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https://www.duolingo.com/Pastafarianist

Feature request: Gender-based coloring for words

This issue has already been raised at http://www.duolingo.com/comment/774419 and it's the top comment there with 163 upvotes. Could the Duo team comment on this?

In languages where words have genders, it is a real pain to memorize which word is masculine / feminine / neutral / etc. Since you seem to have already collected a database of word genders (the gray box at the bottom of a dictionary hint; I'm judging only by the French course, but I assume it's the same in the other languages), I suppose it wouldn't be very difficult to add coloring to words in lessons and practice. Something like this:

  • Before an answer is entered, all words are black (as they are now), except for the new ones
  • Every new word (and its article) gets a blue/pink/gray box instead of a yellow one
  • Every practiced word gets a yellow box instead of a blue one
  • After the answer is accepted, all words with genders change their font color from black to a gender color
  • Make this optional

Can we hope to see this feature implemented anytime soon?

4 years ago

38 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Luis
LuisPlus
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We are experimenting doing this soon in the iOS app and carrying it to the other platforms if it does well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/judithamsterdam

That is so great!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/kristinemc

Hey everyone! We appreciate the suggestion, and as mentioned we're going to be testing this out like we do all new updates to Duolingo. We will take into consideration the coloring scheme. Let's also try and stay on topic and definitely be respectful towards others opinions. If you can't be- the comments will be removed. We're here to learn languages together. Thanks!

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya
wataya
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This better be optional and off by default.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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I agree with it being optional. However, being off by default I disagree, a simple pop-up hint (saying "hey did you know you make it easier to identify the masculine or feminine words, click here to enable it, and here to configure it") would suffice.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Anonyduck

Yes, and user-configurable would be good if it is implemented. Something in settings that gives a palette of colours for each gender and allows users to select their own choice of colours. This would be helpful to colour-blind ppl and others for whom colour-coding might be useful, but who find the prospect of pink-blue somewhat off-putting.

I would probably find having every word in colour overwhelming, but in the drop down for new vocab, if the gender of the word (ie. just the words 'masculine/feminine/neuter') was a uniform colour, might find that useful.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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Some people have mentioned that gender is built into the language. If no one has seen an alternative it is likely because they have simply not come across it, not that it doesn't exist. I am not fluent in Spanish. but, I have met some native Spanish speakers who are also not men or women. I may not have gotten this completely right, but here is a very rough example of a native speaker's alternative.

no soy un hombre ni una mujer. soy de un@ cultur@ diferenente. yo hablo y escribo como este en tod@s idiom@s. pero, a vaces, yo traduzco, se llama "code-switching". Ademas, Usagi"boy"7 no significa niño lo mismo que "leaves" (to leave) no es lo mismo que "leaves" (more than one leaf). No hay traducción para "boy" de "Usagiboy7". Porque algunas cosas no se traducen.

I am not a man nor a woman. I am from a different culture. I speak and write like this (in alternatives) in all languages. But, at times, I translate (going from our way of speaking to another way), which is called "code switching." In addition, (because people have made reference to it) "Usagi'boy'7 does not mean "boy" the same as "leaves" (to leave) is not the same as "leaves" (more than one leaf). There is no translation for "boy" from "Usagiboy7". Because some things just don't translate.

And no, I don't expect DL to adopt to this alternative. I simply object to pink and blue and prefer that we can pick our own colors to help us learn grammatical gender.

I don't know if I would leave persay. When I said that, I was very stressed out and frustrated because it wasn't just one thing, it was one more thing on top of many.

Much appreciation to the DL staff and moderators.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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If we get pink/blue I will consider leaving this website.

I am already surrounded by genders I do not relate to. The first set of lessons I was asked to do in Spanish was to look at a picture and decide the person's gender. To gender someone without permission is considered an act of violence in my culture. So continuing here was highly uncomfortable and not an easy decision to breach these taboos. I would prefer to not add to these cultural barriers.

If it has to be done, as we expand our language base, we might begin to encounter languages with 5 or more grammatical genders, I prefer and suggest we pick other, less socially and culturally complicated colors.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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I'm just curious, but where are you that it is taboo to guess at a person's gender, even in pictures. I mean no offense; I just haven't heard of this before.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Pastafarianist

Yeah, that's one of the reasons why this should be optional. And, possibly (although that would be harder to implement) the users may be given an option to choose their own coloring scheme.

Can you suggest another way to reduce the pain of memorizing word genders?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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ah, i missed the optional part. I don't mind it if it's optional. It would be cool even if we could set our own colors.

btw your streak is awesome!! :D

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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This is indeed a somewhat extreme reaction, although understandable to an extent. We are each entitled to our cultural norms, but a color is just a means of identifying something. When you see a pink dolphin do you automatically become upset by its color? Do people around you always wear gender specific colors?

I've studied a little bit of this regarding several cultures and the meanings they attribute to colors, and things. For example, while red might indicate danger in the western world, it may indicate happiness in the east. Black may be the color of mourning in the west, but in certain eastern countries, both black and white may be the colors of mourning.

To summarize, I think you are welcome to defend your culture, and act as you wish. But learning another language cannot be done without being open-minded and accepting of the culture from which the language is derived. In western culture, it is acceptable for women to be associated to pink and men to blue.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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pink is just pink until you give it a context, as are red, white, and blue. Why would I be upset by a dolphin? And my country of birth and where I live is the USA and I speak English. It does not mean that Americans are only men or women. But it is the pervasive portrayal of gender being only men and women (including by assuming that grammatical gender must be the same as social gender, and then by supporting that assumptions by creating cognitive association via pink and blue which connot social genders. This is why people want me to tell them and why they have never googled it. It is unfathomable, yes? There is a reason for these cultural erasures, why people believe that western cultures only have two genders.

You illustrate very clearly why I would have an objection. And yet I don't exist under the law for a myriad of reasons that all support each other, color codes are just one more piece of that. What happens to a person who does not exist under the law? If the law doesn't protect them, they fall through the cracks and terrible things can happen to them and have happened to me. And to that point of things happening to me, think, legal language is so confusing because laws must be sewed up as thoroughly as possible or the judges hands are tied. And so when it comes to me? If I am not even in the wording? The reason I know more about gender, including those not my own is because I will not survive if I don't. But, how many people here have such obligations? How many people have so much safety that they do not even have to have heard of such a thing and are surprised when I speak?

Pink is Pink and Blue is Blue until they become symbols set in a wider context that depends on many such symbols continuing to signify what they do. Red, white, and blue? Is it so important to you to have pink and blue instead of some other color? What is the consequence to you?

Little pieces matter. I didn't just pull that opinion out and put it on the table to react to something i've never heard of before, to just argue, to be in disbelief. But, how many speak from that place of not knowing but speaking anyway? If someone hasn't heard of something, how can they speak of the consequences upon that thing? And upon a person moreso? An unfamiliar idea to you, day to day life to me.

Pink and blue aren't one thing, they are one more thing. Not to mention that Mexico and Spain also have more genders than just men and women. But, who knew that either..

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Samsta
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These are words not people. If you're so upset about assigning the color blue to masculine words and pink to feminine, why aren't you upset Spanish assigning the letter 'a' to femine words, and 'o' to masculine? Is that also wrong? Should Spanish remove the 'o' and 'a' endings (at least for people)?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Going by this logic, the color "black" as I have indicated is related to many negative things (death, discrimination, mourning, darkness, impurity, and so on). Yet, the text you've typed is in black, so it makes me wonder why you aren't concerned about all the words you type in this forum. Maybe you set your browser to automatically change the color to your liking?

In addition, there are very few colors (if any) that don't carry a negative connotation (http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/meaning-of-colors.html) in some culture, so unless you're an expert of symbolism of all cultures, I don't see how you can address this. Arriving on this site you will see many colors, some of which may be distasteful/disrespectful to other cultures, if you wear clothes perhaps it is also disrespectful to a nudist tribe. Should the computer ask the users what colors they like before booting up the operating system? (Perhaps)

I believe it is ironic that you put the word "boy" in your nickname ("genderizing" yourself without the other users permission??), and yet you are complaining about the same issue (double standards?).

That said, I agree that it should be optional and much research has been done in the field of computers, usability, and culture (culturalization). If this website grows, it will indeed have to cater to different cultures, by localizing (changing the display or some content) or risk being banned in some countries. Despite that, the fact that you need to be open-minded about other cultures is paramount to learning a language, and will not likely change.

One day you will mature and understand that life isn't "black and white".

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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So, how is it an act of violence to gender someone? I live in the USA too and I have no problem with things being pink, blue, or green depending on the grammatical gender of a word.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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~Trigger Warning: violence, bullying, and harm.~ Most of the people in the US don't have a problem with it. However, If you are a k-12 student, you might get bullied and isolated everyday because people are gendering on their own without consent. And if someone doesn't match their expectations or refuse to be erased, then other people take their discomfort out on them. Some children have suffered kidney failure from trying to hold their bladder each day until they go home throughout the school year. They don't want to receive the violence. A lot of gender motivated violence has come of people gendering other people without their consent. These are a few examples. Someone who experiences improper gendering from everyone lives with a lot of pressure then for a lot of interaction. It's not healthy for someone experiencing it. Some gender variant groups, Transgender for example is one among several, in the US have a self-harm rate (or regularly consider it) of 1/2 because this pressure is so detrimental. But not all gender variant folks are trans, but they still experience this pressure. (the other groups aren't as well known because they don't have movies or tv talk shows discussing them.) My brain is a little tired and I feel some stress, so, I will excuse myself from the topic now. I hope though that some folks who have a genuine interest in the topic for its own sake, will go beyond here and explore the topic online further. :)

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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I have to reply again. I'm not arguing, but I'm not quite seeing your point. You keep referring to people, and not nouns. There are no transgender nouns. You don't refer to people as "its." There might be a few cases of bullying because of gender concepts, but again, this applies to people and not grammar. Fortunately, in English, there is no gender system inherent in the language, but in others, there are, and you have to understand that system to speak it. Coloring words would serve only as a memory aid for declining nouns.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dr.Manhattan95

I do see Usagiboy's point with assigning genders to pictures. This is harmless on the internet, but lets say you call a seemingly female person a "her," when he really identifies as a boy. This could be a problem. There are so many variants of genders. And not everyone identifies as the gender that some people assign to them.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eugene.V

Why do you associate grammatical genders with real genders? If you just separate them in your mind(which seems quite logical, those are so different), the problem will be solved. Why do you carry meaning of the word given a centuries ago and gone now. Nowadays, noone associates male words with men and female with women. Probably, they once were connected, but not anymore. Now we have just words "male" and "female". They can be easily replace by, say, "orange" and "apple" if it is neccesary. In my view, it isn't.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sommerlied
sommerlied
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Same question like Puddl3glum here - would you mind sharing which culture you are talking about? It is something so totally obvious and normal to me, that I have no clue why somebody might feel offended when saying "woman"/"man" to a picture which obviously shows a woman/man. I'd like to learn and broaden my mind about this.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dr.Manhattan95

I wouldn't say a culture, but rather a community. Most people from the LGBTQ community despise being labeled/ labeling others a gender without their permission. It's just common courtesy. You may offend a seemingly female person who actually identifies as a male.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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The difference is that the LGBTQ+ is an acronym of politically and socially allied identities. I am distinguishing here between self-identity and culture, both of which can belong to the same community. But the differences are the norms, taboos, worldviews, and lexicon. I can tell you that while I support lesbian, gay, and bisexual folks, I am not any of those, because they most often (with some exceptions as recently noted by some members of the bisexual community related that for them bi means same and other, rather than same and opposite) rely on a binary gender worldview, that does not apply to some cultures.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chilvence
chilvence
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Oh my god.

Get over yourself.

I am going to be sick.

Anyway, Hi, my name is Laurie. Am I a boy or a girl?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I have no idea. I have met people of different genders who use that same name.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eugene.V

In French, you don't see just words, they usually go with an article or something that determines their gender. Also, some words have multiple genders(f.e. un livre/une livre). How are you going to highlight them?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Pastafarianist

In French, there is no gender differentiation for the words in plural form, and the current system already somehow manages to distinguish between such cases as you mentioned (there is a masculine/feminine tag in the hover hint), but that's not the issue here. With color-coding It would be much easier to memorize the genders for people who learn visually.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
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I like the idea of a visual marker. I am a visual + tactile learner.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Eugene.V

There is a differentiation for plural form, say, when you have gender-dependent adjective. Of course they got m./f. tag, but how does it work for double-gendered words? And well, if you memorize visually, what could be more visual than an article or an adjective?

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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This has been suggested before for languages like German, where genders are less intuitive than the romance languages, so that it is easier to decline nouns and adjectives as well as remember the words' gender for later.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mayor.Tony

at the very least have it colour coded when reviewing the answer if not while training. When you get it wrong and its highlighted in pink or blue. it will be easier to imprint on the mind.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/toddlucas

There seems to be a lot of sensitivity among a few people towards the assignment of color to nouns based on their gender. Why not use the common-sense alternative: the article! One should always learn the article with the noun if learning a language with grammatical gender.

Whether you are a visual or auditory learner, learning a noun with its article is crucial. If we see a color, we must substitute. That may work somewhat for an auditory learner but probably less well for a visual learner.

This won't work in all contexts, but in the vocabulary lists and the popups, it should work well.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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Well, yes, the article should be known, but the coloring would just be a helpful visual aid for many people.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
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The little I know in German suggests that the article may change depending on where it is placed(dative,Nominative,etc; ein, einen, einem = a). So which article will you use? Indeed a specific case that still puzzles me, is that sometimes Pferd(horse) is (Das/der pferd).

The real problem are those words which can be both, e.g. (o) dentista, (a) dentista (The (male/female) dentist). Which article would you use there? Also there are languages with more than 10 grammatical genders, making things much more chaotic.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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Well, yes. German still has cases for nouns. Most of the nouns themselves do not change when they decline, but their articles do, as the articles indicate the gender. If the words were colored according to gender, then it would be much easier to memorize which article goes with the word.

Also, as a side note, for most occupations, there is a masculine version, on which is added the ending -in to denote a feminine version. So, Tanzer v. Tanzerin. Zahnarzt (dentists/ tooth-doctor) v. Zahnarztin (female dentist).

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Thanks for the hint. From my perspective, Duolingo has already proven the benefit of different colors/fonts, for example, in German at least, whenever a verb is shown, Duolingo presents it with a subtle but noticeable difference. So, it changes the text somewhat:

  • Wir haben Wasser-- Wir haben Wasser
  • Sie trinkt Wasser -- Sie trinkt Wasser

It is quite clear to anyone who has gone through the German lessons, what the benefit of this is. So, in addition to changing color, it could perhaps make use of other font types to highlight certain concepts.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Puddleglum
Puddleglum
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That's saved me quite a few times with conjugations. I know coloring words wouldn't be as useful for Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese, but it probably would for French and German.

Don't hold me to that on French. I haven't really gone into depth with the language, but from what I've seen, genders aren't as intuitive in French as in other Romance languages.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dessamator
Dessamator
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Indeed, in terms of gender, French it is not as simple as Spanish or other Romance languages, I think. In fact the only thing that has made it easy for me is the fact that many words share the same gender in French -- Portuguese.

So most of the times, I guess/assume that the word is probably the same gender as in Portuguese, and this saves me a lot of the time, e.g. un(masc) livre = um(masc) livro; une(fem) orange = uma(fem) laranja. Still fonts would help here for languages like French, just change the font of the words, the variations below could be shown with a new word, in addition to/instead of colors:

Masc word - fem word

  • livre - pomme
  • livre - pomme
4 years ago