Translation:Where is she?
I suspect the reason could be because the speaker is not from Beijing or the surrounding area. This is one of the dialect markers of Mandarin. The strongly emphasised 'r' at the end of words is a feature of Mandarin as spoken in the Beijing region, whereas Mandarin elsewhere tends not to have that.
儿 is the one character in Chinese which sometimes stands not for a whole syllable but just a final consonant -r. 哪儿 nǎr means “where”
Btw, when 儿 does stand for a whole syllable, it’s pronounced ér – in second tone, not fourth. It is then an unfree syllable meaning “child” (“unfree” meaning that it is not a word by itself, but can combine with other syllables to form words).
What's the difference between using 哪里 and 哪儿? Is it just regional and using any of them can probably be understood by all Chinese or is there a deeper meaning?
It's only a regional difference. People from northern China like Beijing use 哪儿 while people from the south like Taiwan use 哪里。
他 means he or she right? I keep getting it wrkng by putting the wrong gender
It is not possible to write a suspected error report during the introductions of a word (except to say that the audio is wrong, which may not be the case).
What I found strange was this:
'er' at the beginning of the lesson has no diacritic over it. This suggests it would take the neutral/mid tone. However, the way 'er' is spoken in the audio sample, there is a discernible pitch change over the syllable. Is this pronunciation correct? If so, should there not be a tone diacritic over the 'er'?
儿 is combining sound with the preceding character to become 哪儿, full pinyin is nar3, not na3er. 儿 does this for many other words as well.
"She is where?" doesn't really mean the same thing. When used on purpose the emphasis is on her being somewhere unexpected instead of the question. You might even use an exclamation mark in (informal) text. "She's where!?!"
I assume there's a way to capture this nuance in Mandarin but it's probably a different sentence.
Regardless the default Mandarin should be translated to the default English which is, "Where is she?" with the mandatory wh-extraction.
How am I supposed to know here if the speaker means "he" or "she"? They both sound the same.
Correct, the distinction only exists in the written language. A pure listening exercise without any characters should accept both he and she (and it for that matter) if the context doesn't make it clear.
Thanks, mate! It was one of those "type what you hear" exercises.