Japanese suggestion is wrong!

Im learning the beginners version even though i already know some. In the learning app they want you to choose the correct character for the word "ちゅう" which is pronunced "chiyuu" but there are no characters for it. The right answear according to the app is 中 which is pronunced "naka" a completely different word. Someone need to fix this. Or not if im wrong!

May 24, 2017


Hmm, I would need some more information about it, best would be the whole sentence.

The chinese characters in Japanese have different readings and which of them should be used depends on the word. There are some rules, but there are also many exceptions.

In case of 中, the japanese reading is indeed なか (naka) and also うち (uchi). But there are also sino-japanese is ちゅう ("chū"). The japanese readings are mostly used for japanese words and if the Kanji stands alone, i. e.

家の中に人がいます。(いえのなかにひとがいます。/ie no naka ni hito ga imasu./There is a person in the house.)

But in a compound of different chinese characters, often the sino-japanese reading is used. Here are some examples:

  • 中国(ちゅうごく、chūgoku, China)
  • 中世(ちゅうせい、chūsei, Middle Ages)
  • 中学(ちゅうがく、chūgaku, Junior High)

But there are also compounds, where the japanese spelling is used.

So, without more information, it is not possible to clear, if there is a problem or not. But if I should guess, it may have been a Kanji compound, where the other Kanji was written in Hiragana, because the Kanji is still to difficult to recognize by beginners.

So in the word for "China", 中国, they wrote 中ごく and there were two boxes, one for "chū" (中) and one for "Country" (which is ごく here) and you have to choose both of them to construct the word for China 中ごく. But this is only an exemple.

May 24, 2017

Problem is that the voice only ever reads 中 as TANAKA when it's by itself, and never ever are we given any explanation that it can have multiple pronunciations.

In fact, on the multiple choice screen where it asks what glyph corresponds to ちゅう and you tap on 中 it still reads it out as TANAKA.

This is quite broken, and if I will find similar situations going forward (I'm taking the course very slowly to make sure I remember the vocabulary, as I have no other means of practice) then I will lose trust in the application and probably have to look for alternatives.

January 27, 2018

Ok! so it can have different pronunciations depending on wherethere its in the beginning of a word or at the end? I took a screenshot but idk how to show you.

May 24, 2017

Yes correct :-) And this is definitively one of the most difficult parts in reading Japanese. Japanese kids can speak Japanese, when they begin to lern writing their language. So they know, what the word for "China" is and they only learn, how to write it.

Foreigners have to learn word by word, which of the readings should be used.

May 24, 2017

Ok! Then i think i get the problem. It must be difficult to make language learning games especially in japanese haha. Thanks for the help! :)

May 24, 2017

Yes, this is difficult and I think, Duolingo still have much work with it.

May 24, 2017

May I ask you, where are you from?

May 24, 2017

Sweden :-)

May 24, 2017

Ah ok, then German-Japanese dictionaries are not the right tools for you. ;-)

May 24, 2017

Thanks for this explanation (and to Stephanie1387 for the post). This is frustrating in the app, but at least we know to hit the forums when we come across situations like this.

May 26, 2018

They still haven't fixed it a year later. Even though 'naka' is what they say, there are showing the incorrect hiragana. They show hiragana for sino-Japanese, while still saying 'naka'. On the other hand, it did force me to go and study it, hahah. I thought I was pronouncing the hiragana incorrectly.

July 6, 2018

[deactivated user]

    I just recently went through this lesson myself. Specifically it was frustrating because I was on a particularly decent streak of getting answers right.

    中 is first introduced in Level 0, Lesson 1 of the intro by itself, and the voice line (correctly) reads 'naka'. However the correct answer from the multiple choice is "ちゅう". It is only later in the same lesson that the user is asked to identify China "中国" which has the voice line for "ちゅうごく". I was left wondering if this was just an error with the voice matching when I finished the first lesson, and this feeling persisted until I was working on one of the following lessons. It is only in subsequent lessons that the kanji appears in a manner where reading it as "naka" matches the usage. Specifically, it is used as part of the name "Tanaka". (Probably as a mechanism to show that Japanese names are written with kanji where western names such as "Maria" and "John" are written with katakana.)

    The frustration is due to the ordering of the lessons, and of the questions within the lessons. It is not intuitive in its given state, as this is the first lesson in which the voice line does not match the available answers. Up to this point, the voice lines have been extremely useful in reinforcing pronunciation and retention (at least for me). I would ask that perhaps the team considers reversing the lessons regarding the usage of this Kanji. Make it so that the lesson with the names is first, keeping the voice line accurate, and then introducing the usage for "China" second, to introduce the concept of multiple pronunciations.

    August 15, 2018

    Oh my gosh, this is driving me crazy.

    April 29, 2018

    Still not fixed, over a year later. :(

    November 13, 2018

    I just came across the same error in the app. The explanation is really helpful and interesting and may explain how the error has been made, so thanks InuzukaShino. It seems that there is a mismatch between the audio clip which sounds like なか (naka), but shows the hiragana ちゅう (chū) as the correct match. It is somewhat confusing! ^_^

    July 29, 2018

    Still shows characters for chu, and plays audio for naka, asks for the characters that match the sound…

    Tanaka asks for the characters that match the sound, so

    September 3, 2018

    I too ran into this kanji 中 by itself asking that I pair it to the hiragana ちゅう. The audio sound なか did not phonetically match the hiragana answers from which to choose. I understand that the kanji can be read in different ways so the audio was not technically incorrect (after I researched the character.) I too lost a winning streak to this. I can understand that knowing the name of the character can be useful, but this scenario is totally unfair. I would alternate audio files for each kanji to use appropriately with the lesson. I did get to report the answer as incorrect, though at the time I thought the hiragana were the issue, only later did I realize the audio was the issue. Is there nowhere else to report this sort of issue? I have now seen this issue with a second kanji as well. I wonder if they are doing it intentionally. I feel there has to be a better way to teach us both the name and the different readings of the kanji separately. In grade school English we are taught the names of each letters. That's fine. There is some value to knowing the names of a letter, but unless you are spelling a word out loud, we would not really need to know how to say the names of each character. However, when reading we are taught the phonetic sounds they make. The name of the letter "S" phonetically is "es," but when reading it does not make the sound "es." The name of letters "I" and "T" is "ī" and "tē." They teach the sounds these letters make before asking us to read words like "sit" otherwise kids would think "sit" is said "esītē." I do not understand why they would intentionally opt to give us the names of the character over the phonetic sounds they make.

    September 26, 2018

    I also found this error. Though, knowing that the Kanji could sound different I feel a bit better it is not an absolute mistake, just an audio "mistake"

    November 30, 2018
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