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Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard

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Jinx
Triglot
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Germany
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 Message 1 of 57
28 October 2010 at 5:56am | IP Logged 
Maybe this is old news already, but I enjoyed this article by David Moser, called "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard". It's a fun read for any other students of Chinese out there.
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seldnar
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United States
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 Message 3 of 57
28 October 2010 at 11:10am | IP Logged 
I love that article. And having studied Chinese at a graduate school level I can testify
to everything he says. I have a good laugh every time I read it.

The article was one of many honoring linguist John D. Francis and was published in a
samizdat journal edited by Victor Mair, a noted sinologist.

The article should not discourage anyone from studying Chinese. To say studying Chinese
is worthwhile would be understatement. But it is a humorous look at all the trials we
students go through.


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jasoninchina
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China
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 Message 4 of 57
28 October 2010 at 1:36pm | IP Logged 
I found myself nodding in agreement quite often while reading this article. Some days I feel like learning Mandarin is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Fortunately, the sense of accomplishment is quite fulfilling.
1 person has voted this message useful



boon
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 Message 5 of 57
01 November 2010 at 5:33pm | IP Logged 
I don't speak Chinese but this part of the article caught my eye:

Quote:

Unfortunately, classical Chinese pops up everywhere, especially in Chinese paintings and character scrolls, and most people will assume anyone literate in Chinese can read it. It's truly embarrassing to be out at a Chinese restaurant, and someone asks you to translate some characters on a wall hanging.

"Hey, you speak Chinese. What does this scroll say?" You look up and see that the characters are written in wenyan, and in incomprehensible "grass-style" calligraphy to boot. It might as well be an EKG readout of a dying heart patient.

"Uh, I can make out one or two of the characters, but I couldn't tell you what it says," you stammer. "I think it's about a phoenix or something."

"Oh, I thought you knew Chinese," says your friend, returning to their menu. Never mind that an honest-to-goodness Chinese person would also just scratch their head and shrug; the face that is lost is yours.



To avoid losing face here, you could just quote some Beowulf in the original Old English. If your friend gives you a blank look you can say "Oh, I thought you knew English."
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Jinx
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
reverbnation.co
Joined 4658 days ago

1085 posts - 1879 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Catalan, Dutch, Esperanto, Croatian, Serbian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish

 
 Message 6 of 57
01 November 2010 at 9:11pm | IP Logged 
Ha, great idea, boon! And one that would work very well... I took a few glances at Beowulf once and gave up pretty fast.
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furrykef
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 Message 7 of 57
03 November 2010 at 8:33am | IP Logged 
I'd say go with Chaucer rather than Beowulf. Easier to remember (so you'll be able to actually say it when you need to) and still incomprehensible when spoken aloud. :)

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TheBB
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 Message 8 of 57
03 November 2010 at 12:37pm | IP Logged 
Here's another reason. Is that true? :P


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