NaPoWriMo 2018 – #16 Language App


Der Hund hat eine Ente – The dog has a duck

In recent years I’ve been using DuoLingo (without much success, I have to admit) to try to learn German and Vietnamese. DuoLingo is an app that runs on phones and computers. Part of its approach is to give you an English phrase and its translation, which you then have to speak into your phone or computer. The phrases are mostly mundane (e.g. where is the hotel?) but occasionally bizarre. Today’s piece uses some of those bizarre phrases. There are a number of web-pages discussing the origins of these phrases. There is a link to one at the bottom of this page.



Language App

In Berlin a woman recites

German phrases into a computer.


In Bangalore, a programmer loads her phrases

into the language app.


In Australia, a man downloads the app,

recites these new German expressions.


He loves her voice,

is enchanted by her eloquence.


He imagines a woman gazing at a Paul Klee painting.

asking “Who eats the clock?”


He thinks of her flipping through a Thomas Manne novel,

wondering “Where does the cat run to?”


He suspects she has watched a rerun of “The Blue Angel”

thinking “My husband wears a dress”.


He imagines her at Mass praying for absolution,

hearing a whispered “We know every egg”,


considers her strolling the Tiergarten,

a stranger shouting: “You need a duck”.


He searches for her on Facebook, on Instagram,

finds her on LinkedIn.


Professes his love for her,

for her phrases, for her life.


He tells her:

The clock asked to be eaten.

Cats have no conscience.

Your husband is confused.

Your body is your own.

Ducks are indispensable.


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2018

How do weird duolingo sentences get generated?


Image: here

About NaPoWriMo

(Some / most of these could be rightly described as “chopped up text”. But that’s how first drafts often look.)

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