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Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard

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57 messages over 8 pages: 13 4 5 6 7 8 Next >>
seldnar
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6097 days ago

189 posts - 287 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Mandarin, French, Greek

 
 Message 9 of 57
03 November 2010 at 1:16pm | IP Logged 
Yes, but unnatural in that it is purposely constructed to have [edited to add missing
verb] only the four different sounds: shi1, shi2, shi3,and shi4. It's a tongue twister.

Edited by seldnar on 03 November 2010 at 1:20pm

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Ari
Heptaglot
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Norway
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Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 10 of 57
04 November 2010 at 12:24am | IP Logged 
TheBB wrote:
Here's another reason. Is that true? :P

Well, first of all, that story is not written in Mandarin, but in Classical Chinese. Second, here's why English is difficult: Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo. Or maybe this one: John while Jack had had had had had had had. Had had had had a better effect on the teacher.
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egill
Diglot
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United States
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Speaks: Mandarin, English*
Studies: German, Spanish, Dutch

 
 Message 11 of 57
04 November 2010 at 4:26am | IP Logged 
Don't forget:
That that is is that that is not is not is that it it is. Clearly English needs a
character based orthography.
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maaku
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United States
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 Message 12 of 57
04 November 2010 at 6:12am | IP Logged 
The article did strike a chord with me, but I think it's a bit extreme. Learning the characters is difficult, but it's not appropriate to compare with learning the few dozen characters of a alphabet script. Most of the article seems hung up on "the characters are hard" which is true, but a more accurate story would not be "Chinese is hard", but "the process of learning Chinese is different from learning other language and you have to adapt." But it sounds like in this case the author and his graduate student friends did not adapt.
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seldnar
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6097 days ago

189 posts - 287 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Mandarin, French, Greek

 
 Message 13 of 57
04 November 2010 at 2:06pm | IP Logged 
Well, I can't say if the author "adapted" or not, but he did go on to to lecture at
Beijing University and work for China Central Television. And some of his graduate
student friends are now professors who I'm sure play the same game of trying to guess
the contents of a book just from the title.

What one needs to remember about the article is that it is funny--its not meant to be a
serious expose of how Chinese is inherently difficult. Its written for insiders--
(recall that it was published in a sinological journal for fellow sinologists honoring
a very well respected Chinese linguist, John DeFrancis--I'm sure Victor Mair included
it in the issue because he thought his readership would find it enjoyable; they
wouldn't grumble and say "that's right! Chinese is too damn hard" but they would recall
with some amusement situations similar to the ones the author descirbes). My fellow
graduate students and I have all smiled as we've read the article. The situations he
describes are familiar to us all.

Its just a funny article about the peculiarities of learning Chinese written for other
Chinese scholars.

Speaking of funny articles about learning Chinese: In the 1960s Eiling Eide began his
article on reform in teaching classical Chinese by comparing it to how boys of earlier
generations learned about sex--from rumors on the street that they would share with
their friends and together try to figure it out; because, of course, you could never
ask an older boy and expose your ignorance of such a thing. ROFL. He described it much
better than I can. It hasn't changed all that much.


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Gabungry
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United States
gabungry.blogspot.co
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 Message 14 of 57
05 November 2010 at 8:17pm | IP Logged 
That was a great article. As someone who's just begun learning Mandarin, it really struck a chord. Here's a first-hand account at a beginner's attempt, you might find it amusing:
http://gabungry.blogspot.com/2010/11/microphone-agrees.html
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Jinx
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
reverbnation.co
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Studies: Catalan, Dutch, Esperanto, Croatian, Serbian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish

 
 Message 15 of 57
06 November 2010 at 12:14am | IP Logged 
Gabungry wrote:
That was a great article. As someone who's just begun learning Mandarin, it really struck a chord. Here's a first-hand account at a beginner's attempt, you might find it amusing:
http://gabungry.blogspot.com/2010/11/microphone-agrees.html


Haha, I love it! I would probably respond just the way you did in the "microphone agrees" situation. It's just such a relief when you DO get a joke in the target language, y'know?
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irrationale
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China
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Speaks: English*, Spanish, Mandarin, Tagalog
Studies: Ancient Greek, Japanese

 
 Message 16 of 57
06 November 2010 at 5:35am | IP Logged 
Honestly asking, how many characters are you Chinese majors expected to remember anyway?


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