Language Learners, or: The Owl Comes For Us All

Discussion in 'General Chatter' started by kmoss, May 20, 2019.

  1. TheOwlet

    TheOwlet A feathered pillow filled with salt and science

    sometimes duolingo has...very strange sentences.

    brought to you by: 'let's leave the pretty women to men without imagination'
    • Winner x 1
  2. bushwah

    bushwah a known rule consequentialist

    that feels like a slow roast but I'm not sure exactly who the target is
    • Agree x 8
  3. bushwah

    bushwah a known rule consequentialist

    hebrew question:

    what's the difference between




    the first two I got from genesis 1:6 (so, biblical hebrew) and the last one I believe is from a source in modern hebrew. all three are translated into English as water but running each through reverso (while logged in as a free member) yields examples with connotational patterns that suggest these are meaningfully different words.

    attempt to split the morphemes: לָ prefix, מַ֖יִם base. first one is prefix+base, second is base, third is base+base. the base presumably means water, but I don't know how the prefix or the repetition modifies the base, and I'm not sure where to look to find out.

    the prefix also looks familiar and I'm not sure why. looking it up alone yields gibberish.
  4. turtleDove

    turtleDove Well-Known Member

    I can confirm, at least, that the base does mean "water". I think the prefix turns it into "the water"? But I'm not 100% sure. I would suspect that the repetition would turn it into "water of waters" or something to do with multiple waters, but I'm genuinely not sure!
    • Informative x 1
  5. bushwah

    bushwah a known rule consequentialist

    latest intel suggests that the prefix may be relational. so "to water" or "of water" or, or "in water" or something. I know "the" (or a word that translates to "the") and that looks different

    this just. makes me so curious about the tashlich thing, the throwing of bread into water on rosh hashanah. which water is that? big water, relational/definite (prefixed) water, or regular water?
  6. bushwah

    bushwah a known rule consequentialist

    okay, I'm... I'm trying to read genesis 1:8 now (I am go very slow) and. my dictionary says בֹ֖קֶר is "beef" which uh... does not appear in any translation I can find...

    I think my word borders are wrong?

    (also by far the best hebrew-english online dictionary is... wiktionary. why? I have no idea. but it is.)
  7. leitstern

    leitstern 6756 Shatter Every Sword Break Down Every Door

    My whole workplace has pledged to learn Spanish because we live in the southern US and we can’t talk to our numerous Spanish speaking patrons, this is awful

    Let me tell you though the problem with a litany of librarians (‘litany’ being my personal proposed group naming scheme for librarians) when it comes to Spanish Speaking is not ‘Spanish,’ it’s ‘Speaking.’ We are bad speakers. We are not skilled people people. It’s been rough.
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  8. 3strim

    3strim Professional Accidental Rater

    Parking my butt in here because I've gotten back to attempting to learn languages (even though retaining English is a struggle).

    Current study: Gàidhlig
    • Winner x 1
  9. 3strim

    3strim Professional Accidental Rater

    Current pet peeve of Duolingo: not explaining why a word changes (for example, plural form of you, vocatives, etc).

    They just expect you to kinda. Figure it out.
    • Agree x 3
    • Witnessed x 2
  10. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    I sorta feel like that's a situation where the language learning program is very proud of how many tables for conjugation and declension it doesn't have, and as soon as the student actually sees those tables, if they didn't actively search them already, they're going to be very cranky about how much simpler it is if you just write it out.
    • Agree x 4
  11. turtleDove

    turtleDove Well-Known Member

    It does have tips now, where it demonstrates how words change. (At least for French. idk about other languages yet.) But that's very recent, and isn't the same as explaining why it changes.
    • Agree x 1
    • Informative x 1
  12. TheOwlet

    TheOwlet A feathered pillow filled with salt and science


    god help me this owl is kicking my ass sometimes.
    • Winner x 4
  13. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    I was sadly examining a fic in Chinese that obviously I can’t read. I was looking at the individual characters, which I know almost entirely from Japanese when I know them at all, trying to imagine what on earth they’d mean together in that order. I’ve seen so, so many characters recently what with practicing Japanese and vaguely attempting to learn a little Mandarin, so I was recognizing a lot more than I expected. If only the individual ideas meant the faintest thing to me in context. How mysterious. Person, a few descriptors, half of Kyoto, numbers, hey some mountains... It was idly entertaining.

    Then I looked at the next paragraph. It was only one sentence long, and I could read it. It said someone’s name is Li unfamiliar-given-name, which isn’t a very exciting sentence, but I understood what it said. The tags indeed listed a character with the family name Lee.

    I more or less read an entire sentence in the wild just out of nowhere. The system actually works??? A little at least? What is this madness, I was not prepared?
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  14. Socket

    Socket fuzzy tabletop goblin

    I finally legendary’d all of the first unit in Japanese! :D I’ve made desperately little progress in the last year just because I’ve been constantly compelled to restore my golded lessons and only doing those over and over, so I’m SUPER glad they introduced a way to stop them deteriorating. Onwards, to actually learning new vocabulary and structure! :D
    • Winner x 4
  15. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    Got #1 in the diamond league by pure happenstance of having a week of travel in conjunction with a very relaxed league. Language practice is generally something you can not feel rude about doing while spending a lot of time among casual company who aren’t eager to judge you or anything but don’t know that you focus better if you’re doing several things at once. “Oh, she’s just very studious. She’s learning Chinese, you know!” Heh.

    I’d like to opt out of leagues now please. I won, lemme go home. Streaks are enough. The effort to stay in a particular league makes me feel bad more than it helps. I feel sad about dropping down a league, so I’m basically running in place forever I guess, at whatever pace chance happens to demand. It’s not fun. I’m a pretty competitive person, and I don’t actually like that about myself. I feel like it brings out the most poisonous kinds of motivation.

    It also diverts my attention from other things I desperately need, like Chinese pronunciation videos on youtube or Japanese listening practice in podcasts, videos, and Netflix shows. I’m probably not gonna passively pick up subtleties like Japanese pitch accent (which I think registers to my native English speaker brain as syllable emphasis, which seems to work okay and isn’t more information than I’d expect to have to remember about every single word I learn) very effectively from Duolingo exclusively. I’m definitely not gonna learn to pronounce Mandarin consonants correctly without the likes of Grace Mandarin Chinese on youtube, who gives you the IPA symbols, handy dandy illustrations of what they actually mean for how you hold or move your tongue and mouth, detailed verbal descriptions, and demonstrations of how it should sound.

    But griping aside, I am definitely learning. I thought that Chinese would be even harder than Japanese because kanji are difficult for me, but it’s actually making both languages easier? It would probably be a different story if I were trying to learn to write by hand, but I’m not concerned with that. I rarely write in English by hand either. It’s important to know what isn’t part of your goal I think, and being able to write in Chinese is not something I care about currently.

    I reached a hundred day streak and it gave me a free three day trial of Plus again. I decided to do what I did last time and try a language I normally wouldn’t because it’s just too difficult to avoid mistakes when trying to learn the basics. So I decided to see how the Klingon course is doing.

    It’s hilarious and I love it. It really sounds like it was created with three to five people, zero budget, one and a half microphones, and INFINITE PASSION. Duolingo’s interface has so many problems with Klingon, like ignoring punctuation in really weird and unexpected ways. That’s an issue because an apostrophe is a full letter in Klingon. It’s a glottal stop, and it’s a vital and frequently used consonant. The result is so funny, and kind of inspiring somehow? These people just care so much to persevere. I’m very glad I’m not going in with zero prior knowledge of pronunciation and grammar, but that’s every language in Duolingo.

    Klingon is the best thing on Duolingo imo. Not the most useful or the least frustrating learning experience. It’s just that the jankiness gives it so much personality, which I didn’t even realize I was feeling a lack of. But in comparison, the robotic voice splicing and super clean visual style feel slightly hostile somehow? The less than perfect and definitely not homogeneous experience of the glorious tlhIngan Hol feels both like real people are trying very hard to make it possible for you to learn this ridiculous conlang, and like it isn’t the grand vision of just one person or amorphous conglomerate making decisions about how things ought to be. You can clearly hear that these people are not all in one place, or someone would have let Contributor #3 borrow a better microphone. It’s very charming imo.
    • Like x 1
  16. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    Oh yeah, and it keeps telling me I need more spaces. It's not marking me wrong, it's just registering it as a typo. I keep trying to give it more spaces, for science! So far it remains unsatisfied.
    • Informative x 1
  17. Sethrial MacCoill

    Sethrial MacCoill Attempts were made

    This inspired me to finally get off my butt and start doing duo lingo again. I have someone to practice with now, so hopefully I won’t get quite as bored.

    at one point I was taking French classes every single day and was very briefly conversational, if not fluent in French, and now after three years of not speaking a word of the language, the lessons in unit 2 of duo are both INSULTINGLY easy, and hard enough that I trip up regularly. Like I can read every word on the page, but producing a sentence in French is frustratingly difficult. Pronunciation is coming back quickly. And, fun note, now that I’m not working at the most southern place to ever southern and have lost most of my accent again, I sound like a proper American struggling with French, instead of, as Dr V put it, like I fell out of an alligators ass.
    • Winner x 2
  18. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    Haha, that sounds fabulous! But maybe not like it would go through voice recognition gently.

    I feel similarly about difficulty in Japanese. I’m doing the entire tree the long way, making everything gold before moving on. I’ve found that’s the only way I’ll actually have absorbed the material reasonably well before it throws something completely different at my face. It doesn’t seem to particularly want me to do that, but it’s not all that pushy either. I’m pretty sure back when I kept up with anything, they were talking about how much progress people made with a language in terms of how far down the tree they got. Wonder how that worked out. I don’t really want to skip down the tree faster anyway, because that defeats the purpose. I’m trying to practice regularly and have language exposure, not complete a tree. And no, I don’t want to skip to the next level, I came to do the lessons. I need to see the kanji and vocabulary and the bizarre ways they sometimes phrase things, or I’m gonna have a hard time recalling them when I need them. But it does mean I see a lot of really, really easy questions over and over, interspersed with things I know would be impossibly difficult if they weren’t being spoon fed.

    I just finished the first section of the Mandarin tree using this same very slow method. The checkpoint was so much fun. I knew all the answers, no problem. Hearing all the ding noises of success for correct answers was exciting. It really did feel like I was accomplishing something, or proving that I’d accomplished something. And I did. I couldn’t have answered any of those questions when I started, because I didn’t know any Mandarin at all. So that was really cool.
  19. Verily

    Verily surprised Xue Yang peddler

    Okay so, I always rolled my eyes and kinda laughed at the claim that comes up sometimes in the Duolingo loading screen about how it’s equivalent to a certain amount of a college language course or something. But I just met someone who hadn’t had a college course with which to compare it and didn’t know how much that’s not even a little true. They put a ton of time and effort into the Mandarin course, completed the tree, and weren’t nearly as fluent as they had been led to believe they would be, especially for how very much effort they poured into learning. They still got something out of it of course, but there are much more efficient ways to learn a language if your goal is to become as fluent as possible as quickly as possible. Unless there are very few accessible materials, it is probably not the best option for a very motivated learner with a lot of time and energy to devote to language learning, and isn’t likely to be sufficient by itself even if you don’t care that much about high efficiency.

    It is not equivalent to a college course. Not even remotely close. It may be the equivalent of a junior high course where the teacher is competent but is not a native speaker of the target language. That certainly isn’t nothing, but it’s not how they’re hyping it.

    I’m not saying it’s bad and you shouldn’t use it, or that it won’t teach you the language at all. I like it, I use it, and it’s teaching me things. It can give you a great foothold and help you stay in a rhythm of regular exposure, which is really important and helpful. But it will not present you with realistic expectations about itself, and other people who use it are not necessarily accurate sources about it either. You usually can’t really tell how much knowledge they already had, what other resources they may have used that they may or may not have even recognized as such, and how skilled they actually are, just from self reporting.

    I don’t know if this is news to anyone here, but just in case, I wanted to say something. My experience with Duolingo is as positive as it is because my expectations are basically zero, which it easily surpasses. You could talk shit about the junior high French teacher too, but she could still fucking school you in some French. I’m definitely learning stuff. Success! I’m also using a lot of supplementary learning materials for everything I study with Duolingo.
    • Agree x 2
  20. idiomie

    idiomie I, A Shark Apologist

    At one point my french was fluent enough (from my high school french + self teaching) that, despite not having taken any college french, i was tentatively approved to study abroad in france with the option of immersion classes (so, classes in french/regular uni classes, as opposed to a dedicated selection of "these are the classes in english and or french-as-a-second-language classes")

    (NB: i did not actually study abroad, and had been more interested in going to thailand anyway)

    i haven't actually done anything with my french skills so obviously in the last 3.5 to 4 years they've declined! duo is very good imo as a low stakes refresher. it's a good supplement, i think especially if you're struggling with just getting yourself to put the time in. but every time i see their "teaches as much as 4 college semesters in half the time" ad or w/e i have to laugh
    • Agree x 2
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