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Translate Wikipedia in 80 hours for free (Duolingo)

Jeff Whittaker  Identity Verified
USA
Local time: 04:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2002

hiszpański > angielski
+ ...
May 18, 2012

http://duolingo.com/



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2012-05-22 18:20 GMT]


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Oliver Walter  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 09:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

niemiecki > angielski
+ ...
Possibly useful in some ways May 18, 2012

The closing message of the video (length 2 minutes) on this site is: "Learn a language while translating the Web." It doesn't say anything useful about how you learn the language. It seems to me that the translations resulting from this might be better than Machine Translation but will probably still contain the the types of error made by people who don't understand the source language well and/or don't understand the subject area.

Oliver


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xxxchristela
The video doesn't say that they are translating Wikipedia May 18, 2012

or that you will be translating Wikipedia. It only says: "if one million people will use XX to learn, then the whole English Wikipedia could be translated in 80 hours".
A comparison. Which is not the same thing. This is how rumors get born.
Although I agree that this association with Wikipedia probably has been made intentionally.

Besides, as far as I know, people who work for Wikipedia aren't paid.

I read some of the comments. Only one or two language pairs for the moment, and it seems that after 1000 sentences the learners run out of training material. Which means imo that they all translate the same sentences.

They are looking for developers. If this is a translation agency, then the developing costs will largely exceed the benefits, and if it is a language school then further subscription (to the website) will be on a paid basis. 1 million of beginning users x 10% = 100,000 subscriptions x 10 $ a month = 1 million a month, ballpark figure.


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Altrum
Włochy
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2004

włoski > angielski
+ ...
This has already been discussed in a couple of threads May 20, 2012

http://www.proz.com/forum/internet_for_translators/213715-duolingo_to_translate_web_for_free.html#1856146

http://www.proz.com/forum/teaching_and_learning_languages/213722-duolingo.html


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Holandia
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2006

angielski > afrikaans
+ ...
Sounds interesting... I'm game May 20, 2012


Jeff Whittaker wrote:
http://duolingo.com/


I signed up... let's see when my username becomes active. One can't judge this service by just looking at the theory.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Niemcy
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2009

angielski > niemiecki
+ ...
:) May 21, 2012


Samuel Murray wrote:


Jeff Whittaker wrote:
http://duolingo.com/


I signed up... let's see when my username becomes active. One can't judge this service by just looking at the theory.


Hi Samuel,

would you be willing to share your experience with duolingo?

Regards,
Thayenga


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Holandia
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2006

angielski > afrikaans
+ ...
My experience May 21, 2012


Thayenga wrote:

Samuel Murray wrote:

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
http://duolingo.com/

I signed up... let's see when my username becomes active.

Would you be willing to share your experience with duolingo?


I signed up and saw the message that due to the high volume of sign-ups, I may not be accepted immediately. So far I haven't been accepted.


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Włochy
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

angielski > włoski
+ ...
Many birds with a stone May 21, 2012

Crowdsourcing should scare you because it puts into the - already low-budget-polluted - minds of the clients the idea that your work is easy and therefore cheap if not even unworthy of getting paid at all. Just what we need, right? So next time one asks you what your job is and you answer 'I'm a translator' don't frown when they comment 'Ah those guys who put Youtube into Spanish for free, right?'

It's interesting to notice that after several months from its debut, the legal pages of the site are still anonymous and full of "[INSERT LINK TO...]" strings... they only mention "Duolingo", nothing more than that... no company, no country no nothing... First fill in the gaps in your own site dear and THEN start thinking about translating the web...

Unlike open source/free software projects where it's usually good pro developers who publish their applications, here we have who? ... beginners who embark into tasks beyond their reach. Let's shift the paradigm for a moment to some other fields: would you undergo surgery from a med student who is just learning medicine? Or let a law student in his/her 1st year defend you in court? Hey, it's for free! Why not let someone who is learning how to draw and design a house build your condo? Because, let's face it... in today's world anyone can do anything, that is the motto of the 21st century. What about copyright? Does the guy think he can just translate and publish whatever he feels like just because it's there? Thank you for Recaptcha... stick to that and don't cross into foreign territory. Use that to translate crap on FB but the web is full of interesting, important stuff that if mistranslated leads to ignorance & misunderstanding.. and the list goes on...

A good way to put out of a job translators, language teachers and sites like this one you're reading right now... and to pollute the web with gibberish... as if there weren't already enough of that. We struggle sometimes for hours, go crazy over one word, ask help, vent our frustration on these pages and then he comes and says that you can do it while you learn the language... who was in the cockpit on the airliner he flew on? A 10 y.o. who just learnt how to fold a paper plane or an expert pilot?


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2006

norweski > angielski
Worse still May 21, 2012


Stefano Papaleo wrote:

... would you undergo surgery from a med student who is just learning medicine?


Or somebody who is going to try to learn medicine by operating on you?



[Edited at 2012-05-21 21:05 GMT]


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Włochy
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

angielski > włoski
+ ...
True! May 21, 2012


Michele Fauble wrote:


Stefano Papaleo wrote:

... would you undergo surgery from a med student who is just learning medicine?


Or somebody who is going to try to learn medicine by operating on you?



[Edited at 2012-05-21 21:05 GMT]


Yeah, exactly You're absolutely right!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Holandia
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2006

angielski > afrikaans
+ ...
Just say "no" if you're against it May 22, 2012


Stefano Papaleo wrote:
Crowdsourcing should scare you because it puts into the - already low-budget-polluted - minds of the clients the idea that your work is easy and therefore cheap if not even unworthy of getting paid at all.


Potential clients and clients who haven't been educated have always had the idea that the work is easy and therefore cheap. This isn't something that started when crowdsourcing started, or when global outsourcing started, or when the internet started. It has always been so -- people who don't realise that translation is expensive and a skilled task have always thought that it is easy and cheap (or: cheaper than they had imagined).


Just what we need, right? So next time one asks you what your job is and you answer 'I'm a translator' don't frown when they comment 'Ah those guys who put Youtube into Spanish for free, right?'


I suspect most people are not even aware that the Youtube/Facebook/eBay etc translations were done for free. Whenever any of these products become available in my native language (sometimes due to crowdsourcing activities), most non-translator non-technology people I chat to are under the impression that these companies had paid a single translator or translation bureau for the translation (and the scary thing is that mostly only translators / editors / school teachers see the errors in those translations).


First fill in the gaps in your own site dear and THEN start thinking about translating the web...


Are you trolling or being serious? How would this logic work when applied to your own web site? "First make sure your professional web site is complete, and THEN start getting trained as a translator". Surely not -- the technology is generally developed before it is made public.


Unlike open source/free software projects where it's usually good pro developers who publish their applications...here we have who? ... beginners who embark into tasks beyond their reach.


Beginners? The blokes who develop Duolingo were pioneers in captcha systems and developed the highly successful crowdsourcing-based reCaptcha, which is used by thousands of millions of people very day... at what point do they stop being beginners in your eyes?


Let's shift the paradigm for a moment to some other fields: would you undergo surgery from a med student who is just learning medicine?


If we were to suppose a world in which anyone could be a medical doctor without fear of legal or civil recrimination (and the only mechanism to weed out bad doctors would be that they would end up with no referrals), wouldn't you sometimes choose a cheaper doctor?

If you had to get a plaster cast, would you prefer to pay the hourly rate for an open heart surgeon or would you be happy to pay the hourly rate of someone who has merely learnt to apply plaster on hundreds of patients in the past?


The web is full of interesting, important stuff that if mistranslated leads to ignorance & misunderstanding...


Sure, sure, of course it would lead to less ignorance and fewer misunderstanding if the interesting, important stuff simply never get translated, right?


A good way to put out of a job translators, language teachers and sites like this one you're reading right now...


Just like the Wikipedia put publishers of encyclopedias out of business, and e-mail put postal workers out of a job, and Skype put telephone companies out of business, and the internet caused libraries and schools to go out of existence, right?


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Włochy
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

angielski > włoski
+ ...
Trends... those who see them... and those who don't May 22, 2012


Samuel Murray wrote:

Potential clients and clients who haven't been educated have always had the idea that the work is easy and therefore cheap. This isn't something that started when crowdsourcing started, or when global outsourcing started, or when the internet started. It has always been so -- people who don't realise that translation is expensive and a skilled task have always thought that it is easy and cheap (or: cheaper than they had imagined).


Exactly so what... let's put another stone on the burden so the ship can skin down faster... I'm really curious as how this can benefit YOU AS A TRANSLATOR... The only ones I've heard praising such things are either ordinary people or... business people (some of whom forgot they are/were translators too)




I suspect most people are not even aware that the Youtube/Facebook/eBay etc translations were done for free. Whenever any of these products become available in my native language (sometimes due to crowdsourcing activities), most non-translator non-technology people I chat to are under the impression that these companies had paid a single translator or translation bureau for the translation (and the scary thing is that mostly only translators / editors / school teachers see the errors in those translations).


And this does not worry you.... low quality text on the most important web services visited by virtually everybody... So that will be the bar set for the future and people will just go.. hey it's written like this on YT so it's gotta be right who cares about what the dictionary says... and please, don't come telling about language evolution... I already read and hear appalling Italian on the news etc. and people can hardly write correctly, unfortunately.



Beginners? The blokes who develop Duolingo were pioneers in captcha systems and developed the highly successful crowdsourcing-based reCaptcha, which is used by thousands of millions of people very day... at what point do they stop being beginners in your eyes?


You misunderstood what I wrote. I know who they are (if you read my post you see I referred to reCaptcha). I was talking about the translators not the developers of course.



If we were to suppose a world in which anyone could be a medical doctor without fear of legal or civil recrimination (and the only mechanism to weed out bad doctors would be that they would end up with no referrals), wouldn't you sometimes choose a cheaper doctor?


I would NOT want to live in a world where you can act on a human being and put his/her life to risk without any training and do not risk anything. Come on. Be serious. Why should I choose a cheaper doctor? Can (s)he do the same things in the same manner the more expensive one can?


If you had to get a plaster cast, would you prefer to pay the hourly rate for an open heart surgeon or would you be happy to pay the hourly rate of someone who has merely learnt to apply plaster on hundreds of patients in the past?


Really? How many high-end surgeons do you see in ER applying casts? Ignoring the different health care systems for a moment... you seem to forget that - unlike your doctor - these people won't be properly trained to translate.... back to square one.



Sure, sure, of course it would lead to less ignorance and fewer misunderstanding if the interesting, important stuff simply never get translated, right?


Exactly, because writing wrong things leads to wrong ideas. Ask that to a scientist or an engineer and see what they reply.



Just like the Wikipedia put publishers of encyclopedias out of business, and e-mail put postal workers out of a job, and Skype put telephone companies out of business, and the internet caused libraries and schools to go out of existence, right?


Sales of encyclopedias are certainly not thriving, most of them ceased the paper edition and went first to CD-ROM and then online and aren't exactly making record profits. The postal system is still in place for a series or reasons, not the least parcels and bureaucracy. Phone companies have the power to influence the market and are in the Internet business too so... besides, they make anything they can to fight the use of Skype on smartphones etc. Who said libraries & schools would go out of business because of the net?

It's not that we're going bust today or tomorrow, it is a trend. It starts slowly and in a subtle way (learn a language and... ) and it makes use of all the best marketing/PR techniques and the last trends and it is eating niches one by one. You say: 'just say no if you're against it'. I am but it's not like having an ice cream flavor you don't like and simply ignore it and move on.. it's like having this flavor in all parlors as the only flavor, not now but... still...


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Stefano Papaleo  Identity Verified
Włochy
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

angielski > włoski
+ ...
reCaptcha May 22, 2012

As for the so praised reCaptcha... you may wanna think twice:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/blogs/techtonic-shifts/2009/11/13/recaptcha-a-k-a-those-infernal-squiggly-words-almost-done-digitizing-the-new-york-times-archive.html

http://karouselmag.com/2010/10/recaptcha-exploits-the-masses/

Still thinking Duolingo is soooo cool? There are plenty of ways to learn languages for free (or a few bucks) on the Internet and they are so much better and you really learn something. Here you just THINK you are learning something when you are actually working for free.


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Attila Piróth  Identity Verified
Francja
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
angielski > węgierski
+ ...
Pointless May 22, 2012

I share Stefano's criticism.

Here are just three of my problems with Duolingo:

1. What for?
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
A lot of web content is completely irrelevant in most languages. Here is the French Wikipedia page of the town where I live: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bègles . What is the point in translating it into 50 languages? There is no demonstrated need for it. Translate it into 100 languages if you wish - but you can be fairly sure that in 80 or 90 languages there will not be a single reader. I won't raise the question "why waste people's time"; I have no doubt that Doulongo's creators can come up with a fancy explanation about why it is not a waste of time. But I raise the question, "what value was produced"?

Of course, Mr. Luis von Ahn has more lucrative ways of spending his time than to try to select - or even devise a mechanism for selecting - what material is worth translating into which language. As a matter of fact, he does not even need to do it: people who find that a material is interesting, may take care of that.

2. What skills?
Duolingo's approach denies that source-language competence is necessary for translation. (Or target-language competence, if users translate out of their native language.) As a professional translator, I have to disprove this statement day after day. (Would anyone allow their name to be published on the site: "sentence translated by NN"?)

3. What would the output look like?
Beginners could translate the easiest sentences first, and then move on to more difficult ones later. This would mean on the one hand a complete de-contextualization of the text. On the other hand, it would also mean that more difficult sentences would not get translated the same day (week, month, year) - only when a sufficiently proficient language learner comes along. Would the translation of the given page be published while half-baked? If not, there would be no perceptible output. If yes, would the output contain a mix of source and target-language sentences? Is it worth publishing such a thing?

And then some more...

"80 hours for free" - catchy tagline. What is reality? The 80 hours are well over, where is the result? Even a partial one?

From what I know of translation, I am convinced that this model is completely flawed. It does not do any favor to the public perception of our profession, either. It is rooted in demonetization and deprofessionalization, therefore I will not participate in it. Professional translators giving their good name to such a site could improve its perception - and I think they should actively refrain from that.

Nonetheless I appreciate that some people might find it interesting. So, where are the results? Something like an objective, with figures (X words translated into y languages by date z) so that we can see whether the progress is in line with the attractive taglines.

My take is this:
Duolingo will never produce anything worthwhile as far as large amounts of usable translation is concerned. The website will attract people, who will spend some time there. They may pick up a language - probably slower than with any established method, but at least for free.
Advertisements on the site may produce a hefty sum for its creators - provided a critical mass is attracted. What Duolingo has to offer is users as a marketing target.

Best,
Attila


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Holandia
Local time: 10:22
Członek ProZ.com
od 2006

angielski > afrikaans
+ ...
Whether DuoLingo is cool May 22, 2012




This person's objections to reCaptcha are all faulty. The "About" button on the reCaptcha is clear as day, and if you click on it, it explains very clearly what is going on. And no-one is forced to use the reCaptcha -- if you object to using it, simply surf to some other web site that doesn't use it.


There are plenty of ways to learn languages for free (or a few bucks) on the Internet and they are so much better and you really learn something.


Well, any novel way of learning a language is worth having a look at. The theory of DuoLingo seems solid -- you basically learn the way people used to learn before there were grammar books available.

Some learning methods focus on grammar before vocabulary, and some focus on vocabulary (and simple sentence construction) before moving on to grammar. DuoLingo seems to be the latter type -- you learn by looking up words in a dictionary, and eventually you learn to recognise patterns in the language.

So with DuoLingo you don't learn grammar from a book, but rather by example. Ordinarily, if you want to learn this way, you need to pay hourly for language tutors (and get tutored many hours).

The fact that DuoLingo also helps translate stuff is of no concern to me (though I don't object to being part of a crowd whose efforts are used to statistically translate stuff).


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