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A third language

Bob Dylan Thomas

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Bob Dylan Thomas

hello everyone,

i admit this is a fairly silly topic but I'm going to post it anyway to try and get my thoughts flowing on this. I've studied Chinese for 3 1/2 years now and I'm fairly happy with the level i've reached, and now I'm considering taking up a third language. What would people recommend? I know a lot depends on my personal preferences, but i'd like to hear other people's experiences in tackling that tricky third language.

i studied French for 5 years at school and got fairly good at it, but I've now forgotten most of it. I've studied very basic Russian but found it extremely difficult, and despite travelling for a while in Russia and the former USSR i never really felt excited by it. It would be nice to find a lnaguage like Chinese that's exciting and fun to take on (yes i know that sounds cheesy but i really have enjoyed studying Chinese since I started, and i still do).

I'll probably try to start here in the UK without formal lessons but through a combination of beginner textbooks and help from native-speaking language partners. Currently on my mind are Thai, Korean, Japanese, Bahasa (Indonesian/Malay), Mongol or a Central Asian language such as Uighur or Kazakh.

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You're right, it is based on your personal preference, so it's hard to answer. However, I can tell you I find Japanese to be NOT fun, like Chinese. There are conjugations, which I hate. Then, for the conjugations, you must be able to do it two different ways for formal and informal speech [teacher / friend]. Then, they have all sorts of particles, and impossible grammar rules. The worst part is the conjugation. Also, it shouldn't be hard learning the katakana and hiragana, but it's added stress knowing when to use it on top of the kanji. Aiya!

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There are conjugations, which I hate. Then, for the conjugations, you must be able to do it two different ways for formal and informal speech [teacher / friend]. Then, they have all sorts of particles, and impossible grammar rules.

That's why I quit learning Japanese a while back. Also you have to always place the verb after the object like "I a gift bought". Those of us who are used to hearing the verb preceding the object will have a hard time adjusting to that. Mandarin and English is similar in that the verb always precedes the object, "I bought a gift."

The Mandarin tones are the hardest, but practicing it is the fun part. My hypothesis is that those who can sing well should have an easier time mastering the tones. :wink:

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A third language cant hurt though :)

When I was learning putonghua/madarine.. It was my 6th language that I was learning....

Dutch, German, French, English and my own dialect are the other languages.

So a third cant hurt. Some people in Netherlands has more then 8. (I know a chinese girl has besides her own dialect wenzhou-hua also guangdong-hua and spanish and another language in nethelrands besides dutch "fries").

Good Luck :)

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I also think I'll try to pick up a another language in the long run after I consolidate my zhongwen. You might consider Turkish. Turkey is an amazing country that blends Western values and Muslim traditions. The people, food and landscape are all amazing, as is well known. But besides that, Turkish is closely related to Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Turkmen, Uighur and Uzbek.

I once had a Uighur friend who said he could understand radio broadcasts from Turkey. So in other words, in theory, you could learn one of these languages well and then use it as a base to travel throughout Central Asia. Although, the same Uighur told me that the grammar is fairly complex, with lots of cases like Russian or Latin.

The Mandarin tones are the hardest, but practicing it is the fun part. My hypothesis is that those who can sing well should have an easier time mastering the tones.

My friend's Italian girlfriend is a classically trained singer. Although she is just a Mandarin beginner, she does the tones better than almost any other laowai I've heard.

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How about learning Farsi (Persian)? It is in the Indo-European family of languages, so it is easier than Arabic. Plus the alphabet is phonetic, making it a breeze to learn compared to Chinese. It's got an interesting ancient culture, friendly people and some of the best poetry in any language, ever.


Rubayat of Omar Khayyam (born 1048, famous poet amongst other things)


Shahnameh (Ancient Kings of Persia)


Learning Farsi website:


If you learn it you could go to Iran and see Persepolis:


And eat lots of kebabs! And drink chai... :clap

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I've studied Chinese for about two years, and about half a year ago

I took up Japanese (technically, as my forth language). I'm very happy with the choice, and although I still continue studying Chinese, right now I find studying Japanese fun, and studying Chinese more of a chore (I'll try to persevere, though).

The grammar can be quite daunting at first, especially coming from Chinese with its (ahem) virtually nonexistant grammar. You need to learn conjugations, and what's more these conjugations are nothing like the ones found in Germanic languages such as English. Word order is SOV, rather than SVO as in English and Chinese, and even moreso than Chinese, everything is upside down compared to European languages.

However, once you get used to Japanese grammar, it's very regular and predictable. As a result I find it quite easy to learn how to express different things by using aproporiate grammatical structures. I sometimes feel Chinese grammar is just a little bit too suibian in this department...(*)

As for the writing, I sometimes regret choosing the two languages in the world with the by far worst writing systems in existance (from a purely linguistic point of view, of course :) Thankfully, however, they are related, and coming from Chinese you'll have a huge advantage since you'll probably know most the characters needed in a beginner's course. Furthermore, lots of vocabulary is shared, but it can be hard to remember the Japanese pronounciation.

(*) For instance, in Japanese something used as a verb will have a different form from when used as noun, and transitive/intransitive verbs often have different forms, etc. In Chinese, if something is a verb or a noun or can freely be used as both is all "guesswork".

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  • 1 month later...

I am learning Japanese.

It is VERY fun. Ha, I find it funny that pervious posters complain about kanji on a Chinese fourm...

There are way more that 2 different politeness levels.

I don't know why others find Japanese un-fun :conf .

It is really awesome! Well, I guess I would say that about any language that I studied for most of my life...

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I recently took up Spanish. The words are easy to learn as I studied Latin and French before, and it's nice to learn a language with grammar again, after four years of learning Chinese. Also, Spanish is spoken by a lot of people, and some good literature is written in it. So that would be my recommendation.

Chappie, you know a huaqiao who speaks Frisian?! Cool...

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am now learning Korean by myself. It's a very interesting langauge, both pronouciation and writing.

I speak wenzhou hua (i'm from there too) and Putong hua and I've learnt English for 6 years since middle school. And next year I'm going to learn French as my third foreign langauge. I decide to take Korean as my second. Learning by oneself is a little bit hard, but i'll go on. Learning Korean is a not bad choice.

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Bob, if you're learning for pleasure and not because you have to, my best advice is to learn a language of a people or country you have an interest in or can feel identified with somehow. Feeling excited about a language, its people and culture is a good sign. Just follow your heart (as cheesy as that may sound! LOL)

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