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Don't learn Mandarin!

Chat in foreign languages or discuss language-learning.

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Rayn
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Post by Rayn » October 16th, 2013, 8:05 am

ladislav wrote:He has the guts to say what I was always trying to tell many people- learning Asian languages is often a waste of time ( not always, but often). I noticed that the happiest foreigners in the East were various Anglos with money who never spoke the language beyond a few words and who thus were in their own bubble not knowing what people around them were saying. Some had manias of grandeur and an illusion of being colonialists ( while on discretionary visas in the country). There was surprisingly great wisdom in that approach.
Exactly!!!

I have always observed myself that whenever foreigners say good things about my country malaysia, its always the rich Anglos living in their own tiny expat bubble doing the talking. That, or foreigners who never actually been in Malaysia but only got their opinion from looking at Malaysians smart, open-minded and capable enough of migrating from this country.

In fact, those English-speaking white foreigners, or mat sallehs as we are fond to say around here, tend to write very bad things about this country the moment they blend in and live alongside Malaysian folk. Example. http://rickardoberg.wordpress.com/2012/ ... d-country/

Just the title of the URL alone is enough to let you know what the main content of his blog is about. :lol:




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Taco
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Post by Taco » October 16th, 2013, 9:01 am

I remember the DOS at my school in China could speak Mandarin pretty well. It only helped him at restaurants, getting taxis and train tickets. The boss would pull him in his office and chew his ass out for an hour sometimes.

Anti-American
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Post by Anti-American » October 16th, 2013, 9:49 am

Are African languages easy, medium or difficult to learn?

Taco
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Post by Taco » October 16th, 2013, 11:00 am

Anti-American wrote:Are African languages easy, medium or difficult to learn?
Most West African languages are easy to learn. Tri from Ghana and Yoruba from Nigeria are easy for English speakers to pick up.

Billy
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Post by Billy » October 16th, 2013, 8:58 pm

Only languages where I like to make Karaoke to the songs motivate me to learn them. Fun is my motivator.

Anti-American
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Post by Anti-American » October 16th, 2013, 11:09 pm

Taco wrote:
Anti-American wrote:Are African languages easy, medium or difficult to learn?
Most West African languages are easy to learn. Tri from Ghana and Yoruba from Nigeria are easy for English speakers to pick up.
How about East African and Southern African languages?

I read somewhere that Malagasy language from Madagascar is difficult.

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Ghost
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Post by Ghost » October 17th, 2013, 1:27 pm

Isn't Afrikaans easy to learn?

Anyway, I'm thinking Latin might actually be one of the best choices. If you learn that one, you've got the Romance languages built in and could then learn a romance language far easier, plus you'll understand English better as well, such as the origins of words now in the English lexicon.
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luoldeng9
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Post by luoldeng9 » October 17th, 2013, 5:33 pm

ladislav wrote:He has the guts to say what I was always trying to tell many people- learning Asian languages is often a waste of time ( not always, but often). I noticed that the happiest foreigners in the East were various Anglos with money who never spoke the language beyond a few words and who thus were in their own bubble not knowing what people around them were saying. Some had manias of grandeur and an illusion of being colonialists ( while on discretionary visas in the country). There was surprisingly great wisdom in that approach.
..
Asians are about 100 years behind in racial attitudes- they have never had a Million Man March nor did they have a PC movement whose main goal was- " Don't call me that, you are hurting my feelings, you bigot!" and " Don't use that term/word when you address me".

It might be another 100-200 years when they are finally called on the carpet by the world community and asked to stop insulting people. But that will take one thing- people will need to speak their language and point it out to them. Who will do it? Not the guilt-ridden Anglos.
As unbelievable as this is to believe, it is actually true. I'm an Asian American and when I tried speaking the language in one Asian country, I did experience childish taunting and inappropriate hysterical laughing (I'm not talking about the way they laugh when they are nervous because they are talking to a foreigner)
it's mostly strangers that don't know you that give you racist hard times.
I didn't find most of the strangers childishly insulting me for attemptig to speak the local language. I dealt with that crap from some coworkers. I can only hope they are not representative of the majority of people in East Asia

ladislav
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Post by ladislav » October 17th, 2013, 5:55 pm

Asian Americans have the opposite issue in Asia as they are expected to act and talk "Asian" with no accent and thus, get laughed at. They also don't stick out from a distance, and don't get treated as someone different by strangers.

White people in Asia, on the other hand, are perennial foreigners and are treated with deference. People poke them with a long pole, as it were, to hear them say " Hello, how do you do?" and practice English with them ( even if they are from bum-f**k Bulgaria and speak no English).

It has to do with physical appearance and how we viscerally expect people to act-- if you look like me, you should talk like me, otherwise you are a retard. If you don't look like me, but talk like me, you are a freak.

To be fair, it is the same in the US/Uk, etc., with their treatment of white people who come from non English speaking countries. E. Euros/Russians are a perfect example. If their English is stilted or accented, they are mocked and treated negatively, and as idiots.

When it is an Asian person who appears and speaks broken English a) it is expected b) the average American/Brit puts on his racism-control filter and patiently begins explaining to this "foreigner" the intricacies of whatever is it hand. At the same time, a Polish person is mocked and laughed at. White people, you see, are just under-cooked Americans who should act and talk normal, otherwise they are mental retards.

I imagine, it is a bit the same with non-English speaking black people the way black Americans treat them -- which,I heard, is usually bad. White people in the US, otoh, usually help them because these are foreigners, and " I am not racist! I am not racist"
Last edited by ladislav on October 17th, 2013, 6:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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momopi
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Post by momopi » October 17th, 2013, 5:56 pm

If one wishes to remain ignorant of the foreign language and live in a happy bubble, that's perfectly fine for the said individual, wearing colored glasses and wandering through a library full of books that he can't read. However the problem is that we have too many of these bubble-residing folks working as scholars, analysts, commentators, authors, and so on.

For example, when Tom Clancy published "The Bear and the Dragon", I donno where he found his ghost writer, but the guy had probably never set foot in China and had all kinds of weird ideas about what the country was actually like. Quoting one Dutch reviewer of the book on Amazon:

"Please Donate to the "Give Clancy a holiday in China fund", December 16, 2004
Reviewer: Geert van Roosmalen "Geert" (The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
I've read a lot of Tom Clancy in my life but this is an absolute low.

You would think with all the millions he's made he could at least afford an $1000 plane ticket to China. Even if he had just gone for one weekend he would have seen that his portrayal of China is complete rubbish. Not only is it inaccurate it's downright terrible. The only Mao suits you will find in China these days are on Mao's corpse and in fancy dress stores.
Laughable was the seduction of the Chinese secretary, Having western food for the first time after all that "Chinese garbage". It makes me wonder how Clancy feels about this 5th column of slant-eyes (with U.S. nationality!) living in his own country peddling their 'garbage' to god-fearing honest wasps.

I'm from Holland and I cant wait to see how Tom Clancy would portray my country in his next novel. Probably we would be called cheeseheads or something suitably insulting every two sentences. We would obviously all live in windmills and walk around in clogs. In fact we wouldn't even be able to walk because we would be continuosly sticking our fingers in holes in dikes to stop our country flooding. We would invade some country that has been our ally for more than half a century (eg. UK) for some ridiculous reason (Dutch businessmen want to monopolize world cheese production). Finally our totally incompetent airforce/navy (whatever) would be destroyed by a single US plane: Final result: Cheeseheads, 100000 casualties. USA, 0 casualties. US (incompetent)allies, 200 casualties (to keep it realistic). Of course this would happen in a book of not less than 3000 pages and include JR telling us that he really really really dosn't like being POTUS every 2 or 3 pages.

Keep it up Clancy!! You're sliding, but rock bottom is still two or three books away."




To cite a more recent example, this is Gwynn Guilford on Linkedin:
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/gwynn-guilford/0/b5a/6b8
"... broad expertise in China, having worked in Beijing and Shanghai for nearly six years. "


This is what she wrote for the Atlantic:
http://www.theatlantic.com/china/archiv ... le/279830/

"Because they lack siblings, the vast majority of Chinese couples 34 and younger are the sole inheritors of four parents’ wealth. When they die, their offspring get at least two extra homes (and, given investment trends, likely more). This extra supply will drive down prices, says Zhang, and because of the one-child policy, China will have too few young people to absorb the overspill."


When people say "a majority", I think "above 50%", and "vast majority", like absolute majority, means more than 2/3 (>66%). Well, let's see, China started the One Child Policy in 1979. China's total fertility rate was 2.63 per women in 1980, barely dropping below 2.1 around 1990-1993. Those who were born in 1980-1990 are 23-33 years old, prime marrying age today.

So how does someone who lived and worked in China for 6 years conclude that the vast majority of Chinese couples 34 and younger do not have siblings? Did she live in a bubble where no Chinese friends or coworkers bothered to introduce (or at least talk about) their family and siblings?



And finally, in the first post of this thread, John T. Reed wrote:

"The Japanese military had to use an alphabet to send Morse code during World War II. That suggests to me that those picture written languages must have to program computers with Mandarin translated to an alphabet. I am well aware that they can create Adobe post-script type translators to convert Chinese characters to the alphabet programming and back again at the other end, but doesn't the underlying programming have to use an alphabet? "

The most important code used by the Japanese in WW2 is JN-25, used by the Japanese Imperial Navy:
http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_he ... jn25.shtml

"JN-25 consisted of a codebook with approximately 27,500 entries and an additive book for superenciphering the codebook values. The additive book consisted of 300 pages, each page containing 100 random five-digit groups. It should be noted that this additive book for JN-25 was not a one-time pad: the five-digit groups were re-used, as needed."

In other words, the military code were numerical and not in alphabet. Perhaps he is confusing the military code with civilian Kana code. The numerical system possibly have its roots from the Standard Chinese Telegraph code from 1870's:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_telegraph_code

A code book is provided for encoding and decoding the Chinese telegraph code. It shows one-to-one correspondence between Chinese characters and four-digit numbers from 0000 to 9999. Chinese characters are arranged and numbered in dictionary order according to their radicals and strokes. Each page of the book shows 100 pairs of a Chinese character and a number in a 10×10 table.



Personally, I find it amusing that the same people who rant about the pending doom/fall of America would advocate "don't learn this foreign language". French was once the Lingua franca of European diplomacy and literacy, but the "foreigners' who learned French did not have particular attachments to it, and switched to English when necessary. I hope this is getting through to some of you, that all the "foreigners", that is, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc. who are learning English today do so because it's considered useful, not because they have some attachment to it. Suppose if US economy collapse and Spanish speaking world rises, then the Chinese schools wills simply replace their English classes with Spanish classes.

Frankly, it's incompatible to believe that the US is doomed to fall AND that English will somehow continue to be the world's lingua franca.

Taco
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Post by Taco » October 17th, 2013, 11:40 pm

momopi wrote: Frankly, it's incompatible to believe that the US is doomed to fall AND that English will somehow continue to be the world's lingua franca.
I disagree. Even if Wall street implodes the US and Canada both have vast natural resources which Asian countries depend on and invest in.

Chinese Investors Betting On Detroit
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/07/29/ch ... al-estate/

momopi
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Post by momopi » October 18th, 2013, 12:09 am

Taco wrote:
momopi wrote: Frankly, it's incompatible to believe that the US is doomed to fall AND that English will somehow continue to be the world's lingua franca.
I disagree. Even if Wall street implodes the US and Canada both have vast natural resources which Asian countries depend on and invest in.
Taco, if you were to believe that US and Canada's natural resources will save us, then that would be incompatible with the belief that we are doomed. Instead of telling people to hoard supplies (rice and other), you'd tell people to seek employment in said natural resources sector.

Taco
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Post by Taco » October 18th, 2013, 12:39 am

momopi wrote:
Taco wrote:
momopi wrote: Frankly, it's incompatible to believe that the US is doomed to fall AND that English will somehow continue to be the world's lingua franca.
I disagree. Even if Wall street implodes the US and Canada both have vast natural resources which Asian countries depend on and invest in.
Taco, if you were to believe that US and Canada's natural resources will save us, then that would be incompatible with the belief that we are doomed.
The middle class is doomed but there will still be lots of economic investment and profit taking but only the wealthy few will be doing it. The middle class paradigm of going to college, finding a job, getting married, having 2 kids, getting a home mortgage, leasing a car is basically over. In the future there will only be rich people and poor people and most people will be poor.

If anything an economic collapse will generate a lot of foreign investment because western countries will be having a "going out of business sale" and everything will be at rock bottom prices like you currently see in the Detroit real estate market. The Chinese have tons of money but they have no place to invest it so they build ghost cities in the middle of nowhere, its better to invest their money in North America. So, I wouldn't write off English speaking just yet.

tre
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Post by tre » October 18th, 2013, 1:11 am

So if your motivation is financial, which language is best for a 2nd language? Also, explain your choice please.

I always thought that Mandarin would be best as then you can speak to more people on earth. 70% of China is STILL a good percentage of the earth.

Spanish MIGHT be a good language to learn as there are many that speak the language and it's easier to learn. Russian might be a good language to learn as they are not an ally to the USA and it's a big, powerful country. Same thing with China. However, the latter two are extremely difficult. I just have a hard time believing that learning a language of a country that is closely allied with the USA would be useful in the future...at least economically/financially. Any country that depends on the success of the USA is going to be crippled when the USA goes down...

momopi
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Post by momopi » October 18th, 2013, 1:19 am

Taco wrote: If anything an economic collapse will generate a lot of foreign investment because western countries will be having a "going out of business sale" and everything will be at rock bottom prices like you currently see in the Detroit real estate market. The Chinese have tons of money but they have no place to invest it so they build ghost cities in the middle of nowhere, its better to invest their money in North America. So, I wouldn't write off English speaking just yet.
Taco, do you think in such scenario, the American sellers will expect FOB Chinese buyers to speak English, or will they hire Chinese speaking sales staff to cater to the buyers?

Given a scenario where US economy collapses and does not recover, do you believe that the market value of English teachers overseas will rise, remain the same, or go in decline?


tre wrote:So if your motivation is financial, which language is best for a 2nd language? Also, explain your choice please.
Whatever language spoken in the country or territory that you're going to and am trying to make a living in. If you thought that learning Chinese would be useful, but ended up in Brazil, then your Chinese language skills might not be useful there.

Image

There was an interesting story about Italian pizza chef being hired by the North Korean leadership. He got the job because he spoke Russian. That would be quite a rare exception.

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