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Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard

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57 messages over 8 pages: 1 2 35 6 7 8 Next >>
Matheus
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 2673 days ago

208 posts - 105 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*
Studies: English, French

 
 Message 25 of 57
01 April 2011 at 6:13pm | IP Logged 
kenshin wrote:
Obviously, I might be biased because I'm a native speaker. To me, the most pleasing
feature of Chinese language is that it has no declensions and conjugations. As an
isolating language, Chinese is much simpler in grammar in comparison to most European
languages. Sure, there are thousands of Chinese characters you have to learn. But once
you learn a character by heart, that's it: it doesn't change its form and pronunciation.

And I think lack of grammatical conjugation might explain why Chinese people tend to make
English sentences like "where are you come from? ". Well, verbs have different forms
doesn't make any sense to Chinese speakers... So, it's not surprising that there are also
many Chinese students complaining about why English is so difficult to learn.


You're right, I use to talk with a native Chinese speaker (she speaks a regional dialect, but also Mandarin). Even studying English for 8 years, she still making sentences like this one "I am happy yesterday".. It's sometimes confusing, but I enjoy this "Chinese" style. Unfortunately, it's not good for my English (I'm also a learner), because sometimes I tend to imitate (unconciously) how she creates sentences.
By the months I've been talking to her, she never used a verb in the past tense (but she seems to understand when I use them - or not). Her spelling is hard to understand, but I don't care too much about it, as long as I understand her. I don't feel confident to correct her because I don't have a good English level too. It would be different if I was a native speaker.
1 person has voted this message useful



Tropi
Diglot
Groupie
Austria
Joined 3023 days ago

67 posts - 21 votes
Speaks: German*, English
Studies: Mandarin

 
 Message 26 of 57
01 April 2011 at 6:46pm | IP Logged 
djc463 wrote:
I was planning on trying to learn Mandarin next.... This is frightening, maybe Japanese would be better due to the
fact that the writing system makes much more sense.

Don't be scared...by either of them.

When I started Mandarin I didn't put in that much thought about the difficulty. If you really want to learn it, do it. If you are not sure about it, than think about it until you are.
But: It's said to be way harder than it actually is. "Oh my god, there are so many different characters." If you learn them, you will see that there are very few (okay, still more than our alphabet) elements that are used over and over again. Often these elements even help you do understand it's meaning, popular example "to rest" is made up of a man and a tree. Easy to memorize if you think of a man that leans on a tree.

The tones were super hard for me at the beginning. I just had them all wrong. But when you got some listening experience this gradually becomes better.

加油!
1 person has voted this message useful



jsun
Groupie
Joined 2677 days ago

62 posts - 70 votes 

 
 Message 27 of 57
03 April 2011 at 8:16am | IP Logged 
As someone said, Chinese is a 3D language, which means shape, sound and meaning are
all connected. I don't know if there is a book on the market that can connect these 3
elements. I can just see books that talk about these three elements separately.

I saw a Kanji book that uses graphics to illustrate meanings.

Romanisations in red are Cantonese Yale romanisations. (Well, I put Cantonese in here
because Mandarin misses some of the stories)

I saw another that discusses about sound and meaning of Chinese.


Now you understand meaning of initial "m" and look back at Cantonese and even
Japanese pronunciations to "feel" the connections.. Consonant m seals your lips and
therefore
1. the meanings of final m: mouth closed -> hiding -> dark

This link is lost in Mandarin as final m doesn't exist in modern Mandarin.

2. the function of initial m: dark, stupid, hiding, blind....etc
Modern Mandarin is inconsistent on words like 亡wàng, 忙máng, 忘wàng


I'm thinking of grouping these stuffs myself and create better Chinese character resources.

Edited by jsun on 03 April 2011 at 8:35am

2 persons have voted this message useful



Jinx
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
reverbnation.co
Joined 3285 days ago

1085 posts - 801 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Catalan, Dutch, Esperanto, Croatian, Serbian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish

 
 Message 28 of 57
07 April 2011 at 12:00am | IP Logged 
Here's another fantastic resource, for learning to pronounce Mandarin correctly:

Chinese Pronunciation Guide

Obviously I can't judge his advice from experience, seeing as I am a complete beginner in Mandarin myself, but his explanations made a lot of sense to me and the part about positioning the tongue was easier to understand than I usually find those sorts of things to be. I recommend it to anyone who's interested!
2 persons have voted this message useful



parasitius
Diglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 3590 days ago

220 posts - 107 votes 
Speaks: English*, Mandarin
Studies: Cantonese, Polish, Spanish, French

 
 Message 29 of 57
07 April 2011 at 4:59am | IP Logged 
I read this 10 years ago when I was a beginner, and to this very day I remember this
stupid passage:
""My research is really hampered by the fact that I still just can't read Chinese. It
takes me hours to get through two or three pages, and I can't skim to save my life."
This would be an astonishing admission for a tenth-year student of, say, French
literature, yet it is a comment I hear all the time among my peers... "

Such an incompetent researcher should be immediately fired. It's not as if there aren't
plenty of English professors in Chinese universities who couldn't speak 10 minutes of
conversational English with a native speaker to save their life. So why is it
surprising that there are Westerners incompetent in Chinese but who have gotten
themselves in so deep that all they have left to do is keep pretending to save face...?

FAIL. MASSIVE FAIL.



Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4174 days ago

2314 posts - 3384 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 31 of 57
07 April 2011 at 8:59am | IP Logged 
Jinx wrote:
Here's another fantastic resource, for learning to pronounce Mandarin correctly:

Chinese Pronunciation Guide

Obviously I can't judge his advice from experience, seeing as I am a complete beginner in Mandarin myself, but his explanations made a lot of sense to me and the part about positioning the tongue was easier to understand than I usually find those sorts of things to be. I recommend it to anyone who's interested!


It's considered by many to be the only accurate guide to Mandarin pronunciation out there. Written by John Pasden, of ChinesePod fame. I recommend it, too!
1 person has voted this message useful



Jinx
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
reverbnation.co
Joined 3285 days ago

1085 posts - 801 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, French
Studies: Catalan, Dutch, Esperanto, Croatian, Serbian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish, Yiddish

 
 Message 32 of 57
08 April 2011 at 12:08am | IP Logged 
Thanks for the confirmation, Ari! I'm really glad I stumbled upon it.



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