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Translation Tip

the preposition 'de' most often means 'of' or 'from'. However when it sits between two nouns it denotes ownership e.g. la casa de Juan. When translating have a look at the complete phrase before attempting to translate. In this case the correct translation is "Juan's house" not "the house of Juan". Many of the 'translations' by students in duolingo are of the latter style, and worse they are getting higher grades due to fellow students reading things too literally.

April 23, 2012



I agree and it is a worry. The art of translation is to retain the meaning intended by the writer, in the source language (SL), but comminicate the message in the target langauge (TL) in a way that is familiar to the reader to get the desired effect. I am not an expert in Spanish (I teach it while continuing to study it), however the number of literal translations is a worry. There was one about a new car being "re-styled" (the duolingo translation). I can't remember the Spanish word used, but just about everyone used "re-style" in the translation when we know in English we almost never use this word. I put "revamp" but of course was marked down. Even my second pick would have been "re-design". I am sure these issues will be ironed out over time and I think it is a matter of getting more proficient translators. Good on the less rated people contributing - this is a wonderful project - but I wonder if duolingo rates the translation of a person with a higher level higher than that of someone with a lower level? I certainly hope so.


I noticed that many of the highest rated translations are literal translations, as if they peeked at the direct translations and copied them each, word for word.


and of course this is the feedback that duolingo need. I have no doubt that in the months to come the look structure and design of the site and program will change. I salute them for what they are doing.


I hope so too! By the way... A thought if I may.

Teaching a language while Translating The Web sounds Awesome.!.

Duolingo presents a vast array of Lessons in many Aspects of the language (if not all). Built in a Beautiful Hierarchy of Building upon Building upon Method. But, A Key Principle was left unhindered. HOW TO TRANSLATE. If you wanna do Something Good, You've gotta make it into An ART.
So how about some Translating Lessons!!! ;-)).

Or, Maybe give the insights a more strategic placing on the site. If that's their solution to this pickle ;-)).


Couldn't agree more. I did a translation paper at university 2 years ago, it was quite an interesting topic and it would be good to see at least guidelines to effective translation on the site.


When I first joined the Beta about 4 or 5 months ago, we were given 3 sentences to translate and as I recall, they were chosen randomly and were out of context. As a result, when I look back on my earliest work, its' pretty awful. Granted, my skills have improved but the tools we're given to work with have also improved in these few short months.


Ten months on, and I'm also seeing the vast majority of users going with literal translations for the real-world exercises. Maybe it's too much to ask to give a trusted user/admin editorial oversight on these exercises? I'm getting tired of people missing simple translations like ❤❤❤❤'s original example.

Likewise, a lot of people are using the wrong idiom. For example, I'm looking at fecha de salida and people are translating that as exit date -- which is one of the first options when you peek at the phrase. But given the context -- and a deeper look in dictionary resources into how de salida can be used, it should actually be start date.

We need editorial oversight on these real-world exercises. Otherwise we're just teaching users to translate poorly.

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