1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. Immersion - How to discuss al…


Immersion - How to discuss alternate translations

It is not clear to me how to proceed if there are alternate possible translations for a phrase. In particular, if a phrase has gone back and forth between two translations, what is the recommended mechanism to resolve this? In Wikipedia, a separate but linked discussion can take place, but as far as I can tell, in Duolingo, comments can only be made if you replace a translation. For example, in http://www.duolingo.com/translation/3214e7f1fa721ce4123274d7fb1079b3 the name of the theater group has varied between two possibilities. One ("Latin American Theater Festival of Bogota") sounds more like vernacular English, but the other ("Festival of the Ibero-American Theater of Bogota") is used much more frequently in online publications (e.g. numerous articles in http://colombiareports.com/). Another DL changed the translation I used, and I hesitate to immediately change it back without some discussion - that seems rude as well as not very productive.

August 6, 2013



We need a way of resolving disagreements. I just don't bother any more.


I agree. Sometimes, I just want to ask the other translators whether a phrase would be better translated one way rather than the other.

Or, I may want to discuss specific issue for a particular document, i.e. capitalization of titles or sections of a document.

A specific example - I was translating an article http://www.duolingo.com/translation/820f353e0f21a1c8402892f8b7d2eebc about "The Villa of the Papyri" of Herculaneum. And the Spanish was "La Villa de los Papiros". So, everyone who was literally translating were writing "The Village of the Papyrus". And, the English term for this location has been for centuries "The Villa of the Papyri" I understand why people were thinking it should be literally translated because it sounds like a description of a place and not an actual place name. But for this article, this phrase is in almost every paragraph. It would have been very nice if we could have had a notes section or discussion section where people could state, discuss, and standardize terminology for this article.


At the moment, there are only a couple options.

One is change the translation back and write a comment explaining why you did so. I was one of the people who translated "Villa de los Papiros" as "Village of Papyrus". When Salxandra changed it to the correct English name, s/he left a comment explaining that "Villa of the Papyri" is the English name of that area. Aha! I learned something new. And because I knew why it had been changed, I did not change it back. (But some people change translations without clicking "see more" to see if people have left comments. That led to a back-and-forth issue in another translation I was doing).

The other option is to click on the other translator's name, go to their profile page, and write a message on their stream inviting them to discuss the different translations and/or explaining why you think XYZ is better and asking their opinion about it. This works best if there are only one or two other translators, as it would be kind of unwieldy to write separate messages to dozens of different people.


@Ceaer - Thank you for your feedback.

And, I oopsed and typoed it too. Fortunately, someone corrected me.


ceaer's suggestions are a good back-up option for now. But I look forward to a time when Duo has a separate discussion option for each article, as with Wikipedia. Duo certainly has an incentive to do this, since their revenue depends on the quality of translations. Duo could also encourage awareness of some immersion tips/ etiquette: 1. Always read other translations of the sentence (and their rationale) before you submit a new one. It's a great way to avoid useless disagreements and I have learnt a lot about the source and target language this way! 2. Do a bit of research online to check (as I think the people contributing to this discussion probably do). 3. A trick to add a comment without having to change a translation: Delete one letter, then save, then edit (put the letter back) with your comment. It does not remove the up-votes, even when you have reverted to someone else's translation!

It would also be nice if reverting to a translation gives the person's name who originally suggested it. I try to add their name as I don't like taking credit for other people's translations -but it's not a realistic option for everyone. Just a minor point.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.