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Reflections on the Ukrainian course

Finally I got to some reflections on Ukrainian course on Duolingo. Please don't take this as criticism, but motivation to make the course better. I appologize if there will be any mistakes in my post, Ukrainian is one of my second languages and not native.

Firstly I wanted to say, that it's great to have Ukrainian here on Duolingo, because it is precisely the type of language that needs more popularization. There are however still a lot of mistakes in the course and there is a lot of work to be done and the tree itself would deserve to be a bit longer.

Particular mistakes I've noticed:

Probably the most importantly in some Ukrainian sentences the audio doesn't correspond to the sentence which has to be fixed as fast as possible.

In Ukrainian as in all slavic languages the word order is very free so there should be much more possibilities accepted (for example both я щось читаю and я читаю щось).

Sometimes there are clearly bad English translations (for example there is a word "somewhen") and different English words aren't accepted (such as "which" instead of "that" or "something" instead of "anything").

The word "or" can be usually translated as чи but not as або.

The word for "car" should be rather автомобіль than машина which is Russian word.

Personal pronouns can be omitted so for example хочеш should be accepted together with ти хочеш.

Sentence with the verb є aren't accepted. There should be variant like for example він є журналіст and not only він - журналіст.

Those are just some examples I've got in my mind just now, but there are many more. I'll try to pay attention to them and report them as much as possible. So keep working to make the course better!

May 30, 2015



Машина is by no means a "Russian word". It is as Russian as it is Ukrainian. The only thing is that "car" is not its primary meaning, but it's rather "machine". But you can use any word: автомобіль, авто, автівка, машина.

"The word "or" can be usually translated as чи but not as або." - is it what you noticed in the course or what you believe to be true about Ukrainian? Чи is or, або is usually an exclusive or. But in the natural language "exclusive or" is also "or". Am I right?

Yes, we can omit pronouns. Yes, we can put "є". But omission of pronouns is not encouraged and very colloquial. Sentences with "є" are mostly very unnatural.

After all these are just my thoughts, and I am not even a part of the Ukrainian team.


Thanks for your reply. I won't question your points, it's just what I thought from my knowledge of Ukrainian and numerous stays in Ukraine.

I myself associate the word машина with Russian and not Ukrainian. Maybe it's right as well, but the point is that when I put автомобіль into the translation it won't accept it. I also know that чи and або can have slightly different meaning, but if I am right, they can be often interchangeble. And again only one version is accepted even when both of them should be (at least in my opinion). With the pronouns and є it's the same. It depends on the sentence, but to me the version with є sounds often more natural and more "Ukrainian". But maybe it's just influence of my native Czech :)


I see your point.

Автомобіль definitely should be accepted (and Russian also have this word). Actually we (and Russians too) use the word машина in quite a broad sence, it can be used to refer to a number of different mechanisms.

As to чи/або I thought that you were suggesting exactly the opposite. So now I agree with you on this one.

Pronouns and є. The examples which you see here mostly show Ukrainian that will be usable in almost any life situation (formal/informal), that will always sound right. What you suggest is quite colloquial. You can't really learn the colloquial using Duolingo. Having got used to putting є here and there in sentences, where team didn't think you should to, you may sometimes sound quite unnatural to the native speaker's ear.


Of course the word машина is international and in this broader way (however just colloquially) it's used in Czech as well. I can't tell anything about literal/colloquial language we would need an expert there :)

Let's hope the course will look once like for example the French one which is great.


Another thing I noticed is that the word "purple" is "фіолетовий " in the course, which obviously means violet. I hope they'll accept my report and change it to "пурпуровий". Another thing is the fact that "помаранчевий" (orange )is not accepted, instead they expect you to say 'оранжевий", which is not a real Ukrainian word. And yes, I agree that the quality of English is not the best, but hey - at least there's a Ukrainian course on Duolingo!


Of course that's important, but it's also important to still improve it. I'm trying to report as much as I can as well, so let's hope they will accept something. We don't want to teach surzhyk there :)


I did some googling and here is what I found:

What I really want to say it that technically you are right, but it seems to me we are used to associate slightly different colours with that names


Semantic ranges for colours differ between languages. The default name for a mixture of red and blue is purple in English and фіолетовий in Ukrainian. English then has a name for a more bluish shade: violet, while Ukrainian has a name for a more reddish shade: пурпуровий. There is no widely known word for a reddish shade of purple in English and a bluish shade of purple in Ukrainian.

So while you can translate purple as пурпуровий, you must be sure you are referring to a specific shade. Conversely, фіолетовий translates to violet only if the shade is bluish. If you speak in general, or if there's only one shade of purple you care about in a given situation, purple and фіолетовий are usually the way to go. If there are two shades of purple, then the reddish one should be referred to as purple and пурпуровий, and the bluish one as violet and фіолетовий.


Бузковий (lilac) is another very popular color name in Ukr., which is used to refer to light purple color. And I believe it's somewhat darker than what's usually called lilac in English: http://goo.gl/S8Ef46


In no way пурпуровий means purple, пурпуровий is scarlet, like the color of the sails in the book «Scarlet sails» of A.Grin. Оранжевий and помаранчевий are both used for orange color


"The word "or" can be usually translated as чи but not as або."

Because they cannot be used 100% interchangeably. Any examples where you wanted to use або, but it was not accepted?


I know they can have slightly different meaning, but on the other hand they are often interchangeable. I'll let you know when I find some example from the course. The word або wasn't however accepted basically in all sentences with "or".

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