Translation:I am Zhang Ming.
This is not quite true - the expectation that kids should address adults that way varies greatly depending on location and age throughout the English speaking world. I know in the US it is commonplace to call an adult sir but in the UK for example that is extremely unusual unless that person is your teacher - it varies a lot.
Not in English. Most native English speakers do not call people by their family name. So "我叫张明." tells me as an English native that 张 is his family/sur/last name and translated to English it goes after his first name 明. I would call this person Ming and not Zhang or Zhang Ming.
It depends on the context. Two strangers introducing each other in China would normally introduce with at least their surnames. Only people familiar with each other (close friends, family) would use their first names, so saying their first name without a family name would be unusual in a cultural standpoint.
Not in Chinese;) As a native, I assure you that you can call him either by Zhang or Ming, or 小张 xiao Zhang. But note that 小 contains the meaning of young here, so you can only use this formula 小+surname to address young people.
For elder people, 老+surname. Please be sure the elder you address is at least your acquaitance, not someone you need to pay respect to, then the formula would be surname + title/occupation or more generally 老师 lao shi, literally teacher.
If you are not sure, just call an elder people by the surname+老师. It doesn't necessarily mean that they are your teachers, just to show respect. And they like it when young people does it;)
In France, they use the family name first only when you are in an army. :D When I send my résumés too, I always put my family name, in upper case, and my first name then in lower case. It helps the French administration to know what is name and surname. I don't know in your countries.
When you hover your mouse over the character for 'ming' 明，it translates to 'next'. As far as I know, the more common meaning is 'bright" or 'clear' as in 光明 - guang ming or 'to understand' as in 明白 - ming bai. Probably not best to translate it as 'next' so early in a beginner's course. Just my two cents.
this reply is really late, but the reason they don't tell you how to remember the shapes (or the roots) is because that's not how native chinese speakers learn it anyway. If one was to learn all the radicals of the chinese written language it would be way too difficult, as some characters can have up to 10 roots. The only way to remember these words is to repeatedly write them over and over again, my parents sometimes spent entire breaks as a child just repeatedly copying characters.
Today (17/12/2017) is my third day of learning Chinese. I've been remembering the characters by making up stories about them:
Jiau means "name", and so I tell myself that the name of a piece of paper is A4, which is a little how the character looks.
Wo is pronounced like "war" in English, and if you look carefully, you can see a curly F for "fighting" and then an arrow going to the right, with a basket-like hook under it in case the arrow fails!
I think it would be great if DuoLingo could tell us the order of the strokes used to make up the characters, giving us little numbered arrows alongside the strokes within the characters ... maybe a link to enlarged versions of these characters. (This would help me in the same way as learning violin bowings helps. It is harder to memorise a piece of music if you have to relearn it with your bow moving in a different direction to how it was first learnt.)
Knowing the meaning of a character beforehand would also help me make up better, more memorable stories for the characters.
How do native Chinese speakers learn the characters? What "tricks" do they use? (In English, a young child remembers "b" and "d" by thinking of the word "bed" that makes the shape of a bed.) Thank you.
叫 jiao4 means call, actually. Name is 名，名字.
There are actually sort of origin stories for each word since words evolve as time progresses, from dynasty to dynasty, as writing materials and writing tools became more sophisticated (like the invention of paper, for example). Even native Chinese don't know all these stories as it would take considerable time to learn their histories!
Stroke order is learnt in school, together with meaning, phrase forming, pronunciation(s) i.e. hanyupinyin and 部首 which is used to find the pronunciation and meaning of a character in dictionaries. These are all memorised but there are some similarities so that it becomes easier the more you know (and also since there are only so many words in common usage).
Stroke order helps in proper writing and in producing good Chinese calligraphy.
Some words also have more than one pronunciation, with different meanings for each one（多音多义字）such as 好 which has hao3 (e.g. good) and hao4 (e.g. hobby).
An example of bu4 shou3 would be 口 (mouth) which "forms" such words or phrases as 呼吁 (call, as in a call to action), 吐 (spit, vomit), 哥 (elder brother) and so on.
There aren't tricks, but students have tests for writing out each word or phrase e.g. the teacher gives a spelling test based on new vocabulary learnt in a text by reading out the words, and exercises where the student writes the word over and over again (about 7 times), then forms a sentence from it. One possible "trick" would be to see the 部首 of the word, e.g. 提手旁 which is the left hand side of the word 提，when appearing in a character, would generally mean an action, e.g. 打 (hit), 拍 (smack), 排 (arrange). The 单人旁 which is the left hand side of the word 仁 usually means something related to humans and humanity, e.g. 任 (in 责任, responsibility), 仁慈 (kind, merciful), 们 (in 我们, we). There are also top, top and left, bottom ones and other non-LHS ones, such as the top and left of 病, which generally means sickness, e.g. 病 (sick, illness).
in most languages, you don't say the equivalent of "my name is _", you say some variant of "i am called" or "they call me". But that isn't very common in English, so i suppose it wouldn't make sense to translate it that way. Then again, it isn't necessarily incorrect in English, so it should probably still be accepted.
“Zhang” is just a surname. No real meanings.
But “Ming(明)” got a lot of meanings, by have with other words to make a phrase, like “明白“ means understand, “明日” or “明天” means tomorrow, “黎明“ means the early morning(around the sunrise). But usually in Cantonese, “明” means understand.
So from the comments, I understood that Chinese doesn't have spaces between words/characters. What about how Chinese is spoken? I found the Duolingo audio of this sentence very fast, like it is being spoken without any pauses between words. Is this how fast Chinese is spoken on average, or is it just Duolingo?