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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 01-06-2016, 07:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
The only reason reading hiragana is more difficult than reading English is the Japanese practice of writing without spaces, sothatyouhavetofigureoutwordboundariesasyougo. (Chinese and Korean do the same thing). It's true, it tends to be easier to differentiate words in sentences written in a combination of kanji and kana, especially as a nonnative. Otherwise, hiragana is exceedingly simple to read.

And kana are not just a vehicle to learn Chinese characters. Have you studied Japanese? It is virtually impossible to write Japanese sentences without kana. They are vital for expressing verb and adjective cases and tenses and writing grammatical particles, among other things.
They are just a vehicle. Technically, Japanese doesn't need kana to write grammatical elements and particles. They are constants, and can be written with Chinese characters, exactly like Chinese does. Chinese has particles too, they aren't written in simplified forms. It was just Japan's choice to use hiragana for non-noun suffixes, but they don't really need to.

Yes I'm studying Japanese, my girlfriend helps me out so I'm not in the dark about things. I also learned some basic Chinese from my Chinese stepfather; even though I wasn't interested in either language back then. I could have been fluent in Mandarin but oh well.
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OwlAndSparrow View Post
It could be argued that the longer sentences are actually easier to listen to, since they are less information-dense.
Good point. But

Quote:
Originally Posted by OwlAndSparrow View Post
Vietnamese tones are, from what I've heard, more of an issue than Mandarin tones. I've looked at beginner lessons in Mandarin, and the tones seem really simple compared to those in Vietnamese or something really tough like Cantonese (and Vietnamese tones aren't that bad, either). I see those as roughly on par with having to learn the genders of nouns in most European languages. It's just another thing to learn about each word.
This is where Mandarin shines. The tones of Mandarin are simple.

And because of this, MANY words in Mandarin consist of two or more characters in order to avoid ambiguities. I think this is good news for you?

For example:

cheap, reasonable:

便宜 in Mandarin
平 in Cantonese

Quote:
Originally Posted by OwlAndSparrow View Post
Missing the tone in Vietnamese, though, completely obfuscates the meaning of whatever word you're trying to say.
As I wrote before, that is not the case for Mandarin.

For example:
Monday:

Xing1qi1 Yi1 in Mainland China
Xing1qi2 Yi1 in Taiwan

*the numbers express tones

Quote:
Originally Posted by OwlAndSparrow View Post
I'll often hear sentences in which I known every single word, but I won't be able to parse the sentence at all. This gets even harder if I'm listening to music or reading poetry or something, since in those contexts, words are often omitted because native speakers can quickly eliminate ambiguity omissions cause for learners.
Would you give us some examples? I would like to try some

And it is the hardest part for a foreigner to understand poetry/lyrics, isn't it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by OwlAndSparrow View Post
I also think that a lot of the difficulty that goes along with learning Chinese (and Japanese) comes from the writing system. Aside from that, I can't see any reason why Mandarin would be harder than Vietnamese (of course, that's a really big thing to set aside).
Agreed.
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:20 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greysholic View Post
This sentence is so weird.
Because you don't know enough Mandarin used in Mainland China

How about replacing 情願 with 寧願?
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Old 01-06-2016, 08:27 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Sometimes there is no longer much similarity:

み(mi) from 美 .
To my eyes, み is pretty similar with:



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Old 01-06-2016, 08:34 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theunbrainwashed View Post
They are just a vehicle. Technically, Japanese doesn't need kana to write grammatical elements and particles. They are constants, and can be written with Chinese characters, exactly like Chinese does. Chinese has particles too, they aren't written in simplified forms. It was just Japan's choice to use hiragana for non-noun suffixes, but they don't really need to.
How would you write the sentence below without hiragana?

今日は良い天気ですね。
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Old 01-06-2016, 09:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yanagisawa View Post
How would you write the sentence below without hiragana?

今日は良い天気ですね。
今日是好天気了

Damn, can't do it. That's the best I can come up with Pretty much seems like you can use kanji for particles, but not sentence enders and adjectives in the same way Chinese does (which I tried to draw inspiration from)
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Old 01-07-2016, 08:11 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theunbrainwashed View Post
今日是好天気了

Damn, can't do it. That's the best I can come up with Pretty much seems like you can use kanji for particles, but not sentence enders and adjectives in the same way Chinese does (which I tried to draw inspiration from)
Yes, the Japanese realized very early on that while the Chinese character system works very well for a analytic language (in which each word, particle, etc. has a fixed, unchanging form), it is not well suited for a language like theirs which inflects for tense and mood. Hence the early invention of kana to express the aspects of Japanese that just don't exist in Chinese.
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Old 01-07-2016, 09:17 AM
 
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Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Yes, the Japanese realized very early on that while the Chinese character system works very well for a analytic language (in which each word, particle, etc. has a fixed, unchanging form), it is not well suited for a language like theirs which inflects for tense and mood. Hence the early invention of kana to express the aspects of Japanese that just don't exist in Chinese.
Pretty much how the Latin alphabet has accent marks in my language, but not English.
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Old 01-07-2016, 09:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theunbrainwashed View Post
Pretty much how the Latin alphabet has accent marks in my language, but not English.
The Latin alphabet doesn't suit English well either, for that matter.
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Old 01-07-2016, 07:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
Yes, the Japanese realized very early on that while the Chinese character system works very well for a analytic language (in which each word, particle, etc. has a fixed, unchanging form), it is not well suited for a language like theirs which inflects for tense and mood. Hence the early invention of kana to express the aspects of Japanese that just don't exist in Chinese.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by saibot View Post
The Latin alphabet doesn't suit English well either, for that matter.
Well said
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