General Trend of My Error Reporting (For Moderators)
Sorry that this post is not in Chinese. My Chinese isn’t at the level where I can write long posts about the intricacies of languages.
Anyways, I have been diligently beta-testing the course and I have noted general trends where I received an error when I shouldn’t have. I hope to bring these cases to light to the moderators of the course. :-)
- “You” in English can be either singular or plural. But the Chinese translations have normally included “你”, but not “你們”.
E.g. “You drink.” should be both “你喝。” and “你們喝。”.
- Depending on context, the sentences beginning with “This…” or “It…” can be interchangeable in Chinese. Since translation occur for sentences taken out of context, both “This…” and “It…” (or the Chinese equivalent “這是…” and “是…”) should both be correct.
E.g. “It is a dog.” can both be “這是一隻狗。” and “是一隻狗。”.
- Because Chinese doesn’t have true plurals, which is usually inferred through context, there are English sentences where both the singular and plural is valid.
E.g. “我的狗喝水。” can be “My dog drinks water.” and “My dogs drink water.”
- I believe Duolingo prefers the construction for questions as “…嗎？” and not “…有沒有…”, “…是不是…”, “…要不要…”, etc. Is there a reason for this?
E.g. “他有麵包嗎？” can also be “他有沒有麵包？”
I hope you all take into account the general trend to my error reporting. And… I also hope I have not annoyed you all with the resulting avalanche of reports. On top of that… As a third generation Overseas Chinese, I also hope that I haven’t sent any error reports with awkward sounding Chinese. Ha ha!
With all that said, I understand that this is a course that just barely entered beta. Time will iron out the kinks… that’s for sure. Thank you for bringing the opportunity to learn English for free to the people of my ancestral homeland! :-)
E.g. “It is a dog.” can both be “這是一隻狗。” and “是一隻狗。”.
Well, 是一隻狗 is wrong to my ears. You can say 它是一隻狗，But 是一隻狗 is never heard. If you said so, I'll definitely ask: 誰/什麼?(what?)你說的狗在哪?(where is the dog you just talked about)
E.g. “他有麵包嗎？” can also be “他有沒有麵包？” I'll translate it into Does he have bread or not? But you're right, it is acceptable.
Need more native speaker to confirm, since I can only represent myself : )
Maybe if I showed you my thought process, then it might make sense. I'll use examples from my daily life, since my mother is a paranoid woman at times. Ha ha!
When I first encountered “It...” type of sentences on Duolingo, these are the scenarios that I thought up of. And because of that, all resulting translations followed this same pattern for me.
I did just ask both of my parents and they both said it sounded fine to them. But while my parents could qualify as native speakers... I grew up in the US and I would not say that I am not a native speaker, since I mainly use Chinese for older members in my family only. It makes me wonder if this is Chinglish that got accepted in the micro-environment of my family. Because for sure, the English translation of the examples would have been:
Mom：What's making noises outside? Me：It's a dog (barking)。
Mom：Who's making noises outside? Me：It's the kids (making noises).
If you feel that this is not the case, then perhaps the facts that my family has away from China for more than 70 years and living in 2 different countries and speaking the national language of the residing countries and at least 3 dialects of Chinese probably got in the way. There are so many confounding factors! Ha ha.
Please do let me know though if I'm still wrong! I'll learn something new everyday. :-)
That sounds much better. You can include 是 or you can simply say them like the English equivalence:
媽媽：甚麼在外面叫？ 我：一隻狗。What is making noises outside? A dog.
媽媽：誰在外面吵？ 我：幾個小孩(子)。Who is making noises outside? Some kids.
I don't think it is proper to use the kids, because only if you know who they are already or you have mentioned them before, right?
Thanks for the confirmation! I would have said it with or without the 是 in real life. So... I'm not that crazy after all. :-)
And when you're saying it's not proper to use "the kids", do you mean that phrase in English? If so, yes. You are right! Instead, we would use the phrase "some kids" if we don't know them and/or if we haven't mentioned them before.
In my example though, I translated 幾個小孩子 as "the kids" because I know that they are my neighbor's children and they have come up in conversation MANY, MANY times before in my family for screaming outside like they are being murdered. Ha ha!
Great post @wasashiwa1293 ! Thanks for the suggestions. I agree with you, and we, as contributors, are looking at the reports and will be improving the translations incrementally. As for the construction for questions, we do prefer '...吗?' and not '...有没有...' for the same reason as Carl has mentioned.
Thank you @Carl_Shan and @libragold for letting me know that! Now we're on the same page for the "有沒有" and the "...嗎？" situation! But since you both mentioned only "有沒有" and not "要不要", "是不是", etc. would the latter ones be acceptable answers for the same type of question constructions? I'm guessing probably not, but it would be nice to make sure with the creators of the course! :-)
This is a great post watashiwa1293. However, I have a question (by the way, this is NOT my main account, you should contact me at zebrae01. I'm doing Chinese School and am a second generation Chinese. I just wanted to test the Beta). What do you mean when you say Duo prefers "…嗎？” and not …有沒有…”? I don't know a sentence where the two are interchangeable, but you can use them both like, "你有没有书吗？" Just wondering, my Chinese is limited. Thanks!
Thank you for the compliment! :-)
As for your question... let's say I input “他有沒有麵包？”, but I was marked wrong. Instead, Duolingo said that the correct answer should be “他有麵包嗎？” The basic meaning behind these two questions (that differs only with "...嗎？" and "...有沒有..." constructions) is essentially the same thing. But based on the answers from the creators of the course, the "...有沒有..." has an extra emphasis on the "... or not?" part if translated into English.
So... "他有麵包嗎？" would mean "Does he have bread?".... while “他有沒有麵包？” would mean "Does he have bread or not?"
I agree with @Wilvandal about combining the two sentence constructions. It doesn't sound quite right to me either.
But then again, I'm not a native speaker either. I also went through heritage Chinese school and I'm a second generation Chinese-American as well! (I'm third generation Overseas Chinese, if you also count that my parents were second generation Chinese people in South Vietnam.) So... we're in this together! :-)