No, hold on, don’t dismiss this as a clickbait (yet).
Learning a foreign language was always a part of my awfully long to-do list, but one of those that never gets materialized. Apparently, that’s one of my problems with these unmonitored to-do lists. Actions and ideas get registered in them, but never find their way out, making me call them “Procrastination List”. And I always wanted to fix this by creating an app where my best friend (could be anybody who one is comfortable sharing his thoughts with — his better half, closest friend, could as well be his mom) monitors my to-do list and pushes me to act on the things inside it. But as you can imagine, that app idea, which I had christened “do-to-do” has well settled in my ‘Procrastination List’ so it will take a while to be acted upon.
Anyway, coming back to the core of this article…Well, that’s my second problem, I tend to divert too much from my original intention. I intended to write an article on my journey into learning a new language but started talking about procrastinating and apps. It’s like one of those innings where the batting side pre-plans to start aggressive, calm down during middle overs and pace-up at the end again but ends up losing three wickets in the first five overs. Damn, it happened again — diversion.
Ever since I moved to California, I’ve been awestruck by a huge Mexican community that speaks Spanish so fast Dhoni’s sprint between the wickets might look slower. There entered one of my very few successful to-do list contents that has actually been “done” — “Learn Spanish” or as they say “Yo Hablo Espanol”. I had assumed it would open up a big community of people who I could talk to, make friends with, go out with, and that was enough of a motivation given the attraction quotient of “Las Mujeres Latinas” ;-). But I made it a point to only half-learn Spanish or at least pretend that I’m half learnt, you know, it’s more fun to talk broken Spanish with Spanish people than a fluent version of it. That way, it’s easier to pick up a conversation, and to make mistakes (of all kinds). I know for a fact that knowing things half works fully. ;)
As an avid Wiki reader, my obvious first choice was to research a bit about the Spanish language on Wikipedia. And wiki sort of doubled my motivation by giving a heads up saying “Spanish is a Romance Language” in the very first line of the article.
A few days later, I found that French is also a Romance Language. And so is Italian. :) Turns out they’re the languages derived from using “a Roman Vernacular”. Nevertheless, that didn’t quench my thirst to install the app Duolingo to endeavor on an exotic journey into the world of FC Barca, Carlos Slim Helu, Shakira, Penelope Cruz, Pablo Escobar, and many more.
Let me devote the rest of this article to Duolingo. It needs a lot of attention. ;) Basically, Duolingo is a crowdsourced platform where people translate sentences from across the web. In the process, they not only learn a new language but also translate the web. This revolutionary idea comes from the king of crowdsourcing, Luis von Ahn who’s also the creator of the reCaptcha project that helped digitize millions of books by crowdsourcing the digitization as part of captchas that are used all over the internet.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ReCAPTCHA). The same idea was extended to translating the web to different languages to make it accessible to a wider audience. Here’s a TED talk by the founder himself about his research -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ht4qiDRZE8
Essentially, on Duolingo, one uses a language they know well and speak fluently to learn a new language. Here starts the fun. Since the words that form sentences that are given for translation are chosen randomly from a combination of different sentences, most of the times, they make ABSOLUTELY no sense. The hilarity ensues when people start trolling them. Granted, it’s still an effective way to learn a new language since you could use similar format of the sentences offered to you when you want to actually put it to use. And to be honest, it’s these kind of fun sentences that literally made me endure this three month long journey. I’ve collected screenshots of all such hilarious examples I was offered. Duolingo users have been enormously creative with their comments every time such a weird, funny sentence appears. I hate to accept this but they’re almost in par with Redditors when it comes to SFW comments (Of course, with NSFW comments, Reddit is still the unquestioned king). Below are a few gems. (Again, in my “Procrastination List” is an idea for an app that collects amusing and entertaining, or genius and creative comments from some of the comment-heavy portals of the web open to public, like Reddit, 4Chan, 9gag, Youtube, Duolingo, newspaper sites like TOI, NYTimes etc, and sometimes even Facebook).
Here are a few gems :-)
Somebody with keen eyes ;-)
Gets raunchy a bit ;-)
More so :-)
A LOT more so :-)
When the Duolingo robot starts to flirt ;-)
Becomes really sweet…
But then the flirting gets complicated ;-)
Straight to the point :-) I like this bluntness.
People start sensing when it gets creepy ;-)
Next level of creepiness
Duo also ventures into BDSM.
From BDSM to …. Cmon Duo, don’t stoop to that level.
That’s the question.
I wouldn’t consider it a complaint :)
Consequences of over-flirting ;-)
Honest Duo promptly acknowledges it
But it won’t stop :-(
Being brutally honest
Here starts the unavoidable “irony comments”
No irony here, seems legit.
Then, Duo beings to show its dark side ;-)
And soon it gets intimidating :-O
The intimidation escalates!
It’s done :-(
But when Duo goes to the depression mode, you feel bad for it :-/
Maybe that’s because
Could also be because…
Gets worse ;-)
This is weird, though :-D
But then it comes back up with motivational one liners :)
Human Psychology :)
And this habit, of course :)
There’s battle of sexes:
I’m speechless ;)
Hey, at least Duo doesn’t believe in arranged marriages :)
Gender equality :)
Familial values ;)
Duo says this because it’s an owl, FYI.
And then there are these absurd numbers ;)
Today I Learned…
Maybe folks from the coastal region, but still…
Kinda scary ;)
Another TIL candidate.
Poor actor ;)
Next version of Angry Birds
Hilarity continues :-D PetRent ;) New startup idea.
Speaking of startups, when will I eat strawberries? :(
Duo is pro sapiosexuality.
Fair deal I’d say
Food habits and some serious suggestions:
Below are some truly amazing interpretations of questions. Give it up to such thoughtful and marvelous explanations.
The guy that explained the relevance deserves a cookie :)
Quite possible ;)
Morality in this explanation is overflowing
So many possibilities…
Much more comprehensive :-P
It gets logical. Rene Descartes should have been alive to see this :)
Now, visuals to assist
So accurate ;)
Maybe he does ;-)
What a splendid reasoning!
Here comes the mother of all explanations :)
But there are times when even the smartest of the Duo users are rendered clueless!
And the government trolls begin :-D
I can vouch for this…
The US gets trolled ;)
And now Obama :P
Talking about the Presidents…
International fun begins ;)
More from China. Note to Chinese and non-Chinese learners.
This one though :-P
Even Duo is confused here
Then there are some sentences that try to teach various tenses in Spanish, but just get ridiculous. Like, this one.
Yes, she can…
And some words are so confusing at the outset that I realize my stupidity only after it shows me the right answer, as below ones vouch for.
But it’s not just me, see for yourself.
I totally needed that :)
And another of such :P
But despite these (or probably because of these), I’m proud to say that I’ve “conquered” Spanish, at least according to Duo ;-) I’m also more than half-fluent while speaking Spanish, so I’d consider this mission a success!
Yo hablo Espanol ;)
And I took a test designed by myself to prove to myself that I in fact know decent enough Spanish. Basically, listened to a bunch of hits from popular native Spanish singers like Enrique, Shakira and Ricky Martin amongst others and made sure I understood their literal and metaphorical meanings. But just then, I realized we’ve our own tinge of Spanish in Zoya Akhtar’s ZNMD. “Senorita”, the Spanish-Hindi song from the movie was always in my Youtube playlist but never had I understood one bit of what that Spanish lady sang, pretty much like Farhan Akhtar who says “Na Main Jaana, Na Main Samjha, Jo Bhi Tumne Mujhse Kahaa Hain Senorita”. Decided to give it a shot. And what a lovely meaning does “Senorita” convey.
"Quien eres tu?" - "Who are you?"
"Donde has estado?" - "Where have you been?"
"He removido cielo, y tierra, y no te encontre" - "Moved the sky and the earth, and didn't find you."
"Y llegas hoy" - "And you arrive today"
"Tan de repente" - "All of a sudden"
"Y a sentida a toda mi vida con tu querer" - "And I felt my whole life with your love."
Here’s the song, if anybody wishes to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DV8PUG4vjeo
With that, the “learning a foreign language” aspiration has now taken a different route. Next in the mission is the language of the most populous community around where I live, and in fact, of the most populous community in the whole world. I can’t wait to be amused by Duo’s questions on Mandarin :-)