I like the fact that it is an unusual sentence which tickles the imagination. Why is our narrator throwing the chair? Is he in a bar fight? Is she trying to break a window to save her children from a fire? Is he a robber trying to rob a jewelry store? Is she at a hen party or in a sorority going through some whacky ritual? Is it an alternative to tossing the caber? Is it the weirdest martial art an obscure juggling routine?
Because I don't know the answers to these questions the phrase is more likely to stick in my mind. Which is probably why they chose such an... interesting (if random) sentence. Who's with me?
I think that the unusual sentences are better choices for translating, since it removes an incentive to just guess rather than think about the translation. However, a set of unusual sentences also works well for Duolingo in an intellectual property capacity, at least under US law — it would be easier to prove IP infringement if a knock-off service were to also offer unusual sentences like “The ducks read the newspaper”.
How does one tell which "cathaim" is which. It's doesn't seem as easy as English's "there", "their", and "they're". (These are homonyms, I know. Not the same, but the closest examples I could think of.) Were these various "caithims" spelled differently at one time in the past? Or do they all have a more archaic meaning that ties them together?
It's more like the English verb "get."
Do you get (understand) it?
You're gonna get it! (a threat) Did you get the milk? Get help! Can you get him to change his mind? It's getting colder. And so on . . . It's context. People don't normally smoke or spend or wear or take (as in drugs) chairs. It's unusual to throw a chair, but not quite as unusual as the other possibilities. Remember, you will normally hear Irish sentences in some sort of context, not just in isolation. It's really not so hard then to figure out which meaning is in question. Good luck with your Irish studies! PS Sorry, I don't know the etymology of the word.
I imagine that "wear" was added as an alternative because someone complained that "caitheann" is taught as "wear" in other exercises, and therefor it should be accepted here, as this sentence isn't any more nonsensical than others in the course.
If they leave it out, someone will complain, if they leave it in, someone else will complain.
The problem with the "suggested" answers is that the system picks the "alternative answer" that is closest to the answer that you gave, rather than always displaying the "correct" answer, so that, for example, if you had entered "throwed the chair" instead of "threw the chair", it would suggest "threw the chair" as the correct answer, not simply because it is the correct answer, but because "throwed" is closer to "threw". My understanding is that this is just part of the generic Duolingo engine, and isn't something that the contributors to the Irish course can tweak for individual exercises.
It's not simply a question of resources. The Duolingo "engine" is maintained by Duolingo staff, who have no direct knowledge of the Irish language, and the "engine" is a general purpose tool that needs to support a wide range of languages. As far as I can tell, it is a function of the Engine to decide which of the "Alternative answers" is displayed when a user makes a mistake.
The volunteer contributors who created the Irish tree can't make any changes to the engine, and can only make limited changes to the actual content of the Irish Tree, once the Tree is "launched". They can add "Alternative Answers", and it's my guess that "I wear the chair" was added at some point. Personally, I don't think that it should have been, but I can understand why some people would want it.
Beyond the Duolingo staff, who maintain the "engine", the Contributors, who created the course, and can modify the "acceptable answers", you have ordinary users like you and me who can add more details in the discussions, but there is no guarantee that other users will read those discussions.
True, we are always quicker to point out shortcomings than to praise positive points - sometimes I am really impressed with how just after a new word or phrase is introduced, the very next one uses it again..but a slightly different was.. reinforcinf it with the learner, a clever teaching/ learning tactic!