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Old 02-26-2014, 02:44 PM
 
6,726 posts, read 6,615,943 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil P View Post
I heard that Mandarin is a bad language for law and philosophy since it's very connotation heavy and denotations are fuzzy. Is that true?
Not true. All laws in mainland China and Taiwan are written in Chinese and there is nothing ambiguous from the language per se.

However I do feel it is hard to use a lot of attributive clauses in Chinese in some contexts, and you need to break it in pieces or switch orders. In English it is easier to use those clauses.

e.g. In English it is very natural to say: This is the person I gave my book to.
In Chinese, you can also construct a sentence that way, but it is unnatural. Most likely people will translate it as "This is the person. I gave my book to him." or "[the one who] I gave my book to is this person".
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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Is there any advice for someone who has struggled to learn an Asian language for a long time? I've been studying Japanese for years, and it just feels like climbing an endless mountain, although I'm well beyond the point where I started. I still can't speak well, and when I try to listen to speech, there are still tons of words that I don't understand. What I do understand, I can't output to speaking. What helped you get over the hump, and begin reaching a comfort level with reading, speaking, listening?

Also, because I know a lot of kanji, I'm starting to understand Chinese text, without knowing a dialect. But I don't really have a reason to learn Chinese. It's just something that I think I could accomplish.


Has Asian languages helped your professional career? I've lived in Japan for a long time, but I'm returning to the US, so I don't have a goal anymore (function as an adult in a foreign language environment). It feels like I spent all this time failing to learn a skill that nobody cares about.
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Old 06-26-2014, 11:53 AM
 
Location: Taipei
6,776 posts, read 5,132,830 times
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I don't think you could just manage Chinese by knowing the Japanese kanji,they might look alike but the meanings of the same words could be very different.And the grammars are different as well.

What about watching Japanese shows or animations?I know a lot of Taiwanese that manage Japanese by those.Wait you live in Japan...Don't you have to communicate with Japanese everyday?
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:22 PM
 
5,096 posts, read 8,075,591 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nc17 View Post
Is there any advice for someone who has struggled to learn an Asian language for a long time? I've been studying Japanese for years, and it just feels like climbing an endless mountain, although I'm well beyond the point where I started. I still can't speak well, and when I try to listen to speech, there are still tons of words that I don't understand. What I do understand, I can't output to speaking. What helped you get over the hump, and begin reaching a comfort level with reading, speaking, listening?

Also, because I know a lot of kanji, I'm starting to understand Chinese text, without knowing a dialect. But I don't really have a reason to learn Chinese. It's just something that I think I could accomplish.


Has Asian languages helped your professional career? I've lived in Japan for a long time, but I'm returning to the US, so I don't have a goal anymore (function as an adult in a foreign language environment). It feels like I spent all this time failing to learn a skill that nobody cares about.
My language skill is with the Thai language, primarily Central Thai. It has been somewhat useful in a professional sense, but only as it pertains to being in Thailand. In addition, knowing the language (I'm no expert with it though) is that it has helped out in many other personal situations, especially in areas where few foreigners are found and English is almost never used by anyone. Apart from that, even where I live in the US, I'm surrounded by enough Thais that I can continue practicing. If it were not for that, I think it would be pretty easy to forget a lot. I think with most foreign languages that are learned, the more you use is the more engrained and easier it becomes. When I'm in Thailand, I almost never see anyone who speaks English, and those who do, are only at very simple levels, such as "Hello", "What is your name", "Where do you come from". That's about it. Sometimes we go into Bangkok where English can be found more easily, but I still find that speaking to Thais in their own language is beneficial in a number of ways. For one thing, it's often appreciated when I'm speaking to them in their own language. That has opened a few doors for me that might not have otherwise been available to me.

If you need help with a foreign language that interests you, and you need to practice your own skills with it, try a nearby university that has an ESL program and needs volunteers for the students to practice their skills. Very often, the students will be more than happy to exchange time with you for you to practice. I would recommend you make it clear about your preference of students, those that speak the language you're interested in so they'll match you up with the appropriate students. Such volunteer programs are usually in meeting with one or more students (it's up to you) after class and usually just involves talking, although you might want to take them around to different spots in the area, such as local stores, etc., where they can practice their skills and have you available if the communication becomes difficult. You might also consider that different students have different skill levels. If you're not comfortable conversing with someone at a beginner level, ask for someone with an intermediate skill level.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:25 PM
 
1,577 posts, read 827,405 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
I don't think you could just manage Chinese by knowing the Japanese kanji,they might look alike but the meanings of the same words could be very different.And the grammars are different as well.

What about watching Japanese shows or animations?I know a lot of Taiwanese that manage Japanese by those.Wait you live in Japan...Don't you have to communicate with Japanese everyday?
By memorizing kanji, I've trained myself to look at Chinese characters. The characters don't look like an impossibly dense combination of lines anymore. If I start studying written Chinese, it won't be too hard for me to pick up, compared to someone not familiar with the writing system. Even so, there are hanzi that are used the same way in kanji.

As for practice with other people... it's a really long story. I mentioned it when I first registered on this forum. But it's not exactly related to my question, about where to go with this skill that I think I've made some progress with.


I was never into anime, but I've been ripping anime shows (well, just Ghost in the Shell) to audio, and listening while reading Japanese transcripts of each episode. That has helped my listening and reading, but I still have a way to go to reach my speaking goals.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:38 PM
 
Location: State of Transition
78,918 posts, read 70,720,442 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nc17 View Post
Is there any advice for someone who has struggled to learn an Asian language for a long time? I've been studying Japanese for years, and it just feels like climbing an endless mountain, although I'm well beyond the point where I started. I still can't speak well, and when I try to listen to speech, there are still tons of words that I don't understand. What I do understand, I can't output to speaking. What helped you get over the hump, and begin reaching a comfort level with reading, speaking, listening?

Also, because I know a lot of kanji, I'm starting to understand Chinese text, without knowing a dialect. But I don't really have a reason to learn Chinese. It's just something that I think I could accomplish.


Has Asian languages helped your professional career? I've lived in Japan for a long time, but I'm returning to the US, so I don't have a goal anymore (function as an adult in a foreign language environment). It feels like I spent all this time failing to learn a skill that nobody cares about.
Usually, living in the country gets me over the hump re: comfort and fluency. Reading is a different matter. Reading materials for the elementary levels of language classes in university are all in conversational language, whereas when you're living abroad, if you read much, it's newspapers or books with more technical language. Journalistic language is its own field, full of idiomatic phrases, current news buzz-words, and other vocab that's way outside of basic daily conversation. Some schools organize a course specifically around reading newspapers.

You never stop learning a language. There are always more and varied specialized vocabularies to learn: medical vocab, science, political/diplomatic, slang, computer/tech, the list is endless. At some point, though, you should reach a level of competency with basic daily conversation that gives you confidence to keep building and learning. If this hasn't happened for you, I'd question the learning methods you're using. Have you taken structured classes, or just tried to learn on your own?

One thing I found overwhelming re: East Asian languages is the characters. Since it's not a finite system, like an alphabet, the task of learning to read is endless. And it's hard to retain those in the memory unless you practice daily or weekly, either via books or by living in the culture.
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Old 06-26-2014, 12:53 PM
 
Location: Taipei
6,776 posts, read 5,132,830 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nc17 View Post
By memorizing kanji, I've trained myself to look at Chinese characters. The characters don't look like an impossibly dense combination of lines anymore. If I start studying written Chinese, it won't be too hard for me to pick up, compared to someone not familiar with the writing system. Even so, there are hanzi that are used the same way in kanji.

As for practice with other people... it's a really long story. I mentioned it when I first registered on this forum. But it's not exactly related to my question, about where to go with this skill that I think I've made some progress with.


I was never into anime, but I've been ripping anime shows (well, just Ghost in the Shell) to audio, and listening while reading Japanese transcripts of each episode. That has helped my listening and reading, but I still have a way to go to reach my speaking goals.
Yeah I got your point then.But I don't see the need of you learning Chinese if you're not gonna do any related work.Chinese is just as hard as Japanese,or even harder,to learn,from foreigners' perspective.I've talked to this American guy who speaks German,Spanish,moderate amount of French,Arabic,and Japanese,he married a Taiwanese girl then has been living here ever since,and he said that Chinese is by far the hardest language he's ever learned.

As for practice with other Japanese...um could it be your personality?Too shy?I have that kind of problems from time to time,thinking other people might hate me and stuffs.Japanese are known to be quite homogeneous but the scenarios you mentioned in that "leaving Japan for good" thread sound more than homogeneous,that's just hostile tbqh...Kind of hard to imagine to me.Do you have any Japanese friend??I can't imagine living in a country for more than a decade without having any friend there.

What about playing some Japanese video games?Are you into video games?I've heard many Taiwanese people managing Japanese by those.You'd be forced to read and listen to Japanese if you want to reach higher levels I gather.
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Old 06-26-2014, 01:04 PM
 
1,577 posts, read 827,405 times
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I took a college course of 5 Japanese classes, back in 2003. I'm not sure how useful it was. I felt that learning Japanese conjugation was the most beneficial part of the course. The classes didn't teach kanji, and the teachers put a lot of effort in making the subject seem incredibly vague.

At some point, I realized that I didn't know much. Through self-study, I've made more progress in the past 5 years than in the previous 5. Reading Japanese text is my strongest skill so far. It feels like I just had poor resources, until 5 years ago.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
Yeah I got your point then.But I don't see the need of you learning Chinese if you're not gonna do any related work.Chinese is just as hard as Japanese,or even harder,to learn,from foreigners' perspective.I've talked to this American guy who speaks German,Spanish,moderate amount of French,Arabic,and Japanese,he married a Taiwanese girl then has been living here ever since,and he said that Chinese is by far the hardest language he's ever learned.

As for practice with other Japanese...um could it be your personality?Too shy?I have that kind of problems from time to time,thinking other people might hate me and stuffs.Japanese are known to be quite homogeneous but the scenarios you mentioned in that "leaving Japan for good" thread sound more than homogeneous,that's just hostile tbqh...Kind of hard to imagine to me.Do you have any Japanese friend??I can't imagine living in a country for more than a decade without having any friend there.

What about playing some Japanese video games?Are you into video games?I've heard many Taiwanese people managing Japanese by those.You'd be forced to read and listen to Japanese if you want to reach higher levels I gather.
I had lots of friends, and I really enjoyed being in Japan, during my first 4 years. Everything turned negative (just tons of bad luck, not necessarily related to Japan) during the past 7 years. I tried to get married, but things turned sour, and she doesn't talk to me anymore. There's one Japanese person who I'd consider a friend, but she lives very far away from me. I've been really busy and haven't talked to her recently, but I'll send her a message before I leave.

I liked video games when I was younger, but video games are incredibly different now, especially Japanese games. I own a PS Vita, but I don't play it much. I'd be interested in a 3DS, but I don't like home consoles.

Makes it sound like I don't like Japan at all, doesn't it? I liked going to different restaurants, izakaya bars, karaoke, trade shows, basketball and baseball games, sightseeing, and taking in the scenery and architecture. I just like the country.

Last edited by nc17; 06-26-2014 at 01:39 PM..
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Old 06-26-2014, 01:13 PM
 
Location: Taipei
6,776 posts, read 5,132,830 times
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Actually I think the thing you need the most now is a group of Japanese friends...they could solve pretty much all of your problems,including your language mastering.
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Old 06-26-2014, 07:04 PM
 
1,577 posts, read 827,405 times
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Well, I'll have to find those friends in the US or online, because I don't think I'm returning to this country in the foreseeable future. And that wouldn't be a big deal, if I didn't spend so much time trying to learn a language that I may not get much use from.
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