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Marriage proposal via handcrafted language lesson
June 17, 2013 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Picture this. You're one of the 3 million-ish users of Duolingo, doing online Italian lessons so you can talk to your Italian boyfriend in his own language. Halfway through one of your daily lessons, you're given the sentence "Lui ti ama" to translate. "He loves you" -- cute coincidence. But then it starts getting stranger.
posted by pont (53 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Your feel good story of the day.
posted by tommasz at 12:14 PM on June 17, 2013


God damn cute people, being all cute and happy and adorbs up in my stressful day.
posted by phunniemee at 12:15 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


wow that's cute. one good looking couple too.
posted by sweetkid at 12:18 PM on June 17, 2013


My favorite part is that they had a crying owl ready in case she said no.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 12:20 PM on June 17, 2013 [26 favorites]


Wow, that's really buzzing my harsh.

Thanks!
posted by lysdexic at 12:21 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


2cute2B4Gotten
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:22 PM on June 17, 2013


oh my god I can't believe they would do this... this is an incredible violation of the user's privacy and, if this ever happened to me, even if it was well intended, I would feel horrible.
posted by rebent at 12:23 PM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Only somewhat less freaky than other publicish proposals.

I would have made the owl cry and seriously reconsidered the relationship. CRY HARDER LITTLE GREEN OWL.

Unless my intended worked at Duolingo. Then marginally less creepy and more into the cute side.
posted by tilde at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2013


Unfortunately this violates the new EU online data privacy regulations and now he's in jail.

:(
posted by GuyZero at 12:30 PM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


DEAR BRIDE! MY FATHER, GENERAL SANNI ABACHA, THE LATE KING OF NIGERIA, HAS DIED AND NOW MY MOTHER THE QUEEF WANTS YOUR HELP IN GETTING HIS $80 MILLION OUT OF THE COUNTRY.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:31 PM on June 17, 2013 [23 favorites]


Wow, that's... very interesting.
posted by odinsdream at 12:34 PM on June 17, 2013


80% adorable! 20% creepy!
posted by MoonOrb at 12:35 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh my god I can't believe they would do this... this is an incredible violation of the user's privacy

How does this affect the user's privacy? Her fiancé may have by involving them in his marriage proposal, but presumably he knows her rather better than we do and is in a better position to judge that.
posted by atrazine at 12:41 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


But the proposal itself wasn't in Italian? Also, I'm sad to learn that "Flavor Spouse" translates to Sapore Sposo and not Flavio Esposito.
posted by yeti at 12:42 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't have the means to understand why anyone would want their proposal to be public, whatever form it takes, but this method is really interesting. And I suppose the proposal itself isn't actually public, since, thankfully, it doesn't include a "reaction shot L@@k11!11" link.

Also, I'm glad I saw it here (IOW ostensibly IRL) and not as spoiled in the trailer for the next Kutcher/Aniston/Mcconaughey/Diaz whatever-the-hell.
posted by herbplarfegan at 12:43 PM on June 17, 2013


this is an incredible violation of the user's privacy and, if this ever happened to me, even if it was well intended, I would feel horrible.

Considering they're getting married, I'm sure we can assume he was well aware of his fiancee's personal boundaries regarding privacy.

If you are personally at risk of a proposal through an owl on an internet language learning website, I suggest you have a frank and honest conversation with your partner immediately.
posted by A god with hooves, a god with horns at 12:44 PM on June 17, 2013 [19 favorites]


It's one way to test her language comprehension....

Do you suppose the marriage ceremony will have a multiple choice opponent?
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:46 PM on June 17, 2013


How on EARTH is this creepy?!
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:54 PM on June 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The funniest part is that the first three questions aren't even the weirdest/most personal questions I've seen for Italian language exercises-- I don't even think I would have blinked until I got to the last one...
posted by jetlagaddict at 12:58 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Considering they're getting married, I'm sure we can assume he was well aware of his fiancee's personal boundaries regarding privacy."

and

"How on EARTH is this creepy?!"

Imagine if they weren't actually lovers and he was a stalker.

It's hard to believe that Duolingo wouldn't verify Flavio's story first. But that would be kind of tricky, wouldn't it?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:00 PM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Or, they were former lovers and he was a stalker.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:01 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, hurry up and get Dutch already, Duolingo. T_T

/another love oriented language student, reduced to vocabulary quizzes at memrise.
posted by Phalene at 1:17 PM on June 17, 2013


3flavio5u
posted by Ad hominem at 1:19 PM on June 17, 2013


Well, hurry up and get Dutch already, Duolingo. T_T

Dutch? You only need to learn Lekker! Echt? Leuk! and perhaps "een klein kopje koffie alstublieft" and you're set for 95 percent of all conversations here.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:21 PM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Lekker? I just met her.
posted by sweetkid at 1:23 PM on June 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


The funniest part is that the first three questions aren't even the weirdest/most personal questions I've seen for Italian language exercises-- I don't even think I would have blinked until I got to the last one...

I've been learning Spanish on Duolinguo and I basically believe it's preparing me to have a kinky threesome in Cozumel.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:24 PM on June 17, 2013 [11 favorites]


Oh dear lord, sweetkid owes me a keyboard.
posted by dabitch at 1:26 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Basically, this seems cute to me, but the crying owl actually made me shriek with rage. Just what everyone needs after saying one of the most difficult "no"s there is: a cute animal crying at you. AWESOME. We all know the ladies are here to say yes at all costs, amirite?
posted by spindrifter at 1:37 PM on June 17, 2013


How is this a violation of Kate's privacy when Flavio's name is on the quiz? Or are we talking about the blog post?
posted by swift at 1:40 PM on June 17, 2013


spindrifter: the crying owl is a bit of a Duolingo in-joke. You see her if you make too many mistakes on a lesson, and if you don't log in for a while you get an email saying "Don't make the owl cry!". Again, we have to assume/hope that the guy signed off on this, knew the young lady's character, was not a freaky manipulative stalker etc. etc.

Snarl Furillo: see Shit Duo Says (if you haven't already). For some people the virtual gold coins are the biggest motivation to keep practising on DL. For me, it's the fun of inventing context for the sentences.
posted by pont at 1:43 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, I just realized that the exercise was "just for her." I was picturing all the Italian students translating his proposal.
posted by swift at 1:43 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


yea no that would be weird I agree. I think it's cute just for her.
posted by sweetkid at 1:45 PM on June 17, 2013


If Duolingo took only half the time they took to do this stunt, and devoted it to making their service not suck, I'd be willing to consider the "cuteness" of this proposal. As is, all I see is Duolingo needs to get its act together.
posted by sutt at 1:48 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


the NSA knew about it before she did. They were prepared to intercept a "no" response before it got into international fiber lines. Luckily, they are all romantics there at NSA.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:51 PM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]



Every time I see Duolingo I think of Linguo.

SHUT UP YOUR FACE
posted by sweetkid at 1:53 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was picturing all the Italian students translating his proposal.

See, this was the way it worked in the 70s, before campus sexual harassment policies.
posted by dhartung at 1:55 PM on June 17, 2013


Shaddap You Face!
posted by houseofdanie at 2:23 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If her relationship status was publicly set to be "In a relationship with" him, then that's information Duolingo would have had access to which would confirm that it's his judgement call on whether their relationship is in a good place for him to ask.

And I presume that the fact she was learning Italian made Duolingo something important in their relationship.
posted by ambrosen at 3:18 PM on June 17, 2013


I'm guessing that nobody's privacy was violated, because the whole story was made up to advertise Duolingo.
posted by Fnarf at 3:33 PM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I want to believe!
posted by Jacqueline at 3:38 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, great. I just downloaded the Duolingo app to my crappy phone and now it's too hot to hold in my hand, and is displaying the messages "Sorry! Activity Lesson in application Duolingo is not responding, Force close, Wait, Report."
posted by Fnarf at 4:22 PM on June 17, 2013


Imagine if they weren't actually lovers and he was a stalker.

Or, y'know, don't, and enjoy the cute story?

My girlfriend made me muffins to take to work, and it was really sweet BUT WHAT IF THEY WERE POISON AND ALSO SHE WERE A DINOSAUR SHIT PHIL YOU HAD ONE JOB
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:04 PM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Or, y'know, don't, and enjoy the cute story? "

My comment wasn't a non-sequitur, as in your example. Someone had asked how this could possibly be creepy. Stalkers actually do insert themselves into situations like this. The creepy part wasn't that an actual boyfriend would do this, or that Duolingo cooperated when an actual boyfriend suggested it. What's arguably creepy is that Duolingo, or another company in a similar situation, would do this and it turned out to be a stalker.

It's a lovely story when a boyfriend talks his girlfriend's landlord into letting him into her apartment so that he can leave twelve dozen roses as part of his proposal of marriage. It's far from a lovely story when it's not actually the woman's boyfriend.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:24 PM on June 17, 2013


Yes, but we aren't discussing stalkers OR dinosaurs, we're discussing a story about a man who proposed to his girlfriend. We already know the end result. It would be extremely creepy if this were a story about a stalker posing as someone's boyfriend social engineered their way into a woman's life via an online language course, but again, that's not what happened, and not what is being discussed.

Yes, I agree, if you make up a story that didn't happen, it can be extremely creepy. However, the question wasn't about dinosaur stalkers, the question "How can this be creepy?" pertains to what actually happened, the actual story that ended in a happy couple engaged to be married.

So, given that, I'll ask again on behalf of the poster: how is this story, as it happened, creepy?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:31 PM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


pont: "...Snarl Furillo: see Shit Duo Says (if you haven't already). For some people the virtual gold coins are the biggest motivation to keep practising on DL. For me, it's the fun of inventing context for the sentences."

Here's some gems from that:

* The girl died before I got here. - La ragazza è morta prima che io arrivassi qui.

* "Those are not my fingers."

* Yes, the cook likes children. - Ja, der Koch mag Kinder.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:35 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Uther Bentrazor: "So, given that, I'll ask again on behalf of the poster: how is this story, as it happened, creepy?"

it's exactly like the example with the landlord. Except in that case, at least there's the idea that the landlord is person friends with the person and knows that they are in a relationship and has at least met him before, possibly. There's the personal connection that can mitigate the creepiness when it turns out the intruder was not a stalker.

Another thing that really bothers me is the privacy aspect. This is like if someone emailed mathowie and asked him to change the CSS for users with my log-in, so that it displayed a personalized message.

I don't like that mathowie could, if he wanted, change metafilter so that the web page I see is different from the one you see. That's very similar to what google does with its personalized search results. But when google does it, it's just a computer. It's not some sweaty dude behind a desk, deciding what I see. And it'd be even worse if it was my father, neighbor, or partner.

But yeah mostly it's like the apartment example. It makes you wonder - if he could get in here to leave me flowers, i guess the lock isn't really for shit, huh? Any time, somebody could just come in here with whatever they wanted to give me. Well... that's awesome.
posted by rebent at 8:10 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Language exchange is the surest way to love. One moment you're explaining sentence structures, the next moment you're listening to 16th century Ming poetry under cardamom and jasmine trees, and soon, you'll be missing those poetry expositions.

Be careful with language-exchange, kids; as my wife would testify, people sometimes end up getting married because of this stuff.
posted by the cydonian at 8:10 PM on June 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love posts like this because they make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I hate posts like this because they make me feel sort of jealous and subpar for proposing on impulse while sort of tipsy and now neither of us can remember the exact date that was on.
posted by NoraReed at 2:38 AM on June 18, 2013


rebent: Yes, it is true that someone's ability to circumvent certain privacy restrictions, whether physical or electronic, does mean that you are less safe. It is possible to surround yourself with people such that you are never surprised in such a way, and are the safest possible.

Your analogy doesn't quite work, by the way -- a stalker leaving you flowers could also be a stalker standing there with a knife, ready to kill you, unless the landlord is going to stay there. An online service devising a personal course has a far less clear and present danger. They would certainly object to anything harsh, and if it was a past stalker trying to dig emotional barbs in, I think the stalker would be hard pressed to find a way to present it innocuously. It's possibly, absolutely, but I think it difficult.

All of that said, I think most of us enjoy being pleasantly surprised, even though there is the danger of being unpleasantly surprised. We simply choose to live our lives with a larger deviation - both positive and negative - than to live a completely flat and safe line.
posted by Han Tzu at 2:45 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


CRY MOAR LITTLE GREEN OWL.

Maybe I just don't like surprises. I do think, probably falsely, that my computer doings are somewhat private space, to a degree. Having my boyfriend or girlfriend talk to the folks running my program to make it ask me to marry them is ... invasive to a degree; it feels publicish for a decision that isn't a showcase moment. Somewhat less so if he works there, I know he works there, and he/she is friends with someone who can directly make it happen.

But I'm not just thinking about that. When I do use duolingo, or read books, or message boards, or online games on my phone or whatever, I do it at odd times. I might be waiting for a bus, or killing time waiting on a meeting, or having an insomnia attack. I might not even be around my lovely for the moment to strike; or I might get another wild hare idea and not even look at the thing for weeks, giving up on Italian forever.

So he or she'd die waiting to for me to find it, and I might find it after a fight but before they can call it off ... less embarrassing and creepy than a jumbotron but still, creepy.

I just never thought of marriage propositions as surprises. You guys know you're going there and its appropriate, or not. It's a decision of equal partners in a relationship. But stay out of my stuff, dammit.

And maybe it is just me me.

I'm for a degree of thought privacy, even if it's a sham once it leaks outside of your head (THANKS PRISM), it's still a figleaf we pretend is there. Like when I teach my kids after a certain age to not comment on bathroom sounds we hear in the bathroom (unless it's distress and then we ask if someone needs help).

I'm not a fan of surprise/public marriage proposals. Marriage is not a power game, one person doesn't have the power to make all the decisions; you guys figure out it's going to work and go from there, IMHO.

I wouldn't want to not be with the person I was talking about marriage with when it came up as the appropriate time for us. Then again, I waited six months before we gave up on pop finding the mangled MP3 we snuck into his music collection before we finally just told him about it and played it for him ... but I can see "sneaking an MP3 into his collection" as slightly different from "contact the folks that run this program, prove who you are, prove who she is, explain you want to propose at the random time she decides to log in after X date and time ....".
posted by tilde at 5:48 AM on June 18, 2013


Everyone should note that the method of proposal can be surprising without the actual content of the proposal (that marriage is something the proposer wants) being surprising. Many couples discuss these kinds of things and agree together that yes, they would like to be engaged and that one half of the couple will create a pleasant and sweet moment for the official engagement to take place. The proposal is not necessarily the sum total of discussion and negotiation about the engagement decision and process.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:30 AM on June 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


point taken, the young rope-rider. All of my proposal/marriage discussions were private, though the most recent was later publicly "redone" (more as a ring presentation ... I'm musty on the wording we used) for "the blog" back in the creaky days of the internet before the wedding industry figured out how to make money off of massive sites and links and things.

This story, to me, is being presented as "springing it on her", as opposed to "surprising method of proposal": It was a suspenseful weekend for us (although not as much as for Flavio!), but she said YES!!!
posted by tilde at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2013


Thankfully, it seems this isn't what Duolingo has planned for me: It told me I die alone.
posted by ambrosen at 5:53 PM on June 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


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