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https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaMadd2

"Elk" and "Moose" - A minor suggestion

JoshuaMadd2
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I have a minor suggestion for the Swedish tree, but I'd like to start off by thanking everyone involved in making the program. Duolingo (and the Swedish track) has been tremendously helpful for me - I have never gotten this far into a language despite taking courses in both high school and college. I feel like I am learning a lot rather quickly and I cannot express my gratitude enough to everyone involved in building the track. Seriously, thank you so much!

That having been said, I do have one very small suggestion in hopes that it may help others who will take the program in the future. In Animals 1, we learn that "a moose" is "en älg," but from my understanding, this does NOT translate to the equivalent of "an elk" in American English. I read up on it a bit here (https://naturetravels.wordpress.com/2007/10/29/what%E2%80%99s-the-difference-between-a-moose-and-an-elk/) and I have no idea how accurate this is.

For a native (American) English speaker, this is super confusing because our word for "moose" is equivalent to the European term for "elk," but also that "en älg" sounds and is very similar to "an elk" in American English, which keeps making me want to type it out that way on Duolingo. In a weird way, even though I know this is wrong, it's subtly re-enforcing the error as I don't know what the proper term is.

It sounds like there is a disparity in the terms. I'm still not sure what the equivalent of the American English "elk" is in Swedish - Google Translate thinks that I'm typing in Dutch when I ask it.

All of that was probably more of a background than you needed for a relatively simple suggestion: could the equivalent of the American English "elk" be included in Animals 1 as well as "en älg"? I feel like if the terms were differentiated and learned at the same time, this would eliminate this problem.

Again, I know this is a super minor suggestion, but I figured maybe it would help someone besides me! Thanks again for everything you all have done for the program so far - you really are doing tremendous work.

3 years ago

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

That article has some inaccuracies in it. Elk in North America refers to Cervus canadensis, not Cervus elaphus which is the red deer native to Europe, west Asia, and northern Africa. Cervus canadensis also occurs in east Asia.

Early European explorers thought Cervus canadensis was Alces alces due to Cervus canadensis's large size, and Cervus canadensis was inaccurately called elk. The name moose was adopted from the Algonquian language for Alces alces.

If you talk about elk in North America, you're strictly talking about Cervus canadensis. In Europe elk is Alces alces. So for a North American to translate "en älg" to "an elk" is entirely wrong, but for a European English speaker, translating to "an elk" is correct. Translating "a moose" to "en älg" is always correct, but the translation of "an elk" could be to either "en älg" or "en hjort" depending on where the speaker is located. (There might be a more accurate word for Cervus canadensis than hjort, but I don't know it.)

My personal favourite term for Alces alces is "swamp donkey", but apparently that means something entirely different in the UK.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/albernegiraffe

Ah, some good ol' urban dictionary to add some kick to the day.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

There is no more authoritative source, right? :D

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/albernegiraffe

Urban dictionary spaketh, and so it shall be.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/albernegiraffe

It looks like the term for moose is "wapitihjort." However, the start of the language tree is not a place to be introducing complexities. The idea is that at first all the words are pretty straightforward and different from each other - boy, girl, dog, horse, etc - and they can be related to concrete and separate ideas and pictures. The vast majority of the population doesn't even know the difference between a moose and an elk. It's great that you're motivated to distinguish these differences and I personally found your post interesting but for basic language learning purposes the two can basically be considered to be the same thing even though they actually are not. Anyone who actually cares about the difference between the two will look it up anyway.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/albernegiraffe

p.s. Don't rely on google translate - it's wrong all the time. There are plenty of good online dictionaries and if you are interested in the equivalent for a specific term just find the wikipedia page for it and switch the language to Swedish or whatever you are interested in.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

As someone who has seen both animals numerous times, I found it confusing. If älg is elk, then what's a moose? My suggestion would be to avoid the confusion and pick a different animal. Yes, that means losing the humorous hon såg verkligen ut som en älg and han går som en älg sentences, but they could be used in the "Animals 2" lesson instead.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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We just can't leave out the moose, it's Sweden's national animal and hugely important as a symbol for the country.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

Perhaps a brief explanation of this situation would be useful in the introduction to the Animals 1 lesson?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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Good idea, that could help with all moose-related problems in the course actually!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/albernegiraffe

I guess I'm just resigned to there being minor discrepancies sprinkled throughout Doulingo. I'm happy as long as my answer is accepted and the sentences don't have grammatical errors. Let me know the next time you encounter a moose in Sweden though :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

Impossible. They only have elk there ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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I don't really see your problem here. The word used in the course for älg is moose because the course is supposed to be in American English and our moose Alces alces is called that in American English. However, the course must also accept British usage, so elk must also be accepted everywhere. The word elk should not be shown to you unless you type something that is similar to it. If you do get elk as a correct option in a multiple choice question, please report it and we'll fix that.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/GwenDragoness

When you click on "älg" to see the list of possible translations, you see both "moose" and "elk" (at least on the Android version of Duolingo, which is what I use).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Arnauti
Arnauti
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Right, maybe it would be less confusing if it only said 'moose' in the hints. I'll try to fix that!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaMadd2
JoshuaMadd2
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Thanks for all your work, regardless of what you decide to do! This program is great and I just wanted to point out this one small point of confusion - the fact that my biggest issue with learning a new language is confusion between "elk" and "moose" speaks volumes about how great this program really is!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DogePamyuPamyu

I mean elks aren't meece and it did kinda bug me at first because I'm just like "well is it an elk or a moose" but maybe it really does mean both? IDK...

Judging by the word, I'd say it's more accurately elk than moose.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaMadd2
JoshuaMadd2
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According to what I've read, Europeans use the term "elk" to describe what Americans would call a "moose," so the term "en älg" translates to "a moose" in American English, but "an elk" in European English. Apparently this is a super confusing area of translation, so it might make it easier if the equivalent of the American English "elk" was included in the program at the same time so that students could easily start differentiating the two.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anrui
Anrui
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The Swedish tree is constructed to make sense in a Swedish context. Including "Wapitihjort", especially at this early stage, would simply not make sense, because they cannot be found in Sweden and 0.01% of Swedes would understand what you're talking about if you throw "Wapitihjort" at them.

I do believe it is important to point out what kind of animal we're talking about and hopefully this will become clearer when we can add our own image exercises.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaMadd2
JoshuaMadd2
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It's totally up to you guys, I know very little about Swedish beyond what I've picked up in duolingo and have been amazingly impressed with the program so far! All I wanted to do was start a discussion on this issue for American English speakers and I feel like we've had a great conversation here, so whatever changes you all make (if any) are great with me!

Thanks again to the moderators for all of your work. Truly, this is an amazing program and I'm so thankful for all your work.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anrui
Anrui
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We have added a discussion about the difference between elk and moose in the tips & notes section for animals. In addition, the hint "elk" has been removed, so this will hopefully be a lot clearer now.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarkBorkBorkBork

I think there will be much less confusion now that the Animals lesson talks about it in the introduction. Now if only the duolingo app showed those.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anrui
Anrui
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I agree! I really hope that they will add tips & notes for the iOS app soon!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaMadd2
JoshuaMadd2
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I definitely should have specified that my experience with duolingo is almost entirely from using the Android app. There may be less issues with this online.

3 years ago