[Learning] Chinese

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by TSE, Nov 5, 2011.

  1. TSE macrumors 68030

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    #1
    I am thinking of taking a chinese course for my next semester of university.

    I was terrible with spanish but picked up german pretty quickly when I was taking it outside of school.

    I am just nervous that it is going to be extremely difficult; I frequently pull all-nighters for my studio class even when I don't procrastinate.

    How are college language classes different from high school ones?

    And also, how hard will it take to pick up DECENT chinese. I plan on spending about an hour a day either studying, conversing with the chinese people in my dorms, or some other form of studying. I heard learning the alphabet and language is ridiculous and people studying the language even for years don't pick it up very well unless you are born into it.
     
  2. ericrwalker macrumors 68030

    ericrwalker

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    #2
    I think Chinese is one of the more difficult languages. Takes a long time to read it, and speaking it it tough too, word tones can be tough for a lot of Americans.

    Everyone is different though, it might be easy for you.
     
  3. leftywamumonkey, Nov 5, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2011

    leftywamumonkey macrumors 6502a

    leftywamumonkey

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    #3
    Looking back, I wish I would have taken Latin instead of taking Japanese. I don't however regret missing the opportunity to take Mandarin Chinese, French, or Spanish. Enough about me though. If you feel that it would be useful to be able to converse in Chinese, keeping in mind that reading and writing it is difficult, you should definitely do it! If you're taking it as an elective, just don't let it get in the way of your "more important" studies. Just my thoughts though.
     
  4. eternlgladiator macrumors 68000

    eternlgladiator

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    Twin Cities
    #4
    its a very difficult language to write and read but speaking shouldn't be quite as difficult. However, keep in mind that there are many different "versions" of it depending on where a person is from in China. While some words may be somewhat universal others may not be.
     
  5. KeriJane macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

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    ЧИКАГО!
    #5
    Go for it! :D

    A close friend of mine knows some Mandarin Chinese as well as some other Asian languages. It's not hard (for her) to speak though she never learned much of the writing. And no, she's not at all Asian.

    I feel that there are three languages that are going to be very relevant for the immediate future:

    1- Chinese
    2- Russian
    3- Indian

    These languages are going to be more and more widespread as America abdicates our responsibility as the world's main manufacturing country. China and India are rapidly taking over as manufacturing countries and Russia is the largest country on Earth with huge resources and a culture that is more similar to ours in America.


    It's far better to study even with poor grades and have a rudimentary knowledge than none at all. Don't be a perfectionist and let the difficulty of mastering a language put you off... few people master their native tongue let alone others. Besides, you might excel at it.

    Any contacts you make with people that speak Chinese can be made more effective if you know at least some of their language.
    Also, it may become more likely for you to want or need to travel there and then the benefits are enormous.

    On a related note, guess who gets sent to a country to represent the company, government or whatever you work for? Those that know the language!

    Or, if you intend to run your own business, wouldn't it be useful to know at least some of the language of some of your likely suppliers, customers or partners?




    Я выбираю Русски! ;)
     
  6. MorphingDragon macrumors 603

    MorphingDragon

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    #6
    The written Chinese Alphabet (I don't know what the proper term for it, its Kanji in Japanese) will make you cry. You can learn the language for 4 years and still not be able to read a newspaper.
     
  7. Firestar macrumors 68020

    Firestar

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    #7
    I took MS (middle school) Chinese for 2 years. It was purely awful. Especially writing the characters and being able to pronounce the different tones ("ma" has four different forms with different tones on the a).

    If you want to write it, you'll have to memorize the characters, the pinyin, and the tones in the pinyin.

    If you think you could do it, then go ahead.
     
  8. Funkatronic macrumors 6502

    Funkatronic

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  9. ericrwalker macrumors 68030

    ericrwalker

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    #9
    Hindi?
     
  10. Funkatronic macrumors 6502

    Funkatronic

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    #10
    Since we have no National language, and two official languages, being Hindi and English, both of which are the most widely spoken languages over here. Although Hindi, which people sometimes think is our National language, is not widely spoken (or understood) in large parts of Southern India (where most people would be far more comfortable speaking in English).

    But since we have two "Official" languages, 22 more Official Regional languages (as far as i'm aware), and more dialects than you can shake a stick at, saying that people in India speak "Indian" or even Hindi does tickle me a bit. :)
     
  11. danny_w macrumors 601

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    Austin, TX
    #11
    I always heard that Chinese was one of the most difficult languages for an American to learn, but my wife is Korean and she says that in her experience Chinese is actually very easy compared to Korean (for an American that is). I *thought* learning Korean was going to be easy, since it has a small alphabet (certainly smaller than that huge Chinese character set) and since the alphabet is combined to make syllables and words (much like English). However to me Korean is *not* easy at all, it is very deceptive. Chinese *looks* much more difficult but in reality I don't think it is. I say if you are interested in Chinese then go for it, but as one poster above said, even after many years of studying you still will not be able to read a newspaper (just don't let that discourage you, you can still speak it).
     
  12. ericrwalker macrumors 68030

    ericrwalker

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    #12
    I was learning Korean while I was living there for 2 year, about 10 years ago. It was fairly easy to read since the rules for each letter don't really change. Unlike English, where there are so many rules. Though being in my twenties and out of the learning mode. I didn't stick with it. I was dating a Chinese-Korean girl at the time. Her family spoke with mixing Chinese (Mandarine) with Korean. It was interesting, kind of how a lot of latino Americans throw English words in their Spanish sometimes.

    Anyway, her English was so good, she could probably fool a lot of Americans that she was born in the USA. Some people can just pick up language better than others.

    That goes for any language spoken or code. First you have to have the will to learn it.

     
  13. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #13
    IIRC, there are over 400 hundred languages in India. What do you mean by "indian"?
     
  14. aaronchow macrumors regular

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    Sep 29, 2007
    #14
    I am Chinese, and I honestly hate my language. It is one of the hardest language around as it doesn't have an easy way to study (mostly memorizing).

    Just learn Japanese. It is much easier. :p
     
  15. Ping Guo macrumors 6502

    Ping Guo

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    Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    #15
    Learning Putonghua (Mandarin Chinese), sometimes called Guoyu 国语 or Huayu 花语 by overseas Chinese, is fascinating and useful. It is the most widely spoken language in the world, and one of the 6 official languages of the U.N.

    Learning to speak Putonghua is relatively easy because there are no verb conjugations or gender modifiers. Beginning learners often stress out over the four tones, but it really isn't a big deal. Many Chinese speakers, especially if they're not native Mandarin speakers, screw them up as well.

    You mentioned the Chinese "alphabet", but there isn't one. Not like katakana or hirogana, or Vietnamese for example. It's purely ideograms, and nothing else. This makes learning to read and write a very big challenge for most people.

    After 1 year studying, and 5 years living in mainland China, I feel reasonably fluent speaking in day-to-day settings. But my reading and writing is nowhere close to fluency. This is the same for most people I know, unless they're studying Chinese language intensively, or willing to commit to an hour or two a day intensively learning new characters - your reading will lag far behind your spoken Chinese. (Japanese are an exception, as their written language borrows heavily from Chinese).

    Try not to think in terms of future trends, and who will be dominating the world economy - this leads to language "fashions", like Russian in the seventies, or Japanese in the eighties, that end up being zeitgeist fads. (No offense to students of Russian or Japanese, of course). I am speaking merely in terms of usefulness.

    The poster who mentioned learning "Indian" is clueless. There is no such language. In India they have 22 official languages, of which Hindi is only one. And besides, any well-educated Indian will speak very good English, and conversing with a foreigner in Hindi, or Tamil, or Urdu, whatever, will never be more than a novelty.

    Trust me, Mandarin is much more useful. Especially if you plan on living in Asia, as there are large Chinese communities practically everywhere. I use Putonghua on frequent trips to HK, and the local Cantonese get a big kick out of it. I was buying a HK SIM card to put in my iPhone, and explained that I needed only to make calls within HK, and didn't need the more expensive SIM for international calls. I didn't even attempt English, I just laid it all out in Mandarin. Since moving to Malaysia, I use Huayu every day, as nearly all the shopowners in my town are Hokkien, not to mention my landlords, whom I hang out with every weekend.

    I believe learning Chinese will be a rewarding experience for your, and time well spent. Good luck.
     
  16. Firestar macrumors 68020

    Firestar

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    #16
    400 hundred? :eek:
     
  17. wordoflife macrumors 604

    wordoflife

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    #17
  18. KeriJane macrumors 6502a

    KeriJane

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    #18
    Hindi, I meant and couldn't think of it. :eek:

    As you can see I know nothing of Indian culture or language but I know this much: India is going places. At least I think so anyhow.

    It's never a waste of time to learn another language. Or at least try to. :p
    If nothing else, you'll learn more about your native language.
     
  19. Firestar macrumors 68020

    Firestar

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    #19
  20. Liquorpuki macrumors 68020

    Liquorpuki

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    City of Angels
    #20
    I'm Chinese (born in LA) and I took 6 years of classes on Saturday when I was a kid to learn Mandarin. Then I left, had nobody to speak to, and promptly forgot everything within 2 years.

    Meanwhile I'm borderline fluent in Spanish and that was a cakewalk in comparison.

    Biggest things about Chinese:
    - You've got 4 different intonations. You can take the same sound and say it 4 different ways. If you don't nail the intonation, nobody will know what you're saying
    - Unlike Korean, where the words are composed of letters, Chinese words are more like hierogplyphics. You need to master pinyin or whatever alphabet they give you before you can figure out the words

    Probably pinyin or bopomofo
     

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