https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911

British English

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Although I love DuoLingo, there is one thing that has been troubling me about the translations. Whenever I use a British English word such as 'colour' or 'apologise', DuoLingo tells me I have a typo/have made an error. Being British, this can get quite annoying over time as I'm being told my own language is wrong. Hopefully this can be fixed so the words are accepted as the American English words are.

Thanks :)

August 27, 2013

45 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/IAmJon
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Don't more anglophone countries speak British style English anyway? I'm generalising a lot here and if people know otherwise then ok, but i listen to Australian radio a lot and their English seems very close to the kind I speak here in England. They say 'Chips' to mean 'fries' to give you one example. I imagine it is the same for New Zealand too. I think a lot of Commonwealth countries such as Aus, NZ and Canada also spell words like 'colour' and 'Apologise' the same as in British English.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/myra
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Thanks for posting olmyster! We do try to accept British and American spellings. Do you remember exactly what sentences you were translating when you got the typo message? Please report specific instances through the "report a problem" option so we can add the missing variants as quickly as possible :)

Thanks again!

August 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/cloclo15

One instance I can think of is that Brits don't really use the terms 'in school' or 'in college' but rather 'at school' or 'at university'. Also, I got marked wrong for translating comfy instead of cosy but I think they have the same meaning. These aren't really a big deal, just a couple of things I encountered today.

August 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Jayson_Virissimo

"Comfy" and "cosy" are synonymous in American English and are both common words. This is not an instance of marking Britishisms incorrect.

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Wunel

Comfy and cosy are not really synonyms in Australian English which draws very heavily on British English. We would describe a house as cosy, perhaps, but never comfy and we would describe our clothing as comfy, but never cosy.

Comfy here refers typically to a physical feeling of comfort whereas cosy refers more usually to the 'feeling' or vibe that a place gives you. Although they can be used interchangeably I find that they rarely are.

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/cloclo15

The example i was thinking of was describing a cushion/pillow. I translated as comfy which is the word i think most Brits would use, but was marked wrong - it wanted cosy.

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Wunel

Yeah I definitely would not describe a cushion as cosy. As per Myra's comment, we are encouraged to correct and inform them whenever a correct non-American form of expression is not accepted.

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/JinxLeRai
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Except that "cosy" is spelled "cozy" in American English. (And actually, I agree with the previous posters; these two words have a subtle but definite distinction in meaning.)

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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I will next time!

Thanks (:

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Chris_Hoopoe

But what about misleading words? British and American English are no longer same language. I am not writing about different spelling and pronunciation . There are lots different words.Just some examples: British - American pants - underpants trousers - pants trainers - sneakers chips - french fries crisps - potato chips And so on. I have recommended duolingo to my friends and some of them use it but no one who wish learn English. There is always same issue. There little chance for European to go to US but there is big demand in Europe to learn English. I think duolingo looses lots of people this way. Is is sad as through my 10+ year interest in language I haven't found better app to learn language. I just don't understand it. There is a ready course it needs only new pronunciation rules implement and change of some words and voila you have got the next one. You can in such case use more area specific adds. Please don't take my post as criticism. I would put it strongly. Duolingo is best language learning system I ever seen. You are doing excellent job. Thank you for that.

Chris

October 9, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/rspreng

Not a new issue, and Duo has been getting better at accepting Brit-isms in the year I have been here. One thing that I think one needs to develop -- or go crazy with frustration ;) -- is the understanding that 'unaccepted by Duo' and 'wrong' are often two very different things, in English, Spanish, etc.....

August 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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I am simply asking that DuoLingo doesn't regard my language as an error, that is all (:

August 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Wunel

I have been using the British spelling system the entire time and have never been marked wrong for it, seems like there are only a few minor issues left. Words as a whole are a different issue, pants vs trousers and so on, although I have been fortunate to use the correct ones so far it seems but quite a few people in the comments have reported issues.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/valleygirl69

I'm replying here instead of below b/c no reply there. Come to think of it, it was "inside lane" versus "outside lane". (Not center lane-- sorry, it was quite a while ago!) In the US outside lane means the lane farthest from the center of the road. Apparently the opposite in UK.

August 31, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/cloudhorizon

I'm sure the duolingo staff doesn't regard British English as an error, nor do they have any intent on devaluing it by not having it accepted in some translations, it's just that it's a site that uses American English, and teaches American English to non English-speakers as well. Although it's always great to have something become more expansive and broad, I think that if they made it completely acceptable for both British and American English, it might, in my opinion, spur a string of requests from people who'd like different dialects of the foreign languages offered, accepted as well. For instance, I'd like it if they could include European Portuguese spelling and words. When I travel to the Portuguese to English section, I will from time to time find European Portuguese speakers complaining that the program should accept European Portuguese spelling and words too. And though I like European Portuguese more and would rather use it than Brazilian Portuguese, I know that duolingo is teaching Brazilian Portuguese and so should they (The people I mentioned before), so I write and use words in Brazillian Portuguese. Again, I'm not saying one is better than the other, it's simply which one is being officially used and taught on this website.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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I completely understand what are you are saying, but my original point was that the application does not even accept these words and has made me lose lives because I have used my own language, which surely cannot be right.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/valleygirl69

olmyster911- Although I agree with commenters who pointed out the burden on the webmaster, I take your point completely. I would be very frustrated also. British English and American English are not the same, as I learned as an American living 10 years in UK. Apart from the spelling, there is the problem of "pants" versus "trousers", and what does "fanny" really mean? (Uh, not that the latter is one I've encountered on DuoLingo).

And, "rather" vs. "quite". And the meaning of "center lane", in the context of driving. Latter meaning is totally opposite in US and UK. And, resulted in, well, bad consequences when I was given this direction whilst driving.

"Two countries divided by a common language"- irrc source of quote is Oscar Wilde, although not a Brit (Irish, I seem to remember).

There really ought to be a site so that those from the US who go to live in the UK can master British English. ;)

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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I'm glad an American can see that the two dialects use very different words! :)

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/valleygirl69

lol, indeed I can! Mind you, I would have never appreciated this had I not lived in the UK for 10 years. Took maybe 2 years for me to sort out the major differences. The "center lane" thing was the most memorable in terms of consequences. When I first arrived my Brit boyfriend "allowed" me to take his precious Dolomite Sprint out for a test drive. He was supervising me, to see if I would be allowed to drive it regularly (well, that was the unstated aim). When he told me to go to the "center lane", I used the only definition I knew- the US one. Which, immediately made him conclude I could not be trusted driving his car. I checked around with both Brits and other Americans there, and established that indeed the meanings were totally opposite. I eventually got to drive the Dolomite Sprint, under rather humbling conditions for him, but that's another story. And, I am a damn good driver. Passed the Brit Driving test on the first go.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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Haha, well done for finally getting it (:

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/valleygirl69

Oh yes! Kinda. Except the fact that I became the driver and he the passenger had nothing to do with my own actions. I was on a trip to the US at the time. I didn't celebrate the reasons this came to be, nor blame him. I tried to reassure him. Maybe you can read between the lines on this one. Nonetheless, it was very liberating for me to be able to drive the Sprint, not to ferry us back and forth to work at sedate speeds, but to take it out on my own to experience the joy of driving fast in a really responsive car.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Wunel

I'm curious, what does centre lane mean in America vs in England? In Australia if we said centre lane it would be the middle of 3 (or 5 on a big road) on the side of the road you are travelling on.

August 30, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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All I asked for is that British English words are accepted as easily as American words, why the big US vs UK discussion??

August 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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Yesterday I used the word 'mum' in the translation box and I lost a life as the correct answer was apparently 'mom' - this is what needs to be fixed!

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/helenvee

They are addressing this and I don't think they really want to be a US centric site. When I first started, when French was still in beta, there was a heavy bias towards US usage. Now, over a year later, there is much less and they have responded to many of the issues - colour is now accepted, for example. There are still some that still haven't been changed though - pants/trousers being one - so just keep drawing their attention to it in the Report a Problem section. I'm sure they will keep making changes based how many of mine they have accepted.

August 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/confusedbeetle

An interesting discussion. I am English and have noticed that Duo have accepted most of my English spellings and many phrases. There is no point about being precious about our own particular brand of the language and I am happy to input Americanisms when I realise what is being asked for. I am only disappointed if I put in a translation that I know is right and it is rejected. Duo can't be on top of all of them so we should just report them as they came up. The site does appear to respond and if our version is good English although not standard American it will no doubt trickle through

August 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/GinnieHazel

Also, when it asks us to call trousers 'pants' we're learning it wrong.

August 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/clyde_the_camel

It's people like you wha' dinnae say "keks" ... :D hee hee hee ...

August 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Yamarrin
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Of course I had to google what this means :)

And it's funny because "keks" means a cookie in my native language :D

August 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/clyde_the_camel

Don't forget to clear your browser's cookies when it gets frightened badly ... :D

August 27, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/hazza_h
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This is especially important during teaching. Duolingo taught me pants as "Hosen" in German, assuming I knew that they actually meant trousers, which I didn't.

I only just realised what was actually meant after reading one of the comments above (it has been almost a year since I learnt the word).

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/valleygirl69

Is this what you mean? I don't know the German words, but one of my UK flickr friends cracked me up in a comment- sadly I can't recapture his wonderful use of words, but he said something to the effect: Pants are worn inside trousers.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/hazza_h
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I take it you're from the US? "Pants are worn inside trousers." is a totally normal sentence to me, haha.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/valleygirl69

Yes, I am from the US. If you read above you'll see that I lived in the UK for 10 years. I guess I didn't explain (and can't since the flickr comment was ages ago) but I guess what made me laugh was not my friend's comment, but somehow the comments that led up to it-from those in the US.

Sometimes it's hard to explain why I find particular things amusing.

I realize that "pants are worn inside trousers" explains the situation, but I have to ask, how often do you have to use that particular sentence? lol

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/olmyster911
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Exactly.

August 28, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Fergus247722
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while the difference between the spelling of color and colour may be trivial, the fact the word power-point is not accepted for what american english speakers call an outlet drives me mental. In Australia you would never hear outlet- an outlet is a kind of clearance store here. Its not about which variety of english is better, its about not being told the way certain countries speak english is wrong. (for the most part, Australian English is just identical to GB English)

February 22, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/pedrevans

I find it really annoying, whenever I use British spelling or word, that duolingo suggests the American spelling or word as an alternative. It doesn't do it the other why round. This is utterly superfluous. I speak British English and am here to learn Italian, not American English. What use is it to me that Americans say "pants" where I say "trousers"?

I have absolutely nothing against American English and I do not advocate that anyone use British English, I just react allergically to the idea that phrases from the one should be suggested as a correct alternative when I have clearly chosen to use the other.

Despite this annoyance, I love duolingo and am very grateful for all the hard work that has gone into making it possible.

April 1, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/ngelCatalS

Same thing happen with Spanish. They focus in latinamerica rather than Spanish from Europe.

December 13, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/AlexLindsay
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Fundamentally, there are languages with significant regional variants. This is less of an issue in the language learning section, where, if you get dinged for a difference in vocabulary or spelling, you can submit it for consideration as legitimate. To my mind, it’s more of an issue in the translations, where there is one ‘language’ translation available. I have been engaged with British versus American usage tugs-of-war on a few occasions where the proper answer is providing a way for users to flag their switch as regionally determined. I’m only tagged as an English speaker, not as an American English speaker. how can a British way of writing a date in an article be more or less correct than an American one? We can squabble about which has more users till we’re blue in the face. The simple truth is that either variant has more users than MANY primary languages around the world. their distinctions need room to be recognized and independently appreciated. It will also help us learn where we might get into hot water in communicating with one another...

January 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/funckyfizz

I might have given you a lingot had you called your self English, Scottish or Welsh as British is not a nationality because Briton is not a nation. Briton is a component of the UK (along with the north of Ireland) which is a nation state. Briton is made up of three nations England, Scotland and Wales (in order of population).

February 6, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Michael13753

A passport issued in the U.K. lists the nationality as "British Citizen".

"British" is the adjective form for "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is the same way that "American" is the adjective form of "United States of America." And despite the fact that neither "Britain" nor "America" are the formal names of sovereign nations, they are both used as shortened forms for them.

And "Briton" is not a nation because it is the word derived from "Britain" to refer to an inhabitant or citizen of the U.K.

Someone from Northern Ireland is entitled to be both a citizen of both the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland, and hold a passport issued by either or both countries. Their nationality can therefore be British or Irish (or both) as self-determined.

Neither England, Scotland, nor Wales are sovereign nations are as such anyone from those countries has a British nationality in addition to that of the respective constituent nation. But the latter are only culturally relevant as only the British nationality holds any legal meaning.

April 16, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Shy_kitten32

oh i really want duolingo to letus learn the british accent i am only part british and i know here is prnouced heeuh

February 10, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Hungry...
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I feel the same, and seeing that you left this comment 3 years ago, and it hasn't been changed, I feel bad. I'm British as well, and I do find this very annoying

February 23, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/MattMaggi
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That's because Duolingo is an American app. Although in Europe we learn British English in schools, so this is being very difficult also for me.

January 20, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/oakalyptus
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I'm glad I found this thread and that it's still alive so that I don't feel weird responding. It has been bothering me for ages that if I use British spelling I am given an "also correct , ", but if I use American spelling it's just "correct". I'd love to see the "also correct when American spelling is used, because so many Americans do not seem to be aware of the situation. I thought, before I make a new post about it I should see whether one already exists, lol.

February 9, 2019
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