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The Duolingo Owl

What is the owl's name? Is it a boy or a girl? What specific species is said owl? Is the owl naturally green or is there some kind of mutation and/or cosmetics involved?

Also, I noticed that the owl wears a number of costumes when trying to be 'encouraging', but seems to always cry in the nude. Is this some sort of subliminal message, or just an owl-thing?

June 26, 2013



Are you really ever naked in green feathers?


My favourite appearance of Duo is when you try to scroll too far up on the mobile app.


Yes. That was super cute.


In Cantonese the idiom for "losing a lot" is "lose until one's pants fall off" (輸到甩褲). Maybe Duo took it literally.


Perhaps...an amusing thought tho


Don't you cry in the nude?


As far as I know, the owl is female and she's called Duo. She may or may not be related to Space Owl ( http://scarygoround.com/sgr/ar.php?date=20061122 ).


I know the owl is named Duo, but where did you get the idea of Duo being a girl?


When I wrote that post, I thought that I'd read it in some official Duolingo forum post or blog entry. Duolingo have since referred to Duo as male, so I must have been mistaken.

I still think he's related to Space Owl, though :).



"Duo" is a girl name in Turkish, and it is one of the names commonly used in the Duolingo Turkish course. If you've ever done the Turkish course, maybe that's where you got that idea! ;)


In the French skill 'Nature', level 2, lesson 1. The whole lesson is devoted to describing Duo as the kindest, prettiest, most beautiful owl. All the French verbs are using the feminine form so French Duo is definitely female.

However, whether every language has the same Duo or if there is a multiverse of Duos is yet to be seen.


in the spanish skill 'community' level 2 lesson 7(?), the sentence says "duo helps students of spanish." when you hover over the word helps, it shows "(ella) ayuda" which leads me to believe that duo's a girl, or at least feminine


Actually, Duo is male, you can look it up on Google; it says: “Duo is the official mascot of Duolingo. He is a male green owl of an unknown species and is meant to symbolize knowledge, wisdom, and learning.” (Actually from the Duolingo wiki)


Wait...it's a she? I searched it up and it was a he.....?????


I'm fond of the owl but have always wondered why they chose a bird not particularly noted for its mimicry. I would have gone for a parrot or, more exotically, the Australian lyrebird.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D8MxFUk77Q [David Attenborough]


In Western culture, owls have long been associated with learning and wisdom -- see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Owl#Western_culture and http://goo.gl/d7XHL .


Yes, I should have stated in my original comment that I am aware of that symbolism. Just that I think the association is a bit too general for a tool made only for language learning. And also that wisdom is more often found in speaking less, not more.

Anyway, this was never meant to be an attack on the green owl. As I said, I'm fond of it in itself.


Perhaps it is a subtle hint that learning a language requires more than repeating phrases parrot-fashion ;-).


Not to belittle your sugestion, it was a good one. But the symbolism I enjoy most is the front page shot and subtlety on every page, the photo of the owl between two worlds bringing them together. I think the beauty of Duolingo beyond making us "mimic", is as they are making us at the very least bilingual (Duo), they are doing two (Duo) very amazing things. Teaching us a language which will make us wiser (Owl) in that it opens us up to new ways of thinking, new experiences, new information, and broadens our horizons in general, but it also makes the world wiser (Owl) by the translations it produces, making it possible for knowledge to be spread. Little by little bringing the world together, so you see the Owl is a much more apt a mascot given the mission of Duolingo.


Nicely written :)


I believe duo is part barn Owl due to the mask looking thing on its face that it shares with the barn Owl.


In one of duo lingo's translation , it called itself 'la plus belle chouette' so either chouette is always feminine or duo is a girl.


"Une chouette" is indeed feminine in French (French here) ;)


Thanks for the spoilers some of the great Duolingo mystery has just vanished


Subliminal messaging lol

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