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shengmar

How many people here can read and write Chinese characters?

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shengmar

I have seen very very few able to read and write Chinese characters even when there have been many people learning Chinese. How many of them are there in the whole West. I have known that even professors in the Universities in the west can speak and listen very well but can't read and write.

Am I right?

I don't know.

If it is yes, how do you learn Chinese characters?

If it is no, why?

If possible, a westerner who claims to be able to read and write please write a review of 30 Chinese characters to this paper and post it here.

http://bbs.people.com.cn/bbs/ReadFile?whichfile=538789&typeid=17

I want to make sure. If you are Chinese in the west or a professional translator, please keep away.

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geek_frappa
8) people's daily. what a reliable source of information ... *cough*

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geek_frappa

you make a good point...

(^_^) (_ _) (^_^) 很高兴认识你~~~

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SassybutSweet

I can't read or write, any chinese characters!! But I'am not ashamed it is hard to learn a new language!! Just learning how to speak it is hard enough!! When I get the speaking down, maybe I'll go for the writing of characters!! But to me right now it's not that important to know, because right now I find that spoken communicaton is a little better for my situation!!! Since I have to speak on a regular basis with native Mandarin speakers, I don't have to write anything down!!! :mrgreen:

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TSkillet

shoot I can think of at least 20 people I know personally who are westerners and can read and write chinese at least to the high school level. And I don't know that many people. Granted having lived in Hong Kong for so long exposes me to a lot more Westerners who'd be fluent in Chinese, but it's not really that difficult - just takes time and effort.

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geek_frappa
I have known that even professors in the Universities in the west can speak and listen very well but can't read and write.

impossible to be a professor in an accredited university and not be able to read and write chinese.

chinese is easy to learn. any zhongguoren who thinks that their language is prohibitively difficult is having delusions of grandeur.

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woodcutter

It isn't all that difficult to learn a few characters, but in fact there are plenty of profs doing work connected with China in Western universities who are not very capable in the language on any level, because it has never been any kind of strict requirement for what they do, and it was a rare skill until quite recently to be able to function in Chinese.

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Guest Yau
chinese is easy to learn. any zhongguoren who thinks that their language is prohibitively difficult is having delusions of grandeur

In fact, are there any real difficult language in the world? Latin is also often claimed as highly difficult language but i always doubt it as it was widely spoken by uneducated people in roman empire.

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Bob Dylan Thomas

i've studied chinese for three years now (my only language bar english) and am fairly proficient in reading and writing, and to be honest i never found it particularly difficult at all, except for possibly the first three months - after that period i kind of felt like i'd got over a big hill and it was all easy going after that.

in comparison, i've twice attempted to get into Russian but simpy found it far too hard. All that ****ing grammar!

I read somewhere that Hungarian is pretty hard, but i'm not sure how you'd judge the hardest language in the world - it depends on your mother tongue.

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trevelyan

>> I have known that even professors in the Universities in the west can speak and listen very well but can't read and write. <<

If you don't speak the language natively doing serious research on China is a tireless and grinding uphill tread. Almost all of the non-native speaking Westerners I know doing doctoral work on China are in their late twenties or early thirties. The reason is simple: most of the people competent enough to do this kind of research will have spent non-trivial time in China. Many of these people have amazing Chinese.

That being said, from my own experience the above observation should be reversed. At least in the generation of sinologists approaching retirement age, one is much more likely to find professors with excellent reading skills, with the ability to write and speak lagging behind. When you work in an almost wholly English environment, it's the oral language that tends to weaken.

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bunni87

Ummm...

I'm a teenager >_<....I'm non-Asian.....

I read and write traditional/simplified characters....:oops:

Too bad my handwriting sucks in every language though! :lol:

I've been trying to study Asian languages for 4 years. It took me about two years to get the necessary characters down...but it was a little time consuming. :wall I guess I had too much time on my hands...

It's not as hard as people try to make it seem if you have the desire to actually be patient and learn. If you learn the 'bu shou' (radicals) before you learn the more complicated characters you should be fine. :clap

Knowing characters will probably help you to retain new vocabulary better and gain much quicker progress.

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jz87

I think the best method for learning grammar of a new language is with lots of drills. That helps automate the handling of grammar in your brain so it becomes natural. I studied Japanese in college and the grammar can get pretty complicated since they can lay on a lot of conjugations on one ending, so I just practiced a lot of drills until I can speak and listen at a normal speed. It's the vocabulary that I find difficult because dictionary definitions are rarely precise, they don't actually give you the usage patterns of the word, which you have to pick up through practice.

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zh-laoshi

I don't think of reading and writing Chinese as difficult at all. Non-Chinese look at teh characters and think it's difficult because the characters don't look like the alphabet they're used to seeing.

I like to compare a character with a word in English. For example, how many strokes does it take to write the character 狗 - 8/9? Now, how many strokes of the pen does it take to write the word "dog" in English? Would you believe anywhere from 10 - 14 strokes? It just seems like Chinese is harder because the strokes are compacted into one little square.

Learning the radicals makes it somewhat easier to learn the characters, but in my personal opinion, it's a little bit of a waste of time to keep too long on them.

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zh-laoshi
dictionary definitions are rarely precise, they don't actually give you the usage patterns of the word, which you have to pick up through practice.

I agree here, it takes me a lot of searching to find a good dictionary and once I find it, I don't let it go.

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asharpe

Hmm. It takes me only 3 "strokes" to write d o g: one for each letter. If I was to print it as we were taught in grammer school, I could perhaps use 5. But English letters do not have the beauty, history and meaning of Chinese characters. For that, I am willing to spend a little more time.

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wushijiao

Just my opinion....I think very few people ever really learn foreign languages well, especially Chinese. For example, as a teacher in China, I have taught English to thousands of people in the last few years (God help us!). Very few students, maybe ten or so, could semi-fluently understand books or newspapers in English. Is it that they are stupid? Of course not. It takes a huge vocabulary and an amazing amount of background knowledge to understand good writing.

So this is the biggest obstacle towards learning Chinese: English and Chinese have almost nothing in common (as far as vocab, idioms, myths, historical events, famous people...etc).

For example, in Latin American literature, for whatever reason, the Oedipus myth seems to be refrenced a lot. When I read books in Spanish, I can understand that because is part of our shared Western heritage. The same with Biblical stories, Roman myths, the Enlightenment, and now Hollywood movies and American pop culture. This is one advantage about learning any Western language.

I know a lot of people that started learning Chinese and felt it was tremendously simple at the begining, compared to grammatically S+M dominatrix-like languages like Russian. But then, to go from a good intermediate to an advanced level takes a huge about of cultural study and practice.

Personally, I enjoy the learning process itself. But a ton of my foreign friends in Shanghai just booze it up, eat Western food, and are only friends with Chinese people who have great English. Of course, they all say "I want to learn Chinese" or "yeah, I really should do more to work on my Chinese". Yet I'm not sure if they are aware of the gigantic time commitment Chinese actually takes.

It seems to me that many people start out very well learning Chinese, but then get stuck in a some intermediate limbo land.

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nazia
It seems to me that many people start out very well learning Chinese, but then get stuck in a some intermediate limbo land.

Your view has me thinking, Wushijiao. I think I am in exactly that 'limbo land' you speak of, and have been for some time now. When I first realized that I had reached some kind of plateau I thought I could just keep slogging away and eventually get better. But I see your point about it being not just about the language on a linguistic level after a certain point.

The solution seems to me to be to spend a lot of time in a chinese speaking community or just live in China until you get there.

Also, the Western/Chinese different cultural baggage point is a good one. Being South Asian, I often find Chinese culture more familiar in its ways than Western. This has definitely helped when trying to integrate into Chinese society but I still find the intermediate-language situation frustrating.

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