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View Poll Results: Which of Chinese or Japanese is harder to learn for a Westerner?
Chinese is harder 23 74.19%
Japanese is harder 8 25.81%
Voters: 31. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-15-2016, 08:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
No, English is a stress language, not a tone or pitch language. When I say import (verb) and import (noun) separately, they are distinguished by how heavily I stress one or the other syllable. The tone remains neutral in both. (There is no differentiation between the two uses of "report." They both have stress on the second syllable. Maybe you were thinking of "record"?)
Oh, yes, record

What I've learned is exactly what you wrote, but I still want to be sure about the situation. The tone remains neutral in both, or is ignored by native speakers, just like a phoneme?

My PC has a minor problem on audio output, so I can't check the pronunciations online now.

So let me ask a question. How do you feel if someone pronounces (a) record as re- with stronger stress and lower pitch, and -cord with less stress and higher pitch? Perfectly normal or something odd?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Hence the difficulty English-speakers have, not so much with the concept that a changing tone can change the meaning of a syllable, but with actually hearing and producing these tones. We are not conditioned to hear tones as semantically meaningful.

In Japanese as well, and correct me if I am wrong, pitch or tone does not play a part in differentiating single-syllable words, but only across multiple syllables in certain words, such as the various meanings of "hashi" (橋, 端, 箸).
You are correct. Japanese is not a tone language.

But I've met more than a dozen native English speakers who speak Mandarin quite well and some of them have learned Mandarin for a year or so.

In my experience, those who learn Mandarin in Taiwan are able to speak more fluently than those in China.
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Old 01-15-2016, 08:18 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yueng-ling View Post
Of course all languages have loanwords or idioms. Your point?
I was saying Chinese literature has a very long history so many words accumulated.
English has shorter history in its writings, but it inherits words/phrases/abbreviations from Latin. They are something like old Chinese.

How do you pronounce ETC in English?
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Old 01-15-2016, 08:37 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmopolite View Post
It is indeed well established that Chinese is more difficult to learn than French, but not for everyone. I, for one, can't handle dealing with verb conjugations. French grammar seems too difficult to me.
You said verb conjugations? Yes, that's the tough part for me too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmopolite View Post
As for Chinese, its grammar is somewhat similar to English.
1. Regulative verb complements. English: to burn down, to eat smth up etc. Chinese: 吃掉, 寄到 etc. Not exactly the same thing, but similar. I don't think many languages have anything like that at all.
2. Fixed word order. Moreover, both Chinese and English have Subject Verb Object sentence structure, while for Japanese it's SOV)
3. Neither Chinese nor English have different forms based on gender, or number.
I haven't noticed #1. Yes, they are pretty much the same!

#3 is not correct. English has some different forms based on number. (ex. English has or English have?) So Chinese is easier than English in this regard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmopolite View Post
I think, ultimately it comes down to what you feel more comfortable with: learning more new words or learning a really difficult grammar. I chose the first one.
Besides, it is hard to remember anything without practicing it.

In Chinese, once you learned a new word, you can use it immediately without concerning verb conjugations/tense/plurality etc.

In French/German etc, memorizing a new word doesn't mean you can speak a sentence with it. You have to concord everything. How do I practice it?
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Old 01-15-2016, 08:41 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yanagisawa View Post
English has shorter history in its writings, but it inherits words/phrases/abbreviations from Latin. They are something like old Chinese.

How do you pronounce ETC in English?
So English has a huge vocabulary too. (In fact some people say English has the most words.)
And then what? What are you trying to argue? Make your point clear. Don't just throw in some facts which everyone knows.
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Old 01-15-2016, 08:43 PM
 
919 posts, read 602,586 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
You make it sound so simple! Once you know about 2000 characters, indeed. Let me just say that when I was learning Japanese, I devoted myself to studying kanji. I'm sorry to sound like I am bragging, but I was noted among my teachers and classmates as being exceptionally quick at learning and retaining them. Still, it was three years before I really felt confident about my ability to both read and write the essential kanji, which at that time numbered 1,850 (there are more now). Granted, at that time we did not have computer programs and other learner's aids which are now common--it was just me and my book, pencil, and paper. But if you learned 2000 Chinese characters in the blink of an eye, and used them as a springboard to then more recognize hundreds more characters, more power to you--you were born to read Chinese.
As I wrote somewhere, memorizing 1850 Kanji is much harder than 2000 Chinese characters. Most Chinese people in Japan don't know 1850 Kanji.
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Old 01-15-2016, 09:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yanagisawa View Post
What I've learned is exactly what you wrote, but I still want to be sure about the situation. The tone remains neutral in both, or is ignored by native speakers, just like a phoneme?

My PC has a minor problem on audio output, so I can't check the pronunciations online now.

So let me ask a question. How do you feel if someone pronounces (a) record as re- with stronger stress and lower pitch, and -cord with less stress and higher pitch? Perfectly normal or something odd?
I don't hear any difference in tone or pitch, just in stress. But it would be interesting for someone with a different language background to listen to a native English speaker saying those words and give an opinion.

With your second question, my instinct is to say this word would sound odd. Especially since if anything, the syllable with the stronger stress would be a higher pitch, not lower.
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Old 01-16-2016, 03:10 AM
 
919 posts, read 602,586 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yueng-ling View Post
So English has a huge vocabulary too. (In fact some people say English has the most words.)
And then what? What are you trying to argue? Make your point clear. Don't just throw in some facts which everyone knows.
There are many phrases from older Chinese in modern Chinese.

There are many phrases from old (?) Latin in modern English.

I am arguing Chinese is not alone.
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Old 01-16-2016, 03:51 AM
 
919 posts, read 602,586 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
I don't hear any difference in tone or pitch, just in stress. But it would be interesting for someone with a different language background to listen to a native English speaker saying those words and give an opinion.

With your second question, my instinct is to say this word would sound odd. Especially since if anything, the syllable with the stronger stress would be a higher pitch, not lower.
Hmm... I think I am correct as you say it sounds odd. You guys just ignore its pitch as a function of differentiating meaning.

That's why I said it was like a phoneme, which has different pronunciations but the speakers/listeners can't sense or just ignore the differences.

I am 100% sure you know what a phoneme means, but for those who don't know:

/ん/ in Japanese has three pronunciations but most of Japanese can't differentiate them:

ない:annai
がい:anggai
まり:ammari

Most of you should know how to pronounce -n, -ng and -m differently, but many Japanese can't sense the differences, or just ignore the differences. In short, -n, -ng and -m are identical to Japanese.

Many Japanese believe /ん/ represents a single pronunciation, but many foreigners can distinguish its three different pronunciations.

So we can say the difference in -n/-ng/-m is not important at all in Japanese.

But the question is this: Do -n/-ng/-m represent different pronunciations?

Yes, they do.

Now back to the issue I wondered:

The pitch in record(noun) and record(verb) are not important at all in English.

Now the question is: Are their syllables different in pitch?

The answer is yes.

When you pronounce record(noun), you should put more stress on e and give it a higher pitch.


It is easy to record(verb, lol) both record(noun) and record(verb) and compare their frequencies, isn't it?

Not bad as a theme for a report, hehe...
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Old 01-16-2016, 08:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yanagisawa View Post
So we can say the difference in -n/-ng/-m is not important at all in Japanese.

But the question is this: Do -n/-ng/-m represent different pronunciations?

Yes, they do.
This is silly, but I once listened in on an (online) conversation in which two English-speakers were arguing about whether the name of a certain manga was Genma or Gemma (げんま). I finally stepped in and tried to explain that this word could be transliterated either way, and in Japanese it makes no difference, but I don't think they believed me. In fact, one instructed me that "It is Genma, because I've seen it written in hiragana, and the symbol for N was used."

Quote:
The pitch in record(noun) and record(verb) are not important at all in English.

Now the question is: Are their syllables different in pitch?

The answer is yes.

When you pronounce record(noun), you should put more stress on e and give it a higher pitch.


It is easy to record(verb, lol) both record(noun) and record(verb) and compare their frequencies, isn't it?

Not bad as a theme for a report, hehe...
You may be right. It would indeed be interesting to do some research on this.

Incidentally, I recall reading that one reason Chinese people can be so difficult to understand when speaking English, apart from the fact that they tend to omit grammatical markers, is that they have difficulty separating pitch/tone from phonemes. Having learned a word in school, say in a falling tone (as you might recite in a list: Hat. Shirt. Coat. Shoes.), they associate the tone with the word from that point and have great trouble changing it, even when the intonation pattern of an English sentence demands it.

Last edited by saibot; 01-16-2016 at 08:33 AM..
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Old 01-16-2016, 08:35 PM
 
919 posts, read 602,586 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
This is silly, but I once listened in on an (online) conversation in which two English-speakers were arguing about whether the name of a certain manga was Genma or Gemma (げんま). I finally stepped in and tried to explain that this word could be transliterated either way, and in Japanese it makes no difference, but I don't think they believed me. In fact, one instructed me that "It is Genma, because I've seen it written in hiragana, and the symbol for N was used."
Haha... If I were you, I would have asked the guy how to write Gemma in hiragana

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
You may be right. It would indeed be interesting to do some research on this.
Thanks for your agreement

I hope our English textbooks will be rewritten based on your coming research!

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Incidentally, I recall reading that one reason Chinese people can be so difficult to understand when speaking English, apart from the fact that they tend to omit grammatical markers, is that they have difficulty separating pitch/tone from phonemes. Having learned a word in school, say in a falling tone (as you might recite in a list: Hat. Shirt. Coat. Shoes.), they associate the tone with the word from that point and have great trouble changing it, even when the intonation pattern of an English sentence demands it.
That's true.

And many Chinese, especially from Hong Kong, tend to pronounce a word in flat and high tone.

For example, when many Chinese celebrities express 低贱, humble in English, as low. And its tone is exactly same with the first tone in Mandarin or Cantonese.

So the low is not low in pitch at all
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