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Old 07-18-2014, 11:27 AM
 
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Is it true that kids even in China struggle to learn Chinese? I am told it is a very inefficient language. I have had friends who went to chinese language schools for some 8yrs, and still cannot read or write. They may be able to speak some though. They tell me if you are not immersed in it constantly, then you wont learn. So I figure the chinese in China can. Then I hear they too have trouble learning it.
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Old 07-18-2014, 11:42 AM
 
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Just the writing system, the spoken languages in no way deserves to be on those "top ten" hardest language lists. Mandarin is by no means a conservative language nor is it difficult, it is heavily simplified, the phonology is extremely extremely simple outside of 4 puny tones. The thing is that people in the west will be too ignorant to realize that and Mandarin will never be learned outside, with the exception of the USA, Australia, and the UK.
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahhammer View Post
Just the writing system, the spoken languages in no way deserves to be on those "top ten" hardest language lists. Mandarin is by no means a conservative language nor is it difficult, it is heavily simplified, the phonology is extremely extremely simple outside of 4 puny tones. The thing is that people in the west will be too ignorant to realize that and Mandarin will never be learned outside, with the exception of the USA, Australia, and the UK.
I'm taking Chinese classes this fall, and my stepfather is Chinese and I find the spoken language to be easy as well. Sounds in Mandarin are not difficult, it's just getting the tones right. Japanese is also fairly simple as well, but Korean, holy **** probably Asia's hardest language to learn east of India. Like you said, people just need to look past the Chinese characters and realize that 70% of time spent learning Chinese is reading and writing
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Old 07-18-2014, 03:01 PM
 
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There are definitely some inefficiencies that make it annoying speaking with other people sometimes. The sounds aren't too difficult because there aren't that many, but that means a lot of words sound the same, and without context, just confuse people. The discussion of not being able to understand someone, or misinterpreting information said, comes up a lot more among native Chinese speakers than it does English I find. It mostly has to do with dialects/accents being so diverse, though you'll often hear people having to clarify which word they are referring to in mid-sentence. I've never had to to this in English.

Writing is much more difficult than reading. Reading shouldn't be too difficult if you have studied formally for a while, and definitely not an issue for natives. In my opinion, reading makes it a lot easier to improve your spoken Chinese beyond an elementary level.
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Old 07-18-2014, 03:32 PM
 
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Native Chinese acquire the ability to speak and listen first, and then they learn how to read and write in school. The process is very different from that of second language learners so there is no comparison.

However, generally speaking, a 12 year-old Chinese kid can read novels and newspapers. We started to write essays at Grade 3 (9 years old). We do not take Chinese language class in college (except for arts majors).
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Old 07-18-2014, 07:56 PM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
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I wouldnt say they struggle, but my coworkers and friends here all say that there are still characters they don't recognize and the tones still trip them up on occasion after a lifetime of using them.

Take the neighborhood I live in, Liede cun. Some people pronounce it lee-uh-duh soon, some lee-ay-duh soon, others lee'duh soon, and some pronounce "cun" as "tsun" or "xun" (shoon). Most people who pronounce it one way will look at you confused until you get it the way they say it. I thought I was just stupid until I saw the same thing happen with my gf when we cab it back.

The language itself isnt overwhelmingly hard once you understand the sentence structure. The most basic sentence structure is subject/verb/object, like English; "she wants noodles," "I love pizza," "he hates dogs." If you remember that sentence structure and learn the basic nouns and verbs, you can get around and function in China for some time. The tones also arent tough, my main issue is that I have a super deep and naturally quiet voice (I speak in a fairly flat tone in English) so people can't hear them as easily as someone with a higher pitched voice.
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Old 07-18-2014, 09:08 PM
 
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Kids in China have difficulty with dialects, not Standard Mandarin. Schools in China teach in Standard Mandarin(Putonghua) only, teachers talk to students in Putonghua only even if both of them speak the same dialect, All kids read the same Chinese characters, and pronounce them in Putonghua in classes. Since schools do not teach dialects, kids are not as fluent in the dialects as their parents or grandparents were. Particularly in the major cities, kids have less chance to use dialects to communicate with fellow kids as people in major cities come from different regions across China, standard Mandarin is the everyday language in society in the major cities.

Weserners learn Chinese better than the ABCs. The ABCs are smart, but they probably do not want to be fluent in Chinese due to negative view of China in the western world. It will be the people who are familiar with both Eastern and Western cultures(not the ABCs, who are definitely westerners by culture, with little influence from Asia) that are successful with the rise of Asia in addition to the well developed western world.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Brazen_3133 View Post
Is it true that kids even in China struggle to learn Chinese? I am told it is a very inefficient language. I have had friends who went to chinese language schools for some 8yrs, and still cannot read or write. They may be able to speak some though. They tell me if you are not immersed in it constantly, then you wont learn. So I figure the chinese in China can. Then I hear they too have trouble learning it.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:33 PM
 
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There are 4 tones, people say they are so difficult, but why? Mandarin permits no consonant clusters, only allows syllables to end in nasals, only 6 monopthongs, a smaller consonant range than Spanish even, if it weren't for the 4 tones and writing system, people would no longer have as many misconceptions.
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Old 07-18-2014, 10:57 PM
 
Location: Guangzhou, China
9,779 posts, read 13,359,093 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahhammer View Post
There are 4 tones, people say they are so difficult, but why? Mandarin permits no consonant clusters, only allows syllables to end in nasals, only 6 monopthongs, a smaller consonant range than Spanish even, if it weren't for the 4 tones and writing system, people would no longer have as many misconceptions.
Its tough for westerners because while vowels have different tones in, say, English, when you say "bath," whether you form it in your nasal palate or your throat, pronounce it long or short, it still just means "bath."

Now imagine that to communicate that you want a bath, you must say it so the vowel in bath has an upward inflection like you're asking a question. If you say it as a long vowel, it means "calf," with a short vowel it means nothing, and with a flat tone one octave higher than the rest of the word it means "sleepy." You still have to say the "th" and also haven't communicated whether you like baths, don't like them, need one yourself, or think they need one. Every word in the sentence will also have a tone. That's why the tones are considered "tough!"

Contrasted with Japanese, which is fairly atonal, I find Mandarin somewhat tougher because I am not an auditory learner... Japanese us bordering on atonal, so once I learned the written alphabet and could form a word, I was off to the races. Not the case with mandarin...

Last edited by 415_s2k; 07-18-2014 at 11:17 PM..
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Old 07-19-2014, 01:01 AM
 
25,059 posts, read 23,176,735 times
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Originally Posted by 415_s2k View Post
Its tough for westerners because while vowels have different tones in, say, English, when you say "bath," whether you form it in your nasal palate or your throat, pronounce it long or short, it still just means "bath."

Now imagine that to communicate that you want a bath, you must say it so the vowel in bath has an upward inflection like you're asking a question. If you say it as a long vowel, it means "calf," with a short vowel it means nothing, and with a flat tone one octave higher than the rest of the word it means "sleepy." You still have to say the "th" and also haven't communicated whether you like baths, don't like them, need one yourself, or think they need one. Every word in the sentence will also have a tone. That's why the tones are considered "tough!"

Contrasted with Japanese, which is fairly atonal, I find Mandarin somewhat tougher because I am not an auditory learner... Japanese us bordering on atonal, so once I learned the written alphabet and could form a word, I was off to the races. Not the case with mandarin...
Sometimes I try to say words to my PRC and ROC friends here in my city, and even they don't what I mean sometimes when I say the wrong tone. Japanese sounds may be much easier, but they also have a problem with a limited syllable inventory and confuse themselves in conversation sometimes, to the point where they make puns and jokes with their homophones. I just started learning Korean, and so far I have not encountered this problem as Korean such a much broader range of sounds than Japanese or Chinese do
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