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Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard

 Language Learning Forum : Specific Languages Post Reply
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imaginarylands.wordpRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4055 days ago

5 posts - 16 votes
Studies: Mandarin, English*, Malay, Hokkien

 Message 49 of 57
14 July 2011 at 2:29am | IP Logged 
starrye wrote:
This shows an interesting difference between the Chinese and Western
(especially American) conception of nationality. For most Swedes, if you're born in
Sweden and have a Swedish citizenship, you're a Swede. Not so to the Chinese. If you're
ethnically Chinese, you may be born in a foreign country and hold a citizenship there,
but you're still Chinese.

Yes, that's quite correct. Which is why during the 2008 Olympic games a lot of Chinese
people around the world had a lot of pride in the games ... though I think they went
overboard with the whole "do not criticise China bit" ... just admit it, dudes, China
DOES have a bad human rights record....

starrye wrote:
This means you should learn your national language Mandarin (it's
okay if you don't learn your native language, which might be Hokkien or Cantonese, as
long as you learn Mandarin).

I guess they're more lenient in Malaysia. ;) If you know your native dialect, you're
generally forgiven. Generally. There are two branches of Chinese people in my country -
those who are Chinese-educated, meaning they receive their instruction in Mandarin, and
those who are English/Bahasa Malaysia educated -> Me.

At one point of our history in Malaya, the Chinese folks thought it was more "hip" or
more "modern" to send their kids to English schools. They felt that their kids had more
of a future if they knew English. Therefore, my parents were sent to colonial schools
(ie schools established by the British, usually by churches) and did not know how to
write or read Chinese.

However, political tides shifted in my time, and now most Chinese including those
educated in English (I would say 90%) send their kids to Chinese schools because they
deem these schools far superior, and many of them want to bring up kids who are fluent
in both Chinese and English.

What didn't change however is the disdain a Chinese-speaking Chinese would show those
who have lost that ability to speak, read or write in Chinese. They really feel that
we've betrayed our roots and race! It used to annoy the heck out of me because I think
of myself as Malaysian first. But now I see it as this: Well, I do have this amazing
heritage, so I better soak it up. And ignore those who call me a banana :P (They assume
I'm a banana mostly because of the way I speak English ... it's typical of the way most
BM/English-educated, non-Chinese-speaking folks speak. I let them assume that so I can
eavesdrop on what they say. Tee hee.)

starrye wrote:

But, I think a lot of this is due to the fact that the United States is a nation with a
lot of immigrants. There are too many different races and people from various national
origins, that it's just not practical to define ourselves by ethnicity. It makes much
more sense to say that if you are a citizen, then you are American, and that's that.
But most still use some kind of hyphen to describe themselves: African-American,
Chinese-American, Italian-American, Irish-American, etc. However in the case of most
European Americans, we have intermarried with each other so much that many white
Americans have mixed heritage now from multiple European nationalities. So we have
dropped the hyphen and have begun to think of ourselves collectively as just
"American". But it's a complicated issue because it's not politically correct.

Really? How funny - Malaysians are striving to JUST be Malaysians. To this day we're
still called by our race; our political groups are divided into parties that represent
a specific race.

Our political situation is such that language and race is politicised. English is seen
as the language of the colonists, so the government has effectively stamped it out of
the education system, resulting in a massive degradation of the language in my country.
Attempts to revive it are met with cries of anger from certain ethnic groups, mainly
the Malays who control the country, and who feel that their language is being given the
short stick.

Meanwhile, there are calls to abolish Chinese schools because the people who come out
of the schools seem "separate" and their allegiance more towards the Chinese people
than towards Malaysia. That is met with much anger from the Chinese ...

We have Indian schools too, but they're left mostly alone, though with very little help
or funding from the government :/

So, we have a situation where Malaysians are educated in two different ways: One, in
the national language of Malaysia, and two, in their native tongue (either Mandarin or
Tamil etc).

But since the common tongue is Bahasa Malaysia, so all Malaysians speak it but with
varying degrees of fluency. (If you don't speak BM, you'd really not get anywhere in
business or education.)

This is why you'd meet Malaysians who speak English with different accents ... though
you can generally identify the Malaysian accent. It's a wee complicated.

The whole situation has created a nation of polyglots but not a very united nation
IMHO. There are plus and minus points to being a polyglot nation ;) On the one hand,
it's such a wonderful gift we've been handed - to be totally immersed in a culture
where at least three languages are spoken (we have Chinese, Malay and English
newspapers and TV shows) on a daily basis. But on the other hand, some of us choose to
think of it as a barrier to national unity. Sigh.
12 persons have voted this message useful

Senior Member
United States
Joined 5718 days ago

2365 posts - 3804 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Tagalog

 Message 50 of 57
14 July 2011 at 3:44am | IP Logged 
Cool post wyndhamfan
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imaginarylands.wordpRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 4055 days ago

5 posts - 16 votes
Studies: Mandarin, English*, Malay, Hokkien

 Message 51 of 57
15 July 2011 at 2:08am | IP Logged 
Thanks, Leosmith :)
1 person has voted this message useful

United States
Joined 4099 days ago

4 posts - 5 votes

 Message 52 of 57
15 July 2011 at 4:39am | IP Logged 
I was wondering how to say ""Enjoy your vacation"".
My try:
祝你度假度地开心-Can I say it this way???

Thanks in advance! "

1 person has voted this message useful

Trilingual Super Polyglot
Senior Member
Joined 5752 days ago

443 posts - 576 votes 
2 sounds
Speaks: Czech*, Slovak*, Hungarian*, Mandarin, EnglishC2, GermanC2, ItalianC1, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Serbian, French
Studies: Persian, Taiwanese, Romanian, Portuguese

 Message 53 of 57
15 July 2011 at 5:34am | IP Logged 
These two are ok

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United Kingdom
Joined 4128 days ago

11 posts - 7 votes

 Message 54 of 57
26 July 2011 at 7:42am | IP Logged 
Did you know that has interactive software, so you will talk to a human-computer and it will analyze your tones and pronunciation! Do you want to improve your spoken chinese? go to!
2 persons have voted this message useful

Joined 4145 days ago

88 posts - 104 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English
Studies: Portuguese, Swahili

 Message 55 of 57
26 July 2011 at 1:52pm | IP Logged 
Do it helps to speak natively an language with an really easy tone system, as say, Scandinavian languages, some bantu languages, or some Native American languages? From looking at what is said on the net, japanese, as an example, find Chinese grammar to remind them of English, so the simpler structure of the grammar of English must seem to help them somehow to comprehend Chinese, while their native Japanese don't help that much, specially since they do not have tones in their language. Would, say, us scandinavians actually have an slight advantage learning Chinese?
1 person has voted this message useful

SwedenRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 6077 days ago

4250 posts - 5710 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English
Studies: German, Spanish, Russian, Dutch, Mandarin, Esperanto, Irish, French
Personal Language Map

 Message 56 of 57
27 July 2011 at 12:07am | IP Logged 
Who knows, but personally I haven't found any Mandarin tone-combination that doesn't exist in my Gotlandic accent of Swedish (if I count different moods like question intonation, surprise etc.).

This being said, I know countless examples of Swedes who:
1 aren't even aware of our two-tone system
2 constantly fail to copy the Mandarin tones

I think it's like the "musicians are good at languagues" debate. I'm pretty sure that my language ear has something to do with my music ear, but I still know too many musicians with bad pronunciation (and other non-musicians with pretty good pronunciation).

Neither tone-language nor music skill proves anything.

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