If you haven’t discovered Duolingo yet, do yourself a favor and go download the app onto your phone. Right now. It’s a hell of a language-learning app — turning the whole experience into a sort-of video game — and it’s totally free. English speakers can learn anything from Spanish to Turkish to Russian. Heck, they’re working on getting a Klingon course started (“Klingon, A Least We’re More Popular Than Latin!”).
Point being, in my mind, Duolingo is the next best thing to the Babel fish! And the benefits are many: studies done on people who speak multiple languages regularly reveal that they tend to score better on standardized tasks, they’re better at multitasking, and they’re able to stave off dementia for longer. Also, they can order food when traveling without sounding like idiots.
I first became a serious Duolingo user in 2014, the summer before I visited Peru. I wanted to learn as much Spanish as I could, so I could interact with the locals in Lima. I didn’t want to automatically assume anyone could speak English. I was going to their country, and so I was going to at least try to speak their language (Quechua not included).
One thing that becomes apparent when you start spending a lot of time with Duolingo is that the app either has a sense of humor or a fragmented personality. A few months after returning from Peru, I decided to try my hand at the new Turkish course (because, why not?) and eventually found myself facing sentences like the following:
It’s not just Turkish, though. Similarly hilarious sentences pop up in every single Duolingo course available. It’s such a common thing that there’s actually a Twitter account, @ShitDuolingoSays, and a hashtag to match. Sometimes Duolingo even makes fun of itself by posting Duolingoisms on its own Twitter account.
Will I ever need to know how to say “My name is Bond, James Bond” in Turkey? Probably not. But the sentences are better than the same old lines that showed up in high school books. Come on, admit it. You’ve always wanted to know how to say “You know nothing, Jon Snow” in Swedish.
Here are twenty of the greatest, most puzzling sentences Duolingo has dropped on its users, and situations you can apply them in:
He Dies in December
Use this phrase when: It’s time to take revenge on someone. Yes, it may be very gruesome, but Duolingo understands how important it is to work through your plans with your foreign hitman. This is one case where getting something lost in translation could prove life or death.
I Have Your Pants
Use this phrase when: You’re out clothes shopping with a friend, and then you decide to go out for coffee, and somehow your bags get mixed up. It’s very important to know whose pants are whose. There are other reasons this phrase might be vital, too… I’m sure you can figure them out.
Your Cow is Pretty
Use this phrase when: you are subtly trying to woo a buxom milkmaid, but not trying to come on too strong. Plus, cows really are pretty, so no one will blame you if you need to use this one in a different situation.
This Is The Best Spaceship That We Have
Use this phrase when: you are in the market for intergalactic travel. Duolingo is really thinking ahead on this one.
The Boy Eats Twenty-Three Beetles
Use this phrase when: you’re at a bug-eating contest and haven’t quite gotten your verb tenses straightened out yet. Hey, learning a language is tough, but sometimes you just really want to participate in the local culture!
Do We Have a Soul?
Use this phrase when: you are discussing important philosophical matters with your conjoined twin.
I Had Died
Use this phrase when you’re giving your medical history to a nurse and need to alert her to the time several years ago when you were technically dead for a very brief period of time. It’s important stuff to know, after all.
A Man Without Body Hair Is Like a Garden Without Flowers
Use this phrase when you are reprimanding your new foreign boyfriend for making yet another appointment for full-body waxing. Come on!
You Have To Eliminate The Witness
Use this phrase when you find yourself involved in a very dicey murder trial and would like to avoid jail time, if possible. Use at your own risk, of course.
The Paperboy Lost the Wineglass On His Route
Use this phrase when: you let the paperboy borrow a wineglass because he’s just so darned cute, but he’s in a hurry and decides to take the drink for the road, and the wineglass technically belongs to your neighbor, who wants it back now, but the paperboy, well…you can figure out the rest.
I Am Not a Singing Table
Use this phrase when you are surrounded by a flock of small children who insist on drinking tea off your back as you entertain them with songs. Sure, it’s a weird scenario, but Duolingo wants to make sure every possible situation is covered.
Help, the Horse Is Eating the Holy Potato!
Use this phrase when the horse you’ve hired to take you back from the Temple of the Divine Root Vegetables is chowing down on the tuber been given to you by the famous potato-blessing priest. It’s serious business.
I Have Found Out About Your Marriage
Use this phrase when the man you’re engaged to marry turns out to have a crazy wife living in the attic of his house.
That Is My First Rhinoceros
Use this phrase when you are showing off your rhinoceros farm to a group of visiting foreigners. You have every right to be proud of those little brutes.
If Possible, National Apples
Use this phrase when you are hungry for a piece of fruit and know that imported apples just aren’t going to taste the same. #EATLOCAL
Help, I Am Being Eaten
Use this phrase when you need to catch the attention of the tour guide at the Snake Emporium. They told you they’d lost one this morning!
She Showed Me Her Region
Use this phrase when you’re recapping a successful date to your friend, and want to tell him about the part when she whipped out her phone and pulled up a map of where she’s from. What other use did you think this one could have, sicko?
I Am Green, So What?
Use this phrase after accidentally falling into a vat of green dye. “What are you staring at?” might also come in handy.
He Assumes That We Are Human
Use this phrase when you want to join the alien overlords and must pretend to be an alien in disguise, but you almost get caught by Hank from spin class.