Duolingo and Conlangs: Some Brief Thoughts

Recently I was having a conversation with Rizael regarding Duolingo having a course for Klingon in their incubator. He shared the opinion that it was useless and took away from Duolingo’s purpose of teaching people languages in order to foster worldwide communication. He also went on to state the opinion that the Esperanto course had no particular place on Duolingo either, as so few people use Esperanto anyway. While I don’t disagree that learning these languages may not necessarily be worth one’s time from a utility standpoint, I do think that proponents of these languages have every right to have a Duolingo course.

We can consider this from the angle that Duolingo is nothing more than a platform for language courses. In other words, it’s not the people at Duolingo itself who build the courses, but individuals and groups who wish to promote their languages. Duolingo’s Incubator actually has an application to submit a language, and as far as I can tell, puts courses in the incubator as per popular demand and availability of users who can contribute to the course. It’s for that reason that a course for Irish Gaelic has been released, and a course for Welsh is in the works, despite these languages not necessarily being “useful” in the traditional sense: very few people actively speak either language. Therefore, I see no real problem in Duolingo merely hosting courses for Klingon and Esperanto, as there is clearly a subset of the population who wishes to promote and learn these languages, and it in no way takes away from the development of courses for natural language. While I don’t necessarily believe it is worth speaking a constructed language, those who speak a language have every right to use and promote it in the ways they see fit.

What do all of you think? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Chinese, Japanese, Korean – Which one should I learn?

(Note: “Chinese” technically covers a wide range of related but mutually unintelligible dialects; however, it most commonly refers to Mandarin Chinese. As such, any references to “Chinese” in this post will refer exclusively to Mandarin, unless otherwise stated.)

With the recent increase in the popularity of East Asian pop culture, more and more language enthusiasts have become interested in Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. In this article, I will discuss the differences between these languages in terms of difficulty and use. Naturally, I’m assuming the point of view of a native English speaker.

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Grammar

Right off the bat, Chinese appears to have the least intimidating grammar. Let’s take a look at the phrase “My name is Alan.” In each example, the literal translation of each word is placed below:

Chinese

我的名字是阿兰。

Wǒ de míng zì shì ā lán.

  My     name    is   Alan.

Continue reading Chinese, Japanese, Korean – Which one should I learn?

Song Breakdown – 童話(どうわ)- Fairy Tale (Post by Ineptidude)

This is the breakdown of the Japanese reprise of “Tong Hua,” (meaning Fairy Tale) a popular Chinese song originally by Michael Wong. Click the link below to view the PDF, which has the lyrics in Kanji along with English translations and a list of all the important vocabulary. (Note: This breakdown assumes that you know how Japanese verb conjugations and particles work.)

童話

How to Effectively Memorize Vocabulary With Quizlet

One of the biggest problems with using a tool such as Quizlet to memorize vocabulary is the fact that everything goes to your passive memory, not your active memory. In other words, you learn to recognize words in your target language, but not remember them.

Continue reading How to Effectively Memorize Vocabulary With Quizlet

The Messy Genius of Kanji (Guest post by Ineptidude)

こんにちは, everybody! I’m Ineptidude, and I’ll be posting today.

Today, I want to talk about the bane of the Japanese student’s existence: Kanji. (For those that don’t know, Kanji are Chinese characters used in Japanese to represent nouns, verb stems, and adjectives.) When I started to study Japanese, I was initially daunted by the immense number of kanji I would have to learn. (There are 2000 kanji, called jouyou kanji, that the Japanese government deems the most “common” kanji. Adding to this, there are other kanji that are considered generally good to know.) Continue reading The Messy Genius of Kanji (Guest post by Ineptidude)