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Chinese in the Incubator

NOTE: In this post I am using the term "Chinese" to refer to Mandarin Chinese for the sake of simplicity. Thanks to Dessamator for pointing out the differences.

As the Incubator requests are getting approved starting this week, may I make a suggestion to the Duolingo team:

As you make Chinese available in the Incubator please consider saving the course material in a single source database/table, and not branching off into two separate courses -- one for simplified characters and one for traditional characters (as the Incubator set-up currently suggests).

We can debate ad infinitum on "which" variant to prefer, but that's not the point. The point is both are widely used variants for writing the same, single language. Automated bi-directional conversion codes between the two scripts with fairly little human intervention are widely available. Yes, there are several vernacular differences -- such as "出租车" (CN) vs. "計程車" (TW) -- but you could say the same about "truck" (AmE) vs. "lorry" (BrE) or even "color" (AmE) vs. "colour" (BrE) in English. To a foreign language learner, these differences should be accepted.

I think Duolingo can still show "Chinese (traditional)" and "Chinese (simplified)" as options to the learners -- that is a matter of letting users pick a preference. But it would be doubling the effort by volunteers if two separate teams of contributors are building and moderating essentially the same course. It was said that it took a single contributor four months of full-time work, or roughly 640 hours, just to build one of the existing courses -- it makes little sense to require volunteers 1,280 hours (probably more) to build two variations of the same course!

I have said this in a previous thread (http://www.duolingo.com/comment/873415): Wikipedia is a good example of how this automated conversion can be done properly. Each article, regardless of whether the contributors use simplified or traditional scripts (or both) in the source, can be displayed in either variant on the main article pages, depending on the reader's preference.

So please take this into consideration -- if you have to delay approving courses from Chinese to target languages to make sure the Incubator would make sense from a Chinese context. Once everything is in motion, it would be much more difficult to combine the efforts from volunteers.

October 14, 2013



Mandarin for English speakers in on its way.

Proof: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/24514104


I completely agree. I do not want to see the traditional and simplified communities separated. Especially since the traditional one is so small compared to the simplified one. Together is better.


This is a really good comment.

May I suggest that pinyin is also included as one of the script options that the learner can choose. It is similarly possible to also automatically transcribe into pinyin.

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