Yes. I am surprised that people would think of this as originating from English in any way. The systematic use of belt colour to denote rank was first used in Japan by Jigoro Kano, the founder of judo in the 1880s. The best known martial arts forms are all Asian, but have international participation. I assume the origin was Japanese.
You can take any reference I make to Asia or Asian as referring to East Asia. East Asia reflects the area of the greatest similarities among the cultures there. Actually, you can often see cultural similarities based on continent. But the "Middle East" has its own similarities that vary from each of the three continents that it takes up.
@LoliChaj I am surprised about your comment about my life and your negative rating that you gave me, I suppose. Do you really think that site which you mentioned is "German"? It's a very bad translation, with many errors and meaningless phrases. Maybe there are some groups which use this expression "Sie IST ein schwarzer Gürtel" ("She is a black belt") as a technical term in some parts of Germany. But it definitly is NOT standard or every-day-German. I HAVE (ich habe) the blue belt and I am teacher of german writing. So it's somewhat funny you rating me in German.
Being a black belt is a martial arts designation. There is a system of colored belts, white being the lowest (doesn't require any degree proficiency) and black is the highest, although there are different "degrees". This term is not German or Italian or English or American. It was developed in the 1880s in Japan for Judo, and has been adapted, with some changes, for other martial arts.
@ LoliChaj! Thanks for your answer. I understand that the expression ("to be a black belt") is actually beeing used in the international area of martial arts. It was not during my active time (1990s) in my Karate-club in Vienna.
But we got a bit distant from my starting point. I think, it's like different speech levels. One will use an expression in one context, and not in another one. For Karate practictioners it may well be the most accurate form of expression, better than "to have a belt". I am glad having learnt something new even in my nativ language. Perhaps in some years the martial-art-community will have convinced the society and we all get used to this expression.
But still I consider it a correct specific expression inside a specific context. And in reference to Fiyalka2, I just wanted to inform, that in German it definitly is not commonly used.
"Sie IST ein schwarzer Gürtel": 8 results (google) (only 4 of them not machine-translated).
"Sie HAT einen schwarzen Gürtel": 13.400 results.
@StephanDob1 No, I didn't, I just explained. I never give a negative rating when I interact with somebody.
I don't think anything about THAT site, just took the first one, but just about the language. You try to google yourself "Sie (oder Er) ist..." and you will find a lot of examples. Or try to ask somebody who practices martial arts. It's the same as "he is gold medal". It's just normal for this area of life and of the world… Tschüss and good luck
It would be too simple and not quite confusing enough. Plus, the context would be right and that we can't have ;)
Perhaps we should have the developers of the English course introduce sentences like "This takes the cake" in the context of food, then explain to the learners that "cake" isn't the point. The sentence refers to something else entirely.
One of the most important components to communication is always missing on Duo - context. Admittedly some Duo exercises are a little strange, but most of the strange reactions to sentences that people have on Duo is the first context they use to interpret them would make it strange, although another one may well exist to make it sound more "normal".
A ridiculous choice of sentence in a beginners course, especially since colors are taught on the same level with clothes (and not martial arts). Given your choice of words "she's in martial arts and HAS a black belt" the translation "she has a black belt" should be accepted. If she IS a black belt, she HAS a black belt. Logic dictates it.
In Italy we say "la ragazza è una cintura nera" meaning that she is an expert in martial arts.
We have a lot of this kind of expression: we use a tipical piece of livery to indicate the person's role.
- "Quell'uomo è un ghisa" = That man is a cast iron (=traffic policeman)" for the typical hat;
- "Lei è un camice bianco" = She is a *White coat" (=doctor) it should be the same in English, I think;
- "Lui è un colletto bianco" = He is a white collar";
This is very tricky considering the fact that the topic is colors (taught on the same level with clothes) and not martial arts. The point is not to trick the student into making a mistake or catching the fact that they didn't think of various secondary meanings but to ACTUALLY teach them something. Or test their knowledge of the material. Ridiculous choice of sentence given the context.
I believe this will fully cover your question.
This exercise is designed to make you depend on your knowledge of Italian and not your expectations to translate. Most people have heard someone referred to as a blackbelt, but our instinct here is nevertheless to change è to ha, although no one should actually confuse those two at this point in the course.
I suppose since I am also a black belt, this held no problem for me. :) I came to the discussion thinking I would see who else commented that they are also in martial arts. I figured it would be a discussion on styles and ranks. Imagine my surprise that people were confused by the meaning of the sentence!!! I had no idea!
There was a girl/woman who said that this exercise was appropriate because she was on her way to martial arts class. I think some of the people were more thrown because they were looking for this to mean something specific to Italian. If you don't do martial arts it won't be the first thing that comes to mind in an Italian course. I had come in here when I first got this exercise just to confirm my understanding, since idioms in different languages could be different.
Jay - Well that may well have become the ambition of that girl in the third Karate Kid movie. About the only thing that I remember about that movie is that it was filmed in and around my old high school. I am never sure with comments like this whether you are unaware of martial arts terminology, and therefore don't understand how a person can "be" a black belt, or whether you don't think a girl might have that goal.
I miei due centesimi (my two cents)
Anche in portoghese si può dire allo stesso modo: "A garota é uma faixa preta" (La ragazza è una cintura nera)
Ma il più comune sarebbe senza l'articolo indefinito (uno) "A garota é faixa preto" in aikido. Quello che credo è il modo più comune di esprimermi in portoghese brasiliano.
Anche la traduzione in inglese mi ha confuso molto, per questo motivo avrei tradotto "The girl has a black belt" IMVHO Direi "has a black belt" invece di "is a black belt"
Ad ogni modo se lei "ha" una cintura nera in qualche arte marziale (meglio se fosse stato aikido) sia in italiano che in portoghese, IMHO, lei "diventa" una cintura nera.
Even though the phrase is correct, as others have pointed, in my opinion it's not good to put such a sentence in a begginers course. It's the type of thing that only confuses learners. Perhaps this sentence should be placed in the SPORTS subject. Or maybe something else. In the "Colors" subject, in my opinion, it's a little early and confusing for people.
I am assuming that Italian is like English, since the martial art belt system is imported in both countries. In English you can say someone has or holds a black belt, but it is at least as common to say that someone is a black belt. Here's a site that tracks black belt in English sentences, and is is very much used.
To be honest, I suspect that Duo was checking that we were paying attention, but this is legitimate.
Well to the extent that people are totally unfamiliar with being a black belt in martial arts it is a less helpful exercise. But the exercise is extremely helpful for those who are familiar with martial arts black belts. The idea is that people will change what they hear to something else if it seems to make more sense, but the sentence that makes "more sense" may not be the correct one. If you hear a verb you aren't expecting, there are two possibilities. One is that the expression in Italian uses a different verb. That would be a different standard usage which is important to learn. The other is the meaning is not what you think it is. That's when you try to figure out what being a black belt means. If a native English speaker told you that someone is a black belt, you wouldn't assume that they meant they had one. You would ask what it means.
In the normal world: a new thing comes up, one googles it or reads the first comment on this page and learns a new thing.
But in the Duolingo world, if one does not understand something, one doesn't read any of the comments and refuses any explanation while covering their eyes and ears.
Maybe the point is not to make people think about martial arts, but to have an example that sticks better in memory, exactly because it is unusual? I mean it's not as if all the questions/examples/exercises or whatever you call them are weird. That indeed wouldn't make sense. But an occasional one, a specific idiom, to make you stumble mentally - I don't see a problem with that.
Given the size of this thread - yes, maybe this sentence at that level was not such a great idea. I just don't understand why this is considered such a huge issue. As I mentioned in another comment, there are courses that throw deliberate nonsense sentences at you, and the students are rather amused than annoyed. I somehow get the impression that a lot of the commenters here feel offended, and I don't know by what. It just feels like making a mountain out of a molehill to me. But that's just me, seems I am in the minority...
I agree, it is very much"Much Ado About Nothing"but unfortunately the teachers on this course are quite rigid and frankly have a way of putting down learners which personally I find offending and disturbing. Some suggestions could be taken into account when it is obvious that the translations they offer in the target language are absurd,and at times even stupid. Some learners may have a background that could help with the target language. I suggest all these postings related to a really unimportant sentence from every possible perspective should come to an end.I am , and I should have been done with it long ago. Now that is final , as far as I am concerned.
Just to be clear, in English you can say both when talking about the martial arts skill level. You generally hear has in a case where someone has different skill levels in different martial arts disciplines. I wouldn't be surprised if the same were true in Italian. But, obviously, most language students wouldn't think of the martial arts if the sentence said "has". They would probably think of a leather belt.
you did not check. you commented AGAIN (like many others) and you said something that's AGAIN not true ;)
For example, you can CHECK and learn here or in google or with your friends: http://www.grapplerinfo.pl/ile-wart-jest-czarny-pas-bjj/
If you want this sentence to make sense, watch the movie, The Karate Kid. "Being" a black belt in the martial arts is another way to say that someone possesses that martial arts ranking. There are different "degrees" to a black belt, but a black belt is the highest color in the rankings.
In the martial arts, people earn belts of different colors based on their abilities. A black belt is the highest level, although there are degrees added on. People who earn their black belt are both said to have a black belt and be a black belt. Here is a discussion of famous people who "are" (or were) black belts
I personally have less issues with romance languages about gender equality. When objects have gender and you have to use masculine and feminine forms to agree with any nouns, it's saying something different to use them for occupation or other personal designations. In English the ONLY words that have/had two forms were these. In Spanish, however, there is some movement to at least come up with gender neutral forms in the abstract. They change the o or a to x. (latinx) That won't work in Italian because they don't use x and don't end words in consonants. Since they have already used a, e, i and o, that leaves u. But I don't know if centuru neru would ever catch on.
It would be weird for those that are unfamiliar with this terminology in the martial arts. In the martial arts one can be either said to have or to be a black belt. If you are familiar it just causes a little double take. After several Karate Kid movies, I guess Duo assumed most people would be familiar with it.
I actually think it's sort of a brilliant sentence for Duo, although you do have to understand the difference in English as well. This is a very basic sentence grammatically and has easy vocabulary. But the unexpected verb has people double checking their work. Understanding the less common sentences is what gives you a feeling of success which promotes some confidence in your Italian.
Duolingo is not a phrase book. It isn't teaching you phrases it thinks you will need. It is teaching you to form and understand whatever Italian sentences you may need. This sentence demonstrates vocabulary, one conjugation of the verb essere, and the agreement between the noun and adjective. But most importantly it is teaching you to pay attention. You have to notice that the verb is essere and not avere as would be a more common sentence talking about clothing accessories. Phrasebooks are mostly for tourists because tourists have very predictable questions and statements. I don't know you, but I know when you travel you have to stay somewhere, probably eat out more, ask for directions, perhaps exchange money, etc. Any language program knows basic things that you are going have to talk about, but no one can know exactly what you are going to have to say on any day. One thing language does is describe your current unique situation. You may not have ever said a sentence no one has said before, but you probably have said a sentence in your native language that you had never heard spoken many times.
I am not quite sure what you are trying to say, since English isn't your native language. But this sentence doesn't mean the girl has a black belt. That would be La ragazza ha una cintura nera. This is the girl IS a black belt. Being a black belt is a skill level in the martial arts like Karate or Judo.
In terms of rankings on the martial arts one can be said either to be a black belt or to have one. Neither is wrong. But the Italian says is, so you can't use has. I think they chose it intentionally to see if people were paying attention. But Duo may have overestimated the number of people who know about black belts. It's been a while now since the Karate Kid.
A sentence that needs to be explained and defended is a sentence that needs to be corrected. It's only obstinacy that keeps it unchanged. That, plus the developers want to show how much cleverer they are than regular mortals. So, they offered a sentence about a title in a context of clothes and colors. Pretty cheap.
The whole sentence indicates that. It's like saying there is no indication that it is about a sport if you said He is a point guard. I am barely sports literate, but I recognize basic terminology. The indication is that that's the meaning that makes sense. It shouldn't surprise you that the colored system of belts was not an invention in the English language. The only situation that could result in someone "being" a colored belt is martial arts.
I agree with you. The example is stupid and I do not think that playing sophist Mr. Bubba1294 will help the sentence out of the gutter. In this particular lesson we, students are supposed to learn colours and the sentence provided if the intention is to talk about proficiency in karate , should give a little background for the students to give the correct translation.
Black belts are for more than just karate, y'know. It's hard to reach adulthood without having some familiarity with the concept of black belts/colored belts for martial art rankings, so it's really not a difficult sentence. It sounds funny at first ("she's a literal belt that is black?") and then you use your brain, which has theoretically had a lifetime of cultural osmosis, to go "OH she's a BLACK BELT."
This is pretty basic stuff.
Pleeeeaaase. The sentence is a trap, chosen precisely to set a trap. It is provided to beginners of Italian in the context of colors and clothes (taught at the same level). It is uttered quickly counting on the fact that few will associate "belt" with martial arts rather than articles of clothing. If I were to develop a beginners course for English language learners and offer the sentence "She's in the pink" in the context of clothes and colors, wouldn't that be tricky? And then patronize everyone, "Hey, foolish beginners, the sentence was very clear. Why don't you use your brains?" Right ;)
I agree with you. When you have a sentence so many people flag, you'd think the developers would understand they should change it. Yes, the sentence is grammatically correct and yes, it makes sense in the context of martial arts. But it is nevertheless a trap. Uttered fast and in the context of clothes and colors (yes, the wrong context), it becomes a trap. So many people commented that they had trouble with this sentence yet it is kept unchanged out of sheer stubbornness. Look at us, aren't we clever. We can talk about a title in a context of clothes and colors, and trick so many of you. Kudos to us.
It doesn't even need context. Have you never heard of any martial art before in your life? People get different rankings depending on how good they are... one such ranking being a black belt. If you thought about it for half a second instead of complaining, you'd have probably realized that.
Yes, it needs a context. You shouldn't have a sentence about a title in the context of colors and clothes. The point is to teach not to trap. What precisely have the developers taught by going with a martial arts title? Besides, have you ever seen someone who IS a black belt but doesn't HAVE a black belt? Ridiculous.
Googling "Cintura nera" you see this: https://www.google.com.br/search?q=cintura+nera&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=RnTtUcSyIIvC9QTmnoDoBQ&biw=1517&bih=700&sei=SXTtUZOIHJCK9ASg0IDwCw
;) pics speaks more than words
Yes, "essere" is used because the sentence is actually saying that she has achieved a certain martial art skill level and not that she is simply possessing a black belt.
- "La mia ragazza è cintura nera di karate. = My girlfriend is black belt in karate."
- "Chuck Norris è cintura nera di taekwondo."
- "Mia moglie è cintura nera di shopping." :p
It's a bit of a confusing sentence to present to someone learning a language, I don't see why it couldn't just be 'La Ragazza ha'. Having it as 'La Ragazza è' will realistically only create confusion without teaching anyone anything of importance. Plus, going from clothes to martial arts just doesn't make sense!
I really don't see where the problem is. The verb is essere so how can one translate it as 'have'?
The sentence itself is clear enough and belong to the realm of martial arts, which are not confined to Italy and Far East alone. Not knowing the belt system of such an ancient and noble form of fighting is not Duolingo's fault.
The problem is that the sentence is uttered very fast and in a context absolutely devoid of references to martial arts. For a native speaker it may not be a problem but for someone just starting to learn the language it is a trap. The point is not to trick people into choosing the wrong answer. The point is to teach. And by making the choice "is a black belt" instead of "has a black belt" the developers taught nothing. They just set a trap. If this sentence had been offered in the context of martial arts, it would have been a different issue. But it isn't. An analogy in English would be to teach absolute beginners about colors and offer them a sentence with "in the pink." Now wouldn't that be tricky.
I don't know if after 9 months this will be read as answer, anyway: I agree it is a bit much to expect a context specific idiom to be understood by beginners. I also think that "the girl has a black belt" probably should be an accepted answer, if the presented sentence is "la ragazza è una cintura", I am not 100% certain of the equivalence, though. However, I do not see all that being a big problem for several reasons. The point of criticism has nothing to do with the subject of the lesson, which is "colours". The word in question is not "black"="nera" but the verb "is/has"="é/ha". I don't think there's a problem with translating "black" as "nera" here, right? OK, you're not having the expected answer on the first try, so what? Did you bet any money on your answer? Is getting it wrong hindering you from progressing in the course and giving the expected answer next time? What else have you lost but a bit of time and maybe ego? In exchange at least you gathered an extra piece of information on the side! Making errors is part of the learning process anyway. Guess what, there are courses in other languages (Dutch for instance) that throw you nonsense sentences on purpose! (like "Ik ben een appel" = "I am an apple", and that is not an idiom!) Interesting enough I have hardly read any complaints there, rather the learners were amused! So maybe cool down a bit and don't take this as a personal offense? Finally - there are no doubt some issues with Duolingo, but it is free and the lessons are the work of volunteers, so some imperfections are to be expected. Among those are some that bother me much more, like the constant mixing of plural and singular versions in some exercises of the "match the word pairs from the two languages" exercises. Anyway - the place to complain about those things is not the discussion forum, but the reporting facility! By the way, I think the greatest weakness of the feedback system is the fact that you only seem to get any feedback on reported issues, if it results in accepting an alternative solution.