Author: serenades

Do you think Chinese is a ‘super-hard language’?   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2017-11-9 08:40:10 |Display all floors
It's not that difficult to learn to read a foreign language,  it is a different story trying to write in one,  especially when it is from a different language family. The Buddhist scriptures translated by Indian monks like Kumarajiva, 2000 years ago, appear to be the only ones written in Chinese by foreigners. There are no more evidence similar language attempts since then.

Lesson from this phenomenon: learn to read and speak, but just give up trying to write, which seems to apply to all languages, unless you start early. Kissinger did well but never got rid of his German accent. He moved to the States aged 14.

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Post time 2017-11-9 08:54:10 |Display all floors
Mandarin is not difficult to learn. Most give up after a short period
if you want something in life get off your backside, and do it yourself!! don't rely on others to do it for you

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Post time 2017-11-9 11:13:00 |Display all floors
koraeus Post time: 2017-11-8 20:29
I am from Sweden and has tried to learn both Japanese and Chinese.
My experience is that it primary  ...



Interesting observations. The comment about Chinese dictionaries arrested my special attention too. I saw for the first time in my life dictionaries that translate words only from one language into the other but not back here in China. Everywhere else dictionaries show both languages as source language and the oppsote language as target language but not all Chinese dictionaries are like that. If you have an English-Chinese dictionary you cannot check a new Chinese word against its English equivalent. To me this shows a unique approach to languages: the Chinese "understand" only the meaning of a Chinese word while the word in a foreign language is then first translated into a Chinese word. I am used to reading definitions in the language in which the word is used, a French word in the French context and thus in a French definition, not a French word in a Chinese definition.

My wife once wanted to learn French, so I tried to find French language learning materials. She came home with a textbook in which every French sentence was translated into Chinese (not very surprisingly!). Most astonishing - even the word lists came with a CHINESE phonetic rendering instead of the international phonetic transcription.

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Post time 2017-11-9 11:18:05 |Display all floors
ngajia Post time: 2017-11-9 08:40
It's not that difficult to learn to read a foreign language,  it is a different story trying to writ ...


Indian monks were not the only foreign writers of Chinese texts. In the 19th century, Westerners translated Western science works, laws and so on into Chinese. Missionaries too added quite some contributions to the body of translations done by foreign users of Chinese.

But yes, writing in a foreign language is full of pitfalls.

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Post time 2017-11-10 00:17:16 |Display all floors
seneca Post time: 2017-11-9 11:18
Indian monks were not the only foreign writers of Chinese texts. In the 19th century, Westerners  ...

Please provide some specific names as example. It would be very interesting to see how they managed to write in Classical Chinese, because all writings before 1911 was classical in style.  Few understand Classical Chinese (文言文) today.

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Post time 2017-11-10 09:36:22 |Display all floors
ngajia Post time: 2017-11-10 00:17
Please provide some specific names as example. It would be very interesting to see how they manage ...



It is a universally known fact that in the early decades of Qing rule the JESUITs were the only Christian missionaries not just tolerated but actually welcomed by China. They didn't proselytize but brought knowledge to China.

The names most often cited are Michele Ruggieri, Matteo Ricci - both Italians - and Adam Schall von Bell from Germany.

The latter was reputed among Europeans for his Mandarin skills. He wrote Chinese translations on maths, Aristoteles and religion.

A Chinese who doesn't know this is not an educated Chinese.

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Post time 2017-11-10 09:38:29 |Display all floors
ngajia Post time: 2017-11-10 00:17
Please provide some specific names as example. It would be very interesting to see how they manage ...



As for my claim about 19th century Westerners translating from Western languages to Chinese, I read a treatise by a U.S> American author about this. He listed dozens of names. Unfortunately that treatise was a book that I have given away and I do not remember the exact name of the author.

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