https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

Dialect Bonus Skill─A Suggestion

I first want to pre-empt this by stating that I have no problem at all with Duolingo sticking to one form of a language which is being taught.

Considering this fact, however, why couldn't Duolingo offer another bonus skill(s) in national/regional dialects? There is an opportunity here to highlight some dialectal differences which arise between the chosen standard and others.

For example, there could be a British English option where they offer some common alternatives or clear up confusion (assuming this isn't covered on the tree already). Options here include college vs university, trousers vs pants, etc. Another example is that considering Brazilian Portuguese and Latin American Spanish are taught, there are obvious options there, as well. Additionally, there could be a Canadian French skill offered for French, which I am currently learning. Hopefully you get the idea.

I could imagine that there might be issues in integrating this idea with the current framework of Duolingo, but surely it could be worked around, especially considering that these potential issues would be somewhat reflective of those encountered in real life, as well. It's only a bonus skill, after all; I'm not suggesting that this should be a fundamental part of the tree.

June 25, 2015

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/doktorkampi

I agree! I am a big fan of language diversity, so count on me! I would include at least big dialects groups, such as Portugal Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, Flemish, British English, etcetera.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

Indeed. I imagine most languages would have some overseas variation, so it should be possible in essentially all languages offered on Duolingo.

In the case that the language is predominantly spoken in one country, then there should still be sufficient regional variation within that country to merit a bonus skill. For example, Japanese (which I know isn't offered on Duolingo) is predominately spoken in Japan, but there's considerable regional variation. The Osaka dialect, which is spoken by many, is pretty much intelligible with the standard Tokyo dialect, but there are noteworthy aspects of it that differ from the standard. Thus, I think in this case, if Japanese were to be offered on Duolingo, an Osaka dialect bonus skill would please many learners of Japanese.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/soedori

When the Korean team makes the reverse course, we are considering a possibility of including a dialect lesson (for the record, I can speak dialect ^^)

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Trogonidae

Good to know! I wasn't even aware Korean had different dialects. I wish your team good luck with your incubating efforts. :D

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/soedori

It has many dialects :)

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Trogonidae

Yes, I actually found a map with all the different ones. It's amazing how so much variety can be found on one peninsula!

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

This sounds great! I presume this would come towards the end of the tree? As it would be nice relief for learners who are having to grasp some of the more advanced aspects of grammar. I imagine if it were at the start, it could be somewhat overwhelming as well.

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/soedori

Bonus skill

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

Oh sorry, I misinterpreted your comment. I thought you meant you were including just a general lesson (as I presumed the presence of bonus skills was decided by Duolingo themselves rather than course contributors).

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Ravnin

Would be difficult to implement in many languages, as not all languages have a written standardization of their dialects.

For example, in Norwegian, dialects stand strong and everyone has their own dialect. But none of these dialects have a written standard, which is why we use Bokmål or Nynorsk in official written communication.

Many, including myself. Will attempt to write in their dialect in unofficial settings, like on social media or when texting with friends/family. But even among family and friends, spelling varies a lot.

On the other hand, anyone wanting to communicate in Norwegian would have to learn to understand dialects, since everyone speaks a dialect. Which is one of the things that makes Norwegian somewhat frustrating for foreigners, according to what I often hear. Many feel they know the language quite well, but hit a wall when they are exposed to dialects that are different from the "Oslo dialect".

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

I see your point. If anything it suggests to me that it should be covered in the main tree rather than as an optional bonus skill. I have a few questions in response to this:

1) How do learners overcome this obstacle of considerable dialectal variation?

2) Is it generally required that learners are familiar with both written standards when they reach a certain level in the language?

3) What other languages have a lack of written standardization?

This is a very good point by the way.

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Ravnin

Q: 1) How do learners overcome this obstacle of considerable dialectal variation?

A: They get some introduction to the bigger dialect groups (dialects are usually divided into 4 major groups), otherwise they will need to learn from exposure - from friends, work and the media.

Q: 2) Is it generally required that learners are familiar with both written standards when they reach a certain level in the language?

A: No, foreigners do not need to learn both Bokmål and Nynorsk. Most will learn Bokmål only, which makes sense because Nynorsk is barely used (somewhere between 5-17% of speakers has it as their main written language, numbers vary a lot depending on the source used).

Q:3) What other languages have a lack of written standardization?

A: No idea, I have no number or statistics on it. But I know most languages seem to use one written standard, and promote one spoken standard - even if they have dialects.

June 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/FrankelPopankel

3) What other languages have a lack of written standardization?
Some dialects of German, such as Plautdietsch and Amish (both of which have regional variations) lack a standardised writing system, as far as I know.

December 30, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/globetrotter1013

This is an excellent suggestion! I hope it comes to fruition!

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/ray.fordyc

Based on my own experience, Duolingo can pick up most regional differences. E.G. It picks up me using the British spelling of "colour" as well as the American spelling "color" and still says it's correct. It also accepts if I use "trousers" (british english) instead of "pants" (american english). I don't know if it accepts other languages regional variations. I think, as long as you have the basics of the language, which Duolingo does teach, you'll be understood. Dialects are something to learn separately.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

I know it accepts spelling or dialectal differences (well at least the ones in English when I am translating French), but it doesn't introduce you to them in your L2 per se.

I agree they are something to learn separately. I hinted at my opinion about that in the final sentence, but so are idioms and flirting, hence why I've suggested it as a bonus skill.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien

Regarding other language regional variations, I've seen that it accepts Castilian and Argentinian Spanish as well as European Portuguese, though not always consistently. I don't know about the French dialects, but I assume it's the same.

Anyway, I'd like to see dialectical or regional slang based bonus skills as well. That would be far more useful than the current bonus skills.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

I agree─that would be great as well. I considered it when writing my original post, but I didn't want to address the issue of there being some extent of personal preference associated with slang, as that would have been distracting from my main point.

I'm sure some fairly ubiquitous slang could be selected, though.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Trogonidae

This is mostly true, but as Ilmarien said, the courses don't always accept dialects that aren't taught, which can be misleading at times. A bonus skill would be very useful for, say, Castilian Spanish, which has an entire person and verb conjugation (vosotros/os) that is not used in the rest of the Spanish speaking world. It would just be a nice addition to Duolingo's courses.

June 25, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Bronshtein

Wow I never knew that about Spanish. A (not so drastic) example I know of with regards to French is that, in Quebec, I believe they informally interchange certain words like asking questions with est-tu instead of est-ce (I think), and using à for possession instead of de.

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Trogonidae

I didn't know that about French either haha. As a learner of it myself, the Quebec dialect sounds a bit confusing. Although the Parisian dialect does have the most difficult accent, supposedly. I have a friend from Quebec that speaks French so maybe once I can have a conversation in French we will see some differences!

With regards to dialects, though, I think the one that might take the cake is Arabic. From what I've heard, the Maghrebi Arabic of North Africa is almost incomprehensible to Middle Eastern speakers, and some linguists consider them different languages altogether. Educated speakers learn Modern Standard Arabic to communicate across the Arabic world, but sometimes even that can be considered a different language to certain dialects.

June 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Fleurizia

Italy also has dialects (e.g., Sicilian) that are considered separate languages by linguists. I'd love to learn some of those! From my own experience I know that Austrian German has a whole host of dialects; I became fairly fluent in Salzburg dialect twenty years ago but I'm rusty now. The main differences seemed to be vowel shifts and some different vocabulary and pronunciations.

August 15, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/Fleurizia

I would LOVE a dialect bonus skill. And I would love even more a whole selection of bonus skills. I'd happily pay for them with lingots. I have 70+ lingots sitting around and nothing to spend them on except the quiz. (I've already long since used the two available skills -- flirting and idioms & proverbs -- and I'm not interested in maintaining or freezing streaks.)

August 15, 2015
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