Translation:We are not allowed to speak English.
“Speak in English" is technically also correct, but "speak English" is more natural (in American English, anyway.)
Eh, there's a subtle difference thats extraordinarily hard to explain... They're definitely both acceptable and understood by every speaker though and should both be correct for this sentence.
I agree that they're different, but I'm not sure how to explain the difference.
In certain contexts they're effectively the same; they both mean "speak using the English language". They both work in this Duolingo sentence.
However, unlike "speak in English", "speak English" can be used not only to mean "speak, with English being the language used", but also to discuss fluency levels. "You speak English well" means that you're competent at English grammar and you have a good vocabulary.
"You speak in English well", for its part, doesn't sound natural or correct. "You speak well in English", on the other hand, is theoretically possible, but it seems to be referring to your ability to express your thoughts and be persuasive, independently of your actual fluency. And you may also be fluent in another language, say Chinese, but not particularly charming when speaking that language.
Can't 不准 also be translated as "to forbid"? Is "we forbid speaking English" an accurate translation?
That's a good question. I think your suggestion is indeed a possible interpretation (though I believe "prohibit" or "[do] not allow" would be more likely and somewhat more accurate in terms of nuance than "forbid" – but I could be wrong).
However, to my mind the more important question raised by your comment is whether this sentence is properly translated as "we do not allow speaking English" or "we are not allowed to speak English", which are very different in meaning.
Examples available at Linguee suggest it may be the former rather than the latter:
Chinese native speakers?
Both are possible. The context matters. To make it clear it is the latter (“do not allow …”), better mention the receiver of the action, e.g. 我们不准 任何人(anyone) 说英语.
Yes, that's wrong. This is about a clear prohibition, not a suggestion. It's stronger than "should not".
It's not bad, but it's not quite accurate.
Here "不准" specifically refers to something being not being permitted by someone else, i.e. someone other than the person whose actions are prohibited.
"Must", on the other hand, can refer to an internal admonition. We can tell ourselves we must not do something, even if no one actually prohibits us from doing it.
Can one also use 准 to say: 我们准说汉语 etc?
If so, how does it differ from 可以？is it permission vs ability? Is 可以 a broader term?
My guess is that it's not used in the affirmative, but ultimately I'll have to leave these questions to Mr.rM or another native speaker. ;-)
Also, without context I intend to interpret 我们允许(准许)说汉语 as “we allow others to speak Chinese”. Then “we are allowed to speak Chinese” should be “我们可以说汉语”.
你们不行说英语 is simply weird or wrong. 不行 means “(be) not okay” and usually ends a sentence. It is not an auxiliary verb like “cannot”. This sentence sounds like “You are not okay speaking English”.
Other sentences are just fine. 不可以 and 不能 can also mean “lose the ability to …”.
I’m going to give this a go:
你们不准说英语 = you are not allowed to speak (in) English = You are not permitted to speak (in) English.
你们不可以说英语 sounds a bit odd to me .. it feels like it’s fine as a positive sentence 你们可以 (May I have a piece of cake? You may) ...but not quite native speaker level of flow to use as a negative? But = You may not speak (in) English.
你们不行说英语 again it feels like you need to say 你们说英语？不行！or 说英语不行！不行 seems to mean “No” or “that’s not ok” or, in my last sentence: “it’s not ok to speak (in) English”. Or “it’s not going to work”. A bit easier to translate into french: ça va or ça ne va pas
你们不能说英语 = You can’t speak English = you are not able to speak English.
But I look forward to the actual experts on this. I just tried to answer as an exercise for myself. Wondering what they say :)
Do you mean "准"? To me the pronunciations are completely the same, as they should be. Maybe the pronunciation of the independent character is a bit longer than the one in the sentence.
I do not have access to phonetic characters here, but as I hear it, zhun is pronounced zhwë. Where ë is nasalized shwa. The "n" is not articulated, but realized as a simple nasalization of the previous vowel, like in French or Portuguese.
Same character, different use. It's common for Chinese characters to be used in different compounds and to take on different (but often related) senses, but also you can see a lot of convergence, divergence, and trading places if you look into the etymological history. Wiktionary can be helpful for the different senses of a given character, as can a mobile dictionary like Hanping. (I've never regretted purchasing the pro version of Hanping and the camera add-on.)