The best kinds of sentences
What are your favourite types of sentences found in Duolingo?
Personally I like to see translations of pop culture phrases, e.g. Vintro venas "Winter is coming" (actually I remember seeing that one in several courses), or Vi bezonos pli grandan boaton "You're gonna need a bigger boat".
Another thing I like is silly sentences which make you use your imagination, e.g. Hilfe, das Pferd frisst die heilige Kartoffel! "Help, the horse is eating the holy potato!"
Every time I see people complain that e.g. Duolingo doesn't teach them the exact sentence "Where is the toilet?" I die a little inside.
What's your take?
Refreshing post. I'm with you all the way, particularly with your penultimate sentence! I groan a little when I read "But we wouldn't say that in English". I like fun sentences that make me smile, and more importantly make me remember; è questo il tuo pinguino? (Is this your penguin?), my favourite among many others about ants and sugar and grandparents;-)
Hey, unrelated, but I see you learn Italian.
Is it 'L'inverno sta arrivando' or L'inverno è arrivando'?
Ciao Chef. I would say Winter has arrived - l'inverno è arrivato. Winter is coming - l'inverno sta arrivando. Winter comes - Arriva l'inverno .....I'm happy to be corrected, as always.
I think present progressive in English with future meaning translates into Italian future tense: l'inverno arriverà. 'L'inverno sta arrivando' would mean winter is coming as we speak and i don't think 'L'inverno è arrivando' is grammatical. mamma mia!
Birds read newspapers. Bears drink beer. People drink the cat’s milk. Everyone drinks oil. And there is a holy potato you must protect from the horse.
Welcome to Duoworld.
How many legs are there for two buffaloes and twelve owls?
People think too much. And feel too little.
I think it's time to buy a washing machine.
My personal favorite: "Los caballos colecionaban dientes." (My horses used to collect teeth.)
Yeahh people who say that annoy me too. You're learning the language, figure it out yourself! That's another valuable thing about silly sentences, it makes people think of sentences on their own when they need them.
for my favorite sentences, probably all the ones in german that are.... somewhat creepy? like, not super creepy but just creepy enough to make you awkwardly laugh, like
du gehörst mir - You belong to me
die korper sind klein(?) - The bodies are small
among others, Russian also has some funny sentences, like (I don't have a Russian keyboard so no Russian version sORRY)
What is opera? Is it when fat people sing?
Life is suffering.
I like variety and surprises that you cannot simply guess as "logical". When I think of real sentences I hear and say in Hungary - none match the "sensible" subset some people think will be useful. You need to think.
The silly sentences are great. No, they will never be useful in real life but they are easier to remember because they're so weird. Remembering them is often helpful for grammar, sometimes vocabulary as well.
Two of my favourites I've run into many times (and that I'm sure many of you will recognize in English):
"Wróg mojego wroga jest moim przyjacielem." = The enemy of my enemy is my friend.
"Być albo nie być, to jest pytanie." = To be or not to be, that is the question.
The first one really helped me memorize the word for 'enemy', and also some case forms.
Hungarian sentences about kindergarten teachers: "The kindergarten teacher is walking on the water." Vietnamese sentences about bats at the train station. And of course, the already-mentioned rhinoceros sentences in Dutch.
I love the holy potato (I don't know why it doesn't get a look-in in the lessons on religion). However, I can learn nothing and say nothing sensible when my bladder is burstingly, full so please make sure "where is the toilet" is retained for all time in all tongues!
In Dutch, I like sentences that use the rhinoceros. That animal sure gets around. hee hee
Just remembered. When I was living in Vietnam, I actually saw those words on a wall mural with a painting of a rhino. Who says Duolingo doesn't prepare you with goofy sentences?
It's an interesting question.
I don't have a particular favorite though admire a writer's ability to test out grammar.
Las mujeres rezaban por la reina.
So plural, the imperfect, por or para all in one simple sentence which none of us would ever use outside of Duolingo.
I find it amusing when I come across those silly sentences and don't even bat an eye at them - too many fairy tales, I guess. XD
For me, personally, the best sentences are ones that I will either use a lot, or which I will laugh about. Sometimes both - e.g. I have made a habit of exclaiming "Der Himmel fällt!" (The sky is falling!) when it rains. Occasionally I answer English questions in German, then translate immediately afterwards. Other phrases I use when speaking with native German speakers, particularly when we're talking in German and I don't understand something.
I understand what you mean when people complain that sentences aren't "relevant" or "useful." It pains me to see such posts - if they're learning the language, they can use their knowledge to form those phrases for themselves. It's not exactly hard.
As for popular quotes, that's an idea I actually hadn't considered using for German - but I just might now. I did that at one point for Latin class, of which I remember only one.
"Gladium non requiro, quia Doctor sum. Et hoc meum cochlear est."
Volgav vitsenanieff nivya kevach varatsach.
I got this one from Anki, but my favorite is "comment dit vous "au revoir" en francais".
I think it is better to be added as ((Bonus Skills)) for those who want it. It wouldn't be a good idea to see them in language tree lessons.
I noticed that the Ukrainian course often times comes up with depressing sentences. "I'm sad." "He doesn't love her." "I have no friends." I mean, I know Ukraine is the second-most poor country in Europe. Considering its size, that's depressing in and of itself. In recent years, the crime rate and civil disputes have made it one of the least safe countries in the world (according to Global Finance).
Still, the sentences in the Ukrainian course aren't as weird as one might think. Most of the sentences are quite normal. Just depressing. I think it's because the course was developed just a few years ago, after the main languages developed their materials in their respective courses. It also has actual human-speakers, which might have been part of it. One sentence in particular which drives everyone nuts is in the religious skill: "Gods know everything." A structurally fine sentence, yet every religious person has to comment that the sentence is incorrect and that there is only one "god". As an atheist, I just enjoy the drama that the sentence has created.
But in German, I think the most memorable I've encountered so far is "The child eats insects." Such a classic. (Duolingo closed the commenting within the discussion area for this exercise, yet it still shows almost 100 downvotes. I love the fact that the sentence still exists.)
I think Hindus would disagree, but I imagine there aren't a large number of Hindu followers learning Ukranian. I am not up on my Hindu but I suspect you might get a lively discussion over exactly which ones know everything and which don't.
For some reason, I find even creepier than "the child eats insects" the one (I think in French to German) about the boy eating twenty beetles. Why, oh why do we have to know the exact number?!
I don’t mind the funny sentences. They can be amusing, but I do think some more practical sentences would be nice. I get that the funny sentences are there to teach grammar and structure, but some more useful sentences would be nice.
I took up Memrise this year and realized after two years of German there were a lot of useful phrases that I didn’t know, like “I have to pee”. Now I understand Duo doesn’t want to teach travel phrases, but it could use a more healthy mix.
Yep, little cultural easter eggs make the learning go easier. I resent people making alegedly cute comments on the sentences threads as that wastes the time of volunteers who give their time to help others out, but inside the course it's all colour and i love it.
I also love the way that some phrases from the courses make it into the origional language lexicon.
The phrase 'mi fartas bone ĉar mi havas anason' - I'm doing well because I have a duck - from the duolingo esperanto course has now become a widespread joke amoung the worldwide esperanto community, ( ok there are only two or three million of us so it is a comparatively small group) to the extent that internationally renowned esperantists share pictures of themselves with a duck at various world congresses and conferences to give others a chuckle.