I love Duolingo, but the dictionary really sucks.
I don't even know what the point of hovering over the words is sometimes. 9 times out of 10 I have to refer to a secondary dictionary. I really think they need to fix this.
I think when a teacher tells a student things that aren't true, or right, or appropriate, it actually is something that needs fixing. I'm not talking so much about idioms, because sometimes they'll slip through, but I think that having an obscure meaning of a word or a wrong meaning of a word is actually worse than having nothing.
I think the meaning are always correct, they're just not context-aware. Words have bunch of different meanings depending on the context, plus they can be translated differently depending on a context. Maybe German uses two words for something that English only has one word for? Maybe it's the other way around?
And I think that 9/10 is extragratting. It helps you 9/10 of time and fails once in a while.
Isn't the point of Duolingo not to learn words separately but in a context? Otherwise, we could grab a pocket dictionary and learn 20 words every day.
It lists, as a translation for "essen", "the chimneys", "forges" and "hearths" although admittedly in the expanded list. The short list just gives the noun definition for "essen" (verb) and the verb definition for the noun (Essen - note that in German you can tell the difference purely from spelling!). As far as I can tell some of those definitions seem to come from Old High German, and as a general rule I prefer my context to within the nearest millennium!
As far as I can tell some of those definitions seem to come from Old High German
That's not true at all. None of the definitions are for Old High German. The definition of "Esse(n)" you mentioned is not wrong, either. It's just not relevant.
My apologies, I stand corrected. Everything I looked at gave "Kamin" as the translation for chimney - the only place I found "Esse" for chimney was in discussion over the etymology for Essen, the place. (but my German isn't good enough to use German language sources). If Essen (chimney) is in common usage then of course it ought to be listed - under the noun - and I've learned a new word today.
edited to add: so, that makes a neuter singular noun, a feminine plural noun AND a verb that Duo can't tell the difference between? No wonder people keep on telling me articles are important (and no wonder I haven't learnt them yet!)
Forget the word "Essen" in this meaning, it is completely irrelevant. I only knew it from some old stories and fairytales ;)
Thanks for the links - I didn't know these dictionaries and actually used Google translate, which is just as bad as the Duolingo dictionary...
Unfortunately, this is not something that can be fixed with the switch of a button. The hover dictionaries in the old courses (pre-Incubator) are just regular old dictionaries. A lot of the time, they show translations which are not wrong but irrelevant in the given context. In the newer courses, the hover hints have been added manually by the contributors. That's why they're much better quality. We hope to start doing that as well sometime in the near future, but we can't do that just yet due to technical limitations.
The tooltip should only be used as a guidance.. The words can have so many different meanings that it can be pointless to look at all of the different translations without context. Using a proper dictionary is better.
I use a paper Langenscheidt Spanish-German/German-Spanish dictionary, as well as SlovoEd on a PDA I have. Besides, I try to use common sense to figure out which of the translations is the good one.