https://www.duolingo.com/JamiesFanGirl

Latin FB Group Slams Irish

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The founder of the Facebook group created to help get Latin on here slammed our beloved language today, saying that Irish was just introduced "for marketing purposes":

Irish, Klingon and Esperanto don't have much online content to be translated, they're there mostly for the marketing and Duolingo's campaign to add more languages. Therefore, it isn't a problem that we don't have much Latin content to translate.

(My response is as follows: )

I'd ask that you not talk down about Irish like that. Latin has been reduced to nothing more than an academic and religious language, while Irish is being taught in schools all around the country. Public school students get a little of it and by September, there will be 179 primary schools with immersion programs--not to mention the additional 126 schools in the Gaeltacht (the exclusively Irish speaking areas). With an additional 29 in post-primary (51 if you include the Gaeltacht), Irish is nothing to sneeze at. It's not a "geek language" like Klingon or a conlang, like Esperanto.

I'm interested in learning Latin and that's why I'm here--but not at the expense of promoting it over other languages and certainly not when you're claiming that Irish is just there for marketing purposes.

=====

He responded and said that Duo was originally meant for translating websites and there wasn't that many Irish language sites when Irish was introduced. He also said that he didn't mean to group it as a "geek language".

That "apology"--if you could call it as such--certainly doesn't lessen the impact of the original insult.

3 years ago

29 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Naglero
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I don't thing his intention was to bash other languages. I can see how he would think a latin course would be more practical than some others, since many of the languages on Duo are latin derived. I think his point was not that Irish is a boring or empty language, but using it as a comparison since there is not an overwhelming amount of speakers for either languages.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamiesFanGirl
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No, but comparing Irish to a language that never took off and one that is commonly panned for being a "geek language" and "the worse decision Duolingo ever made" does us no favors, either.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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What difference does his opinion make to the presence of Irish here, or to the absence of Latin here? What good does it do to take offense at someone who’s venting about something that’s completely out of his control? Given that Irish, Dutch, and other newer courses won’t receive the Immersion capability, Latin won’t either; thus, content-to-translate is an irrelevant metric on which to base an argument for or against any course here.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamiesFanGirl
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Actually, he's trying to get Latin started on here and he was using "Irish was just developed as a marketing tool for Duo" as his own marketing bit. (See all of his statements here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/salveteamici/permalink/713256255453147/)

One language's supporters throwing shade on another is an ill wind that does no one any good.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scilling
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The Duolingo Discussions forum is chock full of requests for having a Latin course here — one can see how much influence those requests have had. The existence of his Facebook group is not likely to affect Duolingo’s decision-making process either, particularly with the curious argument that he’s chosen to make his point; since I can’t take him seriously with that argument, I’m not insulted by what he’d written. (Since I don’t have a Facebook login, I can only view what you’ve chosen to reproduce here from that link.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/judderwocky
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Part of the financial success of Duolingo will hinge on user translated content. I think it is offensive because it implies that the massive Irish community wouldn't be able to pull is weight. Given the number of Irish content providers is larger than what he is aware of... I see why people are offended. It sends a message that can be self fulfilling if left unchecked. I think its important for Irish supporters to demonstrate their presence. They represent a financial resource that duolingo wants to tap - not some quacky basement project that was done for silicon valley street cred.

I mean it was precisely that attitude one could argue that lead to its suppression in the first place. Irish wasn't seen as something valuable to learn, and so it was ignored. Whether or not the FB poster meant to, they used language that I think would be tough for Irish people to hear, especially when they are fighting so hard against linguistic hegemony already.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

Except Duolingo isn't using translations as a source of income anymore; they gave up on the idea and have no intentions of implementing it for any of the languages coming from Beta.

> Whether or not the FB poster meant to, they used language that I think would be tough for Irish people to hear, especially when they are fighting so hard against linguistic hegemony already.

I think you underestimate how much the average Irish person dislikes the language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/judderwocky
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I wasn't aware they had switched to non profit status. My bad.

>I think you underestimate how much the average Irish person dislikes the language.

Which is why they are devoting so many public funds to the teaching of Irish in public schools.

Everybody complains about having to take grammar in school in every country, it doesn't mean people hate their language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

> I wasn't aware they had switched to non profit status. My bad.

They're not. They've just moved away from immersion as a source of income, looking to rely on providing English ability tests.

> Which is why they are devoting so many public funds to the teaching of Irish in public schools.

Because they think by forcing it on people (with crappy teaching methods) they'll somehow revive it. New research actually shows the opposite, and that Irish will likely no longer be the public language in the Gaeltacht in 10 years.

> Everybody complains about having to take grammar in school in every country, it doesn't mean people hate their language.

But it's not their language. 90% of the country can't speak Irish (more people natively speak Polish in the country than Irish), and the classes they take make no help in that. It'd be different if it was a language they spoken by the majority of them that they were having to learn, but it's not. It's a language that most of them don't speak outside of school, and that is taught in an absurd manner (i.e like their native language, not like a normal foreign language).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnLonDubhBeag

I'll back up galaxyrocker here.

Current research, done by native speaking academics like Conchúr Ó Giollagáin, show that Irish has about ten years left as a public language and anybody who visits the Gaeltacht frequently or lives there wouldn't be a bit surprised by this.

The Irish spoken by people in Urban areas from Gaelscoileanna is a long way from traditional Irish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnLonDubhBeag

The rural areas where there is a decline, is where Irish is the native language, they're not just "some random rural areas".

Also the language that people in urban areas speak is not just a bit different/standardised. They replace hosts of sounds with English equivalents and make several grammatical mistakes. At times, you have to think in English to understand their Irish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnLonDubhBeag

Regarding that it is ludicrous for me to:

"draw a line in the sand and say these people are speaking Irish but these people aren't, simply because they are or are not in the country or might have come into contact with the language in a different way."

Let me say that I certainly do not draw a line at people from outside Ireland or who came to Irish in a non-standard manner (i.e. outside the Irish education system). Virtually all the best learners and the people from whom I've learned so much about Classical Irish and dialectal Irish are not Irish and came to Irish out of their own interest. I certainly accept these people. Not encountering Irish through our education system means they also have a metric ton less of the weird ideas people have about the language in Ireland, on both the love/hate sides. Instead they approach it as one would Swedish or Japanese, which is the correct way to do it.

What I reject is that the Irish spoken in Ireland by Irish people from Gaelscoileanna is genuine Irish. It is a severely Anglicised pidgin at best. Most often however it is not even that, as you have to know English to understand it. A pidgin is still independent to some degree, school Irish/Gaelscoil Irish is not.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AnLonDubhBeag

Look, this is nothing to with what I consider "real" Irish. Children from Gaelscoileanna* speak a highly distorted form of Irish that requires English to understand, there are numerous studies on this (see Brian Ó Broin's papers and An Chonair Chaoch), this is not my personal opinion on "real Irish".

The decline of Irish has absolutely nothing to do with the presence of the Caighdeán, the Gaeltacht areas are simply showing the same pattern as was displayed in the rest of the country in the 19th century. In fact the Caighdeán may have weakened the language by making many native speakers believe their own form was wrong (I have heard this sentiment many times from native speakers). However my personal impression is that the Caighdeán had no effect overall.

*Not all of them of course, but >95%.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/judderwocky
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Source for any of that?

They aren't making much money off the tests. They make a small profit, but most of the money goes to the proctor. He actually discussed this in a few places its part of their fairness approach, that they put the price as low as they possibly could.

Interestingly, they announced the test center within a month of announcing a whole mess of contracts with buzzfeed and cnn for translation work.

The research shows that the number of Irish speakers is growing. Not shrinking. There are shifts in the language being spoken in the countryside, as fewer people are living there. Overall the number of people speaking it continues to increase.

Of course if you really think you are right, you can go argue to the EU about why it should be dropped as an Official Language, but whatever. There are still 800k+ people learning it on Duolingo so clearly there is going to be a desire to have content going one way or the other.

From a business model, the Irish government has set aside money to further the language, and it will certainly pay off for Duolingo stay in the direction of that windfall. Whether this means producing an audience to consume and translate that material, or direct grants to help their education goals, they could stand to benefit from several different models. Have a little foresight maybe?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/judderwocky
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"The Irish spoken by people in Urban areas from Gaelscoileanna is a long way from traditional Irish."

My understanding is that it was designed to represent traditional Irish across the Island. The dialect is different in different areas, so the language spoken by native speakers isn't going to perfectly match the taught version...

That only means the language is changing.

Also, that research only applies to rural areas where there are already issues with young people moving away for different types of work and to participate in the economy in different ways.

The idea of the language dying out while the total number of people speaking it continues to grow is ludicrous. Especially considering that the government is now actively teaching it.

What you are describing is the evolution of language, not its death.

Hebrew went from being unspoken to spoken in a single generation. Irish is making a massive come back right now. Some of this is from novel sources and naturally this means the language changes. However a huge chunk of these people are Irish and of Irish heritage. It seems kind of ridiculous for you to draw a line in the sand and say these people are speaking Irish but these people aren't, simply because they are or are not in the country or might have come into contact with the language in a different way.

The entire point of my post is that Irish speakers represent a financial market that duolingo can target. I still think that is valid, even if the language is changing and most of it is being spoken in urban areas.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Knocksedan

@AnLonDubhBeag: "What I reject is that the Irish spoken in Ireland by Irish people from Gaelscoileanna is genuine Irish."

Well then Irish is already a dead language - even the kids in the Gaeltact aren't speaking what you consider "real Irish" any more.

If it's dead, it's dead. Move on, and devote whatever resurces are available to making this "new Irish" as useful as possible, by identifying what was most useful in the Irish that has died, and making sure that at least that aspect of the language makes it into and survives in this new Irish. The alternative is to put a stop to this "new Irish" entirely, so that it doesn't pollute the "real Irish" that will only be of interest to academics within a couple of decades when the last of the remaining speakers run out of people to talk to - as it is, RnaG, TG4 and the Irish Language printed media rely on the audience that only knows "new Irish" to exist.

I think that, with hindsight, the persistence and protection of so many dialtects ended up doing more harm than good to the language. If the Caighdeán Oifigiíil had been stronger, maybe "school Irish" might have been developed to a better and more effective standard. But the persistence of the distinct written forms in so many different dialects had the obvious divide and conquer impact

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
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I wouldn't interpret this as a dig against Irish. One of the most common arguments that I've heard against Latin is that there wouldn't be anything to translate in immersion and Duolingo. He was pointing out that he views the case with Irish to be similar. I didn't see anything in the quote to suggest that he thought Irish was a "bad" language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cait48
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I don't think it's worth getting upset over. I don't think he was "slamming" Irish--he feels that Latin was not developed because of the lack of online content and is pointing out that other languages with little online content have been developed, thus obviating that objection to a Latin course. Sin é. Thanks for the update--I, too, would like to see a Latin course on Duolingo.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

You're majorly overreacting, man. I love Irish as much as the next guy (and perhaps more than most Irish people), and I certainly didn't perceive any insult in this comment.

Irish, Klingon and Esperanto don't have much online content to be translated, they're there mostly for the marketing and Duolingo's campaign to add more languages.

I mean, he's right. There was a call for it, and Duolingo realized they could get attention off of it. I'm glad Duolingo offers Irish, no matter how flawed certain aspects (cough audio cough) of the course are, but let's not pretend it was added to make Duolingo money.

Therefore, it isn't a problem that we don't have much Latin content to translate.

And here's exactly why he grouped those three together. He explains it. The fact that these three don't have much content to translate (though Duolingo is not planning to add Immersion to any incubated language), shows that it doesn't matter in the case with Latin, despite what many critics say.

I'd ask that you not talk down about Irish like that. Latin has been reduced to nothing more than an academic and religious language, while Irish is being taught in schools all around the country.

Yeah, and guess what? A mere handful actually learn it, and most who do only learn a Anglicized version of the language. Let's be honest, Irish being taught in Ireland really means just about nothing, as sad as it is.

Public school students get a little of it and by September, there will be 179 primary schools with immersion programs--not to mention the additional 126 schools in the Gaeltacht (the exclusively Irish speaking areas). With an additional 29 in post-primary (51 if you include the Gaeltacht), Irish is nothing to sneeze at.

Except, as mentioned, nobody actually comes out fluent. Most despise it, and these numbers are just trying to show it off. It doesn't in any way reflect the actual status of the Irish language.

It's not a "geek language" like Klingon or a conlang, like Esperanto.

You could argue in some ways that it is, however, because it attracts a certain crowd (mostly people with Irish heritage), the same way that Esperanto or Klingon would attract a certain types of learner. This is very different from, say, Spanish, which is a major world languages and attracts learners solely because of that.

I'm interested in learning Latin and that's why I'm here--but not at the expense of promoting it over other languages and certainly not when you're claiming that Irish is just there for marketing purposes.

I mean, he was right. What other reason is there to have Irish? Please, give me one good one; double points if it's one Duolingo could actually turn for profit. Besides, as I said before, he wasn't bashing anything, merely using them as comparisons for why lack of Immersion for Latin shouldn't be a roadblock.

He responded and said that Duo was originally meant for translating websites and there wasn't that many Irish language sites when Irish was introduced. He also said that he didn't mean to group it as a "geek language".

I mean, it's true. Translating was originally to be Duolingo's primary source of income. They have since moved away from that model. Also, you're the one who described it as a "geek language", and took it to mean something pejorative (I know plenty of "geeks" who would disagree with you, as well).

That "apology"--if you could call it as such--certainly doesn't lessen the impact of the original insult.

There was no insult to begin with. He was making a logical argument about why Latin should be introduced. There honestly is no reason behind Irish being here except for marketing, and interest from the Duolingo users themselves.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cunningjames

Perusing your comments (and those of AnLonDubhBeag) throughout this thread, seems like the future of the Irish language is even more dire than I would have thought. What do you suppose comes next for it? An entirely dead language studied only by enthusiasts? Or is it more or less that already?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

Honestly, unless something changes, that's sadly the future I see. That, or that a highly influence Pidgin lasts, like ALDB said.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamiesFanGirl
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I never said Irish was a geek language and--last I checked--people who went to Gaelscoileanna do come out fluent. (If they're not, then I'm sure my friend's parents will be annoyed--especially since she and her siblings sure sounded fluent to me when I met them!)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

I never said Irish was a geek language and--last I checked--people who went to Gaelscoileanna do come out fluent.

I never said they never came out fluent, just that most don't. And, without proper use of the language after, they will certainly lose it. I've met quite a few ex-Gaelscoileannaí students; most of them have lost most of their Irish, simply because of the fact they didn't use it after they graduated.

I also said that this was generally an "Anglicized" version of Irish, and I would be willing to bet that this holds trues for your friend, as well. I'm certain they don't display the full range of vocabulary, idioms, or sounds used by a native speaker, but have started to replace everything with their English equivalents. In a way, this isn't their fault; after all, they're not taught by native speakers, and they're likely to inherit the mistakes of the ones who use the language around them. It's actually quite a big issue currently with regards to Irish.

The reason so few of them come out without fluency is the fact they don't use Irish outside of school. As soon as they leave the gates, they're back to English, so most get nowhere near the exposure to actually achieve fluency.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/an-bealach-fada

I guess I'm in denial, but I went through the Gaelscoileanna system and most of my friends still use Irish in some way, shape or form. Even my friends who aren't in the Gaelscoileanna system use it occasionally. Yeah it's dying out in daily life, but I know many more young people who speak Irish than middle aged people from the east.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/galaxyrocker

But, as An Lon Dubh said, they're not speaking 'Irish'. They're speaking a highly Anglicized version that's more of a pidgin than the Irish language as spoken for generations.

> Yeah it's dying out in daily life, but I know many more young people who speak Irish than middle aged people from the east.

I mean, if it's dying out in daily life there isn't much hope for it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Bducdt

> Duo was originally meant for translating websites

Uh? Since when? Duolingo's business model was (still is? They seem to be moving away from it) generating revenue by translating websites (and other things). It's purpose was to teach languages. Yes, languages such as Irish, Esperanto, and Klingon aren't going to be generating much, if any, revenue, and from a revenue generating perspective they serve to enhance site visibility and attract people who would generate revenue.

But it's always been obvious generating revenue isn't why Duolingo exists, but to teach the languages of the world is why it exists, and generating revenue is an enjoyable byproduct of that to the owners and investors.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/niamhwitch
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If Irish was added as a marketing campaign, it worked on me! That was the whole reason I joined Duo. :-P Fine by me, man. Though, I do think it's funny that the two other languages listed are the two main ones I'm interested in after Irish, heh.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ngarrang
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Limited minds are limited.

Duolingo has the potential to act as a vehicle for language survival. Irish Gaelic may never return as the primary language of Ireland, and that is okay. But there is good in preserving the historical language as a means of bridging the past culture to the modern.

I would love to see an explosion of languages being offered on Duolingo as way of preservation. The world is a sadder place when languages die. I am not proposing that all languages remain as primary, because the reality of the world is that integration with English and/or Chinese means access to a vast world of business.

Research has shown that bilingual speakers have healthier brains for a longer period in their lives.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/FeargalMcGovern

I do think that it is indeed offensive, and it is the same reason that it is offensive for people and governments in Australia to criticise and attack the continued use of aboriginal language in schools - the reason there are so few speakers is because of cultural genocide. Until the 1920's Irish people were punished by the English state for using the language. Then of course there is the mass migrations as a result of the famine which was imposed upon the Irish people, as well as continued economic disenfranchisement, that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands. then to that add the forced removal of Irish men and women to the colonies (where they were also actively punished for speaking Irish - at least in the early stages), and the constant migration that continues to this day, of the Irish, unable to make a living in their home country (of which group my father belongs). It is offensive for people to belittle the relevance of the Irish language due to its lack of speakers, as doing so trivialises the fact that the reason there are so few speakers, is that there was an active campaign by a colonial and imperialistic state to stamp it out. It also belittles the effort made by Irish people to preserve their cultural identity and prevent their language from becoming a dead language of academic curiosity like Latin.

3 years ago
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