Thinking aloud: new words from learnt characters

Learning new words isn't that hard - it's learning new characters that's hard. With this in mind, it'd be a great feature if memrise was able to look at the characters you already knew, and suggest words that you might like to learn, which are made up of those characters. For days when you're feeling like you can't cram much new new stuff into your brain, perhaps.

Mind you, for this to be useful, it would probably have to refer to character-frequency lists to prevent obscure and irrelevant suggestions. Still, I'm pretty sure there are freely-available frequency lists out there that don't require licensing etc.

Perhaps even more useful would be a similar facility to suggest words that feature characters you've already learnt - but for which you don't know any 2-character combinations. e.g. I might know 参 but not any words featuring it. (This shouldn't happen much with really well-curated lists, but it does occur from time to time). Or just a facility like 'suggest words with character X'. This would be particularly helpful for problem words, as each combination gives you another chance to learn, and another associative hook to hang it on.

I'm really just thinking aloud here - none of this is top-priority stuff, but might be useful to put in the 'future ideas' file.

Posted by Azimuth 5/5/12 , last update 7/5/12 (3 years ago)
  • This is a very cool idea. I have just put up a frequency list of the first 1000 words in Chinese by frequency in the spoken language (film subtitles). I will put up more from those lists. I don't think that we are going to be able to put the development time into making this feature in the next few months though, and it occurs to me that this could be exactly the kind of thing that it might be possible for someone else to develop using the API, using the data in the word frequency lists. Perhaps you could suggest this in the developer forum and see if you can tempt someone into giving it a go!

    Best wishes


    Posted by BenWhately Staff   5/5/12 (4 years ago)
  • The subtitles course is a great idea, I've started learning it.

    Good suggestion re the API, looking forward to seeing what people can do with that.

    Posted by Azimuth 5/5/12 (4 years ago)
  • Glad you are enjoying it - it was in fact alt.trigger's idea, so send your thanks his way as well!

    Best wishes


    Posted by BenWhately Staff   5/6/12 (4 years ago)
  • @Ben - I hope I'm not imposing, but if you could get the CC (closed captioning) of a movie and put those characters into a wordlist, it would make a good course. For example, a list of all the words/phrases spoken in "Aladdin". (Children's movies because they tend to use simpler, less complex language, obvious actions, and user familiarity with the subject.) That way, people can hear the words as they are spoken. I do this with spanish - it's much more fun than watching telenovelas or sponge bob.

    Posted by DarthJen 5/8/12 (4 years ago)
  • @jenniferhunter - I would love for someone to do this! But our aim is to build the tools that will help other people to actually add these kind of courses: myself I might be able to add a few of these, but ti would take a huge amount of time and stop me from working on other features to improve the learning experience. The idea of the wiki infrastructure that we have been working on is that it will make it ever easier for lots of people to collaborate on building just this kind of set. That way the Memrise community can create much better (and many more) materials than would be possible for one of us to create on our own. Doest that make sense?

    If you can find a link to the video in Chinese (or spanish), then we can start getting people to work on this together! I would love to help to develop the tools that would make that easier for you.

    Best wishes


    Posted by BenWhately Staff   5/9/12 (4 years ago)
  • On this website:, they use a similar idea to learn together words sharing the same characters or keys (unfortunately the default display uses traditional characters). Maybe it can serve as a base to create list of characters in Memrise?

    Posted by ansufei 7/5/12 (3 years ago)

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