Dec 18 2009

Is Learning Mandarin Chinese Impossible ?

Growing up as a child I had been brainwashed into believing that Mandarin Chinese was impossible to learn.  In fact at that time I just called it “Chinese” having no idea there were many different Chinese dialects and languages.

Seeing all those pictographic characters and knowing that I could change the meaning of a word just by changing the intonation was enough for me to believe that this language was impossible.

However, when a friend of mine started learning the language I thought “why not ?”

Initially I was just learning Mandarin for fun, something to keep the brain active after leaving school, you know ?  But once I started learning I actually started to get good at it.  I started to see that it wasn’t impossible to learn Mandarin Chinese.  I admit it hasn’t been ridiculously easy, but I have certainly found it much easier than any other language I have learned.  I would even go so far as to say it must be one of the easiest languages to learn if you exclude the reading and writing part.  As spoken languages go, I think it has the most simple grammar I have ever seen.

For example Mandarin doesn’t have regular and irregular verbs.  That’s because all verbs follow the same rules without exceptions, unlike English and other European languages.

Yes there are the tones that the language requires.  You can change the meaning of a word just by changing the tone.  However, you don’t need to freak out about that.  I know many people who’s tones are always off but they can still be understood.  However, it isn’t impossible to master the tones.  There are only 5, imagine learning Cantonese which apparantly has 9 tones ?!?!

One Response to “Is Learning Mandarin Chinese Impossible ?”

  1. GG says:

    I don’t agree that it’s one of the easiest languages to learn. At times the grammar may seem simplistic but if you actually look at some more complex sentences it’s difficult to understand when and where to put certain verbs. For example in Mandarin there are quite a few modal particles and it’s quite difficult to understand when to use them and where to put them. Even Chinese scholars are still in debate about it. I guess Chinese can seem easy to learn, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re using the right grammar.

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