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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 12-19-2015, 01:07 AM
 
919 posts, read 603,026 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Yes, the Japanese number and counting system is more complicated than Chinese. It has some irregularities. Point granted. (And Chinese is more complicated than English, because of the counters).
Not only because of some irregularities, but also two different counting systems in Japanese (and Korean) in case you forgot.

Yige(一個) in Chinese

Ikko(一個) and hitotsu(ひとつ) in Japanese

And you forgot On-yomi and Kun-yomi in Japanese.

Check how to read 色紙 and 黒子. They have totally different meanings between On-yomi and Kun-yomi (more precisely Jukuji-kun). You don't have to worry about this kind of things in Chinese.

BTW
a sheet of
a pair of
a bottle of

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
As for reasons Chinese is harder, you've been given many of them: a more difficult phonology; a more difficult orthographic system; tones (I've never heard anyone but you say that you can ignore tones in Chinese and still be readily understood); sentences that lack tenses and other grammatical structures that Western speakers expect.
Do you pronounce grandmother and aunt in Japanese correctly? How about ふ? If so, you are gifted.

And you say a more difficult orthographic system? I've learned some ten languages and found Japanese is the hardest along with Egyptian hieroglyphs, which have On-yomi and Kun-yomi as well.

As for tones, check the video I posted above. The Canadian ignores tones very often.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
The Chinese sentences ("Very good eat") drop the verb and use a telegraphic style. This is not intuitive for us. Without context, they cannot be accurately translated and are kind of baffling, actually. (They are delicious? They were delicious? Which is it?) The Chinese way is not automatically easier, just because it's shorter.
How about this one: This song very good sing? This means: it is very easy to sing this song.

This road very good walk. This means: it is not hard to walk on this road.

And long time no see. This means: it has been a long time since we have met last time.

Is it too hard for you to understand what they mean?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
And, one more question: As a native Japanese speaker, are you in a position to decide that Chinese is easier than Japanese for an English speaker? It seems that that is a question a native English speaker should answer.
Sorry if I upset you, but that's why I wrote in one post: First of all, I am not a westerner.

Language Difficulty Ranking
Category V: 88 weeks (2200 hours)
Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers

Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, *Japanese, Korean

* Languages preceded by asterisks are usually more difficult for native English speakers to learn than other languages in the same category.
See? As you have mastered Japanese, which means you are not an ordinary learner of languages, you should be able to learn Chinese more easily.
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Old 12-19-2015, 09:28 AM
 
6,504 posts, read 4,082,513 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yanagisawa View Post
Not only because of some irregularities, but also two different counting systems in Japanese (and Korean) in case you forgot.
No, I didn't forget. Japanese has native counting words up through 10 (and a few traces of others, as in hatsuka, hatachi). They are not so difficult. They have to be learned, but one does not expect a language to be completely logical and computerlike with no irregularities. The numbers are not difficult enough to say that the whole language is impossibly hard!

Quote:
And you forgot On-yomi and Kun-yomi in Japanese.
No, there is no such thing in Chinese, but in Chinese you have far more characters to memorize in the first place.

Quote:
BTW
a sheet of
a pair of
a bottle of
You're saying we have counters in English too? Yes, a few. We do not use them for most things, however. There is no counter for books or trees or dogs. And by the way, "a bottle of" is not a counter, it's a description. A liquid such as "water" cannot be counted or given to someone unless it is in a container. Do you want a bottle of water, a cup of water, a pitcher of water, or a bucket of water?

Quote:
Do you pronounce grandmother and aunt in Japanese correctly? How about ふ? If so, you are gifted.
LOL, I'm pretty sure I pronounce them correctly. Long vowels and the ふ sound (bilabial fricative) are not difficult. How about you? Do you say "two" correctly? How about "food" and "thing"? Maybe you are gifted too.

Quote:
As for tones, check the video I posted above. The Canadian ignores tones very often.
That, I would not be able to tell, as my ear is not attuned to Chinese. I wouldn't know if someone is using the right tone, the wrong tone, or no tone at all.

Quote:
How about this one: This song very good sing? This means: it is very easy to sing this song.

This road very good walk. This means: it is not hard to walk on this road.

And long time no see. This means: it has been a long time since we have met last time.

Is it too hard for you to understand what they mean?
Of course, I am familiar with "long time no see." The others, I would not completely understand unless they were explained. If someone said to me, "This song very good sing," I wouldn't have any clear idea of what that meant. I could try to guess from the context. It could mean "You sing this song very well" or "I like to sing this song" or "This song sounds good." I probably wouldn't even think of "This song is easy to sing." It is not clear and obvious to a non-Chinese speaker, at all.
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Old 12-19-2015, 12:05 PM
 
6,504 posts, read 4,082,513 times
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Thinking about the writing systems, maybe you can answer a question for me. It's true, it is not easy to read and write Japanese at an educated, native-speaker level. It's also not easy to write English at an educated native level! But in English, one can simply guess at the spelling of an word, and the reader will probably be able to figure it out. In Japanese, it's even easier. If I forget a kanji, I just write the word in hiragana and go on my way. Probably no one will even notice.

But what do you do in Chinese if you are writing and forget or never knew a character? You could look it up in a dictionary, if you have one. I suppose nowadays most people have phones or computers and can look up characters. But otherwise, if you're stuck somewhere without one of those aids? You just can't use that word?
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Old 12-19-2015, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Taipei
6,776 posts, read 5,124,525 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
But what do you do in Chinese if you are writing and forget or never knew a character? You could look it up in a dictionary, if you have one. I suppose nowadays most people have phones or computers and can look up characters. But otherwise, if you're stuck somewhere without one of those aids? You just can't use that word?
You either use the wrong character or you use bopomofo. Idk how it is like in China though.
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Old 12-19-2015, 08:52 PM
 
919 posts, read 603,026 times
Reputation: 369
Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
No, I didn't forget. Japanese has native counting words up through 10 (and a few traces of others, as in hatsuka, hatachi). They are not so difficult. They have to be learned, but one does not expect a language to be completely logical and computerlike with no irregularities. The numbers are not difficult enough to say that the whole language is impossibly hard!
When did I say impossibly hard? I just said Japanese was harder. That's all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
No, there is no such thing in Chinese, but in Chinese you have far more characters to memorize in the first place.
我想知道一个人大概认识多少个汉字? tells us how many characters Mao Zedong used in his writings throughout his entire life. The number is 3,136.

Jōyō kanji contains 2,136 Kanji's.

OK. You have to memorize more characters in Chinese than Japanese. But again, there are Kun-yomi's and On-yomi's, so you have to memorize roughly 2,136 x 2 = 4,272 readings. Besides, you can add Jukujikun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
That, I would not be able to tell, as my ear is not attuned to Chinese. I wouldn't know if someone is using the right tone, the wrong tone, or no tone at all.
Oh, I've just realized that a guy who is not familiar with Chinese has been insisting Chinese is harder than Japanese to learn. Anyway:

Dajia hao. Wo you maikefeng, xiexie. <--- Pinyin
ㄉㄚㄐㄧㄚ ㄏㄠ. ㄨㄛ ㄧㄡ ㄇㄞㄎㄜㄈㄥ, ㄒㄧㄝㄒㄧㄝ. <--- Zhuyin
(quoted from the video I introduced)

Here are no tones at all, but I believe most Chinese people understand what they mean. Greysholic, would you try it, please?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Of course, I am familiar with "long time no see." The others, I would not completely understand unless they were explained. If someone said to me, "This song very good sing," I wouldn't have any clear idea of what that meant. I could try to guess from the context. It could mean "You sing this song very well" or "I like to sing this song" or "This song sounds good." I probably wouldn't even think of "This song is easy to sing." It is not clear and obvious to a non-Chinese speaker, at all.
Well, I don't expect I can understand a foreign language without learning it. Do you?

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Thinking about the writing systems, maybe you can answer a question for me. It's true, it is not easy to read and write Japanese at an educated, native-speaker level. It's also not easy to write English at an educated native level! But in English, one can simply guess at the spelling of an word, and the reader will probably be able to figure it out. In Japanese, it's even easier. If I forget a kanji, I just write the word in hiragana and go on my way. Probably no one will even notice.
Could you READ 黒子 and 色紙 in Japanese? How about 心太? Can you READ it?

Reading Chinese is easier than reading English or Japanese, because there are few irregularities in Chinese characters.

Thinking about the writing systems

Here are four i's, two e's and two s's. The four i's are pronounced same? How about the two e's and s's? No, not same.

BTW, I don't know what you intend to prove here. You can spell anything the way you want in any language.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
But what do you do in Chinese if you are writing and forget or never knew a character? You could look it up in a dictionary, if you have one. I suppose nowadays most people have phones or computers and can look up characters. But otherwise, if you're stuck somewhere without one of those aids? You just can't use that word?
Let me translate the first sentence of this quote into Chinese without Chinese characters and tones.

Keshi, dang ni zhengzai yong Zhongwen xie wenzhang er yishi wangji huo genben mei xueguo mouge hanzi, ni zenme jiejue?

With simplified Chinese: 可是,当你正在用中文写文章而一时忘记或根本没学过某个汉字,你怎么解决?
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Old 12-19-2015, 09:04 PM
 
6,504 posts, read 4,082,513 times
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Quote:

Let me translate the first sentence of this quote into Chinese without Chinese characters and tones.

Keshi, dang ni zhengzai yong Zhongwen xie wenzhang er yishi wangji huo genben mei xueguo mouge hanzi, ni zenme jiejue?

With simplified Chinese: 可是,当你正在用中文写文章而一时忘记或根本没学过某个汉字,你怎么解决?
I was asking what a Chinese person would do if they didn't know/forgot a character when writing. I don't think they would use the Western alphabet.

And no, I have not formally studied spoken Chinese the way I have studied Japanese. I have dabbled in it. Saying to me "listen to this person's accent in Chinese and how they ignore tones" is like asking a Chinese person whose knowledge of English is mostly in the written form to listen to an English video and tell how a speaker's accent deviates from the standard.

That does not mean I know nothing about Chinese.

Quote:
Well, I don't expect I can understand a foreign language without learning it. Do you?
Of course not. I took your question, "Is it too hard for you to understand what they [these Chinese sentences] mean?" as "Isn't it obvious what these sentences mean?" No, I did not find their meaning obvious.

I think perhaps we should agree to disagree here as we are both getting pissy and defensive. Sorry. I know enough about Chinese and enough about Japanese to know that Japanese is easier for me. I can't speak for all Westerners.
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Old 12-19-2015, 09:20 PM
 
919 posts, read 603,026 times
Reputation: 369
Let me tell you something I find interesting.

First of all, we have to learn some Turkish words.

onlar: they
gitmek: to go
-ti: -ed, past tense
-ler: plural

A: Onlar gitti = They went or they left.

So far so good.

How about this one then?

B: Onlar gittiler = They went or they left.

A means they went to one single place and B means some of them went to C and some of them went to D and so on.

Welcome to the world of ambiguity! You have been believing a sentence like that has only one meaning, however, you should be bothered by the ambiguity from now on!

You: Oh, they are not here. Do you know what they are doing now?
E: They went for a lunch...
You: Woah, stop right there. Do you mean they are sharing one big hot dog or each of them has their own hot dogs?


Yes, I'm kidding. Sometimes you don't have to make meanings crystal clear.

Why should you be bothered by tense, plural forms or she/he/it, then?
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Old 12-19-2015, 09:27 PM
 
919 posts, read 603,026 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
I think perhaps we should agree to disagree here as we are both getting pissy and defensive. Sorry. I know enough about Chinese and enough about Japanese to know that Japanese is easier for me. I can't speak for all Westerners.
Which is more reliable, you or the quote below?

Language Difficulty Ranking
Category V: 88 weeks (2200 hours)
Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers

Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, *Japanese, Korean

* Languages preceded by asterisks are usually more difficult for native English speakers to learn than other languages in the same category.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
I was asking what a Chinese person would do if they didn't know/forgot a character when writing. I don't think they would use the Western alphabet.
What you don't think is not a fact though.

Read Pinyin and you'll know what you didn't know.
Pinyin, or Hanyu Pinyin, is the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet in mainland China, Taiwan[1] and Singapore.
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Old 01-03-2016, 04:09 AM
 
11 posts, read 10,399 times
Reputation: 23
This is interesting discussion for me, a native Japanese speaker who studied Korean a bit but knows nothing about Chinese language.

I can't tell which language is more difficult, but reading these posts, it seems like; Japanese is easier to talk, difficult to read. Chinese is easier to read, difficult to talk (in proper pronunciation). For writing, Japanese can be easy by using just Hiragana and Katakana, but native level of writing is difficult in any languages including English.
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Old 01-03-2016, 08:51 PM
 
919 posts, read 603,026 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirmione904 View Post
This is interesting discussion for me, a native Japanese speaker who studied Korean a bit but knows nothing about Chinese language.

I can't tell which language is more difficult, but reading these posts, it seems like; Japanese is easier to talk, difficult to read. Chinese is easier to read, difficult to talk (in proper pronunciation). For writing, Japanese can be easy by using just Hiragana and Katakana, but native level of writing is difficult in any languages including English.
As a native speaker of Japanese like you, I prefer talking, listening, reading and writing in Chinese to Japanese if I had the choice.

Have you learned how to tell your age in Korean? To be honest, I forgot, lol.

We Japanese find it easier to learn the difference between -i/-ga and eun/neun, because they are pretty similar with が and は in Japanese, but most foreigners can't handle those forever.

You don't have to be bothered by those things in Chinese.
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