Translation:He is not a student.
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To get around this problem with the "Write what you hear" exercises I have to toggle from keyboard input to word bank selection. There I can find whether DuoLingo has used the 他 or 她 and select the one that will be accepted as correct. I really think that DuoLingo should accept either form as correct when there isn't enough context to discern the gender.
他 is gender neutral -- that is what my Taiwanese teacher taught me when I took Chinese 1 class during my undergrad years in a Singapore university. 他 being used as a male-specific pronoun was just a recent change due to Western influence. We see this phenomenon (traditionally gender-neutral 3rd-person pronouns being changed into gendered due to Western influence) happening in other Asian languages such as Thai (เขา), too.
I say, stop Westernizing Asian language and make it complicated by adding the gender BS. Keep it gender-free like the original!
他 is gender-neutral although it's more often used for males. (她 is always for females, though.)
Duolingo often doesn't consider "she" as correct translation for 他 even though technically, 他 can be "she." It's either because the answer writer(s) didn't think of the less often usage of 他 for females when writing the answer(s) or because the answer writer(s) didn't know of such usage.
We wouldn't use "she" for a gender neutral situation either though. when you don't know the gender, historically "he" would be used. Though in more recent times, people might say "he or she." Even more lately, "they" has been used even for a singular person whose gender is unknown.
Isr8Ec1T, "They" has only been used as singular since 1375 according to the Oxford dictionary and originally arrived in Middle English as a plural form. "She" did not start being used until Middle English. "He" dates all the way back to Old English where it was used as a gender neutral pronoun. You are right that "you" was used later than "they" for singular, as the singular pronoun "thou" wasn't dropped from common use until the 17th century, but both of those were already gender neutral. Remember that French influenced English in the past. Originslly, "he" was gender neutral. Oh, and I am an English speaker and no, I have never used "they" as a singular pronoun, though I am aware that it can be used that way.
You can't by listening without the context. By the way, while seldom, 他 can be used for females. Please see my post for more details: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/25690890?comment_id=37429005
Careful! Sometimes more than one character is used together to make a completely different word. For example, "carpool" in English is not a car and not a pool.
学生 = student
So a literal wording in Chinese word order would be "He not be student.", but that is not correct English word order and it would not be accepted. Remember the Chinese verb is not conjugated for each pronoun and so depending on the pronoun it could mean "am", "are" or "is" which is each conjugated from the verb "to be". In English that becomes "He is not a student."
Oh of course. I figured people who studied languages had enough linguistic knowledge to understand that. I just wanted the breakdown in English so I could understand the language better. As of now, I don't fully understand the meaning of "他不是学生". I understand it as "he [negate following statement] 是学生". Duolingo translated it as, I believe, "he isn't is a student". I guess I want to know what ”是“， “学”， and “生” mean. If "学生" is a compound noun, that's fine, but I'd still like to know the breakdown of the compound noun as I think it'd help my understanding of the language and its origins. And as far as I know right now "是" is a verb "to be" which either applies to occupation or to people , but I'd love to also have that explained to me as prior to this, when describing what something "is", it hasn't been used. I know how to say “my name IS” (我叫）or “I AM eating” （我吃), but there is no "to be" verb in those sentences. Is it a rule with participles, or something else?
Duolingo does not translate it as "he isn't is..." If it does, that should be reported as wrong.
"是" = "is" in this sentence until you add "不", then the two characters together mean "is not" or "isn't" with the subject given.
You need to account for expressions in each language. "My name is..." is a very English expression. In most languages a different verb is used. Each sentence is explained at the discussion at each sentence.
Added later to answer below.
Chinese does not conjugate its verb. 是 is the verb used for conjugations of "to be" or "to exist" and it is also used as an adjective to mean "correct" or "right". They do not use this verb everywhere that English uses it.
When you want to say, "He is tall." then you will use "很" instead to link an adjective to a subject. When not used this way, then "很" means "very".
If you want a different tense, such as past or future, then you will add a character to mean that.
"I eat" = "我吃"
"I am eating" = "我在吃"
The character added does not mean "am", because they are not conjugating the verb, but rather it has to do with when.
The word "now" translates to "现在".
Look up individual characters here: https://www.yellowbridge.com/chinese/charsearch.php
学 = learning, knowledge, school
生 = life, living, lifetime, birth
Someone else said that they think of the two character word for student as "birth of learning" to remember it, but you could also make a case for "living at school" though you don't have to live there to be a student. I live to learn, so the Chinese word for student works well for me.
So could you explain it to me? What does 是 mean? I understand not being so English-centric, or even Germanic-centric, but I still don't understand what the sentence says. Is 是 a to be verb, or is it something with no equivalent in English? And yes, obviously 'my name is' is quite English - in romance languages, you say "I am called" or, "I call myself", but it is BECAUSE of that that I want to know what this sentence means
And I can't speak to your experience of Duolingo, but by opening the translations of each word, Duolingo breaks down that clause as "he isn't is", which is why I asked for the translative breakdown in the first place. The program can be flawed, but a translation program wouldn't offer a translation without basis, I should think