Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard

Guest   Tue Apr 15, 2008 3:24 am GMT
That's not a native speaker.
guest2   Tue Apr 15, 2008 4:02 am GMT
Although some people are better than others in doing accents, I think it boils down to motivation. And maybe laziness--if they can get away with it, they'll make no effort at pronunciation.

For example: I knew an American women who was very diligent in studying Hebrew. She worked on everything--reading, vocabulary, grammar--EXCEPT pronunciation. She had a strong New York accent, which carried over to her Hebrew. She pronounced "hu amar" ('he said') like "huw ama." She sounded ridiculous (and difficult to understand), but got upset when someone suggested her working on pronunciation: "Why bother?" One could answer, "Why bother with perfecting grammar?" They'll probably understand you if you don't get it perfect.

It's interesting that the same people who claim to have no ability in doing accents correctly have no problem in imitating foreign accents in their own language! It's all motivation. (Like the escaped Allied prisoners who HAD TO pass for Germans during World War II.)

Their was a study where a group of adult Americans were given 18 hours of pronunciation training in Japanese and Chinese BEFORE their regular lessons. Recordings of their speaking were played to native-speaker teachers. 9 of 10 were judged as native speakers of Mandarin, and 10 of 10 were judged as native speakers of Japanese!

I think that anyone with enough motivation and diligence can produce a reasonable accent in the language of their choice.
J.C.   Tue Apr 15, 2008 1:40 pm GMT
J. C. さん,

"Man, is this familiar territory! lol. "
K.T.-Oh yeah. But I guess studying languages is a good addiction because it gives a full package with words, grammar and culture. Even if I don't get to an advanced level in all languages I've studied it's ok. Important thing is to have fun as one learns. :)

"I think a lot of people must do the same thing. I heard that they added Arabic, but it must be intoxicating to have all those other languages too!"
K.T.-I watched the Arabic course for a while and thought it was one of the best ever because they didn't waste time trying to explain how to cook an Arab dish. It was only good talk about the language and culture. Due to that I even felt like studying Arabic again so I can remember what I learned in an intensive course.

"I remember the Italian shows were so dull. At least "Girolamo" kicked it up a notch at times. He seemed to be very popular-quite a gaijin talent. "
K.T. That dude is still teaching on NHK. Too bad that Dario from the "Dario dice tu sei felice" is no longer around. I had lots of fun with that course and enjoyed the adventures of "cocco".
I love when my son watches the Hindi course and says "Namaste". It seems that he doesn't like Chinese, though...-J. C.

"Interesting. He has a preference already-I wonder if it is the language or the people presenting the language."
K.T.- I guess both. He repeats stuff when he watches Spanish, Korean (Bur can't say "annyo haseyo" and says "arimasuyo" instead)or Hindi and French course. He usually says "パパ、NHKが見たいねん ;)
Xie   Wed Apr 16, 2008 11:34 am GMT
>>>HK isn't the only area to stress rote memorization.

It's true for many subjects but very possibly except English and any subsequent languages people bother to learn. Like how arrogant characters in older literature would say people in the US can't speak English, I'd say "HK people" have no idea what a foreign language is - the only one they can speak of is English, and many people suck in Mandarin. They don't even learn by rote because they won't bother to learn English, since everyone is expected to speak some English, no matter how bad, and that's that. The Chinese Chinese, on the contrary, simply just lack the courage and ideas to learn more intelligently. Several original approaches are already gettin popular, but the most popular method is still the rote style.

I just can't help, sort of like ranting, but the most important facet of learning anything, as I see it, is READING. I don't want to put it as sth too general, but: when you read, you are often supposed to read humbly, and you read people's faces, people's character... it's about curiosity, critical thinking and the willingness to learn. You still have 50% chance of success if you still bother to read, and this is the most utterly ignored part of learning in the modern society I'm facing. That's just like how American guys are saying on forums how their cherish time for learning while others indulge in lots of bad things...
knewman   Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:30 am GMT

come to china, you will find learn chinese is easy
Caspian   Fri Apr 25, 2008 10:24 am GMT
Anybody who thinks that Chinese should be written with an alphabet should be shot.

(Sorry, I have strong views on this!)

If you disagree, then define this word: shi
Now define this word: 是
See what I mean?
MST   Fri Apr 25, 2008 2:31 pm GMT
Chinese is so damn hard because we like spicy food: define this word: 圖
Caspian   Fri Apr 25, 2008 4:11 pm GMT
The definition of 圖 is fig, isn't it?
guest2   Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:00 pm GMT

Please don't shoot!

Yes, I know, characters are important to the Chinese. (I happen to like them, too, so hold your fire.) They're aesthetic. They're cultural. They're historical. Etc.

But saying that you HAVE to have them--linguistically--is questionable. Of course an isolated example of "shi" is undefined. But in context, it is usually understood. If you don't believe this, then consider conversation: Chinese, by your argument, would be completely unintelligible with all the homonyms. Yet people understand each other just fine. If Chinese had developed or adopted an alphabet centuries ago, no one would be clamoring for characters to "clarify" the meaning. (Pinyin, especially with tones marked, does the job for kids in China. Then they have to unlearn everything--essentially become illiterate again--to learn all the characters.)

Vietnamese, although unrelated, is a similar isolating, tonal language, and in the past used Chinese characters. The current Latin-based system works just fine. And Tibetan and Burmese--which ARE related--also have alphabets which work just fine.

The Japanese people are also convinced that they need Kanji, but non-biased studies show otherwise. (Japan claims high numbers for literacy, but the results are compiled in a way to ignore the high numbers of characters that people don't know.) And Japan (and China) have to spend more time on literacy due to the years spent on learning characters.

So if you like characters, fine. Just don't assume that Chinese MUST have characters to be intelligible. It's purely historical that characters came into use rather than an alphabet.
Guest   Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:12 pm GMT
<<define this word: 圖 >>

Filing cabinet?
Guest   Fri Apr 25, 2008 11:34 pm GMT
unoɔɔɐ ǝsɐqd ʎɯ ʇısıʌ ǝsɐǝ1d
.sɹɐɔ puɐ ʇıɐɹʇɹod 'sǝdɐɔspuɐ1 ɟo 11nɟ ʎɹǝ11ɐb ǝ1dɯıs ɐ
Xie   Sat Apr 26, 2008 4:48 am GMT
>>>If you disagree, then define this word: shi
Now define this word: 是
See what I mean?cc

Since I also know a lot of English and a bit of German, I'm now rather confused about the use of shi (or hai or anything similar in Chinese stuff) even in my native language. Yes-no answers could be terribly confusing in all the 3 languages (for me). I think German and French have better alternatives (namely doch and possibly si - correct me if I'm wrong), but yes-no in both Chinese and English could be ...yeah.
Guest   Sat Apr 26, 2008 12:33 pm GMT
hai means yup in Cantonese
null   Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:34 am GMT
Arabic is almost 3 times harder