I prefer tone marks in Pinyin

I prefer tone marks in Pinyin. When I have made my own word lists they sometimes pick-up pronunciations in pinyin with numbers instead of tone marks. I can't edit this. I much prefer tone marks as that is how I will be tested. Any solutions to change this?

Posted by memrise_ 10/9/11, last update 5/17/12 (2 years ago)
  • I also prefer tone marks; however, using tone numbers makes the sets more accessible for users with keyboards that don't support tone marks. We also use v in place of ü for the same reason.

    Posted by JeffHammerbacher 10/10/11 (3 years ago)
  • We are just working on a solution which will let you do this, although it isn't without its own cost: you will be able to upload your list in whichever format you like and to say that you don't want to use any of the items that are in the Memrise database - at the moment it will give you the items in the database by default because this allows you to benefit from all the mems, samples etc that have been added by other people. The new system will mean that you can keep all of the words in the format that you like - using the diacritic lines. This is going to be along soon - but it will mean that the lists that you learn won't have any of the audio files, mems etc.In the future we may work on a system to allow you to choose the way that you se the tones, but I'm afraid that this won't be done in the near future - there is too much else to fit into the development plan. And thinking about it, when you were typing answers in pinyin I think that the only way to do this would still be to write the pinyin and then the number of the tone and have it automatically convert into the diacritic line. So on Memrise at least you would still be having to answer using the numbers. Which would be pretty confusing because you would be learning by looking at the words with the lines on them, and not the numbers. If there is another way to do this, please let me know, but without that it seems to me to be simpler to stick with one method to display and to answer pinyin questions.It is worth noting as well that the diacritic lines are really pretty misleading about what the tones should sound like, particularly with regards to the 3rd tone. I think that there is a strong pedagogical case to say that the lines make it harder to actually learn the tone because you become mislead into think that, for example, the 3rd tone goes down and up, which most of the time is just not true. Associating the tones with number can help to bypass this extra difficulty, although I also of course fully undertand that since you are going to be tested using the lines it might help you to learn with them as well.

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   10/10/11 (3 years ago)
  • I don't see why you couldn't still accept numbers when displaying tone marks.

    Posted by thedannywahl 11/12/11 (3 years ago)
  • I don't see why you couldn't still accept numbers when displaying tone marks.

    Posted by thedannywahl 11/12/11 (3 years ago)
  • "I think that there is a strong pedagogical case to say that the lines make it harder to actually learn the tone..."I'd have to disagree that the case is strong. Most people learn a language from multiple sources. The tone markings above characters are a standard part of pinyin. Almost any other resource will use tone markings, not just numbers. Using standard pinyin better prepares students to use other learning materials.

    Posted by phylae 1/8/12 (2 years ago)
  • You don't need a special keyboard to type tone marks. You do need to mess around with your keyboard input settings though, which is why I think that allowing users to input the pinyin with numbers is great.That said, I don't think that this is a good enough argument for not displaying pinyin in the standard way. I think it is a pretty small learning curve for people to learn the numbers of the four different tone markings, especially since any serious student will need to learn them anyway.As for for mems, it would likely be quite easy for memrise to automatically convert pinyin typed with numbers into pinyin typed with tone marks. That would keep things consistent without users needing to adjust their keyboard settings.What this ultimately comes down to is that memrise doesn't teach real pinyin. Learning how to pronounce wo3 does not teach you how to pronounce wǒ, and wǒ is what you will see pretty much everywhere besides memrise because wǒ is real pinyin and wo3 is not. Of course, you can argue that learning real pinyin doesn't matter because it is only an aid to learning pronunciation; once you know the pronunciation, how you got there isn't really relevant. However, I think that the enormous volume of materials available that use standard pinyin makes "how you get there" very relevant because you "get there" faster if you learn your pronunciation in a consistent way.

    Posted by phylae 2/10/12 (2 years ago)
  • This is kind of funny conversation. I've seen pinyin displayed with diacriticals, and with the numbers only in textbooks. If you don't like one you can find books or teachers that use the other...  I don't think its such a big deal since its a tool for pronunciation only and you should know and be comfortable with both. I've seen pinyin with no tonal references at all, such as street signs in in Beijing, Shanghai, etc. In China pinyin is pretty rare on the street, so its a crutch until you learn characters anyway. When I moved to Beijing my pinyin was useless out of  the classroom and so I began to just learn to recognize characters with pinyin as an assist.My IME on my mobile phone lets me type pinyin without tones and select from a list of characters.   I cant even imagine what it would do if I tried to use a diacritical.  I haven't tried because it gets in the way of communicating with my Chinese friends.If the Chinese themselves don't consistently use 'real pinyin' how can we say what 'real pinyin' is?  According to wikipedia it is both but  I think anyone who has tried to use their keyboard to type diacritical characters quickly reverts to the more intuitive wo3.   It's faster and everyone knows what you mean. which. is. the. point.Ultimately we'll be using characters instead of pinyin, right?  So I'd vote for more emphasis on characters, writing stroke order and less on which pinyin is real.

    Posted by maozhou 2/17/12 (2 years ago)
  • This is kind of funny conversation. I've seen pinyin displayed with diacriticals, and with the numbers only in textbooks. If you don't like one you can find books or teachers that use the other...  I don't think its such a big deal since its a tool for pronunciation only and you should know and be comfortable with both. I've seen pinyin with no tonal references at all, such as street signs in in Beijing, Shanghai, etc. In China pinyin is pretty rare on the street, so its a crutch until you learn characters anyway. When I moved to Beijing my pinyin was useless out of  the classroom and so I began to just learn to recognize characters with pinyin as an assist.My IME on my mobile phone lets me type pinyin without tones and select from a list of characters.   I cant even imagine what it would do if I tried to use a diacritical.  I haven't tried because it gets in the way of communicating with my Chinese friends.If the Chinese themselves don't consistently use 'real pinyin' how can we say what 'real pinyin' is?  According to wikipedia it is both but  I think anyone who has tried to use their keyboard to type diacritical characters quickly reverts to the more intuitive wo3.   It's faster and everyone knows what you mean. which. is. the. point.Ultimately we'll be using characters instead of pinyin, right?  So I'd vote for more emphasis on characters, writing stroke order and less on which pinyin is real.

    Posted by maozhou 2/17/12 (2 years ago)
  • I too prefer the tone 'marks'. This is what I do.

    I create my own vocab list in Excel, then copy all the characters from there into my 'pinyin' dictionary, which then converts the characters into pinyin with strokes. This can all be pasted back into excel and uploaded to Memrise.

    http://www.ideographer.com/pinyindictionary/

    It seems to only be available for Mac though.

    NB. The translations into pinyin have occassionally thrown up some errors. For example, a noticible one is: 儿 being transcribed as rén. In these cases I manually edit them. But they are far and few between. Also, I know 儿 = er, so for me, ITO reading it is no drama.

    Posted by mlawrence00 4/29/12 (2 years ago)
  • @mlawrence, I am very sorry about this, but since the Mandarin topic on Memrise is a wiki, and since the wiki has conventions for how the items should be added, you will find that the items that you add with the diacritic lines will just be merged into the main items in the Mandarin wiki, and revert to the numbers; I know that this is annoying, but we do need to have consistency across the wiki so that all the mems, sample sentences, audio recordings etc that people are adding can be shared by everyone. You can read the conventions of the wiki here - www.memrise.com/topic/mandarin/conventions

    There are several reasons that we use the numbers rather than the tone lines, but the most important one is for easy of user experience: in order to type the tones correctly using the diacritic lines, it requires a bit of extra learning, and then it needs you to type the number of the tone - 1,2,3,4 or 5 after the syllable. Which is fiddly and annoying and leads to a surprising number of people just giving up (we tested it). Since you are going to have to type the tone numbers anyway in order to input the diacritic lines, it seems fair to just use the numbers as the main way that the tones are written.

    We may later be able to give you an option over how the words are displayed, because it is not impossible to convert the pinyin with tones into pinyin with diacritic lines, but this isn't I'm afraid, going to happen very soon.

    Apologies for the inconvenience,

    Best wishes

    Ben

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   4/29/12 (2 years ago)
  • I only use the pinyin as the "pronunciation" section of my flashcards. Thus, I never need to 'type' it into the memrise box during a learning session. It simply pops up to remind me (top right hand corner).

    As far as I can tell, to date, I have had no issues with this. I mean, I create my own decks based on my vocabulary with my own 'definitions'. I never draw vocab from the already shared database.

    Posted by mlawrence00 4/29/12 (2 years ago)
  • Ah, I see - from a quick check it looks like the course that you have created is outside the main wiki, which is exactly the right thing to do if you wish to add your own words and definitions and not to use the information int he wikis. In fact, in the main wiki courses you are tested on both the meaning and the pronunciation of characters by default, although you can opt out of pronunciation if you wish.

    So what you are doing is absolutely right if you are keen to just use Memrise as a flashcard program, but it does mean that you are missing out on all the mems, audio, sample sentences and grammar tips and new test types (eg from audio etc) that are being added to the main wiki.

    Best wishes

    Ben

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   4/29/12 (2 years ago)
  • The number of the tone is leading to me just giving up on this site.

    The numbers come AFTER the word, so it's almost like you have to start at the end to see what tone should be used, figure out what the number means, then go back to the beginning of the word, then read it.

    Posted by lps8r4 5/5/12 (2 years ago)
  • I thnik it has been prvoen taht you cna undrestnad wrods witouht raeding them phnoeticlaly. Learn to do it with pinyin. In fact, a week ago I couldn't make head or tail of numbered pinyin but now it's just second nature to me.

    Posted by Rav 5/7/12 (2 years ago)
  • Off topic @ Rav - cute - how long did it take to make that first sentence? I started learning with the tone markers, but now the tone number system seems like second nature. I've also looked at texts using different romanization schemes for mandarin chinese. I really prefer the tone numbering system now. If you keep at it, it will become second nature.

    Posted by jenniferhunter 5/7/12 (2 years ago)
  • I personally like the numbers because it's so easy to type in.. I don't think I'd ever seen numbered pinyin before finding memrise, but I converted naturally. Perhaps for some people the pinyin + tone mark is like a "visual image" for the word (instead of the character), its identity, the way spelling is for English, and so they are confused when it changes? Just trying to understand the problem!

    Posted by mariepi70 5/8/12 (2 years ago)
  • Typing the tone marks is actually the same as typing the numbers. In all of the input systems I have seen the tone mark is entered by entering its number. The only difference is that you don't need to type a 5 for the neutral tone. The hard part is that you need to figure out how to switch keyboard layouts. For beginners that can be very annoying. It is probably not too bad for most advanced users because they will need to learn how to switch keyboard layouts in order to type characters anyway.

    Also, I think that not requiring the 5 for the neutral tone is a feature that has been requested in these forums a few times already. I'm hoping it won't be too hard to implement and we'll get that feature soon.

    Posted by phylae 5/8/12 (2 years ago)
  • @phylae, sorry, I must have missed the previous mentions of getting rid of the "5" - or I have just forgotten, which is very possible. I will see if it would be possible to do this easily, but I suspect that it would actually be quite fiddly to do it well. It would also make it harder to judge things like "nearly right" (which doesn't work very well for the pinyin at the moment, but losing the number would make that even harder).

    I will definitely check it out though, thank you for bringing it up,

    Best wishes

    Ben

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   5/9/12 (2 years ago)
  • @phylae, sorry, I must have missed the previous mentions of getting rid of the "5" - or I have just forgotten, which is very possible. I will see if it would be possible to do this easily, but I suspect that it would actually be quite fiddly to do it well. It would also make it harder to judge things like "nearly right" (which doesn't work very well for the pinyin at the moment, but losing the number would make that even harder).

    I will definitely check it out though, thank you for bringing it up,

    Best wishes

    Ben

    Posted by BenWhately Staff   5/9/12 (2 years ago)
  • I would probably prefer to see pinyin with diacritical marks. But when entering pinyin it would be nice if Memrise accepted both so that it's possible to just use numbers when not in the right keyboard mode.

    I wrote some lines of Python that convert e.g. from "wo3 men5 qu4 xiang1 gang3" to "wǒ men qù xīang gǎng". It's up at https://github.com/guaka/num2pinyin.py

    Posted by guaka 5/17/12 (2 years ago)

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