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American or British English?

Why does the English translation only seem to show American words and spellings? Sometimes it marks me wrong because I have used a British idiom.

May 8, 2015



Also, if something is perfectly acceptable (for example: You type "Have you got a pen?" and it comes up saying you're wrong and it should be "Do you have a pen?") then use the report button and the course contributors will be able to see it and correct it when they are going through the lessons in the incubator (this is also true for all standard dialects of English, once it gets into very regional variations, they're probably more likely to be declined otherwise it will take up too much space)


Duolingo teaches American English. While some British substitutions are allowed, idioms might not be included.


It is an American website so not surprisingly the default is American English. But I have found most British versions are accepted. If one isn't it will usually be added if you report it.

The most irritating thing I have found was the insistance on using the word major when referring to a university course ( in the Dutch course I think). I refused to use the term but failed to find an acceptable alternative and none of my reports were accepted. But I got through the lesson eventually even being stubborn about it. That is the only time it has really been a problem so I think they have done a very good job actually.


What's the American equivalent for major? That term is used in NZ as well.


Major is an American term. In England people study subjects. Or read them. They do not Major in a subject as there is very little time spent outside the subject as degrees here are far more intensive, and only take three years not four. It is usual to study one outside option per term but only if you don't need extra maths.


Um... Huh. OK that's quite different. In the NZ universities you do a degree (like bachelors, masters or PhD) and the field you are doing that degree in is the major (AFAIK NZ unis don't do minors). Whether or not you can do papers, and how many, outside what is prescribed depends on the institution and the program.


As a fellow Brit I feel your pain. I was also disappointed to find, after a few lessons, I was learning Latin American not European Spanish. Perhaps Duolingo should make the distinction, because it could open the way to someone creating a European Spanish course.


Indeed - British English (i.e. actual English, as spoken in England!) gets a bit short changed. e.g. refusing to accept 'pancakes' as the English for the French word 'Crepes' - which it clearly is. American pancakes are different, and they use the French word for Crepes. But that's a borrowed French word, not an English one!


I think that whilst the general use of British English alternatives isn't too bad (and it is hard) it could be done better. Possibly even with a two types of English (similar to the two types of Spanish suggestion?) I had an American English teacher for a year, and she claimed in all seriousness that they were two different languages. I ended up agreeing.


I have been marked wrong lots of times for using the English and not American English translation on the French course. For example the bill instead of the check, mobile phone instead of cell phone, just to give a couple of the many times. The same goes for using English spelling rather than American. It is very frustrating.

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