for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

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for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby headhonchoII » 21 Apr 2012, 23:40

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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby ironlady » 21 Apr 2012, 23:43

mike029 wrote:Chinese is difficult because it's the opposite of our systems and uses a ideographic writing system and has tones.


Don't get me started. :noway:

For example: In China, parents only want boys, and they will only have girls after a few boys. 先 means 'first' and 生 means 'born', so therefore 先生 is 'first-born', which is 'male'. The character 男 is a 田 (field) and a 力 (power) because men work in the field. The character 女 is a vagina.
I wish I made those types of realizations early on (or if my teachers had taught this way), and I would be 100% fluent by this point.


You mean you're be able to recognize more characters (you think). That wouldn't make you fluent in the spoken language. Wouldn't even make you literate, if you didn't have the language underneath to put the recognized characters together to make sensible language.

But anyway -- as to the original question: was Mandarin worth it?
For living in Taiwan, yes. I can't imagine not being able to read and write and understand and speak Chinese (and to some extent Taiwanese) and live in Taiwan. You'd just be floating around in your own little bubble. Might as well stay home.

But outside of Taiwan -- I've been flown all over the world as an interpreter. I've made a great living as a translator over the years. I've greatly enjoyed teaching the language as well. Those are also all worthwhile things.

Socially -- the sacrifice of time necessary (at least when I started in the 80s and moving into the 90s when I was expanding my vocabulary to become professionally fluent) was heavy. But I'm not sure that simply having had more free time in Taiwan would have improved the social situation that much (particularly with regard to the opposite sex). But then again you could argue that had my coin toss come up Japanese instead of Chinese, I wouldn't have been in Taiwan in the first place and wouldn't have been facing that particular situation. Hard to say. For those who started Chinese "early" (1980s or so) the situation was so different from what faces someone who wants to learn Chinese today that it's almost not comparable IMO. These days, if you don't learn Chinese, it's really because you don't want to, there are so many ways to do it available even without leaving your home country. "Back in the day" you had to do more to get exposure to the language in any form.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby mike029 » 22 Apr 2012, 00:26

ironlady wrote:
mike029 wrote:Chinese is difficult because it's the opposite of our systems and uses a ideographic writing system and has tones.


Don't get me started. :noway:

For example: In China, parents only want boys, and they will only have girls after a few boys. 先 means 'first' and 生 means 'born', so therefore 先生 is 'first-born', which is 'male'. The character 男 is a 田 (field) and a 力 (power) because men work in the field. The character 女 is a vagina.
I wish I made those types of realizations early on (or if my teachers had taught this way), and I would be 100% fluent by this point.


You mean you're be able to recognize more characters (you think). That wouldn't make you fluent in the spoken language. Wouldn't even make you literate, if you didn't have the language underneath to put the recognized characters together to make sensible language.


Way to yet again be critical of other people's experiences for absolutely no reason, whatsoever. You could have easily posted your narcissistic tirade about how professional and great of a translator you are without trying to diminish other people's experiences in the process by harping on a minor semantic technicality while not reading the full context of the statement.

The point I was making is that if I didn't have to spend so much time memorizing and could just learn the logic behind it, I would have progressed much faster in the beginning...but I don't have a Ph.D. and didn't commit 30 years of my life to learning Chinese so there's no way I would have been able to come to this conclusion, so disregard anything that I say as some laughable farce from some ignorant moron. Congrats, you have a Ph.D., and you are amazing and the best white lady Chinese speaker the world has ever seen. :notworthy:
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for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby ironlady » 22 Apr 2012, 06:56

Only the best lady speaker? How disappointing.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby Omniloquacious » 22 Apr 2012, 07:41

finley wrote:Omni, can you elaborate on the methods that "worked best for you"?


Nothing groundbreaking or out of the ordinary, I don’t think. But there’s one thing I particularly regret not having done early on, which is getting input from the radio.

Early on, I could understand so little of radio broadcasts that I didn’t even bother to try – I assumed it would be more frustrating and discouraging than useful. My listening comprehension, especially following speech at normal speed, remained the weakest aspect of my Chinese, and I was beginning to despair of ever being able to get it up to a decent level. It wasn’t until I’d been here for more than a decade that I decided to experiment with having the radio playing in the background while I did other things (preparing meals, cleaning, exercising, etc.), and not letting it bother me if most of it went over my head. I tuned into the news and discussion programs on BCC (中國廣播公司), and was delighted to discover how quickly it made a difference. The amount that I could follow increased in leaps and bounds, and it was a great source of vocabulary building, as well as being very helpful to understanding more about Taiwan. I took to having the radio on as much as I possibly could, including having a mini radio plugged into my ear when I went out hiking. It was so productive that I cursed myself for not having done it sooner. I would also combine it with my writing practice by sitting at my desk with the radio on and scribbling down sentences and phrases that I heard, writing them repeatedly when they were especially useful, and I found that to be a very productive exercise.
If I prioritized the acquisition of wealth above other purposes in life, I might still have come to Taiwan to study Chinese, but I doubt I would have remained here.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby tommy525 » 22 Apr 2012, 09:00

for me my yardstick was TV news. When I could finally understand all that was being said on TV news , I figured I got it going.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby jimipresley » 22 Apr 2012, 09:12

mike029 wrote:I think it's quite arrogant to live somewhere and not at least attempt to speak the local language. Yes, English is great and we all love it, but it's extremely arrogant to expect everyone else to speak our language.

I certainly don't expect people to speak English to me. I'm not arrogant, but I'm also not on some hippie "immersion" trip. I don't carry a backpack, nor do I wear flip-flops.

And I like it here, I really do.

People are morons everywhere. I don't need to learn the local lingo to work that out. Russia, Spain, Mongolia, Taiwan, etc. are jam-packed with idiots. I don't feel I will better myself by being able to speak rubbish with fools, respective of where I live. Anyway, "Taiwanese culture" is an oxymoron. Actually, "culture", respective of which country you apply it to, is an oxmoron.

You have fun with your immersion into mediocrity. I don't feel the need for it, thank you. I'm not particularly interested in chatting to Uncle Huang about his gammy leg when I buy a bottle of Scotch. I'm happy to point, and nodding politely, pay the bill. Nor do I give a shit about Auntie Lin's miserable, ungrateful children. Just give me the fucking banana. I'd feel the same wherever I lived. :2cents:
You can live here and have a great life and not be the least bit into living the local life. Clowns will try to diss you for it saying you gotta get down with the program, but fuck em, treat this place like a buffet and yous be on a diet. Take what you want and nothing extra, slam those oysters, but leave the bread sticks and dinner rolls behind. - Deuce Dropper

I'm much more of a nasty rotter in real life, especially with vapid or vacuous verbiage from the ill read & intellectually challenged. - TheGingerMan

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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby the bear » 22 Apr 2012, 09:21

jimipresley wrote:
mike029 wrote:I think it's quite arrogant to live somewhere and not at least attempt to speak the local language. Yes, English is great and we all love it, but it's extremely arrogant to expect everyone else to speak our language.

I certainly don't expect people to speak English to me. I'm not arrogant, but I'm also not on some hippie "immersion" trip. I don't carry a backpack, nor do I wear flip-flops. I like it here, I really do.

People are morons everywhere. I don't need to learn the local lingo to work that out. Russia, Spain, Mongolia, Taiwan, etc. are jam-packed with idiots. I don't feel I will better myself by being able to speak rubbish with fools, respective of where I live. Anyway, "Taiwanese culture" is an oxymoron. Actually, "culture",respective of which country you apply it to, is an oxmoron. You have fun with your immersion into mediocrity. I don't feel the need for it, thank you. I'd feel the same wherever I lived. :2cents:


Methinks the jimi doth protest too muth. As an argument against learning a language the "people are idiots and I don't want to talk to them" line doesn't really carry much weight. Not that you aren't right, you probably are. But you might as well take an oath of silence and be done with it.
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby jimipresley » 22 Apr 2012, 09:28

the bear wrote:
Methinks the jimi doth protest too muth. As an argument against learning a language the "people are idiots and I don't want to talk to them" line doesn't really carry much weight. Not that you aren't right, you probably are. But you might as well take an oath of silence and be done with it.

Aha! Herein lies the crux, Mr the bear! I'm not against learning new languages. I think it's admirable for people to spend their leisure time on useless pursuits rather than doing something constructive like playing Halo or getting drunk. I really do. I have the utmost admiration for people (or "individuals", to use American nomenclature) who further themselves as World Citizens. However, since I don't NEED to, I'd prefer to stick a ball-point pen into my eye. :2cents:
You can live here and have a great life and not be the least bit into living the local life. Clowns will try to diss you for it saying you gotta get down with the program, but fuck em, treat this place like a buffet and yous be on a diet. Take what you want and nothing extra, slam those oysters, but leave the bread sticks and dinner rolls behind. - Deuce Dropper

I'm much more of a nasty rotter in real life, especially with vapid or vacuous verbiage from the ill read & intellectually challenged. - TheGingerMan

Don't be a cheap cunt. - Deuce Dropper
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Re: for those who know Mandarin was it worth it?

Postby Nuit » 22 Apr 2012, 10:22

When we moved out I thought I'd quickly learn Chinese, I'm pretty good at languages and I'd already got the basics nailed down. But 5 years in and I've never taken any classes, and have lost interest in it as a language. I'll try...

1. SO didn't want to speak Mandarin at home, even though I repeatedly tried to get her involved. Gave up when I also realised that I'd be the sole source of fluent English for our new-born.
2. Although I'm happy enough here, there are aspects of Taiwan society that I dislike, and I don't respect it as much as I should. That's reduced my desire to get fluent. Can't stand to listen to or watch the news, for example, it's so ... silly, no depth, grates on me.
3. The day-to-day language used is superficial. Most people use the same phrases in the same situations over and over again: like it blows my mind that you never hear any alternatives to "jia you!". Many people also like stating the blindlingly obvious, and I can't get into conversations like:

"Careful, this is a busy road!"
"Oh yes, it's a busy road. There are lots of cars."
"That's right. It's a busy road with lots of cars."


But I'm sure that with the right attitude and work ethic, studying Mandarin will bring rewards. Although it would take a brave soul to come on here and say:
"Well, I've speak a decade studying and learning, and you know what? All those hours, classes, characters - I don't think it was worth it."
It's raining again here. I'm rising up like a beautiful bubble to the surface.

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