I was just wondering if anybody had any ideas about why Duo chose Klingon to put in the Incubator instead of a real-life language.
I swear that was my first thought, Gena. Honestly, everything that happens on here I want to chalk up to April 1st.
Good point Alexis, maybe we've all ended up in Cloud Cuckoo Land without noticing :-)
I agree with Wackyjack and the other opposition to Klingon. I'm shaking my head at you, Duo. Shaking it vigorously.
i agree, i would much rather see real languages added to duolingo than fake ones. there are a lot of beautiful world languages that need some love. the forums are filled with arabs and chinese and indians and speakers of the smaller euro languages repeatedly offering themselves as creators to the point of begging to get their mother tongues onto duolingo to share with the world, and i just dislike seeing a few people's personal hobbies like klingon and esperanto added instead.
I think they know what it means and want to imply that Klingon and Esperanto aren't "real" (probably in the sense of "natural") languages. And they're not alone with their feeling:
Esperanto. The feeling of disgust we get if we utter an invented word with invented derivative syllables. The word is cold, lacking in associations, and yet it plays at being ‘language’. A system of purely written signs would not disgust us so much.
For the record, I personally don't think that there is anything wrong with invented languages per se or that they're "fake" or "unreal", but apparently some people do.
I find it bugs me because it's simply so inaccurate. There's plenty of words people can use to insult it without being simply wrong, y'know? A language that has hundreds of thousands of speakers (and even some native speakers) and that has literature both original and translated, that has couples who met through Esperanto, yadda yadda... that's not a fake language, you know? It's a ridiculous word to use.
Exactly right! No language (constructed or otherwise) endures for a century or more in times good and bad without accruing a genuine history, culture, and reason to be preserved. I don't even think it's widely known that people died in Nazi Germany and the USSR for the "crime" of spreading Esperanto (including Zamenhof's own daughter Lidia), and yet those regimes, hard as they tried still couldn't snuff out this language. That's an awful lot of persecution and human suffering to endure, and I doubt highly that those people would have willingly endured it just for the sake of preserving something "useless" and "fake."
I did not know that, but it definitely makes calling it fake even more problematic and insulting.
By any common definition of language, Esperanto is a real language. Unfortunately some people don't really seem to get that, and are somehow insulted by its very existence :-/
Oh, I'm not disagreeing with you, just trying to provide some perspective where they might be coming from. I agree though. Claiming that something is (morally) good just because it is natural (or vice versa) is actually a so-called "naturalistic fallacy" (or "is-ought problem"). (This isn't quite the same because liking or disliking a language isn't exactly a moral assessment, but the line of reasoning could be similar.)
Oh, don't worry, I understood - doesn't it just go to show that it's possible to share a common language and still not necessarily communicate well ;-p
I think I would really rather people had proper, valid reasons, even if I didn't agree with them, than falling back on the utterly ridiculous "fake language" rhetoric. I had a similar discussion recently with someone deriding Klingon and Sindarin as fake languages, and even though I definitely don't have a horse in that particular race, I find it just ignorant to dislike them for being "fake". Not to mention the aspect of trying to control what other people do with their time: why are people so offended that someone else enjoys something they don't?
There are valid complaints against Esperanto (hasn't stopped me from attempting to learn it, but as with most things, it isn't perfect) and indeed against other fictional/constructed/planned languages, but the whole "not a real language" argument just frustrates me. It's just such a silly, ignorant complaint. sigh
Okay, enough of me ranting. It's clearly past my bedtime ;-p
and i just dislike seeing a few people's personal hobbies like klingon and esperanto added instead.
I'm sorry but between 100,000 and 2,000,000 people speak Esperanto worldwide! The language is not just one persons personal hobby, on the contrary, it is a large language people use to communicate and share ideas and thoughts!
Here is my source: Esperanto
Does it even have that much vocabulary? It would be interesting and maybe once I learn it I can create a children's book with the vocabulary Wait how about Vulcan?
Apparently it has enough vocabulary for a translation of Hamlet and the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Klingon has about 3000 words, I think. This isn't much and sometimes requires a bit of creativity but it is enough to be acually used as a spoken language. There was even a guy who tried to raise his son as a bilingual (English and Klingon) and he did only give up because at some points his son refused to continue using Klingon, not because the lack of Klingon words.
I see no harm in them making it a course. I'm not very interested in it to be honest and I'm a little disappointed because I really want Catalan but you know the more languages the better.
I'd have no quarrel with Klingon. I am not insane enough to pick a fight with this warrior language and best of luck to that community. However given that as Latin is the ultimate warrior's tongue even more so than Klingon given the saying, "Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings, they did it by killing all those who opposed them" then Latin should soon given a chance in the incubator?
My opinion is that they want to teach an auxiliary language that isn't as serious as Esperanto. It was either Klingon, Elvish or Na'vi. They chose Klingon.
Because it's still a language and there's interest in it. May not be everyone's cup of tea, but hey, that's what they chose, so we all roll with it.
I can't wait to see job résumés that say "Fluent in: xxx, xxx, xxx, and Klingon." xD
I, for one, look forward to the day when I can write "Fluent in: Croatian, English, Italian, Irish, Klingon"! If that doesn't make my CV stand out from all the rest, I don't know what will...
Add fluent in assembly language in addition to those human languages and you will be distinguished.
*Shudder* I once learned Assembly as part of a 3rd year course on Operating System design, I distinctly remember using SPIM.
Don't do it. Just learn ANSI C, that should be low level enough for just about everything you need to do while still not being so low as to give you an aneurysm.
I think I had done a course on ANSI C at one point. It was actually quite enjoyable after the BASIC I learnt at school :)
Klingon would work if you're a linguist but I can't imagine any other job where I would put that on my resume. Oh wait, writer/director for a Star Trek film/television program.
Oh, you'd be surprised by the things people put on their resumes (for quite normal, serious office jobs) in order to stand out and seem interesting. Bench press records and the time they take to solve a Rubik's cube, for example...
Yeah, I know it gets crazy. HR was a fun job. And when crap hits the fan, the HR department is the first to know and the last to go. ;-)
I'm happily not actually working in HR., but have just been involved in a lot of hiring processes. :-)
Bench press records and the time they take to solve a Rubik's cube, for example... Really? That's hilarious :-D
Yup, those are real examples... I guess something like that works extremely well for maybe 5% of potential employers, and really not that well for the rest. But hey, it's finding the right match that counts!
There was a psychiatric hospital looking for a clinician fluent in Klingon, because one of the patrons would only speak Klingon. You'd be surprised where languages come in handy.
I’m really confused about why people complain that "Duolingo should have added Latin/Japanese/Arabic/whatever instead of Klingon". This Klingon course will be built for free by a few Klingon-speaking people. Are you suggesting that those Klingon-speaking people should instead build an Arabic course (although they probably don’t speak any Arabic)? It’s not because some people volunteered to build a Klingon course that less people will volunteer to build a Japanese course!
No one is worried about lack of eager contributors at all, actually. It's the choice Duo made to launch this course over others that have some people ticked off.
Something I haven't seen anyone say yet in a comment is that conlangs are really, really fun and they draw people into studying languages and becoming passionate about languages all the time. They are like language-crack. They get people addicted. The fact that not many people speak conlangs is a plus, and certainly not a minus. (I would absolutely love to learn Sindarin, myself.) Why do people think things are a zero sum game and having one thing takes away from something else? No, no, conlangs expand the field, open the conversation wider, introduce a whole lot of joy and playfulness into the arena, and enhance everyone's experience. Constructed languages are simply awesomely cool and exciting. How is it that the naysayers can't get a glimpse of that fact? It boggles me, honestly.
What if the advent of Klingon now means that ultimately there will be a lot more people interested in Latin when it finally comes, as we all know it will someday? For that we need more language nerds, and who knows how many language nerds are generated by contact with conlangs? J.R.R. Tolkien's work, for instance, is responsible for helping me tap into my own passion for languages. What if this move furthers the aims of the Latin community far better than they ever expected?
Klingon is a real language. Yes, it was created for a (very awesome) TV show, but it's a real language anyone can learn.
It's not a problem that Klingon is being added. It's just a few developers working on it. The problem is that they should add Latin. Latin is a great language, and it is the basis for many languages.
Sure it does, Duolingo is about learning a language and Klingon is a language, albeit a small one, so therefore it is perfectly fine for Duolingo to teach Klingon.
The value of Duolingo is in it's openness - as long as you can find someone to make the course there's no reason you can't have Klingon /and/ Sindarin /and/ Finnish /and/ Icelandic /and/ Noongar /and/ Algonquin, etc. Having Klingon doesn't exclude the other languages.
It does not exclude anything, but we are always reminded of the finite resources of the small team. Of course picking one language does impact on the availability of those resources for other languages, even though the courses are built by volunteers.
However, although am not interested in learning Klingon myself, I can see this one working out quite well publicity-wise for Duolingo as a whole.
That is a fair point. There are potentially 7 billion course creators, but only a few supervisors.
Every time a new language is added to the incubator, be it a real or a constructed one, there's at least a couple of posts going "Why didn't they add the language I want instead?!" in the middle of a celebratory thread. The sense of entitlement always irks me a bit. The idea that one language can somehow steal the spot of another also strikes me as unlikely.
This time I get why it's causing a stir, I really do. It's a language with little value to anyone not already interested in the Star Trek franchise. However, it's a low maintenance (not constantly evolving, not comprised of a thousand regional dialects) language, that is likely to to earn Duolingo a lot of publicity among people they may not otherwise have reached. Not just Star Trek fans, but fans of other Sci-Fi franchises, and TV buffs, nerds and geeks in general. Who in turn will post about it on their blogs, tell their friends, their families, and that random person on some online forum who just happened to mention something even remotely related to language learning.
I saw someone condescendingly refer to "those nerdy people" in another answer here, but the truth is we're a bunch language nerds here. Nerds, in any field, are some of the best users a site can have; they're knowledgeable, intelligent, passionate, and highly likely to spread the word about whatever it is they're interested in. They also tend to bring that passion with them into any other field that catches their interest. Because they just can't do it halfway, that slight obsession is what drives them.
I have no intention of learning Klingon, but I sure wouldn't mind seeing even more nerds on Duo. ;)
Reading certain books has been a key motivator for my language learning pursuits. Guess I'm a nerd.
I think the reason there is such a backlash is that we are nerds. As a nerd I have to admit that one of our less desirable qualities is that we can take offense at things that don't suit us.
Since most answers in this thread so far were about whether Duolingo should have added Klingon, I thought I'd share my (very shaky) theory about why they actually did so. As others have mentioned, this will give Duolingo a lot of publicity. Probably short term in the next few days, but more importantly, there is a new Star Trek movie set to come out in the summer of next year. If all things go well, the Klingon course might graduate from beta around that time (or at least it should be in beta), which might give Duolingo another boost in publicity around that time (like "There's a new Star Trek movie coming out! By the way, did you know you can actually learn Klingon with this app Duolingo?"). It is also possible (although I have no real reason to assume that this is the case) that Paramount Pictures (or some other company) might support Duolingo and/or the Klingon course financially in return for making the course. Having a conlang from your franchise being available on a language learning platform like Duolingo would (in my opinion) be a nice marketing "gag", which might not be a huge dent in the advertisement budget of any big blockbuster production, but it could still be a a big help for Duolingo (seeing that as far as I know the "immersion" translations aren't really lucrative so far). And even if that isn't the case, provided that Klingon will be a success other franchises might be interested in having their conlangs on Duolingo as well and be willing to pay for it.
But that is just a not very well founded (conspiracy) theory of mine. Besides the added publicity (which seems quite certain if you take a look at the amount of answers in this thread alone), there could be several other benefits of adding Klingon. E. g., according to Wikipedia, "[t]he Klingon language has a number of unusual grammatical features", so it might be a good way to develop and test some new features. And Duolingo will see how users will react to a conlang being added and made available, which could be helpful for deciding which languages to add in the future (as some others have mentioned, there hasn't really been a conlang (I'm not counting Esperanto here) on Duolingo before).
Yes, this would be great for two reasons:
1) If Duolingo already has Paramount Studios' permission in writing for this, then Paramount would not sue Duolingo for using Paramount's trademarks (see http://boingboing.net/2004/03/08/klingon-is-copyright.html and http://languagehat.com/copyrighting-a-language/ ).
2) If Paramount is paying Duolingo to advertise Star Trek this way, and Duolingo is charging a fee high enough, and most of the course is made by Star Trek fans volunteering their time for free; then Duolingo would have money left over to increase its "bandwidth" and could add courses for languages such as Catalan and K’iche’ even sooner. :)
So yes, I hope your guess is true (instead of Duolingo giving Paramount free advertising).
Yes, your number 2) is precisely what I had in mind. Keep in mind though that this is pure, baseless speculation on my part. I think it would be a good idea if it works, but unless we have confirmation that Duolingo has made a deal like this we shouldn't create the impression that there is anything more to it than wishful thinking (as far as we know, anyway).
I really hope that's the case; it's honestly the only way I see this whole thing making sense. However, if it is the case, I do kinda wish they'd be open about it.
I agree completely, and I guess my theory was mostly based on hope as well (since there obviously isn't any evidence). I think that Duolingo could in general profit from looking for other sources of income and maybe from going into a non-profit direction. Apart from franchises trying to push conlangs, institutions wishing to conserve natural languages might be willing to provide support (either financial or by other resources, like experts). But whatever their reason for choosing Klingon at this moment might have been, I too wish that they would have explained it better (or just explained it; and I would welcome more openness about strategic or other important decisions in general as well).
Oh, I think going nonprofit could really benefit them. Especially if they're serious about bringing easy-to-use English learning to parts of the developing world, and creating courses for minority languages.
> (or just explained it; and I would welcome more openness about strategic or other important decisions in general as well).
If there's one thing Duo isn't, it's open. They rely too much on their A/B tests (though I half feel they implement them in order to get the results they want then use it as justification when questioned...) and they just don't communicate well. Like, I understand they're a small team, but how long does a post saying "This is why we did this." take?
Well, I am not interested in klingon. That's it. I don't mind anything what happens with it, however, I support everyone who puts his effort to make it happen for people who want it. For me, this language is the same interesting as swahili, chinese or highly demanded languages of Polynesia, and yet I would be totaly ok with any of them being added, since I will still wish for "my" latin or wait for russian, hungarian, polish and hebrew being finished.
So, show a litle tolerance, each user here wish for different language combination, so lets be happy for some wishes coming true, insted of being grumpy because it is not yours this time. I belive one day, every language will be here :)
I love how people whine about Klingon being added. It's not like there are a lot of things to consider to add any course. How many GOOD contributors are there? You can't take any random person who just likes or barely speaks a language. Different alphabets are already hard to implement and there are probably even more reasons why arabic and co. aren't added yet. Also what is the point of having a course in the Incubator when there isn't any real progress anyway like Yiddish for example. It's in there for weeks and not any progress so far.
What is better? Not add any language because reasons or add something that is probably done before any other language comes up anyway.
But I guess it is human's nature to complain about any minor inconveniences. If you are really really really into learning a specific language you will always find something to learn it. Duolingo does not even bring you close to fluency. It is just a nice start.
It will increase traffic to the site and possibly encourage those people to also learn a real-life language.
Klingon will also attract younger users who aren't interested or ready for a real-life language.
Seeing as Star Trek is an old franchise, I suspect the most of the die-hard fans are actually a rather mature bunch. Regardless of that though, Duolingo is actively seeking young users, as should be evident by their focus on school features.
I think this is awesome! I hope one day High Valyrian and Dothraki will be on Duolingo too, despite their lexicons not being fully fleshed out yet. That said, I am completely astonished at the amount of hate for conlangs other than Esperanto on this website. It is unreal. This community is for the most part toxic to any language that isn't deemed "useful", whatever that really means, because the usefulness of a language varies from person to person. How about everyone lets people volunteer for what they want to volunteer for and learn what they want to learn?
I don't see a lot of "hate" here. I see people having issues with the priorities of Duolingo.
Duolingo is of course free to launch which courses they want and allocate their resources as they like, but it's a bit iffy to announce that a course (Catalan for Spanish) will be launched the following week. then renege on that without any explanation, and several weeks later launch a completely different course. People feeling let down by that is not the same as them hating Klingon.
I don't think that having Klingon in the incubator is going to prevent any other language from happening. Although I don't think that it is a useful language, I think that a lot people wanted it.
its ridiculous,there are lots of languages about to become extinct and duolingo launches a fictional lamguage,a bit shameful indeed.
I believe the languages that get added to the incubator are more a reflection of the number and dedication of course contributors than the personal choice of Duolingo officials. If Klingon has more active course contributors willing to put in work toward completing a course than a real-life competitor language, it would naturally be ready to be put into the incubator first. More incentive for you bilinguals out there to apply to be a course contributor for a language we haven't seen yet :P
i know this is an old board, but id like to make a bit of a point. i enjoy learning languages a lot, because for me its good exercise for my mind. klingon is a good way for me to exercise my brain, and im a huge fan of star trek anyway. i wanted to learn klingon even before i watched anything of it, it just seemed so interesting. ive already partially learned na'vi, dragon tongue, and ive learned to read dwarvish runes, why not add klingon into the mix? i know a lot of people want real life languages, like i would LOVE to have finnish here since my dad is finn and i wanna speak it with him, but for now i would love to learn klingon to keep myself occupied with a language.
Why not? Adding klingon doesn't get rid of other languages. It's an or, but it's inclusive, not exclusive. In other words, it's not klingon OR japanese, it's klingon OR japanese OR both, and because it's all about input over ouitput, if Duolingo can get a language for nothing, it should, regardless of what the language is (Unless it's some small conlang made by a teenage boy in australia with more time than he knows what to do with). If people will learn it, there is no reason why it shouldn't be there as well.
I asked this question earlier and got downvoted like crazy. In my opinion, if Duo is going to teach a language not currently in use, they should teach Latin, which can help with the romance languages, not to mention understanding the texts of ancient Rome. Some have argued that Duo is a site for having fun while learning languages, and I totally agree. However, the purpose of language, at its core, is communication, and Klingon is not widely spoken nor does it have a rich literature like Latin. Have 15 lingots.
I never get this fascination with Latin as something that can "help" with the romance languages. Yes, they are all derived from Latin...but knowing that Spanish "mucho", Portuguese "muito", Italian "multo", and Romanian "mult" all come from Latin's "multum", while being really interesting, doesn't "help much" in my opinion since, each time you learn one of the romance languages, you still need to memorize a new, albeit incredibly similar, word.
I am fluent in Spanish and took the French course here on DL and I would wager a guess that Spanish (and English) helped me understand French at least as well as learning Latin would have helped. It seems, given how much all the romance languages have changed since breaking from Latin, that learning any one of the romance languages would be a better base to learn the rest than Latin itself.
I have often had the same thought about Latin. Besides French (which I kinda sorta speak), I haven't studied any Romance languages formally. The closest I got was musical Italian and holiday Spanish. I took the placement tests for Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and managed to get to the point of being able to buy and laugh at the flirting bonus skills (my only reason for doing the tests!) in Spanish and Italian, and I think within a couple of skills of doing so in Portuguese (I do know that getting from the end of my placement test to bonus skills didn't take me long) based almost entirely on French and guesswork.
Latin has loads of features that most of the modern Romances languages have lost or modified, and while there are similarities (my impression is, particularly with Italian, but I'm not sure), I can't see how Latin is somehow magically more helpful than any of the romance languages are at helping you learn another one, particularly when some of its offspring have more similarities with each other than with Latin. I would rather learn a language that was actually in use (if I had to learn a romance language, they aren't my favourite!) that could potentially help me with others, as opposed to one that is essentially a dead language.
If someone can suggest a community of interesting people who communicate primarily in Latin, that might be tempting, but "it might help you with other Romance languages" is not a convincing reason to give it preference over an actual living language which can do the same and might be useful for actually talking to people.
In short, I agree with you.
Eh, I agree that people overstate its usefulness, but I do think that some degree of familiarity with it helps. If you see, say, a Spanish word that's a cognate with an English word, you can guess what it means easily enough, but if you don't already know the word in Spanish, knowing what English words have Latin roots might help you produce a cognate yourself.
Also, as soon as you start studying multiple ones, I think a bit of Latin helps you piece together the puzzle and understand in what ways each one has evolved. It's not for everyone, but if you're the type who likes etymology and always wants to know why something works the way it does, Latin is definitely illuminating.
Well sure, but wanting to learn etymology because it is (and I agree) fascinating, is different than wanting to learn how to speak a language. Learning Latin for the sake of guessing a cognate or two while you are learning Spanish seems to be quite the lofty auxiliary skill to have.
Don't get me wrong, I find "piecing the puzzle together" to be fascinating, and I am getting an MA in linguistics, so the depth of the puzzle pieces isn't lost on me, I just don't think it's any more helpful in language learning than just the idea of learning a second language in general.
Well, for me the etymology really isn't simply a matter of it being fascinating. If I don't know the etymology, it takes me ten times longer to learn the word. There are a handful of Spanish words that only finally clicked when I found out about their Arabic origins. These may just be an odd type of mnemonic device - the origin intrigues me so I remember the word better, but I'd probably be less efficient if I'd never studied Latin.
I agree that you shouldn't learn Latin just because you think it's going to help you with other Romance Languages, because it's a waste of effort if you're not legitimately interested in it. But everyone's brain is wired differently, and saying Latin is never useful isn't fair to neurotic philologists. ;)
nor does it have a rich literature like Latin
Hey, you haven't really experienced Shakespeare until you've read him in the original Klingon.
Choosing the next language is not easy and based on far more aspects than the possible usefulness per se:
- Are there enough people who want to learn the language? Yes, there are since Klingon has been requested for ages.
- Are there other ressources who could teach the language? Not that much, thus it's important to get the language to Duolingo.
- Are there the right persons who can build the course? Yes, loghaD seems to be a very promising candidate of being a very good course mod.
- Is the current incubator able to implement the language? Yes, it is in contrast to, say, Chinese for English speakers.
- Is the Duolingo staff able to communicate with the team? Yes, loghaD is a Swedish native speaker and fluent in English and Klingon, his course mentor Vivisaurus is able to speak Swedish and fluent in English as well.
- Will the language bring Duolingo users a lot of joy? Hell yeah!
- Will it increase the reputation of Duolingo? Certainly.
- a few more points.
And all in all, Klingon is a well-thought choice!
I just want to say that all these points (not sure about reputation) are true for Icelandic, Finnish etc. as well, and they have been in higher demand.
...and yet you have to find the right people to do it. I don't know the particular reason for each language and honestly, I don't care that much. All I'm saying is that the Duo staff knows what they are doing and that there are always reasons that one language had been incubated before other ones.
Totally agree. Native speakers of Finnish and Icelandic who could build the courses are probably hard to find. Native speakers of Klingon are certainly easier to find.
I can't speak for quality (that is of course indeed entirely for Duolingo to decide), but many, many people have mentioned on here that they have applied for Finnish.
@ MultiLinguAlex: I don't think anyone is disputing your points re: Klingon, but I would still ask you to consider these points also re: other languages that have not yet been picked.
For example, there are no really good courses out there for Finnish (trust me, I've looked). Also, if you're asking me whether anyone good has applied for Finnish, I would of course say "at least one"... ;-)
@annika_a I do respect the other arguements. I know that it must be frustrating for everybody who wants to learn Catalan, Finnish, Islandic, Maltese, Amharic etc.
All I'm saying is:
Having a Klingon course will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people.
It won't harm any other person.
It is useful for those who want to learn it, even if others cannot understand it.
Having chosen Klingon before other languages has its reasons. Why may not understand these, but they are valid.
I hope I could express myself appropriately. I'm just a bit angry now because of those who think that it is bad or even insulting to have chosen it right now. (And yes, I understand the anger for Catalan not being in the incubator until today).
@MultiLinguAlex: Thanks for replying.
I am not sure everyone will agree with your second point. Finite resources, and so on.
While your fourth point is of course true in it's strictest sense, it would (again) have helped if Duolingo (the staff) would give some insight into the good reasons for Klingon and/or updates on the Catalan course (as an example, since this is one they have already raised hopes for -- I've stopped holding my breath for Finnish a long time ago). I fail to see how one can judge something we do not know as a valid reason.
I am certainly not disagreeing with Duolingo for making this decision, but I cannot see why other people's disappointment in this decision (for whatever reason) would make anyone angry. It's just opinions, everyone's got one, and life goes on.
Lol. Of course they are, but that is not the point of my thought. loghaD is willing to do a course, all above-mentioned points have been valid for Klingon. Even if the staff found some native Finnish of Icelandic speakers who actually would like to build the course, applied and got sure that their future Duolingo mentor understands their native language, some of the other points may not meet the expectations of the Duo staff (like there are more resources for learning Finnish than Klingon).
@annika_a: Quality is the point. We've been receiving hundreds of applications for our DE<->EN courses, but there is no application that meets all of our expectations so far =(
Does the mentor have to understand the native language? The vast majority of applicants have no trouble speaking English, so why would the staff need to speak Finnish or Icelandic.
And as annika said, there have been many, many people who have applied, and I know that includes people who are willing to put time on the project. And if you have ever been to Finland, you should know that the quality of the contributors is no problem either (pretty sure the same goes for Icelandic).
It's one fact that countries like Finland are known for their skillful English speakers and one that very, very few people meet the standards of an incubator course. Like I wrote above, our EN-DE courses received hundreds of applications and I would't accept a single one because a lot of different points must meet the expectations of a certain team. And even if there are 2 or 3 perfect applications for Finnish right now, maybe there are some other important aspects missing right now.
Does the mentor have to understand the native language? Not necessarily, but it would be better. I just wanted to point out that the staff make their decision based on a lot of various aspects and that could be a minor one.
I find the notion that suitable applicants are few and far between a little hard to credit. Many of us speak multiple languages, and the way Duolingo builds its courses and then improves on them is highly incremental. Can you elaborate on what makes all these people fail your standards? Full disclosure, I have not applied for German-English :-) The notion that, by contrast, there are fluent speakers of Klingon who do make the grade,.. well that makes me even more curious, to put it mildly. Perhaps it is the selection process for the living languages that needs to be tweaked?
Will the language bring Duolingo users a lot of joy?
Not with this user it won't.
Will it increase the reputation of Duolingo?
Only among those nerdy people who are asking for a useless language.
All in all Klingon is a well thought choice
Perhaps if all you are interested in is increasing Duo's popularity rather than its educational value. I think I remember Luis saying his main motivator was to educate the very poor people in his native latin america and the rest of the world. I wonder what benefit they will get from learning Klingon?
What has happened to those early inspirational thoughts Luis?
Great points. Klingon has little practical value. At least Esperanto, another constructed language, has been shown to increase the ability to learn other languages later.
But that's because Esperanto was supposed to be similar to every language, not the case of Klingon
EDIT: Misread, didn't see the "at least" :S My bad
Esperanto was supposed to be similar to every language
Supposed to be, and yet only similar to European languages. :P
@WackyJack if Klingon is impractical, why have many people singed up to get notified in the first day of it's release? Also, it's probably part of Duolingo's strategy. They get all the Star Trek fans (I think that's what Klingon is from) and More Star Trek fans=More users. More users=More Popularity.
...his main motivator was to educate the very poor people in his native Latin America...
And Duo has English courses galore, some of them being to Spanish and Portuguese, the two main languages spoken in Latin America. The others are to plenty of other languages spoken in Europe and Asia. And if I'm not mistaken, there is an English course for Arabic speakers, which can therefore be used by millions of people.
I think his first objectives have been met. No, he hasn't solved the problem of poverty by himself but he sure gave people a means to learn English for free and open up career paths. He participated in this effort. One man.
At the same time, English speakers are far from being unfairly treated since they (we) have the largest choice in languages. Romance languages, Germanic languages, Scandinavian languages, Turkish, Irish (!), and very soon Slavic languages and Esperanto are coming. I'd say we're quite lucky to be offered this chance to learn languages for free, even though we don't meet the initial criterias.
So no, I will probably never even try the Klingon course and yes, some natural languages could have been added beforehand. But we knew conlangs would be coming eventually, and given the fact there are about 6000 languages spoken in the world, it was meant to happen before every single natural language, dead or alive, has been added.
So let's just accept this fact as it is and be patient :)
Quick note . . . if you can turn a profit from Klingon (or Star Trek) and your name is not William Shatner, then the language is not completely useless.
I'm going to venture a guess that you don't work with impoverished children very often. I sometimes volunteer with kids at the Inkster Public Library (Inkster is a city in Metro-Detroit. Its school district went bankrupt and kids have to be bused to neighboring cities; its library somehow still stands, but it, the library for the entire city, only has 5 people on staff). These kids were dealt a really bad hand in life and most of them will give up before they turn 13. They simply give up. They stop caring about what happens to them and they stop caring about what happens to people around them. It's possible to bring them back from the abyss, but really, if you want to prevent this you have to catch it early.
The good news is, these kids are kids at one point. They have interests. They come to Christmas parties wearing Olaf hats and singing "Let It Go." I'm sure some of these kids even like Star Trek (especially with the recent movies). Wouldn't it be awesome if I could tell them that there was a place where they could totally learn Klingon? They could go on Duolingo using the library's computers and learn something that excites them. Maybe they'll realize learning is fun and want to learn about more stuff. Maybe they'll take their education seriously as they get older so that they have a fighting chance to get out of the hole in the ground they grew up in.
Wouldn't that be something?
I'll be the first to admit, this is all a bit far-fetched and a lot of conjecture; but I assure you, if this were possible, pop culture languages like Klingon would stand a far better chance at pulling it off than many of the other oft-requested languages.
Have you ever considered that Duolingo has become much more than Luis' early thought? The EN<->ES courses have more than 30 million learners! 30 MILLION! I don't understand your entire point.
I agree! Adding Klingon does NOT take away from your ability to learn English or Spanish or French or any other language. In fact, it helps Duo's mission: Spreading free language learning to the world... Also, the addition of Klingon does not mean a Latin course can not be created, it doesn't mean it will be created later. It just means work has begun on a Klingon course. If someone knows Klingon I don't see the HARM in adding it. The reason other languages have not been added is because either there are technological blocks or because the Duo team want perfection and it takes time to get the right people. In this age everybody wants everything instantly, I think we can wait. We know Duolingo is not trying to hurt people, they are trying to HELP people and adding any language will achieve that goal further.
Oh my gosh. Please find a source where you name the exact percentage that actually learns a language here. Luis stated somewhere that approx. 50 percent are logging in once a month. It's still more than in EVERY other resource WORLDWIDE.
BUT THAT IS NOT THE POINT. The point is that those who learn Klingon do not harm those 15 million learners (or 10, or 5, can you name it?) who learn Spanish or English. It does NOT harm the fact that Duolingo is extremely helpful for those poor Latin American children, Luis' thoughts on being awesome and building tools for those who want to use a wonderful resource FOR FREE still became reality.
I get very angry not because of your thought, but because of the whole discussion here. psionpete missed the entire point entirely and that is quite sad.
psionpete, I'm sorry for my tone and for not expressing me appropriately, but I feel that your comment is disrespectful and has nothing to do with the whole discussion whether it can be useful for poor children or what the initial idea of Luis was. It would be the same to ask why mankind researches for better opportunities to improve technical innovations whereas not every human is able to obtain water each day. I hope that you understand my point and anger, but I apologize for my tone.
Totally agree, I am very disappointed that Duolingo have chosen this over so many other real languages that people want. For example, Arabic, Latin, Finnish, Icelandic, Japanese, Farsi, Maltese, Catalan, Basque, Amharic, Afrikaans, Serbo-Croatian... the list goes on and on. It should have been added years later, and certainly after all the languages I mentioned. Klingon was (in my opinion) a very poor choice indeed.
I thought of you as soon as I saw the announcement, StrapsOption. After all your hard work trying to get Maltese accepted, Klingon stole your thunder! You've even organised a group of people willing to work on Maltese. Surely Arabic has plenty of supporters too, and would do its best for improving world harmony through bringing cultures together. What's next? Navi before Chinese?
By the way, did you ever get a reply from the moderators about your application?
You're telling me. This whole thing shouldn't need to be talked about, it's just too ludicrous. Thank you for remembering me.
What is this application you speak of?
Klingon's not useless. Fans of Star Trek jump at any chance to learn this language. Us Trekkies love to be able to speak to each-other in the language of our fandom.
With respect, I'm fairly surprised at how "Ra Ra Cheer Squad" you're being about this decision Alex, how you're freely expressing anger at other people's natural disappointment and how you're arguing from an authoritarian position - "they did it so it must have been the right thing to do".
Personally I think the choice to do Klingon now was a blunder. I think this for a number of reasons:
As many people are already saying it will frustrate a lot of people who have been waiting for their (natural human) language to be accepted.
This includes potential contributors who might choose to give up waiting and move on to other things. I think a lot of people who apply to the incubator do it when they feel they have the time to make a proper commitment in terms of time and energy. The longer they wait for their application to be processed the greater the potential for their situation to change and it ends up them not being able to commit.
Luis has been very good at doing self-promotion for duolingo - reddit AMAs etc - and I admire him for that. However, if Klingon was done as some sort of publicity generator then I personally think that we're getting into the schlocky end of the promotion business.
Following on from points 1 and 2 above, the culture that appears to have grown up around duolingo seems to be a bit of a nerdy culture with, perhaps, some lack of emotional intelligence. Not all that uncommon in IT startups! I think this decision was an example of something that appealed to their playful nerdy sense without it also registering that from an emotional intelligence point of view, it probably wasn't the smartest play at this time because it was going to upset quite a large proportion of the user base.
Luis has been saying how stretched they are recently with their small team. I think a lot of us here have sympathy for that and thus give them some leeway when things get left to slide for longer than they perhaps ideally should. However, again as many people are saying, why then invest some of their limited staff resources in supporting such a frivolous project? Not a good look.
Back to you Alex. You're making a big point of stressing how well qualified contributors should be. You've given some good useful advice on what they are looking for. But I think you need to be careful with the implication you seem to be making that perhaps other contributors who have applied for other courses weren't quite good enough. Also, I think your argument is on shaky ground with Klingon because they only have one contributor (at least at the start). What then happens if that contributor finds themselves in a position not to be able to keep contributing? Why start a course with only one contributor in a language where they are fairly unlikely to find others who can join?
Back to duolingo. Yes, I think this was a blunder but it's done; some people will remain disappointed and some will be pleased. Duolingo would never have got started or achieved so much without a certain maverick element to their culture including the personalities of the founding staff. So I think we should accept the decision as part and parcel of that. But I also think it would be a good idea if they start to put a little bit more thought in how they present and how they are being received. The recent stuff-up with making people mods without asking them first is another indication of a lack of social intelligence. (Has Kristine owned that mistake yet? Has she apologised?) Anyway, that's all. In the end, no big deal about Klingon and I wish the course well but, yeah, some warning signs.
Awesome post, and like Annika I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say.
I would like to point out one sentence you use though, in point 4: "it probably wasn't the smartest play at this time because it was going to upset quite a large proportion of the user base."
I have read that web users are a much smaller proportion than app users, and regular forum users are an even smaller proportion. Honestly, the way I have been feeling recently, is that Duolingo sees us as a rather annoying and vocal minority, and pretty much ignores what we have to say. Just look at any concerns that are brought up in the forums. They are mostly ignored or, as in the case of the 'moderator mess' just glossed over. Valid questions remained unanswered, or we are given vague promises which never transpire.
Perhaps I am being cynical, but I feel like they know they have us over a barrel. We come here because we know it's a great site, and therefore they can pretty much do what they want. I know we don't pay, and I am very grateful for everything DL has done for me, but it still feels like a pretty shoddy way to treat some of your most loyal customers.
You deserve thanks and all my lingots for expressing everything I have been trying to express, but far more eloquently than I ever could. In the end I gave all the lingots I could before my browser collapsed.
You are absolutely right with almost all of your points. I had a really bad day yesterday and I simply really dislike the fact that a lot of users are really offended by the choice - I understand their anger somehow, but they completely lost it (in my opinion!). And this is also the only point in which I disagree to you - A comment like psionpete's was really disrespectful (but a couple of mine seemed to be disrespectful as well). Nevertheless, both my tone and my own anger were not appropriate and I really apologize for that. You also expressed some points which I couldn't think of yesterday (especially no. 2) that are right and it is also right that the staff committed some blunder in the past, especially during the last days (I still believe that the choice of Klingon is a much better choice for Duolingo than most people might think, but now for a lot of individuals that wanted to see their languages incubate).
I'll take a break from Duolingo now. I'll still try to accomplish my 50 xps each day, but I will comment less, because I need to recover and start rethinking from a broader perspective. I beg your pardon if I offended you or anyone. I'll be back commenting and contributing more when I will have recovered. If you then still want to have my exact opinion on your latest post, I'd gladly let you know that!
Yeah, I commented because I know you're a great contributor who I've known here from way back and, like I said, I was a bit surprised at how you were reacting. And I also do appreciate that "Everyone's a critic" and that it's a lot easier to criticise than to actually make things happen. Duolingo still deserves a lot of respect for having achieved something quite new and extraordinary in the language learning game. So yes, we should show them respect but there is still a place for constructive criticism and also a need to show respect to the community.
Sorry you were having a bad day. Hope things improve. Saw from your other comments that you are doing a lot in managing the reports on the German courses. Don't work too hard!
Thanks for your answer! I'll work less in the next days and recover a bit from Duo. I can also assure you that I'm very critical with myself; I noticed yesterday that my behavior from the day before yesterday wasn't perfect at all and that I need to recover.
This is why I really appreciate comments like yours. Should I ever fail to express myself in an appropriate manner again, don't hesitate to write it again, it'll much appreciated! Have a great weekend!
Please don't take a break over this. =(
People may disagree with your points, but I don't think any of the anger is directed at you.
Not in the point that I'll lose my streak or that I'll be mute, I guess I will still answer comments like yours now, but I really need some recovery right now in order to express me more appropriately in the future again. And I consider not all of my comments as being expressed very wisely , but I also think that nobody is angry with me as well =) I just feel that I would have reacted differently one week ago when I was in a better shape and as I said, oskalingo raised a lot of very good points.
How will it increase the reputation of Duolingo? In the end, the argument comes down to one central question: is Duo supposed to propagate unused or little-known languages, or should it teach languages that are (or were) in use by a large number of people? Since the purpose of language is communication, I would argue that Duo's purpose is to teach languages already in widespread use, because the purpose of language is communication, and without a sufficient base of speakers, that central purpose is lost.
It will increase Duolingo's reputation by gaining publicity and bringing some users here who would not otherwise have heard of Duolingo. Some of those users will stay and learn other (real) languages.
Also, I don't think that there is any one answer to "What is Duo supposed to do?" Yes, it is important to teach widely used languages, but they also teach Irish which is an endangered language, hardly used even in Ireland, and Dutch and Danish, which while not endangered, are not widely used outside of their home countries. There are so many languages and so many different reasons for learning them.
Also, I don't imagine that Klingon is taking any other language's place in the incubator. Any other course that meets all the criteria for starting up will still get a chance.
"Also, I don't imagine that Klingon is taking any other language's place in the incubator. Any other course that meets all the criteria for starting up will still get a chance." Exactly.
Is that really true? I got the impression that there were only so many mentors and so much bandwidth to go around.
@Ilmarien: Well, every bandwidth is limited and each course means more work for a course mentor, that's absolutely correct. But thinking that Klingon is taking away any place in the incubator is simply wrong and it is also correct that every course that meet all the criteria will be added eventually.
We may not know the exact thoughts and decissions why Klingon incubates before Catalan or why Irish had been added before Finnish, but I just want to clarify a few thoughts and facts in the way I did it in my posts above. (Also, some criteria may change from time to time. One thought: We were told twice that Catalan will be added next week and it didn't happen. Why? We don't know. Maybe they found some promising persons who cancelled their applications one day before the staff wanted to incubate the course. Would it have been better to then explain the situation to us users? Definitely, but again, we don't know the reasons why they refused to do that.)
"What is Duo supposed to do?" - remember this? http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2425382,00.asp
There was some excitement about it helping to preserve endangered languages. According to wiki on Klingon: "A small number of people are capable of conversing in Klingon. Arika Okrent guessed in her book In the Land of Invented Languages that there might be 20–30 fluent speakers"
So, I guess it kind of meets the criteria for endangered :-)
Aren't there issues about the copyright of the material? Haven't people in the past been worried about infringing on this? Unless that's all been sorted out, I think permission is needed to publish the material. Seems like shaky ground at best. And even including all the non-canonical material, the actual amount of content available for it is vanishingly small.
I think the addition of Klingon might grab headlines, but it might also connect Duolingo in people's minds with a nerdy toy.
I used to think that just about anyone who was willing to and could organise a small group of contributors would be allowed to start up an incubator project, but that's not the case. Enthusiastic people have pleaded for the chance to get into the incubator and have not even received any kind of reply at all, let alone a rejection.
Anyway, a long, hard road ahead of the Klingon team to produce a course. Best of luck to them!
How will it increase the reputation of Duolingo? Very easy to answer: Because thousands of people really want to learn Klingon and the resources are rare. There is a huge interest so that it will bring a lot of new users. I also predict that in a few years, there will be some more fluent speakers of Klingon just because of this particular course. And that is awesome and will surely increase Duolingo's reputation.
Is there a huge interest? I haven't done the research, but it seems as if no one posts on the Duo forums asking for Klingon.
Not sure of overall interest, but I see 1118 people signed up for notification.
Edit: Gone up to 2849 now.
Maybe because of Star Trek? Searching for Klingon, I get 615 results in the Duo search, so there's some demand here as well.
I'd like to end arguing here. Like it or not; I don't mind Klingon and I'm sure that I expressed why I think that Duolingo clearly benefits from letting it incubate.
because the purpose of language is communication
I am learning Spanish here, but I really doubt I will ever get to speak with a Spanish speaker.
There's always the internet, you know. And planes. It would surprise me if you would be able to go through the rest of your life without ever bumping into a Spanish speaker.
Communication is also more than speaking to someone in the same room. We're communicating right here, right now, too.
(Personally, I am learning French more to be able to read books in that language than to speak with Francophone people.)
yo tambien . . . I'm only interested in some French books, films and songs.
I agree. Internet's opened up a channel for communication across borders. And hopefully, it stays that way.
It would surprise me if you would be able to go through the rest of your life without ever bumping into a Spanish speaker.
It wouldn't exactly surprise me. The last 2 generations in my family haven't had any interaction with Spanish speakers in RL. My generation, there's always the possibility :)
My interest in Spanish was piqued by movies and music and I will be happy if I achieve some proficiency in that. Being a bibliophile, I don't mind as many books as I can get my hands on :)
@remoonline: If there was a practical way to determine the end point of this wager, I'd like to bet (more than just lingots) on you running into a Spanish speaker at some point in your life. But, alas, this wager is only over when it's over. :-)
The world has changed so much in the last few generations. And it is also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: Since you are learning Spanish (which I assume the previous two generations weren't), you become more likely to ever come across a Spanish speaker. Whenever an interpreter is needed when that one Spanish person visits your school/office/city etc.
Either way, I wish for you to have the opportunity to use your Spanish in real life at some point!
I guess WackyJack pretty much answered that for me :)
While it's a very slim chance, I get to bump into a visiting Spanish speaker, there's a very good chance of meeting other Star Trek enthusiasts and yakking about in Klingon for some fun ;)
Yes. His profile says he lives in Bangalore. But who knows, a visiting Spaniard might wander by, and he'll be able to converse.
Many people make friends online and conduct business via video conferencing. With an internet connection, location is slowly becoming a thing of the past.
I just had to remind myself that there are places in the world without many Spanish speakers.
I agree with extreme vigor! Enjoy a Lingot! Live Long and Prosper, and Qapla'!
I would add the more I think about it, the more it makes sense from a publicity point of view. A language site offering to teach most languages doesn't seem like big news. A language site offering to teach Klingon? That's got a lot more potential for creating a media splash. It's more out there, more unexpected. It's news, not olds ;)
That's the most logical reason I can think of anyway.
Same thing with Icelandic, which can really help with Germanic languages and it could be useful to understand the Vikings' ancient texts. So, Are really so hard to find native Icelandic speakers? More than Klingon's ones?I have read on Wikipedia that there are something like 20-30 fluent Klingon speakers all over the world...
I'm sorely disappointed that Duolingo would choose to go in this direction at this point. I don't really have more to say than that right now.
Anyone who is fluent in a language can contribute to a Duolingo course. It's not necessarily that the company itself chose Klingon, it's that there happened to be Duolingo users who spoke Klingon and were willing to contribute to a course. The same goes for languages like High Valyrian and Sindarin.
Nope, that is incorrect. Duolingo itself is the gatekeeper that chooses which courses they want to bring out (of course within certain constraints, such as the availability of volunteers).
I think they've said that they've had 50,000 applications from volunteers (it was certainly a five digit number already back in 2013) -- and they have picked, among other languages, Klingon. There didn't "happen to be" a few Klingon speakers out there and no other potential volunteers.
In addition to being the one who makes the choice, Duolingo of course puts in their own resources as well (evaluating the options, supporting the volunteers, in some cases developing the Incubator, writing the code, making the graphic elements, etc.).