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Can Duolingo accomodate the human touch?

I'm sure similar issues were brought up at other times but hopefully this question can shed light on Duolingo's motivation. I was asked to translate the word "fertig" in a recipe. I thought "Voila!" would give the translation a human touch compared to the current best translation: "done", but I received a rating of 0%. I know Duolingo is meant to translate the web, but it relies on human translators and hence can provide something special not (currently) offered by a machine learning algorithm. I would like to continue to provide translations that are both accurate and with a human touch, but I am less motivated to do so when I am discouraged from such attempts.

April 21, 2012



Duolingo has no way to tell what's right - that's why we're translating for it. It calculates the rating based on what other people have translated and rated up, but it still gives you full credit even if you disagree with what everyone else has translated so far. I think it's good to be accurate, but better to make it sound like it was originally written in your language, and not translated.


The whole point of Duolingo is to produce translations that are better than machine translations. I put in what I consider to be the most accurate and idiomatic translation, and if I get marked 0%, so be it. I have often noticed, when I recieve a low rating, that the other translations to which mine is being compared, are all literal, non-idiomatic translations, which have clearly been done by the cheat's method of hovering the cursor over each word, and translating the sentence literally, one word after the other. A machine could do that. Ask yourself why Duolingo would go to the trouble and expense of providing us with free lessons? The lessons are payment for the use of our complex human brains, which can do something a machine can't; produce an idiomatic translation. I've said this before; I don't think anyone should be translating on this site unless they are either a native or an advanced speaker of the language they are translating to, ie. they should be able to produce idiomatic translations. So Talat's approach I think actually screws up the system, even though it gets him more points. What tcf123 calls “human” is probably actually a good idiomatic translation.

A dictionary definition of "idiom" is "A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, for example, the phrase 'keep tabs on'."


I had a similar problem, although I had not tried something so "human" ;) I wrote a feedback to the Duolingo guys. So these days when I see that a better translation would be rejected, I do a literal translation and then go back and edit it I know it is cheating, but hey it is for the betterment of humanity :D I wish the Wise Old Owl would accept any translation and leave it to the voting system to let the best one bubble up.

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