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  5. "How many majors do you have?"

"How many majors do you have?"

Translation:Hoeveel studies doe jij?

July 16, 2014



so Americans 'have majors' rather than 'do them'? When you go to a British university you 'do French / Spanish / Italian' I can't think what the Brit English version of this could be. "How many courses are you studying?" sounds a bit weird, as you tend to study one or two subjects.


Hi Suzy, Jeff here. I think it would be helpful for a speaker of British English (maybe you!) to go through the Education section with the goal of identifying the American usages that are baffling/frustrating a lot of non-Americans. I live in Hong Kong and have lots of friends and colleagues from all over the English speaking world and did not know, until this conversation came up on Duolingo, that "What's your major?" is a distinctly North American usage. (If I'm not mistaken the Canadians say it as well.)


I am sure the team would welcome that but it is not just a question of identifying obscure (to us) Americanisms. Alternatives need to be suggested. As it is now over 50 years since I finished University, I would not be able to do that. It needs someone currently involved in Higher Education here.


Hi Bill. Yes, that's what I meant to suggest. I'm really curious, other than "major" what are the other problematic words/phrases? Are there really that many?


"Major" is the big one but there are also the associated verbs - "take" / "follow" etc.


Also, the Dutch institutions do not all directly translate to a British/USA counterpart.

While highschool might be similar to the Dutch 'middelbare school', which comes after elementary school (in Dutch the 'lagere school' or 'basis school'), college will not find a clear Dutch counterpart.

Also, the Dutch 'hogeschool' does not find a clear British/USA counterpart. You might refer to it as a more job oriented and less science oriented university if you would need to compare.

Confusing however is that the Dutch 'hogeschool', which is not college or highschool, but more of a professional school, also use grades titled 'bachelor' and 'master' like proper universities.

Universities however mirror themselves perfectly, especially since most Dutch universities have switched to the bachelor / master system over the last fifteen years.

When following a Dutch masters program you focus on a specific topic within that masters program (your major) and you may decide to subfocus on another topic (your minor).

Hence in Dutch, when referring to your study (either bachelor or master), you refer to the actual name of the bachelor or master and not the major you chose within that master or bachelor.


Thank you for that. Yes, it's a complicated issue and I wish the Dutch course moderators luck in smoothing out just a few of the most contentious difficulties.


Why was "heb" rejected? "Doe" is probably more idiomatic (I wouldn't know) but that itself shouldn't make "heb" incorrect.


With dutch as my mother tongue, I can say this really isn't translated properly. Translation should be: "Hoeveel majoren heb jij?"


This is a sentence from the education skill, and thus 'majoor' does not really fit as a translation of 'major'. :)

When a student in the US goes to college, he chooses a major.
People then ask him about his major, say...chemistry, biology, etc.
F.i.: "What are you majoring in?"

In the same situation, in a Dutch context, a person will ask you which 'studie' you are doing. Are you doing a 'studie' in chemistry, biology...?
F.i. "Wat studeer jij?"

Thus I am of the opinion that we translated this properly. :)

For the sake of flexibility I will add 'majoor' (though army related) to the alternative translations, but I don't think the best translation needs to be changed. Mind that the plural of this word is 'majoors', so I shan't add 'majoren'.


Thanks for your attention, glad to see that we're both trying to improve language learning. - As for the translation, thanks for adding my translation to one of the alternatives.

The point I was making was more in the context of the sentence; how many is different then what -someone is studying. I think most people will translate it with a variant of how many.

As addition to proof my translation ("Hoeveel majoren heb jij?") I'd like to reference you a section of the University of Amsterdam which uses the word 'majoren' to represent a number of studies you can follow in addition to your normal one: http://student.uva.nl/bgb/majoren/major.html


I actually attend the UvA, I have for years, but have never heard 'majoren' actually being used (hence my lack of awareness that this word is now too being used in this context). Dutch and all of its borrowed words... ;)

I think the main bone of contention we have, with regards to the translation you proposed, is that 'majors' is the recognized plural of 'major', if you regard it as a borrowed word in Dutch (Source). Majoren is not recognized by 'het Groene Boekje', regardless of whatever language the UvA chooses to use. For as far as I know, 'majors' has been an accepted translation from the very beginning. :)


Is a form of hebben valid here, instead of the form of doen?


Neither have I actually. And being a captain in the Dutch army I can definitively confirm that 'majors' translates in Dutch to 'majoors' and not to 'majoren'.


This is actually an interesting discussion. I translated it (wrongly) to "Hoeveel studies heb je", because i thought it was some kind of couse or diplom or certification. But now i know it is a US-university study, my question is what do you have after you finished a major succesfully? What is the name of the certification or Diplom? Is it called a master or a subject? After you finish a mayor sociology do you HAVE or GET a sociology major or sociology master, or sociology certification?


So the context is not a prospective student asking what the university offers?

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