Airmale From Botswana, joined Sep 2004, 372 posts, RR: 2 Posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 760 times:
I just discovered Chonqing is pronounced 'Chongching', if the letter 'Q' has the 'ch' sound in Chinese, than sgould'nt the city's name have been spelt 'Qongqing'? or did the English screw up, because the Chinese dont use English alphabets.
Thai747 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 1999, 814 posts, RR: 15 Reply 1, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 734 times:
In my experience of learning Mandarin Chinese, English spelling of chinese words are allocated through the use of 'pinyin' characters and also helping in the pronounciation - 'ch' 'sh' 'q' and 'zh' are pronounced very similarly - yet they're different. I've been learning the language for about a year and haven't managed to grasp the whole concept entirely yet. I guess that's why they say Chinese is the most difficult language to learn.
Shawn Patrick From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 2590 posts, RR: 18 Reply 5, posted (10 years 5 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 702 times:
Mandarin is one of the toughest languages to learn because when you speak it, you use both sides of your brain. The right (?) side is the one that interprets musical melodies and differentiates pitches, and in Mandarin, syllables can be pronounced with four different pitch inflections, all meaning different things. That's how the right brain gets involved, in addition to the left. English uses only the left brain.
Bobrayner From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2003, 2227 posts, RR: 7 Reply 7, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 678 times:
Depends which is your first language, of course...
But other than that, English is generally easier. It certainly has some difficult bits - erratic pronunciation and a very complex vocabulary (these make it harder to learn than other western European languages) - but it's much easier to learn the "basics" than any given dialect of Chinese.
If you look each different aspect of a language, you'll always be able to find a language more "difficult" than English.
Thai747 From United Kingdom, joined Jun 1999, 814 posts, RR: 15 Reply 8, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 674 times:
My first language is Thai - and it is very similar to Chinese in terms of the pronounciation and the usage of tones. Also, as it is with Chinese - no grammar and tenses. Hence, when learning English, to me, grammar and tenses are probably the most difficult aspects of the language - and I would imagine the same for those whose first language is Chinese.
Qb001 From Canada, joined Apr 2000, 2053 posts, RR: 4 Reply 9, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 675 times:
Chinese is part of the "tonal" group of languages. That is, as you wrote, words are pronouced with different pitches (tones) and that changes their entire meaning. But its grammar and syntax are rather simple: no gender, no tense, no singular or plural form. For instance, in English you'd say something like: "My mother, she was wearing very nice shoes last night". In Mandarin, it will translate roughly as: "My mother wear very nice shoe last night".
Korean is an agglutinative language (like Japanese and North American native languages), with a very sophisticated syntax. It's really really tough to learn for someone whose mother tongue is Indo-European.
English is not that tough if your mother tongue is part of the Indo-European group of languages. What sets English apart is its lack of consistency. That being a "testimony" to all the influences it experienced. An example of its lack of consistency can be illustrated like this.
What do you call one of these little white pieces of bones that we have in our mouths? Tooth. Right there, this word is a bit awkward, in the sense that its plural form is expressed in the middle of the word: tooth - teeth. This is not unique to English, but it's very rare. Also, the inconsistency of English comes largely from the fact that it does not use the notion of roots to create new words. To keep using the word "tooth" as an example, how do you call the professional in charge of taking care of your teeth? A dentist. Tell me, what is the relationship between the word "tooth" and the word "dentist"? None. In French (my mother tongue), for instance, the word "tooth" is "dent" and you see a "dentiste". See, "dent" -> "dentiste". That's only one example, but there are many others.
On the other hand, English is a synthetic language, which makes it very convenient to create new words. For instance, the rather complicated French word "analgésique" becomes, in English, "pain killer". See, this pill kills the pain, therefore it's a "pain killer". This characteristic explains why English makes good rock'n roll songs and good stand-up comic lines. On the other hand, it's not very descriptive and could, in some occasion, create ambiguity, especially when translating to other languages. For example, the very well known slogan "Don't drink and drive" is acceptable in English, but it becomes unacceptable in French, which requires much more explanation. That's why French is so appreciated by novelists and poets: its "power of evocation" is remarkable.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.
D-AIGW From Hong Kong, joined Jul 2001, 261 posts, RR: 1 Reply 10, posted (10 years 5 months 1 week 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 644 times:
To answer Airmale's question, the Chinese CH is like CH and R pronounced simultaneously in English. On the other hand, Q is like T and S pronounced simultaneously. For CH, you get a rounder mouth and more space within; for Q, you have your mouth shaped similar to when you pronounce "E", and less space within.
It may sound difficult, but once you get it you'll figure out the difference right away.