Translation:I am Zhang Ming, what is your name?
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It would be wonderful to have a progress bar underneath audio playbacks that function similar to YouTube videos: you could change the playback to 0.5x; and use the slider/pause to replay only parts of the sentence, back it up, and listen to just that section again (the accents of "什么名字" is throwing me off, but I have to play the whole thing just to listen to the middle section)
Don't even bother dissecting compound words when starting out. Many individual chars have their own meaning, but words rarely consist of only one character in Chinese. 玻璃 meaning "glass" is made up of what amounts to basically two nonsense characters that only mean glass when used together, but this means that sloppy dictionaries and such will still list either char as glass, regardless of the fact that they are barely ever used on their own.
什么 is fixed. As is the case with every language, there are plenty of synonyms such as 啥 or 何, but they require a certain context or register and shenme is much more ubiquitous in modern Putonghua.
I highly recommend you download the zhongwen pop-up extension for your browser, it features plenty of grammar notes, properly segments words and allows you to quickly look up characters without switching tabs.
Classical Chinese was largely monosyllabic. Modern Chinese is largely disyllabic. You will need two characters and two syllables to form most words nowadays. Even "what" in English is formed of two parts, the "wha" part that is the same as what we see in "who" and "why", and then a "t" neuter suffix.
Although in one sense it is correct to say that the English "what" is formed of two parts, it is not in the same sense as the Chinese polysyllabic word. Rather, the modern "what" derived from the Old English "hwaet" which was the neuter form of the masc./fem. "hwa". Modern English has no real sense of this left. We have lost our declensions almost accross the board and also our differentiation in grammatical gender to the extent that it is practically non-existant. A more accurate comparison would be compund words, such as "hearsay" or "jackpot". These are compound words where we tend to think of them as one word today. We can see that they came from two free morphemes, but the meaning is not obviously drawn from those morphemes, say in the way "houseboat" is. In Chinese it is much the same, except most words in Chinese have become compounds. This is in great part due, no doubt, to the extraordinary amount of homophones that have arisen during the long development of the Chinese language. I believe that a better Chinese comparison to our "hwaet/what" and "hwa/who" would be 什(what/miscellany)(shen2/shi2) and 谁(who)(shei2/shui2). The connection between these can be better seen in the characters 什(shen2/shi2) and 雜(za2)(miscellaneous/mixed), which at one time were likely synonyms, seen in the alternate use and pronunciation of 什 (shi2), Hokkien use of 什 and also in the Cantonese pronunciation and uses of 什 (zaap6) and 雜 (zaap6). Interestingly, this discussion uses the same words (who and what), and in both languages the long history of the languages change has obscured the etymology of the spoken words, but our writing in both cases has retained that history.
Yes, it might be easier to remember the characters if we knew what they meant when they were first being introduced. With this structure, you have to learn the character knowing nothing but the sound, and then try to associate that with a meaning in one or two questions in the last part of the lesson.
I find that it works best to just follow the course as it is. In my very short experience the course seems perfectly planned and repetitive enough to allow us to discover the subtle meaning of the different combinations and syntax involved... After all Chinese is not a language one can easily compare to Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, Romanian, Portuguese or English, or to German. It is a different system and it requires a different approach both to teach it and to learn it.
I was frustrated at first, too. I started to write the Chinese characters as they were introduced. By the time, the meanings were given, the characters were familiar to my mind.
It might be helpful if they were fewer, yet for the Chinese word we simetimes must use more than one character. We do not have the advantage of a phonetic alphabet such Korean, Spanish or the Japanese katakana.
Oke I have to say that the speech part is too dificult in the beginning. Not so much to decipher the meaning or tonation but the speed with which you have to say them and the lenght of the sentences. It is like learning English and to expect someone to pronounce a sentence with th- ch- ao- at native speed. Just try to say "That very thick aorta threatens to burst if it changes to sudden." Probably a lot of non native speakers will not be able to complete it fully at high speed.
Why not cut it up further in the begining?
This sequence is once translated as "What is your name?", and yet in another instance as w"What is your full name?" ...
The clues do write "everything" under one of the characters, so I think that "What is your name?" or "What is your full name?" should both be accepted in both instances. Is there a reason why they shouldn't that I do not see? Thasnks moderators. DUOLINGO is great.
1 character=字，2 characters=词，3 or more characters (can be) 短语，4 fixed characters=成语，more than four fixed characters (variable, can be) 谚语、歇后语、俗语、名句 or even 名言、佳句……
Fixed characters often (always?) have "origin stories" or are taken from famous works of famous writers and authors e.g. poems and each 朝代 (era, dynasty) has its own form e.g. 唐诗、宋词、散文、小说 that was developed and perfected in that period of time.
A short (and not at all comprehensive) note on Chinese "words, phrases, idioms, sayings".
Edit: There are different ways of calling them, e.g. 三字成语、四字成语、五字成语、六字、七字、八字、九字，but this is not the most important.
This is interesting history and the different types of Chinese idioms are fun, but it is a complete aside from this thread. Also, 成语 do occasionally have five fixed characters I believe. Any way, at this point in the program most people are struggling with individual character recognition and word formation from those characters. Recognizing set idioms and word plays is a mysterious manor atop a far off misty mountain.
That's right, and there are 三字、六七八九字成语 as well. However, I would call those by another name and this is confusing at this stage, and not really important overall. I am sorry you find it irrelevant, perhaps posting this elsewhere would be better. This post is for those who are interested.
I don't understand why the tone of certain words, when given separately as a word recognition test, sound wrong. eg xing is written 4th tone, but sounds (to me) as definitely 1st tone. Yet when it's given in a sentence it does sound 4th tone. shi (written2nd tone) sounds to me as 4th tone. There seems to me - in certain words - a discrepancy between the tone in isolated words and in sentences. Also the consonant in shi in isolation also sounds like zhi. I realize consonants can be difficult to get right, though it does sound like 'sh' in the context of sentences, but it's the differences that are confusing, particularly in some tones. I know tones can change in a sentence (eg 'bu') but I thought words in isolation should be presented in their dictionary tone.
Some of it is what you have to listen carefully and learn to recognised, but others are examples of when they differ from what you call their dictionary tone, e.g. 一 and 不 which can, depending on what follows, be tones 1, 2, 3 and 1, 2 respectively. There are also word with many tones or pronunciations or both with different meanings for each one. These are known as 多音多义字, e.g. 好 (hao3 or hao4) and 长 (chang2 or zhang3). Duolingo gives the dictionary tone and is generally pretty accurate to me, though I sometimes mute it as, for example, it is grating to hear the typical dictionary pronunciation when it is really something else.
You can choose, technically, although there is usually a convention, especially for "common" foreign (to Chinese) names, e.g. 大卫 for David, 艾玛 for Emma, and so on. If you do the Chinese to English course, which is likely best after you finish this one, there are examples of these in the exercises. As it is, I'm not sure what yours could be, will update here if I find out.
If you want to retain the actual sound of your given name it is probaby best to just say and write "Devin". First, you won't be able to produce the same phonetics in Mandarin using Chinese characters and secondly, any other Chinese dialect or people using the same characters in their language (Japanese...) will pronounce those characters differently. In that case your name will not sound at all the way you intended. Keep in mind that your legal name is the same, but you can go by various names at various times and occasions. This is very well understood in China. You may be given a name there "officially" using characters that might try to reproduce or capture part of the sound of your name, but you might decide you want a more natural sounding name (or your friends/ colleagues may gift you a name or nicknames). There are several web pages that can help you learn more about finding a suitable Chinese name if you wish. Here are two:
Fun fact. Originally, in ancient, 名 meant their given name and 字 meant their nickname. In the Chinese then culture it was rude and even cursing to call someone their given name, so nickname was widely used. For example, poet 白居易 was referred as 白楽天 with his 字 in his contemporary texts. Today it seems this custom ceased and 名字 means rather their given names normally, but sometimes full names.