Important Update from Team Irish!
We know you guys have been waiting patiently for our course, so I'd like to get you up to speed on everything that has been going on behind the scenes :)
(Note: This update has been directly copied from our course's page on the Incubator. I just wanted to make sure as many people as possible see this)
We are moving from our usual Saturday update once again to bring you up to speed on some important developments that have taken place behind the scenes.
As most of you know, the issue that is causing us to remain in Phase 1 is the TTS (or lack thereof). So it brings me great pleasure to tell you that a solution has been found! screams of delight
Let me go into a bit more detail :) Instead of using a traditional TTS like previous courses that automatically generate audio for individual sentences, our course will use recordings of a real human. This will mean two things: 1) The audio will be of very high quality and 2) Not all sentences in the course will have audio. But (<-And that's a big but) there will be more than enough sentences that have audio to make sure that every lesson has a good mix of different exercises. We are very happy with the audio we have heard and we would like to take this chance to thank Team Duolingo for their hard work and for getting us such a great voice :)
So, what does this mean for you, the 20,000 users that have shown their interest in our course? (See how I worked that number in real nicely without sounding too braggy?) Well, this means a lot of things! 1) We are well and truly on our way to beta. 2) Our course is going to have audio. 3) Our course is going to have really good audio. 4) You are gonna love our course and 5) You can get excited again xD
Estimated Time of Arrival: Soon™ (I know how much some of you hate that word, but let me assure you that now more than ever, do we actually mean soon...so like....really soon)
EDIT: All recordings are complete.
Beir bua agus beannacht,
AlexinIreland and the rest of Team Irish
Yes, yes, yes! This is fantastic news, Team Irish! Wow, the first course with a real human voice, amazing. Now I really cannot wait to try Irish out. :D
So maybe it's a secondary rainbow then. ;-)
I think everyone would choose human audio :)
Careful, don't tell the Duolingo team that. When Duolingo was first being developed, there were human voices. However, Duolingo's "metrics" said that people preferred TTS over human pronunciation, and so that is what they went with.
I originally signed up during the public launch (this isn't my original account) and I never got to try the real voices, but here is what Luis von Ahn said.
I can't believe I found that source tbh. Had to CTRL+F "TTS" through all of Luis' comments. This information isn't widely known it seems, and I can see why. They rarely mentioned it.
I agree, being a native doesn't mean much. My French professor in college was not a native but when we went to France together, people gave her compliments on her accent. She said that because she has musical ears she can pick up accents easier and better than the average human.
To throw out a few other suggestions:
- Gael (Gaelic-speaking person / inhabitant of Ireland)
- Ide/Ida (~thirst for knowledge)
- Deidre/Deirdre ("she who chatters" but also seemingly a rather depressing mythic character)
- Cady (~rhythmic flow of sounds)
- Teagan (little poet)
- Colleen ("girl" although it seems like expats created it as a name)
I don't suppose there's a cute name for "owl"?
THIS IS GREAT NEWS! You have no idea how excited I am. Not only for the course itself (Brian Bóroimhe!) but finally... finally... there will be real, human voices on Duolingo! I hope that carries over to other courses eventually. I know what Duolingo's "metrics" have to say about it, but I think it's the vastly superior solution.
Thanks for the update! Soo, based on other comments, does this mean that the human doing the voices is not going to be from Team Irish? Is a professional then going to be paid for the voices? There was a confirmation on female, so is this a confirmation that somebody is already picked up, or just that the whole team wants a female voice? (Along with this is, is it even decided what method? Or because just "female human voice" with no other specifics?) I also think this is great news for other courses, since I know one of the Hungarian course makers was unsatisfied with Hungarian TTS. Thanks as always for your hard work Team Irish. I will be patiently waiting for the "soon" to come.
Thanks for the update Alex, this is amazing news! (Although I must admit I did pop into your chatroom and see this discussed recently so it's not really "news" for me). I can see this making the Irish course particularly popular and indeed quite special. I'd love to see this rolled out to every single course on Duo one day!
I have two questions though. Will all individual words have audio or not? What is the decision to select a sentence for audio?
Anyway I can't wait to try out the course, thank you again to you and your whole team for doing such amazing work :D
Thanks @_gs9! I thought I saw you popping in every now and then :P
Will all individual words have audio or not?
Each word will have at least 1 sentence with audio.
What is the decision to select a sentence for audio?
Team Duo decide that based on a variety of different factors.
Feel free to come by our chatroom anytime if you have any more questions, or even if you just want to say hi!
Have my upvotes, have my lingots, have my undying adoration, and whatever else you want!
I do have a couple questions, though: Firstly, what dialect will the speaker use? My understanding is that Irish can actually vary quite a bit by location. Secondly, have you put any thought in as to what you'll do with the voice in the future? Do you know now if you will eventually get more recordings, potentially even with different voices?
Very excited for this! When you say not all sentences will have audio, I must admit I am struck with a certain sinking feeling...are there plans to eventually implement audio for all sentences, like before Irish graduates from Beta? The audio being the part I am looking forward to the most for Irish as its complicated phonetics are lost on my simple Anglophone mind ;)
This is interesting. Personally I think it would be better to have both, the main "human" voices as the default, and the best possible TTS engine as the fallback. That way all sentences can have a voice.
Though that may cause consistency problems, but anyway, we're generally taught a language by people with many different accents and pronunciations, so I don't see it as a huge problem. But who knows what Duolingo's metrics will say about that.
P.S. Regarding the soon™, I think the incubator teams should come up with their own terminology or risk falling under the same trap as Duolingo. Rather than say Soon™ perhaps they should,in my opinion, say "within this year", or "next year at most".
I didn't say anything about the estimated release date lol, so not sure why you are responding to me. Anyway, I was talking about Duolingo's "metrics" which they like to reference so often. When Duolingo was first being developed, there were human voices but Duolingo's "metrics" said people preferred TTS over human voices, and so that is what they went with.
Edit: Here's the source of my information, for those who are interested.
That's a good point. Given a choice, I'd prefer to have a mediocre TTS engine for all sentences, and set up a special area in immersion where people can hear real "Irish voices" at their leisure, perhaps reading paragraphs or whole texts, and maybe even some including the words taught here.
That would be an inexpensive solution given that there is probably lots of public domain audio material out there, and lessons/concepts. Also, all these materials could be hosted off-site reducing server costs to Duolingo.
This sounds amazing, I can't wait. Just out of curiosity, how good of TTS is www.abair.ie? Would that have been useful as a TTS engine? I'm sure you've already explored this option, but I just wanted to see if you guys think it's going to be a useful learning tool going forward.
Thanks again for all your hard work! :)
You and me both. It doesn't help that I'm already about five hours late for bed!
I just wanted to finish that French skill off so badly before calling it for the night, and then I simply had to check the news in case there were any updates on Irish once I finished it... Oh well!
Team Irish, that's great news! But, what I'm more excited about is the fact that Irish's spot in the incubator is likely going to be replaced by a new course!
This is what's been happening lately. Look at Ukrainian for English, as soon as it got out of the incubator, Italian for French popped right in. Come onnnnnnnnnnn Hebrew!!
Don't worry, Ulster Irish sounds like a completely different language to most Irish people too!
Well, maybe not that bad, but it is quite different, and takes some getting used to. I don't think I've ever heard anyone speaking it in real life though, I've only ever heard it on the Irish tapes, and maybe the odd time on the radio or tv.