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Do I Care About Capitalization and Punctuation?

I've noticed that many or most translators don't seem to give a single crap about capitalization or punctuation (or, on occasion, spelling or grammar), and that presents kind of a quandary when it comes time to rank candidate translations. I don't know how many times I've seen translations that were actually very good, even "perfect" one might say, except every single character is lowercase, and there's no punctuation marks anywhere to be found. What should I do in this case? On the one hand, if Duolingo is planning on using our final translations unedited when rebuilding the final document, then I'd say these things are very important and I should not give such sentences a perfect score even if the translation is otherwise perfect. On the other hand, when a perfect (in meaning) translation comes along, I'm pretty hesitant to rate it less than perfect, especially when there are other, less appropriate translations, with higher ratings. I would certainly appreciate it if Duolingo would give us some guidance here. What do you want us to do? Tell me. I'll do it.

November 27, 2012



Tell me about it. That's one of my biggest pet hates about Duolingo. I think this behaviour is actually encouraged by the regular lessons. They let you pass even if you don't use punctuation. A lot of people don't seem to understand that the real world translations are actually meant to be published/sold. I suppose the only effective way to stop this sort of behaviour would be to require proper punctuation and capitalisation in the regular lessons. At least, Duolingo should point out why the real world translations need to be flawless. Also, they could easily check if a translated sentence ends in punctuation, and if it doesn't, there could be a pop-up asking the user something along the lines of "Oops. It seems you forgot to put a period (or another punctuation mark) at the end of your sentence. Would you like to add it now?"


I'm really happy to use no punctuation in the lessons and switch to using correct punctuations in the translations. A no-brainer to make and apply that distinction. It would just be a nuisance if they required proper punctuation in the lessons.


I totally agree with you. On an unrelated note, I've never heard the term "pet hate". I'm not saying it is wrong...I've just never heard it. The more common expression in English is "pet peeve".


They can't be using our translations to sell yet, as too many 100% complete ones make no sense! I agree about the punctuation, but the non-sense problem is worse.


I agree, the quality on the 100%ers is hit and miss. Sometimes they're very good. Sometimes they've completely missed the mark. It's definitely a problem that has to be solved, but it's a separate problem. In my opinion, both problems will need to be solved before this site can get up on its own two feet.


We're about to push a better spell checker that will ask you whether you want to capitalize things properly and do it for you.


I think that will definitely be a useful addition, but I'm skeptical as to whether or not an algorithm will actually be able to do that task well. This site was built to harness the power crowdsourcing. I think most of the contributors here are more than capable of providing proper punctuation and capitalization. But they also have to know that they're supposed to.

Duolingo could really benefit from a set of guidelines that outline what is expected of us as translators and what is expected of us as rankers. I don't see why this is so hard! Just write up a list of do's and don'ts, and put a link to it on the Translations tab and a link to it on every article translation page (maybe right down there by the link to the original article). Make it mandatory reading for the first-time translator. I feel pretty confident that if we knew what we were supposed to do, we would do it! Duolingo is cool, right? I mean, I want this site to succeed! I think most people here do as well. We are here to help you, Luis. Just tell us what we need to do.

And, btw, I still don't know whether or not I'm supposed to take capitalization, punctuation, etc. into account when I'm ranking! Am I? Part of me doesn't want to give a "perfect" rating to a good translation with no punctuation, and part of me doesn't want to rank it down either. Some guidance would be helpful. What do the rest of you do in this situation?


Great , and how about a better dictionary ? Some of Duolingo's dictionary suggestions are very poor.


I care about capitalization and punctuation! I give "Some Mistakes" to non-capitalized, non-punctuated sentences. I practice leniency for non-Oxford commas (big Oxford comma fan here!) and for some weirdly placed commas (often between thoughts or clauses in run-ons).


Okay, that's good input. I think I'll adopt that plan too unless Duolingo comes out and contradicts it. From now on, "Some Mistakes" when the capitalization and punctuation are missing. Thanks, M. Anyone else? How are the rest of you guys doing it right now?


As it turns out, am I. I did not know that they had a name. Now I do. They allow a items in a list to be composed of two parts; subtle, but useful. It looks better in type and calligaphic forms as well.


Maybe it's me being an English teacher, but capitalization, punctuation, and spelling "count."


When a translator breaks a run-on sentence for clarity, they are likely to get a better rating from me. I think re-arranging punctuation is as perfectly legitimate as changing word order , which we have to do to make sense .

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