U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 02-24-2014, 07:53 AM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,268,124 times
Reputation: 7586

Advertisements

The advantage of Chinese is that by knowing 3000 basic characters, they are able to make combination of them and create 30,000 of words with all the different meanings, without the need to learn a single new characters.

For example, a glass, a mug and a cup are three completely different words with nothing in comment in terms of roots whatsoever, but in Chinese, they are related and share one single root - you would know they are different liquid contains even though you are not sure of its specific use. In English, if you know cup, and see the word "mug", well, you are just stuck and have no way to guess that a "mug" might be.

A chimpanzee and a gorrila don't share anything in common, you either know it or not, but in Chinese, as long as you know the key character, you will know they are large primates.

This is why Chinese is a much more efficient language. A person only needs to know 4000 characters in order to read fluently, while in English, the number is more like 20,000 (average for native speakers).

Not to say in expressing the same content, Chinese is almost always the shortest version because each character contains a lot more information than an English letter.

Also linguistic study shows that in expressing the same idea orally, Mandarin speakers pronounce the least number of syllables while Japanese, Italian and Spanish speakers the most, assuming it takes the same amount of time, because the information one single syllable in mandarin is equivelant to 3 or 4 syllable in those languages. This is why you find the Japanese, Italian and Spanish speakers speaker really rapidly, while Mandarin speakers can take their time.

on the flip side, all these advantage of Chinese come at one cost - it is incredible difficult to master compared with more phonetic languages such as Spanish and Italian.

Japanese is both hard to learn AND not very efficient.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 02-24-2014, 09:14 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,252,153 times
Reputation: 2833
^ Interesting. Yes it's a bit like Latin, very logical/scientific with a lot of roots. That's probably partly why science retains Latin names to describe species.

Yet it seems they also speak fast in Mandarin.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 09:38 AM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,268,124 times
Reputation: 7586
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
^

Yet it seems they also speak fast in Mandarin.
We all feel foreigner languages are fast!
But when you actually measure the speed (linguists did), mandarin speakers utter the least number of syllables every second among many languages because it is a denser language (which means each syllable carry more information).

(syllables per second)
Mandarin: 5.18
English: 6.19
Spanish: 7.82
Japanese: 7.84

Why Some Languages Sound So Much Faster than Others - TIME

"For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable was, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and thus the slower the speech. English, with a high information density of .91, was spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, ripped along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edged past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information."
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 10:35 AM
 
Location: British Hong Kong
64 posts, read 58,699 times
Reputation: 42
I'd like to ask a question to you people, what language do you use to learn Asian languages? English, your native language (if not English) or other Asian language you already learnt?

I have just begin learning Spanish, the mediate between me and my tutor from Madrid is, obviously English since he couldn't speak Cantonese at all (I never met any westerners other than Native English Speaker that know Cantonese) . Despite it not being my mother language (second language, though), I found it easier to learn Spanish with English due to their similarity (although not as close as other Romance languages).

What's your story in learning Asian languages then? This one may be a bit tricky, since I guess most Asian languages are quite different to each other if compared to Western Europeans' one.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 03:34 PM
 
201 posts, read 265,160 times
Reputation: 69
With Mandarin, learning characters was manageable with pinyin, so anyone with knowledge of the Latin alphabet could use this useful aid in learning Hanzi.

With Japanese, romaji was useful too, but it was more trickier because it seems that vowels are often pronounced as their own respective syllable.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 03:46 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
78,792 posts, read 70,607,687 times
Reputation: 76771
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
I wonder if that's a good argument for China to switch over the romanisation/pinyin.
That debate has been going on a long time. I can see the advantage of using characters; you avoid all the problems of homonyms that you would run into using pin-yin. But for Westerners, it's a cumbersome way of writing, unless you live there, or have occasion to use it regularly.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 05:01 PM
 
10,847 posts, read 11,268,124 times
Reputation: 7586
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
That debate has been going on a long time. I can see the advantage of using characters; you avoid all the problems of homonyms that you would run into using pin-yin. But for Westerners, it's a cumbersome way of writing, unless you live there, or have occasion to use it regularly.
won't happen.

1) Abandoning the Chinese character is equivalent to abandoning the core Chinese culture. Pinyin has no meaning, no history and no value. It is just meaningless Latin letters. The Chinese characters are what the Chinese should be extremely proud of. If one can't master it, well, too bad you are stuck with letters.

2) Pinyin doesn't represent the pronunciation of Chinese characters at all. If you pronounce Chinese words strictly based on Pinyin letters, you will be wrong 30% of the time. For example, "a" will be pronounced differently in different context (depending on the consonants before and after it). If you pronounce them the same, it will sound very weird and people might get confused.

Plus there are four tones that will need to be memorized.

3) Most adult Chinese will have tremendous trouble reading anything if it is written in alphabets. The transition will be impossible.

4) Despite its difficulty, being able to write Chinese characters is becoming less and less important. People don't write any more. They type and most adults who use computers and smartphones lost at least 20% of their ability to write correct Chinese characters simply because ... they hardly write them now.

5) Be difficult is not a good reason for not learning. If westerners are not motivated enough to learn, that only means China is not strong and influential enough. How many westerners actually put as much effort in learning Chinese as a Chinese student learns English? You can always be good at a language if you put enough time into it.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 05:07 PM
 
1,099 posts, read 1,670,472 times
Reputation: 971
Quote:
Originally Posted by wowu5 View Post
I'd like to ask a question to you people, what language do you use to learn Asian languages? English, your native language (if not English) or other Asian language you already learnt?

I have just begin learning Spanish, the mediate between me and my tutor from Madrid is, obviously English since he couldn't speak Cantonese at all (I never met any westerners other than Native English Speaker that know Cantonese) . Despite it not being my mother language (second language, though), I found it easier to learn Spanish with English due to their similarity (although not as close as other Romance languages).

What's your story in learning Asian languages then? This one may be a bit tricky, since I guess most Asian languages are quite different to each other if compared to Western Europeans' one.
That depends on where you learned it and which other language you have in common with the instructor. English is a very likely common language between instructor and student. Also English to another foreign language has probably the most published materials available. Of course, there are people who learn Japanese using Chinese or even Portuguese because there is sufficient interest among Brazilians to support those classes. Another common one is to just use immersion, no 2nd language used for support. For a lot of people who started learning a language before college or high school, that is often the most common method.

I wouldn't recommend Cantonese being used to teach Spanish, if you can use English. It's of course a better language to use if you are learning Mandarin, as there will be no need to discuss anything that Mandarin and Cantonese have in common (which is a LOT). I know Chinese, but I haven't used it to learn any other language, so there are many Chinese linguistic terms that I do not know because those linguistic features do not exist in the Chinese language. For example, I do not know how to say "conjugation", "past perfect tense", etc. in Chinese.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 06:54 PM
 
268 posts, read 324,847 times
Reputation: 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
That debate has been going on a long time. I can see the advantage of using characters; you avoid all the problems of homonyms that you would run into using pin-yin. But for Westerners, it's a cumbersome way of writing, unless you live there, or have occasion to use it regularly.
If you're trying to write by hand, then characters are annoying. Fortunately, there isn't really a need to write by hand unless you are filling out forms at a bank or hospital, in which case people will probably help you. Typing on a keyboard is actually quite simple because all you need to use is pinyin, and be able to recognize the character when it pops up. Input software on computers and phones are actually really efficient when typing in Chinese.

And I'll have to agree that abandoning characters would be like stabbing the culture in the heart. It won't happen. Plus, a lot of things would be impossible to read.

Last edited by guawazi; 02-24-2014 at 07:02 PM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 02-24-2014, 07:12 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,252,153 times
Reputation: 2833
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruth4Truth View Post
That debate has been going on a long time. I can see the advantage of using characters; you avoid all the problems of homonyms that you would run into using pin-yin. But for Westerners, it's a cumbersome way of writing, unless you live there, or have occasion to use it regularly.
Well they would use tone markers like in Vietnamese quoc ngo. I don't think there's been a problem there.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > World Forums > Asia
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top