AM744
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Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:22 am

Considering the increasing weight of China it would sound as a pretty good idea if you had the time for learning it. Now. How difficult can it be? I'm under the impression that it is a somewhat complex language, maybe because it is so ancient. Considering most of us have to study for professional certifications, new technologies, etc... on a regular basis. Would you still take the time to learn it instead of getting training on some other areas needed for you job? Can we expect English to keep being the only lingua franca in the foreseeable future (say 20 years) ? Are you aware of some serious certifications like the University of Cambridge FCE, CAE and CPE or the French DELF and DALF? How much would it take to be fluent? Is being fluent a reasonable expectation?
 
acidradio
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:26 am

What are the other areas of training for your job that you are thinking about? If you take Mandarin and pass it, you will likely be one of the few people in your workplace to know it, which gives you an advantage in today's market.
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LH648
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:34 am

Fully agree. But, unfortunatelly, I am too lazy to do it...

ohynhao...
 
OHLHD
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:41 am

Quoting LH648 (Reply 2):
Fully agree. But, unfortunatelly, I am too lazy to do it...

Same here. I try to learn Brazilian for some time now and put the book away to often.  Smile
 
Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:44 am

Quoting AM744 (Thread starter):
How difficult can it be?

Actually, not quite as difficult as it seems.

Grammatically, Mandarin is an exceptionally simple language. It dispenses with most of the fluff other languages have and is very informal, direct and concise.

The pronunciation and the writing system are the real hurdles.

Chinese is phonotactically very limited - i. e., it has a very narrow range of sounds while needing to express as much nuance as other languages. The effect is a staggering amount of homonyms - words pronounced identically but written differently and meaning different things. Like "there", "their" and "they're" in English. There are furthermore plenty of near homonyms that a Western ear doesn't distinguish at first. If your hearing/musical abilities aren't too good, you'll struggle to hear the difference between mei (buy) and mei (sell), pronounced identically but with a different intonation. This problem alone makes Mandarin all but impossible to learn on one's own, without exposure to native speakers.

The writing system is a fascinating thing to learn. Yes, there are tens of thousands of characters - no one knows how many exactly - but they're all built using a fixed set of only around 500, mostly very simple, radicals. Knowing what a radical means, you can work out the word's meaning even if you've never seen it and don't know how it's pronounced.

Go for Mandarin, the language of the next superpower.
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Superfly
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:50 am

I'd certainly would like to learn it but damn I am having a hard time learning Thai.
Most of the Chinese here speak Cantonese and already know how to speak English.

Quoting Acidradio (Reply 1):
If you take Mandarin and pass it, you will likely be one of the few people in your workplace to know it, which gives you an advantage in today's market.

 checkmark 

Quoting OHLHD (Reply 3):
I try to learn Brazilian for some time now and put the book away to often.

Never heard of that language.  confused 
Portuguese is the spoken language in Brasil.  Smile
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AM744
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:52 am

Quoting Acidradio (Reply 1):
What are the other areas of training for your job that you are thinking about?

Mainly programming languages or technologies like SAP. And quality like Six Sigma and CMM, which can take time and money. You can't learn everything so that's why I'm trying to assess how much time and money it would take and if the potential investment would be worth it, given the apparent complexity.
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:20 am

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Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:22 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 5):
I'd certainly would like to learn it but damn I am having a hard time learning Thai.

How much Thai do you need to Bang Sue?  duck 
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kalakaua
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:25 am

I've been taking Mandarin for a couple of years now. I enjoy it very much.
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Superfly
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:25 am

Quoting Toast (Reply 8):
How much Thai do you need to Bang Sue?

I need to be able to better communicate with my Therapist.  Wink
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AsstChiefMark
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 3:54 am

Would you rather try My Thai or Thai One On?
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LHboyatDTW
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:07 am

Quoting Toast (Reply 4):
The effect is a staggering amount of homonyms - words pronounced identically but written differently and meaning different things. Like "there", "their" and "they're" in English. There are furthermore plenty of near homonyms that a Western ear doesn't distinguish at first. If your hearing/musical abilities aren't too good, you'll struggle to hear the difference between mei (buy) and mei (sell), pronounced identically but with a different intonation. This problem alone makes Mandarin all but impossible to learn on one's own, without exposure to native speakers.

I read somewhere that there was much debate about romanizing Mandarin Chinese (simply making it use our alphabet), yet never panned out because of identical words but change meaning depending on the tone of voice you say it. Either way, I would not be able to grasp that concept no matter how hard I studied.

No wonder I chose Japanese instead.  Silly
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AM744
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:11 am

Quoting Kalakaua (Reply 9):
I've been taking Mandarin for a couple of years now.

That's great. After two years what would you say your skills are? Regarding reading, writing, speaking. How much training would it take to hold a business conversation? Schools and training material are excellent and well structured for English and I guess that's the case with French. Is that so with Mandarin? Or are you more dependent on your teacher and his/her own methods?
 
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LTU932
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:19 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 5):
Portuguese is the spoken language in Brasil.

It's a slightly different Portuguese that is spoken in Brazil. There are a few differences between the Portuguese Brazilians and Portuguese speak.

The differences, from what I heard, are more significant compared to the differences between the Spanish spoken in Latin America and the Spanish spoken in Spain. Basically, between Spain and Latin America, they both speak the very same Castillian, while in comparison, between Brazil and Portugal (I guess this applies also to countries like Angola), they both speak a much more different Portuguese.
 
Superfly
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:27 am

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 14):
It's a slightly different Portuguese that is spoken in Brazil. There are a few differences between the Portuguese Brazilians and Portuguese speak.

The differences, from what I heard, are more significant compared to the differences between the Spanish spoken in Latin America and the Spanish spoken in Spain. Basically, between Spain and Latin America, they both speak the very same Castillian, while in comparison, between Brazil and Portugal (I guess this applies also to countries like Angola), they both speak a much more different Portuguese.

That is the case with all the languages spoken in the Americas. There is no such thing as a language called 'United States' or 'Canadian'. The language is 'English' and 'French' for those in Quebec. It is slightly different than English spoken in England and the French spoken in France.
Any way you slice it, Portuguese is the language in Brasil, not 'Brasilian'.
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LTU932
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:31 am

Quoting Superfly (Reply 15):
Any way you slice it, Portuguese is the language in Brasil, not 'Brasilian'

And I never disputed that.  Wink

I apologise for nitpicking though.
 
Superfly
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 5:38 am

Quoting LTU932 (Reply 16):
I apologise for nitpicking though.

No need to apologise.  Smile


AM744:
Best of luck in learning Mandarin.
Seeing that you live in Mexico, obviously you speak Spanish and you already Speak English. Now if you learn Mandarin, you'd be able to flirt and hook up with over 75% of the hottest babes in the world.  yes   Cool
Being a highly skilled software engineer also helps.
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FlyboyOz
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 10:30 am

Oh I was wondering why you are so excited to learn to speak mandarin?
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AsstChiefMark
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:08 am

I wonder what Manderin sounds like spoken with a Mexican accent.

I've heard Korean spoken by a man born and raised in Alabama. It was quite unique.
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Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:28 am

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 19):
I wonder what Manderin sounds like spoken with a Mexican accent.

I've heard Korean spoken by a man born and raised in Alabama. It was quite unique.

I'm often told I speak French with a British accent. I don't know where that comes from because I'm not British, but the chicks love it for some reason Big grin

I like this video of Tony Blair congratulating the French in French for choosing Sarkozy. It's extremely rare to hear a world leader speaking a foreign language, and Blair's French is almost flawless but heavily accented. Women I've spoken to say it's cute. Take note, guys: Belgian women dig an English accent!  Smile

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SBBRTech
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 11:36 am

Quoting Toast (Reply 4):
Yes, there are tens of thousands of characters - no one knows how many exactly - but they're all built using a fixed set of only around 500, mostly very simple, radicals. Knowing what a radical means, you can work out the word's meaning even if you've never seen it and don't know how it's pronounced.

The writing always fascinated me, but how the heck do they agree on how to write new words, names, etc...?
Is the radical for describing "GSM" the same for "GPS"...??
"I'm beginning to get the hang of this flying business" - C3PO
 
Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:04 pm

Quoting SBBRTech (Reply 21):
but how the heck do they agree on how to write new words, names, etc...?
Is the radical for describing "GSM" the same for "GPS"...??

Chinese doesn't modify characters to accommodate new words or loans from other languages.

Every character represents one syllable and one idea. Neologisms are created like many in English are, by combining existing words. Airplane (something that flies in the air, from Latin) is "feiji" (fei=fly), (ji=machine). A computer is "diannao", dian=electricity (or lightning), nao=brain.

The fun comes in when you need to transcribe a foreign word phonetically. Chinese is completely unable to transcribe sounds which don't exist in the language already. Words high on consonants and sound clusters that don't exist in Chinese will inevitably get mangled beyond recognition. For instance, Alexander becomes Yalishanda. The 4 individual characters used for Ya Li Shan Da each have a meaning in normal Chinese but become gibberish when transcribing foreign names. So as a foreigner you have a choice between using a name based on its original pronunciation, or on its etymology, or you can make yourself one up entirely. It really is fascinating but I'm too tired now to keep the lecture running.  Smile

Zai Jian!
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Boeing744
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:15 pm

Quoting Toast (Reply 20):
I like this video of Tony Blair congratulating the French in French for choosing Sarkozy. It's extremely rare to hear a world leader speaking a foreign language, and Blair's French is almost flawless but heavily accented. Women I've spoken to say it's cute. Take note, guys: Belgian women dig an English accent!

Interesting. I don't speak French, but being Canadian I've learned a bit in school, and since I see it written on everything I can understand almost everything written, and a fair bit spoken. I also speak German and some Spanish, both languages which have some similarities.

I can definitely hear Blair's accent, but he still sounds better than our PM (in a country with French as an official language). As I said, I'm not even a French-speaker, but even I can tell how horrible Stephen Harper's French is (and Francophone friends of mine have confirmed it).

On a side note, does George Bush speak a second language? I am assuming not...

[Edited 2007-09-14 05:16:48]
 
Boeing744
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:20 pm

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 19):
I've heard Korean spoken by a man born and raised in Alabama. It was quite unique.

Lol... I know a man from Hong Kong (native language Cantonese) who learned English in Missippi. He now lives here, and his Canto-Southern accent is very interesting!
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:22 pm

Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 23):
On a side note, does George Bush speak a second language? I am assuming not...

I've heard his dad and brother Jeb speak Spanish quite well.



Dubya never bothered to learn Spanish, despite being from west Texas.



[Edited 2007-09-14 05:25:07]
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Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:24 pm

Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 23):
how horrible Stephen Harper's French is

I can't find any video of him in French, I'm really curious to know what he sounds like.

Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 23):
On a side note, does George Bush speak a second language? I am assuming not...

He can glue a few Spanish words together to make a sentence. Yes, it sounds every bit as bad as his English.  Smile
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Boeing744
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:29 pm

Quoting Toast (Reply 26):
I can't find any video of him in French, I'm really curious to know what he sounds like.



This is quite old. I will try to find another!

EDIT: Here's a newer one:



[Edited 2007-09-14 05:31:34]
 
Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:33 pm

Quoting AsstChiefMark (Reply 25):
I've heard his dad and brother Jeb speak Spanish quite well.

Wow, must say Jeb impressed me here. His Spanish is very good. I had no idea he spoke it fluently, and with no trace of gringo accent...

[Edited 2007-09-14 05:38:35]
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Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 12:45 pm

Quoting Boeing744 (Reply 27):
This is quite old. I will try to find another!

EDIT: Here's a newer one:

Merci!  Smile

Harper's French is heavily accented indeed, and he makes some minor mistakes. It's funny how his pronunciation hasn't improved in the years between the 1st and 2nd video...

However, his answer in #1 is coherent and he can be understood effortlessly, which is all that's really important...
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KLM685
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 1:00 pm

Quoting Toast (Reply 28):
Wow, must say Jeb impressed me here. His Spanish is very good. I had no idea he spoke it fluently, and with no trace of gringo accent...

Yeah I'm surprised by that too! No gringo accent! That's something positive on him as a governor ( no idea of positive or negative things he has done) of the state he is in charge of.
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airbus3801
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:19 pm

Quoting Toast (Reply 4):

Grammatically, Mandarin is an exceptionally simple language. It dispenses with most of the fluff other languages have and is very informal, direct and concise.

Yes, this is my experience with learning it. The easiest thing about Chinese is no verb conjugations. Take the verb shì (the ' symbolizes a descending tone in pin-yin), which means "to be". If I wanted to say I am, I would say wo (with the falling rising tone) and shì. To say you are, I would say Ni (falling rising tone once again) and shì.

Quoting Toast (Reply 4):
The pronunciation and the writing system are the real hurdles.

Actually the pronunciation in my opinion is not very hard, if you have a good ear. The key is practice! After a week or two, you will be able to make the tones easily enough. Writing still is of course a problem, but it is a bit easier if you learn the simplified characters that are used in the mainland of China. Taiwan and elsewhere still use the traditional characters.

Quoting Toast (Reply 4):
Chinese is phonotactically very limited - i. e., it has a very narrow range of sounds while needing to express as much nuance as other languages.

Yes! There are 21 or so sounds in Mandarin, it just depends on how you piece them together and the tone you use to make the words.

Quoting Toast (Reply 22):
So as a foreigner you have a choice between using a name based on its original pronunciation, or on its etymology, or you can make yourself one up entirely

Yes. My name just done on it's sound, would be Shuo Ni Ke. But that means something like lean mud, which is obviously not what I would like to introduce myself as when in China.
 
SWISSER
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:35 pm

NO

Quoting Toast (Reply 20):
Take note, guys: Belgian women dig an English accent!

What part of Belgium are you from Toast?

[Edited 2007-09-14 07:38:11]
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Toast
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 2:45 pm

Quoting SWISSER (Reply 32):
What part of Belgium are you from Toast?

Brussels.

Quoting SWISSER (Reply 32):
NO

No what?  silly 
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SBBRTech
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:48 pm

last may i heard a girl in Paris, saying "Canadians think they speak french..." (stressing "think" ironically).
that didn´t make much sense to me, but i guess she was joking about the accent.
"I'm beginning to get the hang of this flying business" - C3PO
 
tootallsd
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Sat Sep 15, 2007 1:28 am

Quoting Toast (Reply 22):
The fun comes in when you need to transcribe a foreign word phonetically. Chinese is completely unable to transcribe sounds which don't exist in the language already. Words high on consonants and sound clusters that don't exist in Chinese will inevitably get mangled beyond recognition. For instance, Alexander becomes Yalishanda. The 4 individual characters used for Ya Li Shan Da each have a meaning in normal Chinese but become gibberish when transcribing foreign names. So as a foreigner you have a choice between using a name based on its original pronunciation, or on its etymology, or you can make yourself one up entirely. It really is fascinating but I'm too tired now to keep the lecture running.

My Chinese business cards show my family name as ANGOLA. We all had a laugh about that last week. My Chinese colleagues have supplied a very auspicious name that is not a transliteration. But I don't use it either because it confuses many people who look for a transliterated family name. Oh well, can't win.
 
B747forever
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RE: Would You Learn Mandarin?

Sat Sep 15, 2007 1:29 am

Nope, to hard to learn
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