I thought this was a fascinating article: "To Improve Kids' Chinese, Some Kids Move to Asia"

But before one commits to a relocation, here are some of my thoughts on the characteristics of the language.

1) The pronunciation and writing of any character are totally independent - requiring double efforts not only in learning but also in maintaining the skill of the language; In this computer age, due to phonetic typing mechanisms, many natives often forget the actual writings of a lot of characters.

2) Every word, normally combined with two characters, has a lot of words with same or similar pronunciation but totally different meanings; This results in constant misunderstandings or the need of verifications in daily life. As an example, a recent laughter amongst a few friends was like this: the first guy mentioned there are a lot of huihuier (an informal word for a Muslim ethnic called Hui), the second guy responded he did't see any wenwuier (mosquitos), then the third guy said where are the kuihuaer (sunflowers). They were not joking but simply misunderstood one another.

3) The language is not well structured - meaning that many sayings can have different meanings resulting in people constantly having to rethink what the other person really meant. Writers throughout history have made use of this character in their works.

4) The nature of ambiguity from the language has actually become a tradition in ordinary communications, totally ignoring the very purpose of communications.

5) There are so many dialects, some of which are nearly of total independence. Even though most speak the official dialect, Mandarin, people from regions of different dialects don't communicate intimately.

6) In spite of being an old language, it had a big makeover during the last 100 years or so, resulting in ancient literatures nearly not understood at all by the modern contemporaries. Don't expect to understand Confucius or Sun Tzu at all after you learn the modern language for 10 years or even longer.

7) I speculate one amongst other well analyzed reasons why the industrial revolution didn't happen in China is fundamentally because of the language. The language, not being alphabetic, prevented algebra, which is basically a natural extension of an alphabetic language, from coming about in China.

8) Not getting algebra was an old pity. Not being easily handled by computers as well as by the entire IT systems for automatic processing then is the current one that the speakers of the language have to swallow.





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