Issues in the Hindi course that have been needing attention for a long time
There are two related issues with the Hindi course that seem to be consistently happening, and that have been issues for more than a year.
First, I've been noticing a number of instances where the English translation for a Hindi sentence is very unnatural. For example, one exercise asked me to translate the Hindi sentence "मैं एक घंटे से खा रहा हूँ ।" into English. The solution given was "I am eating since one hour". No English speaker would ever use this phrasing. An English speaker would say "I ate an hour ago" or "It has been an hour since I ate". And that's just one example. There are many example of very awkwardly worded English translations. Moreover, many of these sentences have been commented upon in the forums for at least a year. And the errors are still there.
The second issue is that there is no way to report these errors. If you look at Duolingo's help page on giving feedback for individual sentences, the report tool is supposed to have the following option: "The correct solution is unnatural or has an error". This would be the appropriate option for examples like that given above. But the option does not appear in the list.
I would be willing to volunteer some time to reword some of these translations into more natural sounding English. I'm hoping that the Hindi is actively managed and this comment will be seen by the course contributors and acted upon.
Jason292109 I have temporarily stopped the Hindi course, as I was finding it too frustrating- the English transcriptions of the Hindi sounds were just so unhelpful- you know, all the ca, ja, etc.
I come across the kind of thing you've mentioned on various courses. I would always recommend each end of a translation being checked by a competent native speaker, so for the English-Hindi course, you ought to have a native English speaker to double-check the English part, and a native Hindi speaker the Hindi part. Ideally, you also have an experienced teacher to direct the course, too, and they all need to be able to communicate together.
I don't see that there is any reason why they can't put down a literal translation in brackets, and a functional English translation, so you really know what it means, too.
Because there are people who will not be native English speakers using the course, maybe to learn or improve their English as well as learn/revise Hindi, it seems only fair that the English part should also be good.
Hi woozlification. That's a good point that I hadn't thought of. If Hindi speakers are using the course to improve their English, then it would be important that the English would be right, as you say. And it definitely is not. Check out bhasachatro's comment below. He mentions a 'suggest an alternative solution option". I've never noticed it. I'll have to check it out.
Hi Jason292109, I am having trouble putting down a helpful reply because "I am eating since one hour" is such appalling English that it is taking a long time to put down an explanation in under about 3 pages...
:) It is wrong in at least 2 ways- use of "since" and use of the "tense"/structure.
The result is a mess that would require the learner to already know Hindi to have a clue whether we are talking about past, present, future or a bridge between them.
Sometimes a translation is poor, but it doesn't matter so much because you can still understand it. This is not the case here. You have to make a wild guess, and it's totally unhelpful for learning Hindi :/
If that is a typical translation, then I sympathise with your pain. They seriously need to have competent native English speakers who know Hindi, to check the course.
If you type in your natural translation, and it says it is wrong, don't you get the option to report yours as an alternative correct solution?
Incidentally, there is a difference in meaning in your example:
"I am eating since one hour" - this is a continuous action (which I think is what the Hindi is conveying), the eating started an hour ago and continues now.
"I ate an hour ago" - this is a past action, I ate an hour ago and am no longer eating.
Maybe a more natural way to say the first is "I have been eating for one hour", again using a continuous tense.
I think the literal translation, for this native English speaker at least, is better to convey what the Hindi means as a learning aid. But more natural alternatives should be accepted - i suggest reporting them.
Hello bhasachatro, your improved suggestions are better.
"I am eating since one hour" is just very very very bad English- a mess of incompatible elements that means you would have to already know Hindi to understand it at all, or just be good at random guesswork!
I'll try to write a reply to help anyone who wants to get the English right to see the issues with the sentence, but it's wrong in at least 2 ways, and needs a lot of explaining :)
I'm not sure about the alternative solution option. I'll have to check that out.
As for the continuous action interpretation of this particular example. I really don't think they mean that the person has been eating for a solid hour. But maybe they do. It is true that at the point in the course that I'm at, they have not introduced the past tense.
Regardless, there are definitely some funky english translations going on.
Thanks for mentioning the alternative solution option! If that works, it would be seem to be a good solution. Though, apparently people have not been taking advantage of it.
I should add. I realized that in the example that I gave above, I used the past tense in my translation, and at this point in the Hindi course, we haven't learned the past tense. So, maybe the contributors are trying to avoid it. But,I still think it would be better to use change tenses that to use a totally unnatural phrasing.