted but I just went through it again and didn't have a problem, they had fixed it up nicely. It just takes time. Try to enjoy being part of the course building. I rather like the fact that I have probably contributed at least a thousand sentences to duolingo courses.

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

I think one of the problems is the sentences have to be reversible. I suspect the formal phrasing of the English may be to help learners translate into Hungarian (because then the in/into on/onto etc are important). Or then again it might be because the contributors do not have strong enough idiomatic English.

Wrt to -ba/-ban/-ból, ra/-on/-ról, etc my first week (30 hours) was spent on this at the Debrecen Summer School. It is not straightforward. (And this was without preverbs from memory)

January 13, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/jzsuzsi

About on and onto.... take this two sentences. Kati a széken ül. Kati a székre ül.

These are clearly different sentences, one shows position, the second shows movement. The first is Kati is sitting on the chair in English. What should be the best English translation of the second? Kati sits onto/ on / upon the chair. Kati is sitting down on the chair.

Let's says we chose Kati is sitting down on the chair. Then the best Hungarian translation is Kati leül a székre. But we must include the original sentence as well. I am sure some people will complain "where is le? Le was not included in the word bank"

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

These are exactly the kind of sentences that drive me crazy. 'Katy sits on the chair' and/or 'Katy is sitting down on the chair' I think are the obvious ways to translate both these sentences into English. Hungarian is not the only course with these problems.. how do you convey the difference between imparfait and passé composé to an English speaker.. when they often map unto the same past tense in English?

I think the way to do it is not try to translate prepositions with painstaking literacy, but rather provide examples with a bit more context. Like.. maybe 'Katie arrives at the table and sits on her chair' (not the best example perhaps) but the set up indicates to an English speaker the idea that movement would need to take place. As opposed something like: to 'Katy and her friend are sitting on their chairs and talking' The sentences don't need to be over-elaborate, just provide a bit of context. Maybe my examples are not the best, I am just brainstorming, but this is my idea at least of how I see these difficulties handled in other courses.

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

Kati a széken ül. Kati a székre ül.

The problem is in English, the natural translation for both is "Kati sits on the chair". Whether or not movement is involved is not normally included.

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MissSpells

Yes. That is why I was suggesting that I think the sentence could include a little extra context, to guide the learner in which is correct. I realize it is not easy to convey this distinction in English, but that is how I see other courses dealing with similar issues. Has Katy just arrived at the table? or has she been there for a while? this would help determine which to use. Maybe this means some skills would need to be shifted around though. These are my observations on how I see other courses dealing with similar problems.

January 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcoC2018

After long months on this course, I think that in the creator's team is missing someone with native knowledge of English language (I am not native too, so no criticism is intended). My impression is that you all are Hungarian that know English as a second language. A native us/English that knows some Hungarian in your team would be very effective IMO

January 15, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/piguy3

To the best of my knowledge, there is one. It's simply a very large task.

January 15, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Elloughton

I agree with much of what has been said; particularly the suggestion that it would be helpful to have a native English speaker on the team. Another concern of mine is that many of the users of the course are not native English speakers, so they are getting a distorted view of that language. However, I must add that I am very glad of the course, and it does seem to be improving slowly but surely.

January 17, 2019
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