Is it really that hard to learn Chinese?
I've been toying around with the idea for awhile now. I want to learn the language because I feel like there's an entire section of human literature that's closed to me because I can't read the language it was written in.
However I've heard that it's very difficult to learn to speak, and even more difficult to learn to read or write.
What are your thoughts /int/? I'm monolingual right now, I tried learning German in high school but I never really took it seriously, mainly because German poetry is just run-on sentences and German literature is meme-tier.
It is easy to learn basic Chinese, but it is hard to master. It is actually very easy to speak because there are only four tones. I think everyone should speak at least two languages. It will give them a broader view of the world. Are you sure you like Chinese though? Learning a new language quickly turns into a chore if you have no passion for it.
I don't really know. I have an irrational hatred of romance languages, which I think stems from my education-mandated four years of Spanish were was the worst classes I ever had. German was pointless, as I mentioned before.
Beyond that there really aren't that many languages that would be particularly useful. I figured Chinese would be one of the better ones due to just how much literature was written in Chinese and never accurately translated (for various reasons). Are any other languages on that level of "purpose" (I guess would be the word?)?
I've always found it interesting how Chinese can look so beautiful in the written form and sound so gratingly awful in the spoken form.
But yeah, my advice is give it a shot by all means, but realise that it will take years of intense study to be able to read and more or less understand a newspaper, converse normally with natives, let alone consume literature and poetry. You can speed this process up by living there, but then again you have to ask yourself if that's something you'd really want to do (I certainly wouldn't). One other thing, never choose a language based on the amount of people that speak it or the supposed economic benefits because they're usually memes.
I would say no. Arabic is not very useful given the state of the middle east, and India uses english as an official language. Chinese is probably the most useful language besides English. Will you travel to China or get a job that requires the use of Chinese? If not, you should only learn Chinese if you're fascinated by the culture (e.g. literature, history, traditions, music, movies). Many great novels like Romance of the Three Kingdoms are better read in Chinese in my opinion.
Chinese can sound very beautiful actually, both mandarin and cantonese. I am sure it will take less than an year to read a newspaper and have a basic conversation. Perhaps two years to read a novel without having to look up a dictionary.
If you learn traditional you can understand most simplified characters even without studying them, so I would recommend OP to study traditional. I have also heard that it is easier to memorise traditional characters because they preserve the radicals.
>I am sure it will take less than an year to read a newspaper and have a basic conversation.
Basic conversation, sure, reading a newspaper and understanding most of it... no.
>I have also heard that it is easier to memorise traditional characters because they preserve the radicals.
Can confirm, as Japanese is more or less traditional with a few quirks of it's own. Simplified Chinese just looks like an ugly and retarded short hand version, pretty easy to learn though once you know the original symbols.
Perhaps if you study full time and do an immersion course or something, most people don't have that time. It takes Chinese and Japanese high school students years of tuition and memorisation to learn them, and they're surrounded by it every day. I'm very skeptical someone could learn the 2000+ symbols required for reading a newspaper, not to mention the multiple possible readings for each one, let alone their definitions and the many idioms/proverbs that would be used.
Definitely DEFINITELY recommend learning Arabic.
If you're gonna learn a language for its literature, poetry, and structure, Arabic is by far the best.
The language is enchanting and exceptionally poetic. I've been learning it for 6 months and I can read/write at the pace of a 3rd/4th grader, but it is definitely one of the most difficult languages out there, comparable to Mandarin.
Pic related. Arabic calligraphy is based.
Seriously though why the fuck are you learning that language, it's probably the most hostile culture to your own you can possibly find. There's no real opportunities in that region either, and all the ones that do exist you don't need to speak Arabic for.
We can read a basic newspaper at six years old though, it just takes lots of lessons until we can write a good composition. Memorisation isn't the hardest part actually, the hardest part is learning how and when to use idioms, or to understand classical Chinese. Reading should be relatively easy.
It seems that the time people take to learn Chinese vary a lot.
It's literally either an entire book filled with run-on sentences or political philosophy.
That's IT. Germany never made anything else. And all that stuff is trivially translated into English anyway, so it's not like knowing German is required to read the few good things the country has made.
To be honest I don't know a whole lot about Chinese, I'm just going from my own experience of learning Japanese as well as what I've heard from teachers/fellow students/Japanese people. I just assumed they'd be fairly similar.
just because it is translated into english doesn't make it less "german literature".
also the german language has always been praised for it's ability to express practically infinite feelings/situations etc. It is the perfect western language for literature, even if you don't like the topics.
>just because it is translated into english doesn't make it less "german literature".
That's true, but I'm talking about learning a language here, not the merits of every country's literary output.
I took two years of German in high school and it was boring. The language was simpler syntactically than English and I didn't find it particularly hard, but I just didn't see the point in learning it.
>The language was simpler syntactically than English
It's much easier to learn a strict syntax than it is to learn the gender of each word.
English's very simple conjugation and non existing declination is the reason why you require a strict syntax.
In slavic languages, for example, syntax is much more lax because the function of a word is obvious from its case and precise conjugated form.
>German literature is meme-tier.
not: >German language is meme-tier
I don't want to press any further on a stupid mistake/unfinished thought, but there was no other way to understand this.
Arabic is my 5th language not counting English.
Plus I'm not a bigot and I take Arabic for what it is.
It's a beautiful language and I'm interested in the culture. I like to learn about the world around me instead of dismissing everything I'm not familiar with as "hostile".
But thanks, Liam.
When I was in Hong Kong(Causeway bay station), I asked a stranger the way to Victoria peak. She directed me in English at first, but she noticed I am Japanese, then she told me in Japanese. I was surprised!
The commie government has destroyed very large portion of that literature, which have never left the Chinese borders.
Even Kuomintang destroyed some old literature in their revolutionary idiocy.
I wouldn't recommend Chinese.
These languages are far too difficult without good reason to study. For example I know two Jap learners one has business there and visits yearly for vacation and another is a former ESL who is going back soon and is learning the language this time round
its certainly possible they have a big notepad and from when i last checked had about 1800 fully memorised over like a 16 month period, they aren't particularly smart either and this is while having a normal job.
Modern China itself I don't find very interesting and I would see little ways to actually motivate myself to learn the language. Also the idea that it will be important is meh, its too difficult to replace English and the Chinese (especially the rich) are learning English rapidly. I don't think it will even overtake French let alone Spanish as a "Global" language it will be more like the German of East-Asia probably like Japanese but with a bit more reach. Also who knows what will happen in China in the future? Its a bit fucked. Taiwan is nice though so you get that for free... I personally would do Korean/Jap because they have more resources, more cultural exports (i.e things to enjoy about the country), and have better opportunities for tourism etc.
Personally if you don't like German (Which I understand, I don't rate it as very useful personally). You say you don't want to do a Romance language but why not try French or Italian they are easy but different to Spanish so you might enjoy it, France/Italy are also great destinations and both have rich histories.
The only other option then is Russian. Its quite a foreign one but its not near the level of difficulty that you find in Chinese. Russia also has one of the best literary histories in the world. Also its quite a useful language.
I want to learn it because I love languages and I live in NYC, so we have a fuck-ton of different cultures here, Arabian cultures being one of them.
Seeing that you live in China #2, you'd obviously be more partial to East Asian language. I recommend visiting any West Asian country, though, or meeting some Arabs. They're not as bad as people make them out to be.
I lived in Maine (95% white) up until 2011. Moved here, started picking up new languages, and now I'm all over the place.
I've been to Spain, Portugal, Dubai, Hong Kong, Greece, etc. and I'm gonna try to go to as many places as possible.
Recommend learning a 2nd language right away. But yeah, thanks.
The Cultural Revolution was a tragedy, but by no means did a large portion of literature get destroyed. Most of the destruction was to shrines/historical monuments and the deaths of intellectuals/land owners.
>Also its quite a useful language.
You dont need words with Russians, just fists and vodka.
>best literary histories in the world
Post-Prison Dostojevski, Tsehov, Gogol, Korolenko and all the late Tsarist and Soviet camp and prison literature, nothing else is worthwhile. Hell, Ilmari Kianto alone made Finnish literature more worthwhile than Russian.
The systematic destruction of literature started during the first Sino-Japanese war, during the Imperial overthrow and continued through the Japanese occupation and the civil war.
And yes, literature was destoyed even during the Cultural revolution. Beijing archives were put to fire for example.
I agree that there was damage to literature, but as far as I know it wasn't that severe. Are you sure that a large proportion of literature was destroyed? We still learn a lot of 18-19th century literature.
Bro. There is so much money out there to study abroad for almost free. You just need to know where to look.
China Scholarship Council
Chinese Government Scholarship
>Recommend learning a 2nd language right away.
I already speak French, Spanish and Japanese to varying to degrees of fluency, language learning is one of my favourite hobbies. But I decided I'd rather devote my time to mastering those three rather than pick up a few more and be a jack off all trades, so to speak.
Cool, cool. The first language I learned was French but it didn't stick to me very well after I learned Spanish and then Portuguese.
German and Greek were by far the most difficult European languages, though.
Yep my French was fluent at one point but unfortunately it's been fading fast as I've neglected it for over a year. It's also been really difficult to find French language partners for some reason, which is one of the main ways I learn and keep my conversational skills sharp.
when you people want to learn a second language for the literature, how are you getting the resources? I'm currently bilingual and learning japanese, but can't seem to find any books, let alone literary books in the language. ive tried looking for japanese picture books in my uni library, nothing.
Chinese inventions during the early Han:
-description of the circulation of blood throughout the body