Wednesday, June 14, 2023

116 - An Open Letter to Duolingo

 Duolingo...Fermati...Stop! Just stop!

You're getting really annoying!

In the three years I've used you, slowly building up my ability to offend someone in Italy, I have never done even seven days in row. Never.

Yet, you go on and on about my 'streak.' "You're on an 18 day streak," you like to brag. "No, I'm not," I say to no one, since you can't hear me. "I have taken at least two, maybe three days off during those 18. You're just so obsessed with streaks that you fake it through the days I don't show up. You 'freeze' my streak, so it looks like I've done many days in a row, when in reality I've done just two or three days in a row."

"Don't lose your streak!" you shout (I know it's only a message, but it seems like shouting).

"I already lost my streak," I say back. "I never had a streak. I don't want a streak. I refuse to have a streak. I will never have a streak."

I know this is beginning to sound vindictive and petty, but that's just how annoyed I am with you.

Oh, and what the hell is "XP" anyway? I don't actually care what XP is, so you don't have to answer the question.

I'm not using Duolingo to play games. I don't play games. I'm not a game person. Well...I play soccer and chess, but I don't play the kinds of games you're trying to make Duolingo feel like.

I just want to spend five minutes, maybe five nights a week, working out simple Italian sentences, so when I land in Milan I can offend all the local soccer ("Calcio") fans by calling AC Milan and Inter Milan, "Escrementi." (Then, of course I will be beaten within an inch of my life, and the Juventus jersey I'm wearing will be torn into tiny strips.)


Let's move on to the weird sentences you sometimes use.

A recent lesson I did had the following sentence:

"Non ho i tuoi pantaloni."

"I do not have your pants."

Did anyone stop to think about when the hell I am going have to say this? What is the circumstance, the situation, where I will have to know how to say, "I do not have your pants"?

Where am I, and what has just happened, that makes me have to say this? And who am I talking to? You need to think about these things before you put an Italian lesson together.

It's like the old Monty Python translator sketch, where John Cleese is learning butchered English and says, "My hovercraft is full of eels."

Hey, that's an idea, what is "My hovercraft is full of eels," in Italian?

Eureka! I have it:

Il mio hovercraft e pieno di anguille!

Hm, weird, seems like there is no Italian word for 'hovercraft.' Maybe I'll switch back to pants. Il mio pantaloni e pieno di anguille!

I apologize if this letter comes across too angry. I'm not really angry, just annoyed.

You would be too...if your pants were full of eels.

Peter Wick

June 14, 2023