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  5. Onko hän tyttö vai poika?

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380

Onko hän tyttö vai poika?

This question should, hopefully, clearly show why I think "they" needs to an acceptable option in every instance of "hän".

You would not translate this as "Is she a girl or a boy?", nor would you translate it as "Is he a girl or a boy?", it has to be "Are they a girl or a boy?" And the reverse translation can't become "Ovatko he tyttö vai poika?" because it's asking about an individual, not a group.

There is also the point that a fair number of people these days are not identifying as "he" or "she", and since "hän" is itself gender neutral, the English gender neutral option should certainly be an acceptable answer. Marking it wrong is incorrect, and teaching people badly.

July 2, 2020

21 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jileha
  • 1316

Although I understand where you’re coming from, mixing up singular and plural forms in a beginner’s language course is not the best idea aa it would only cause confusion. Let us learn all the grammatically intended forms first. Once we are advanced Finnish speakers, then we will be able to deal with socially more suitable variations.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380

Marking correct answers as incorrect is going to cause more confusion.

It's also not "mixing up singular and plural forms". They is perfectly valid singular form.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Jileha
  • 1316

It's also not "mixing up singular and plural forms". They is perfectly valid singular form.

In English, not in Finnish - and mark that the plural verb “are” is used when “they” is used as subject. So, yes, grammatically, singular and plural are mixed up if a plural verb is used to describe a single person. “Hän” in Finnish never means “they” and is always singular.

Keep in mind that English is not the native language of many speakers and gender identity might be handled very differently in their own language. When giving an official English translation of “they”, these learners might learn incorrect Finnish unless each English translation is provided with the explanation that this is socially, but not grammatically correct language. Which would be not possible or practical and would cause confusion.

We’re here to learn correct Finnish, not politically correct English. Anybody can (and should) transfer the corresponding meaning of Finnish into their own language and apply whatever gender neutral options are appropriate in their own native language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ivitcyex

You also uses are regardless of singular or plural. Somehow we manage.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kaiobi

It is grammatically correct tho. Inputting they is also optional so it doesn't "interfere" anyone's "political opinions" We simply want it included as a correct option. Since, y'know, It is correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dakkus2

Saying "'Hän' never means 'they'" is the same as saying "'Sinä' never means 'you'". Although "you" actually means "te" and the actual translation for "sinä" is "thee", in modern English "you" and "they" can be seen as pronouns that don't take number into account.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380
  • “Hän” in Finnish never means “they” and is always singular.

No. Hän always means they, it's the he/she that's inferred.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/muotioj

I do not agree totally. In many courses the sentences don't make sense. "Is she/he a girl or a boy" is totally acceptable and good translation at this level, "they" could be accepted but not promoted as a right answer.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380

I have been very clearly saying "They" should be an acceptable answer, because it is a correct answer, not that the course should (necessarily) be actively teaching that form.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dakkus2

To a question such as "Onko hän poika vai tyttö" all of the following are correct English translations: "Are they a boy or a girl" "Is he a boy or a girl" "Is she a boy or a girl" "Is s/he a boy or a girl"

All of those could be accepted as correct answers. The question in posed by mr. Pöllönen in English should then be "Is s/he a boy or a girl", and the correct answers the user should be allowed to give are: "Onko hän poika vai tyttö?" (And that's it.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zinthak

Well from what I can tell of the usage of 'hän'...is that it can also mean 'it'. The same way in English you'd ask if someones pet or baby is a girl or boy, by asking...''is it a girl or a boy?''. 'Se' is 'it' from what we've learned so far, but 'hän' too can be used in this context from my understanding of Finnish.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/diecidieci

We don't call animals "he"/"she" (hän) in written Finnish nor do we usually call people "it" (se) in written Finnish. But it's really common to call people "it" (se) in spoken Finnish and some people also call animals "he"/"she" (hän) in spoken Finnish.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380

Yeah I can't bring myself to use "se" when talking about my dog.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380

In my experience, referring to a baby as "it" is not going to impress the parents.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zzzzz...

We decided to leave "singular they" out, since using it as a translation would confuse so many English speakers. Although this decision was ultimately made by me, I have to say that this makes me a bit sad, since it really is the best possible translation. :( We'd need to find a natural way of introducing it, by crafting the skill content to fit the grammatical idea and by choosing sentences that lead to a natural conclusion about the role of that word (like the sentence you are using in your title). And that would be really difficult with the Duo format.

Another possibility we could consider is accepting hän also in the English sentences (because many linguists in the English speaking world use that word), but that poses its own problems.

To put it shortly, if we can just find a way to teach it without confusing people, we'll do it, but it will take lot of work and time to get to that point.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ivitcyex

You don't have to actively teach it or display it in the lessons at all. Just accept correct answers with they in the English write-in exercises. Nobody will see these answers except those that chose to write they, so nobody is going to get confused.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joaoma54

Hän also can be they?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Ian855380

I think it's more accurate to say that hän translates to they (singular) but can also be he or she depending on context in the rest of the sentence.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Joaoma54

Got it!! Kiitos!!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dakkus2

English: I play, you play, they play, we play, you play, they play.

Finnish: Minä pelaan, sinä pelaat, hän pelaa, me pelaamme, te pelaatte , he pelaavat

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