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Offensive exercises

The following exercise keeps popping up:

O casamento é para a namorada e para o namorado. Of course everyone is entitled to freedom of expression, but is a language course really the right place?

Or is duolingo actually trying to make a statement?

December 15, 2012



It should read "O casamento ERA para a namorada e para o namarado".


It can be what he wrote also. The diference is that it means that the marriage is for the boyfriend and the girlfriend. While the other versions says that it was for they. But there is nothing gramatically wrong in his sentence.


That same sentence is in the Spanish section. I was not offended. These sentences are just snap shots of peoples conversions not moralizing by duolingo. It did get me thinking how would a child of a gay couple label their gay parents in Spanish. Would "Mis madres"(38,600 google hits) apply to two lesbians? Or would it be "Mis padres" (google hits 15,700,000) as it is with heterosexual couples.


At first I thought something similar: "oh well, those sentences are probably randomly generated or they want to put in a few politically charged sentences. Soon we will get some other phrases." But this is literally the only politically charged sentence in duolingo. If these are snapshots of conversations, then you'd expect other political opinions. I mastered all the lessons that have been made so far for portuguese and I did not find any other political statement.

Some people vehemently believe homosexuals should not be allowed to marry. I vehemently believe they should be allowed to express their opinion. If I encountered the sentence in a document that should be translated, I might even translate it. But this is part of the built in exercises.


"But this is literally the only politically charged sentence in duolingo."

How can you make that statement when you have not yet reached the "Politics" skill?

And have you considered that there may be sentences that other people believe ARE "politically charged?" Not everyone has the same beliefs and political views as you do. Making a big issue of it on a language learning site is just silly.

Also consider that language is not isolated from culture. The origins, meanings, and usage of some words depend on cultural views and customs. It is important to learn and use them in their proper context. It is also important to understand, while in their countries, that their freedoms of speech and expression may not be suitable for practicing the freedoms you have grown accustomed to. Political privileges are not universal. Comprehending this is critical to international travel.


'How can you make that statement when you have not yet reached the "Politics" skill?' Because I completed all the lessons currently offered by duolingo. Politics has not been released yet. If there are charged phrases in politics I find it is perfectly fine, as long as I don't just get taught the vocabulary of one particular point of view, but of both sides. This sentence was not part of the politics lesson.

'And have you considered that there may be sentences that other people believe ARE "politically charged?"': Yes I have, see my response to your earlier post. As I stated, I'd prefer those statements are left out of the non-political exercises too. ' 'Making a big issue of it on a language learning site is just silly.': We seem to be on the same page here. The statement is to millions worldwide emotionally the same as "Marriage isn't for black people". Putting the phrase "Marriage isn't for black people" next to "Please pass the brocoli" as if they are both as normal as night and day fits nicely in the category of making a big issue. So does clinging to the removal of a single phrase, that is to millions just as bad or even worse than racism.

You are absolutely right though that it is important that people know about the differences in culture.

In Bahia and Para, Brazil homosexuals can already marry. In Portugal same-sex marriage is legal. Civil unions are already allowed throughout Brazil and can be converted into a marriage by a judge.

Angola outlaws homosexuality, where Mozambique is fine with it. In both Angola and Mozambique same-sex marriage is still illegal.

So in the end the statement "marriage is for the boyfriend and the girlfriend" is blatantly false for both Brazil and Portugal and the whole matter is quite nuanced.

It is indeed very important that these nuances are taught correctly for each individual country. Repeating a statement that is blatantly false for the countries the majority of portuguese speakers reside in is a terrible approach at teaching these differences.

Teaching the cultures and major streams of political views of countries is a monumental task. Putting charged political phrases in a language course is not going to complete this task.


I remember "The church will fall"(or some variation on it)being a sentence too and it popped up a lot in the Spanish practice.


Greek, Latin, Hebraic, Aramaic. Pretty cool.


another mean sentence in one of the excersies were "the women are large" And "he is stupid" I mean why would you teach a kid or adult to say that to anyone else.Im just concerned.Thats why.


It may not be necessarily teaching someone to say something, but if it is something that people say, it is helpful to know and recognize.


I agree, we will remove this sentence.


In the German course, sentences like "Sie ist ihre Frau.", "Ist sie ihre Frau?", "Ihre Frau schreibt." are also seen with the following note "Don't bother leaving homophobic comments. They will be deleted anyway.".

If duolingo is removing the sentence pointed out by guidocalvano, why not remove these sentences as well?

It's like guidocalvano said, everyone is entitled to freedom of expression but is a language learning course really the right place?


The sentence pointed out by Guidocalvano pushes an agenda whose only stated goal is the erasure of people for who they love or how they identify

The sentences YOU'RE offering up as an example merely acknowledge that these relationships exist, you sock puppet


I don't see how this is "offensive." Sure, some people may be offended by it, but that is a problem with them, not the sentence or the goal of the exercise - which is to improve language and translation skills.

I have moral/philosophical principles inconsistent with monarchy and monarchical customs, but I am not "offended" by exercises that use the words "el rey," "la reina," or "el principe" and integrate them into lessons about foreign cultures. It's all part of the learning process, with cultural differences and opinions being part of it.


But suppose you are a Christian, and suppose there was another phrase, shown again and again and again: "The church is based on stupidity" (and no statement about atheism or other religions ever). Would you still enjoy your language course as much?

Maybe some feel that the phrase describes society's customs. But these customs are certainly not the customs of many cultures world wide. In my particular subculture almost everyone thinks Christians are crazy for instance (and let me be clear that I don't think Christians are crazy or stupid), but worldwide Christians are everywhere.

These statements add nothing to the course that cannot be added with any other phrase. It is needlessly charged and will hurt people. It is a piece of cake to remove it.

Maybe some feel that people should be hurt if they belong to this group, or even that it is better for them if they are, but is this the place? Christians in my subculture get enough nagging about their religion already. Can they have a break during their language course? We all deserve and need at least some peace, and especially when we are studying right?

Again, if it was a part of an actual translation, I would not mind translating charged statements. I know those opinions exist. Heck I might even translate something racist (and that would be funny given that I probably have every race but asian running through my blood). But if these statements pop up in the exercises, it no longer comes acros as just an opinion. It becomes a hurtful statement made by duolingo put in an inappropriate place.


"Marriage is for the boyfriend and the girlfriend" is hardly a "politically charged" sentence. That's how most people associate marriage and it's not at all "offensive" to teach someone LEARNING A LANGUAGE to use those words in such a sentence. And from an integration standpoint, it wouldn't make much sense to form two separate sentences (or multiple sentences) describing what marriage COULD be - such as:

"Marriage is for the boyfriend and the boyfriend." Or...

"Marriage is for the girlfriend and the girlfriend."

If you can use three appropriate words in one meaningful and easy to remember sentence, then why not do it? What makes that "offensive" from a teacher-student perspective? Why add layers of redundancy when it's completely unnecessary?

If it had said, "Marriage can ONLY be between a man and a woman," then you'd have a point. As that sentence stands, I don't see how it's a problem for people who want to learn a language and who use word association to help them. But then again, I don't like to make big issues out of non-issues.


'"Marriage is for the boyfriend and the girlfriend" is hardly a "politically charged" sentence.'

YES THE FRAK IT IS. That is THE rallying cry for homophobes and sexists


There are countless phrases that are also easy to remember. So there is no need to make a complex construct of sentences describing in what combinations genders can marry. But even if you would "o casamento é para os namorados" suffices. Namorados can represent any combination of male and female partners marrying each other. The original phrase does state marriage is only between a man and a woman. So lets not make a big issue and argue about this and agree that it was a good decision to pick another exercise (:


Well then, good luck with your crusade.


Guido, thank you for reporting this sentence and persistently replying to others' comments. I share your position, and I hope, had I encountered this sentence myself, I would have done the discussion as calmly and articulately as you.



Who cares if your feeling were hurt? Just get over it or stop using the site.


I think Duolingo does. As far as I know, large parts of the world, if not the majority, feel homosexual marriage is as normal as considering black people equal to white people. To us this phrase reads exactly the same as "black people should sit at the back of the bus". I live in a place where discrimination of homosexuals was already totally unacceptable when I was born. I won't be the only one to quit. A large part of duolingo's users could quit over this sort of thing. And then they could inform others of their discontent. A large number of users has probably already quit.

I realize you might feel threatened by homosexual marriage. You feel like it makes marriage less special. But it made marriage more amazing where I live. It is no longer tainted with conformity. It is now purely about love.




Thank you very much ^^

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