Errors in Mandarin courses

I have found some errors in the official Memrise Mandarin/ Simplified Chinese courses. This is the first time I’ve used the forums, and I am kind of resenting how complicated it is to report a relatively simple error.

For example, today I see “jiē rì” meaning festival or holiday in the Mandarin Chinese 3 course. I thought the Pinyin didn’t match the pronounciation in the recordings. So I went to Google Translate, which translated the characters as “Jiérì”. So I thought maybe there’s some difference in pronunciation or Pinyin if the characters are read separately, so I checked this in Google Translate, and no it just seems that there is an error.

Also, it seems that whether to put a space between words written in Pinyin is a little bit arbitrary. Is this correct? If so, it would be good if you could mark as correct Pinyin which is written with any of the commonly accepted ways of putting spaces between words.

Also also, it seems that sometimes Memrise has Pinyin that reflects the way the word is pronounced in context rather than being consistent with the way the word is written on its own, and furthermore that Memrise is inconsistent with using this convention or not. I don’t know enough about Chinese language to know whether this is correct or not.

I also notice spelling errors in the English sometimes. This makes me concerned, because it makes me think there might be a lot of errors in the Chinese that I’m not able to notice.

This should really be your job not mine to find basic errors in your main courses. Failing that, it should be made easy to report errors while using the main program, not some labyrinthine user forum. I understand you are human and humans make mistakes. But I’m really concerned about learning the wrong thing and wasting my time/looking like an idiot. Memrise is pretty cheap. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I think you could charge a little more and hire some more staff to fix these things.

This whole post didn’t really need to be posted on a public forum. It just needed to be read by a staff member. There is no facility to communicate directly with a staff member, and I think that’s a problem.


Hi @FergusORegan

I am just another regular memrise user who has been given the status of “leader” for my forum-housekeeping work and, in this capacity, I wanted to ask you if you could post links to the exact courses you are doing so I can create a forum for the various courses. To help the memrise staff locate the forums that are relevant to their language expertise, I am creating forums for the various language directions (Chinese for speakers of English / Russian / French etc.), rather than having one giant forum for all possible language combinations with the language in question.

I understand your frustration in finding errors and it is very kind of you to take the time to report them. I am sure other learners will be thankful and will benefit from your input here.

There used to be a simpler way to report problems in courses on memrise, but this was done away with a while ago and this forum replaced it. Now that memrise and Decks have gotten so big, I guess a big unwieldy forum is the logical result, sadly …

Please continue to note any errors you find and post them in this thread for the time being. The expert for Mandarin Chinese is active on the forum and would be able to fix minor errors pretty quickly so, if they are annoying you, come here and write a short post.

Can you take a look at the things that are mentioned here?

Hi amanda-norrsken (Amanda?), thanks for getting back to me.

The course I’m doing at the moment is simply called Mandarin Chinese 3. I have previously done Mandarin Chinese 1 and 2. Clearly, I am an English speaker, so I’m doing the “for English speakers” Mandarin Chinese 3 course.

I’ll start making a note of errors (or what I think are errors) when I see them, when I can be bothered.


A small thing…

“To lost weight” should be either “to lose weight” or possibly “to have lost weight”

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The word “guòjiē” sounds different to how the Pinyin is written. Google Translate has the Pinyin as “guòjié”, which is consistent with the sound recordings.

Amanda, I’m curious. You’re a leader of your forum. What does that mean? How did you become leader? Do they pay you?

When you say, “pretty quickly”, what sort of time frame are we talking about?

how can people can take google translate as the ultimate source of … what ever, beats me

yes, Chinese, Hindi, Sanskrit, and even French etc have a number of pronunciation and tone rules - called sandhi (sandhi being originally the rule as applied in Sanskrit). Every Learn Mandarin book has these rules in the first chapter. For those who dislike books : Tone sandhi - Wikipedia, and youtube is probably replete with such stuff

I know Google Translate is not perfect. But Google Translate is more likely to make a mistake in interpreting meaning than it is to make a mistake with how to spell a word, especially in a language as widely used as Simplified Chinese/ Mandarin.

Besides, I’ve noticed a lot more apparent errors than just what Google Translate says. Believe it nor not, I am aware that tones can change due to context. Nĭ hăo is one of the first words people learn in Mandarin, if not the actual first word. Usually Memrise will change the accents to show the pronunciation in context. (Except for when it doesn’t for whatever reason, but that’s another matter.) For example instead of nĭ hăo, Memrise has níhǎo.

So you see, it’s not just an issue of me not being aware that the tones can change.

Now, do you know enough about Mandarin and Simplified Chinese to comment on whether “jiē rì” or “jiérì” is correct, or is it time for you to jog on now?

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I’ve been using Memrise pretty much every day for about a year now. I try to do about half an hour every day. I may be a beginner, but I’m not a complete n00b.

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A few days? A couple of weeks max?

No idea, really, that’s why I wrote “pretty quickly” :smiley:

Firstly, I am not a “leader of my forum” :smiley: That makes me sound like Julius Caesar. There are a number of memrise users with the “leader” title, some that have choose not to publicise it, but I wanted to sound important :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

A “leader” is just someone who has earned various posting rights on the forum. I earned my “leader” title through having been a good little forum helper. And, no, I don’t get paid by memrise.

Hi @FergusORegan, thanks for your post here and thanks @amanda-norrsken for tagging me! Sorry for not catching up earlier - was on holiday in Paris for a few days :grimacing:

I’ll have a look at the issues mentioned above and reply here either later today or tomorrow.


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I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about. The word mamahuhu is accented one way on its own, but in another way when used in mamahuhu ba. Now I understand that context can affect pronunciation, but this kind of looks like a mistake. Or, maybe there is more than one acceptable way to write it? But then if there’s more than one acceptable way to write it, Memrise should accept more than one way of writing it!

Note, I made a mistake earlier and have edited this comment accordingly.

Yikezhong is supposedly one quarter. I think it’s pretty obvious it’s actually a quarter of an hour, not just a generic quarter.

There’s been an update, introducing better connections between the pronunciation of words and the characters for the words. That is a good thing. However, suddenly I’m being tested on pronunciation of characters that I haven’t actually learned. The program should have made me re-learn those characters and associate them with the pronunciation.


back in Paris, eh?

Nengbuneng shishi zhege. Seems pretty clear to me this should translate as “Is it possible to try this?” and should only mean, “Is it possible to try this on?” in the specific context of being in a clothes shop.

Hi @FergusORegan, we’ve reviewed your posts above and corrected pronunciation mistakes. Chinese 3 is part of the old course collection so it hasn’t been revisited recently. I’m sorry about the confusion and frustration it has caused and can reassure you that I’ll dedicate some time to do Chinese 3 course auditing to make sure all pronunciations are marked correctly.

In case you missed the update on new courses, we published new courses last year so now the Chinese course collection goes like: Chinese 1 (New) > Chinese 2 (New) > Chinese 3 (Old). We’re in the process of updating Chinese 3 so there’s more to come.

Regarding the space issue you mentioned, believe me it drives me crazy as well…In fact I’ve talked to our developers this week and made a case for Chinese marking to be made more tolerant when it comes to spaces and also hyphens (which are used in Chinese 1 & 2 new courses to further make out syllables in pinyin).

There’s one thing that I haven’t changed is “Nengbuneng shishi zhege”. It’s true that you can also use it to mean not just clothes but you’d say chángchang (to taste) when it comes to try food so the risk of changing it to a general English definition “Is it possible to try this?” is that people might also use it in a food scenario. However that might be a minor risk so I’ll talk to our English specialist and make a decision together.

Thanks for flagging the issues and for bearing with us.


Hi @FergusORegan, indeed Chinese character levels had been missing audios for a long time and we finally uploaded audios recently. It’d be best to re-learn the characters because the algorithm isn’t perfect at dealing with such updates. We fixed a bug earlier so the Chinese character levels should be much smoother to go through now.