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Don’t learn Mandarin!

Chat in foreign languages or discuss language-learning.

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momopi
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Post by momopi » October 25th, 2013, 4:58 pm

Gentlemen, China (or any other country) is not going to change their native language or collapse tomorrow for your convenience. In addition to Chinese, other "category 3" languages include Arabic, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dialects (Cantonese, Taiwanese, Wu) that are among the most difficult to learn by native English speakers.

Consider, to learn Japanese, you need to learn katakana, hiragana, and kanji (Chinese characters). In this respect it's more difficult to learn written Japanese than Chinese, yet that did not stop Japan from becoming the economic powerhouse in post-WW2 Asia. Nor has China's 2,000-3,000+ year old (debatable depending on your view of bone script) writing system prevented the country's economic rise in recent decades.

The point that I've been trying to make here is that, John Reed's article (post #1 in this thread) and what he advocates is harmful to America's economic and security interests. Of all the articles published in Chinese, only a small fraction is translated and published in English. America depends on Americans who live domestically and abroad in China to learn the Chinese language and read everything they can about what's going on, and to provide accurate & factual analysis to American businesses and policymakers. The language being more or less difficult to learn is not an acceptable excuse to remain ignorant.

While ex-pats can choose to live in a happy bubble, to suggest that everyone else should do the same results in American scholars and analysts in colored glasses, indulging in their alphabetic-superiority fantasy and can't even point to the Chinese capital or Yangtze River on a map.

20 years ago (1993), the Chinese missile force didn't even have modern simulators and used cardboards and hand-drawn instruments for training: (see: 01:15)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtNtknd94X8&t=1m45s[/youtube]

If you went to China in 1993 and preached western technical superiority, you'd have had an audience. However, in this year (2013), Chinese missile defense export systems beat American, European, and Russian systems and won Turkey's $4 billion missile-defense contract. The Chinese HQ-9 (FD-2000) system is said to have hit all targets during test demonstrations while the others missed some, and the Chinese under-cut the competition by more than half a billion dollars.




While Westerners think that the Chinese are backward with an archaic language and lack innovation, the Chinese went from using cardboard boxes and markers to simulate computers 20 years ago, to exporting missile defense systems that beat American and European systems & at a lower price today. To a NATO country no less. The American government sent envoys to Turkey this month to "discuss" the bid and probably applying all kinds of carrot & stick tactics to get Turkey to change their minds. While the deal may or may not go through under US pressure, the Chinese has little reason to think that they'd remain technically backward today. Does Raytheon, maker of the Patriot missile system, think that the "archaic" Chinese language means that the Chinese will never make a better missile, despite the fact that it was the Chinese who invented rockets in the first place?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/ ... 9X20131024



Going back to Japan, their defense industry came close to replacing the US-made Aegis combat system with ESSM and SM-2 missiles in recent years. The Akizuki class DDG is equipped with Japanese made ATECS (advanced tech combat system / OYQ-11 & FCS-3A AAW (anti-air warfare) suite. It was supposed to be armed with AHRIM/XRIM-4 missiles developed from the Japanese Type 99 AAM. However the program was axed due to "budgetary concerns" and they went back to importing US-made ESSM missiles.

The Japanese XRIM-4 development program was looking into DRE (ducted rock engine propellant) system that would've eventually increased the missile's range from 100km-120km to 200km-350km. While the range is inferior to the SM-3 and SM-6, the Japanese would've effectively eliminated the need to import US made AAW system except for long-range ballistic missile defense. If and when they lift constitutional restrictions on the military, the Japanese defense industry would directly compete against Lockheed Martian on ship based AAW system exports.

Advanced weapon system exports is important to the defense industry, because that's one of their major source of revenue to off-set R&D costs. For example, when Taiwan buys US-made patriot missile systems, in addition to the purchase price, Taiwan must pay a share of the R&D cost, covering localization, anti-tampering, R&D for special export variant, and R&D for the original system development cost. Thus, the cost of R&D is spread out among the buyers, including the US DoD. When there are fewer buyers (and more competition), the cost of R&D is shared by fewer customers and thus each customer must pay more out of their defense budget.

Prior to WW2, Americans made fun of the Japanese saying that their slanted eyes render them unable to fly airplanes. Well, that sure didn't stop them from bombing Pearl Harbor. Would anyone in the US defense industry, specifically Lockheed Martian, like to make fun of the Japanese "archaic language" and claim that their lack of innovation means they will never be a competitor in the navy AAW systems market?

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Post by Billy » October 25th, 2013, 7:40 pm

It´s about a win-win situation. Shure maybe a diversity may also good otherwise there would probably be only left english. I am not shure if that would be good.

Chinese writings system kills so much energy where people could invest in something more useful. It´s not about who will dominate the West or China. They already work together in many projects and trades so a more effective communication could create a win-win situation. - I don´t think the Chinese want to be seen as aliens by the rest of the world.

Shure the Chinese made the first toy rocket but after that they slept for 1k years so maybe this time they will be quicker and changer at least their writing system. Tradition is interpretable. China were once communist now they are capitalist no need to be strict in staying to traditions.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17105569

momopi
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Post by momopi » October 25th, 2013, 10:46 pm

"Wishful thinking" is the formation of beliefs and making decisions, according to what might be pleasing to imagine instead of actual evidence, rationality, or reality.

Ladislav's comment from the first page this thread:

"Until these East Asian people ( in Asia) open up their minds, they cannot be allowed to run the world. They are just not ready- they are 50 years behind when it comes to cultural sensitivities. Americans are pretty bad, but those really take the cake"

Is an example of wishful thinking, as regional or global powers do not ask for permission to be "allowed" their positions of power. The British Empire didn't ask to be allowed to dominate the high seas, they did it by sinking the Spanish armada, then went on with their politically incorrect and snotty attitude around the globe.

If you haven't gotten this in your head yet, let me repeat it again. China, or any other country is not going to change their language for your convenience. Nor is China's non-alphabet writing system preventing the country from economic and technological progress today, or prevent China from increasing its literacy rate from ~20% in 1950 to ~95% today. Those who say "China cannot attain GDP of $10,000 per capita without democracy", or author books titled "the coming collapse of China" 10 years ago claiming that the country would fail within the decade, are also examples of wishful thinking.

The dangers of writing based on wishful thinking, or what YOU think someone else SHOULD do, instead of what they're ACTUALLY doing, goes beyond ignorance. The CSIS (Center for Strategic & International Studies), publisher of strategic analysis read by policy makers, have been known to publish articles on China's Africa policy that were later accused as "fabricated stories". The authors, research fellows and such, responded with various excuses including "this is what the Chinese should be doing".

Well, what they think the Chinese "should do", and what the Chinese are actually doing are often 2 different things. Should we base our foreign policy on fabricated analysis that do not match reality?

Here is a reality check: We need to improve our Chinese and Japanese (elective) foreign language course offerings at school, "difficult to learn" or "hard on the ears" is not an acceptable excuse. We need to impose stricter language proficiency & knowledge requirements for hiring analysts and research fellows. And instead of accusing the Chinese stealing American intellectual property, we need to send spies to China to steal their missile defense system technology. The Turks seem to think that the HQ-9/FD-2000 system has out-performed our Patriot missile defense system.

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Ghost
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Post by Ghost » October 26th, 2013, 8:04 am

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Post by TopSpruce » October 26th, 2013, 8:28 am

Whats with all this talk of China having a low GDP per capita? That doesn't matter.

Since China is so big, all it needs is for its development to reach the level of Polans or Slovakia for it to overtake the US as top economy.

This isn't a repeat of the 80s with Japan...that was a comparatively small country. And, when China starts extracting shale oil/gas they will speed up even faster in their overtaking the US.

Its not like the US will collapse...just like UK remained a wealthy nation after WW2, just not as powerful

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Post by Jester » October 27th, 2013, 6:32 am

momopi wrote:
If you went to China in 1993 and preached western technical superiority, you'd have had an audience. However, in this year (2013), Chinese missile defense export systems beat American, European, and Russian systems and won Turkey's $4 billion missile-defense contract. The Chinese HQ-9 (FD-2000) system is said to have hit all targets during test demonstrations while the others missed some, and the Chinese under-cut the competition by more than half a billion dollars.




While Westerners think that the Chinese are backward with an archaic language and lack innovation, the Chinese went from using cardboard boxes and markers to simulate computers 20 years ago, to exporting missile defense systems that beat American and European systems & at a lower price today. To a NATO country no less. The American government sent envoys to Turkey this month to "discuss" the bid and probably applying all kinds of carrot & stick tactics to get Turkey to change their minds. While the deal may or may not go through under US pressure, the Chinese has little reason to think that they'd remain technically backward today. Does Raytheon, maker of the Patriot missile system, think that the "archaic" Chinese language means that the Chinese will never make a better missile, despite the fact that it was the Chinese who invented rockets in the first place?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/10/ ... 9X20131024



Going back to Japan, their defense industry came close to replacing the US-made Aegis combat system with ESSM and SM-2 missiles in recent years. The Akizuki class DDG is equipped with Japanese made ATECS (advanced tech combat system / OYQ-11 & FCS-3A AAW (anti-air warfare) suite. It was supposed to be armed with AHRIM/XRIM-4 missiles developed from the Japanese Type 99 AAM. However the program was axed due to "budgetary concerns" and they went back to importing US-made ESSM missiles.

The Japanese XRIM-4 development program was looking into DRE (ducted rock engine propellant) system that would've eventually increased the missile's range from 100km-120km to 200km-350km. While the range is inferior to the SM-3 and SM-6, the Japanese would've effectively eliminated the need to import US made AAW system except for long-range ballistic missile defense. If and when they lift constitutional restrictions on the military, the Japanese defense industry would directly compete against Lockheed Martian on ship based AAW system exports.

Advanced weapon system exports is important to the defense industry, because that's one of their major source of revenue to off-set R&D costs. For example, when Taiwan buys US-made patriot missile systems, in addition to the purchase price, Taiwan must pay a share of the R&D cost, covering localization, anti-tampering, R&D for special export variant, and R&D for the original system development cost. Thus, the cost of R&D is spread out among the buyers, including the US DoD. When there are fewer buyers (and more competition), the cost of R&D is shared by fewer customers and thus each customer must pay more out of their defense budget.

Prior to WW2, Americans made fun of the Japanese saying that their slanted eyes render them unable to fly airplanes. Well, that sure didn't stop them from bombing Pearl Harbor. Would anyone in the US defense industry, specifically Lockheed Martian, like to make fun of the Japanese "archaic language" and claim that their lack of innovation means they will never be a competitor in the navy AAW systems market?
From my experience with Red Chinese aerospace engineers on a high pressure compressor design, back in the early 90's, I DO feel they are remarkably sloppy and imprecise. I presume because of an imprecise language. Remarkable that such a precise and analytical people have such an imprecise language, which seems well-suited to poetry or song rather than science.

Butlet's give credit where credit is due: these people INVENTED rockets.

AND they managed to humiliate the U.S. Navy with this stunt:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AMdHBgHtNE


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Ghost
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Post by Ghost » October 27th, 2013, 5:37 pm

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Post by Billy » October 28th, 2013, 9:45 am

here is a text from a comment which also deals with the matter of dance. probably chinese parents don´t invest time in dance as amongst others the writings system sucks so much time. there are other good arguments as well.

the way i see it is that chinese people become one dimensional. look at the spartans they gave emphasis on being a warrior but they didn´t make it. a healthy balance is important not only in financial and military matters but also soft power.
Apollo Wu said,

May 25, 2011 @ 2:04 am

The correlation between language difficulty and economic strength is an interesting but hard to measure. Language is a communication tool with numerous applications in many field. As a productive force, language contributes to the development of national power. Hence, we should setup independent criteria to compare different languages and should bear in mind that their demerits and merits often are linked together. In general, we should consider the learning cost as well as the usage value. As far as learning goes, it is absurd to assert that the more difficult the better. From the point of view of mental gymnastic, one can choose from many more interesting activities. Because of the need to concentrate in Hanzi learning, most Chinese has narrower scope of knowledge and experience. The lack of ethnic dances among the Han people in China seems to illustrate this situation. Chinese parents often strongly discouraged their children to spend time in dances and plays, as they are considered as distractions to their children’s learning efforts. However, learning character scripts by rote makes one feel helpless and unhappy and maybe detrimental to creativity, as language learning is not a creative process, but a cultural replication process.
Even more important is the utility of the writing system. Non-alphabetic Chinese and other alphabetic languages are analogous to cold weapon and hot weapon systems. Alphabetic languages simply have more fire-powers. Alphabet is a closed system suitable for machanical manipulations and computer processing. Alphabet can be arranged in sequential order. Non-alphabetic Hanzi system requires alphanumeric encoding (e.g. Pinyin), and it poor phonetic information leads to difficulty in verbal communication. Chinese routinely have to spend a lot of time to find what they want to get. The lack of order in Chinese script contributes to the chaos in daily live and the low per-capita production. Historically, Chinese society did have a early start in early age, because the lack of printing press minimized writing system disparity. All ancient great Chinese inventions were visual in nature, with no symbolic content. Since the Renaissance, the European societies benefited greatly from the use of the three great symbol systems, namely the alphabetic, numeric and the musical systems, which leads to great advances in all fields. On the other hand, Chinese society stagnated for more than a thousand years, and only recently developed under western influences. Chinese should find out why America only need two hundred years to develop from a primitive country into a highly developed superpower.

momopi
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Post by momopi » October 28th, 2013, 7:32 pm

Jester wrote: From my experience with Red Chinese aerospace engineers on a high pressure compressor design, back in the early 90's, I DO feel they are remarkably sloppy and imprecise. I presume because of an imprecise language. Remarkable that such a precise and analytical people have such an imprecise language, which seems well-suited to poetry or song rather than science.
The same imprecise or vague language argument can be applied to Japanese, but the difference is that Chinese is culturally more pragmatic and the Japanese are culturally more perfectionist. While one could argue that language use reflects culture, there is no vagueness or imprecision in say, non-alloy quality structural steel specs, regardless of writing it in English or Chinese. The problem is in China's QA/QC not being strict. Chinese architects and engineers know that they cannot always trust the steel quality, therefore they over-engineer with redundancy and safety when possible. But if you use the same steel in projects where the design has been cut to bare-minimum requirements (or less with corruption), you might have a problem when the next earthquake hits.

At one of my previous jobs, we ordered custom made components from Guangdong Sunwill Plastic Company and had problems with the quality. So I wrote and recorded QC process on video and sent it over. Again, there is nothing vague or imprecise about weight bearing requirement on a specific component, regardless of language. The difference is that once we insisted, they actually put some guys to work doing QC to specs and the quality issue was resolved.

When Taiwan purchased light rail hardware from Japan, the deal included industrial off-sets where certain components are manufactured in TW and shipped to Japan. The Japanese QA guys would reject Taiwan-made components based on minor cosmetic defects. That is, not only does the item have to fulfill functional specs and requirements, it had to be cosmetically perfect and flawless. A scratch or dent was unacceptable.

It is possible to have manufacturing in China (or Taiwan) and be perfectionist with the products, like Foxconn. However, you won't have a happy workforce because the Chinese tend to be happier working for themselves than working for someone else.


Jester wrote: Butlet's give credit where credit is due: these people INVENTED rockets.
AND they managed to humiliate the U.S. Navy with this stunt:
In the recent Turkish air defense missile bid, the Chinese system was up against US, European, and Russian systems. The Turks reported that, unlike the competitors, the Chinese offered the Turks custom demonstration. That is, US and European companies only demonstrated their systems under their specified scenarios, while the Chinese said "tell us what you want". The Turks had the Chinese do 9 tests and scored 9 out of 9 hits on all targets, while the competitor's system had "missed some".

What is even more disturbing is that, when US envoys arrived in Turkey to convince them not to buy Chinese, the reason cited was incompatibility with NATO systems. In other words, the American side is not disputing the test results, or saying that the Turks should buy American made Patriot missile system because it's a better product.



Billy wrote:here is a text from a comment which also deals with the matter of dance. probably chinese parents don´t invest time in dance as amongst others the writings system sucks so much time. there are other good arguments as well.
As a reminder, this thread is on the value of learning Mandarin today, and not on how Chinese language reforms might make them much more competitive. On that note, if an ex-pat in China were to believe such reforms would make China a more powerful competitor, then advocating it is not in the said ex-pat's best self interest. The stronger and richer that China gets, the lower the ex-pat's SMV (sexual market value).

Nobody is going to debate that Chinese is a difficult language - not even the Chinese themselves. However that does not mean the Chinese is going to reform or further simplify their language. As a matter of fact, in recent years there has been pushes to re-introduce Traditional Chinese characters in Mainland China, and no attempt for further simplification. Although the debate in National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference did not favor returning to traditional Chinese characters in primary school, the re-introduction of Traditional Chinese characters did receive ~40% popular support, in opposition to the government's current simplified Chinese character policy.

Repeating what I've said earlier, while it's acceptable for individual ex-pats to don their colored glasses and live in happy bubbles, advocating everyone else to not bother learning Chinese, as the original article of the thread stated, is harmful to the economic and security interests of America. What America needs is scholars and analysts who actually know the language, read the large volumes of Chinese publications and understand what is going on. Instead, we often get Panda Huggers (China optimists), Dragon Slayers (China pessimists), and folks with an Asian studies degree who can't point to the Yangtze River on the map calling themselves experts, writing articles and analysis based on impressions and wishful thinking.



TopSpruce wrote:Whats with all this talk of China having a low GDP per capita? That doesn't matter.
Since China is so big, all it needs is for its development to reach the level of Polans or Slovakia for it to overtake the US as top economy.
This isn't a repeat of the 80s with Japan...that was a comparatively small country. And, when China starts extracting shale oil/gas they will speed up even faster in their overtaking the US.
Its not like the US will collapse...just like UK remained a wealthy nation after WW2, just not as powerful
Some hold the Anglocentric opinion that China's "archaic and non-alphabet" language will prevent the country from growth and prosperity. Taiwan use Traditional Chinese which is even harder than China's Simplified Chinese, yet Taiwan's GDP per capita is >$20,000 (nominal - World Bank) & $39,400 (PPP - CIA world fact-book). Obviously, something other than the written language is accountable for the per capita income disparity between China and Taiwan.

The Japanese, with an even harder written language (must learn 3 writing systems!) may be smaller, but they're not out of the game. It was only in 2010 that China surpassed Japan as the world's 2nd largest economy. Japan held the #2 position behind US for 3 decades, and the only reason why the Japanese fleet isn't roaming the Pacific with carrier battle groups is because of their current defense policy, which will eventually change.


Image

Japanese Navy Izumo class and Hyuga class "helicopter destroyers". Or, flat-top aircraft carriers by another name...

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Re: Don’t learn Mandarin!

Post by AsiaHand » October 18th, 2015, 10:30 am

Reed is an assclown. He studied a 'bit' of Mandarin, then proceeds to say it is a waste of time. He doesn't know the first thing about the language. I stopped reading when he said it was a 'stupid' language. Languages are not 'stupid', but in this case, one jackball who tried (and failed) to learn Chinese may well be. Second, Chinese writing is not 'pictures'. That asinine statement disqualifies him from any authority to comment on anything Chinese-language related. This guy isn't qualified to read a fortune cookie.

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Re: Don’t learn Mandarin!

Post by xiongmao » October 20th, 2015, 10:24 pm

I got a new Chinese teacher and I feel I am advancing beyond the wall I hit before. I joined a level 3 (of 8) class and the level feels right. My Hanzi (character) recognition is higher than this though. I'll do my HSK exams early next year (scheduling them is proving a bit of a hassle). Over time, competition for teaching jobs will only increase in China, so a candidate with a good HSK score will be of interest to recruiters.

I've found learning Mandarin to be very rewarding. Memorising characters is tremendous brain exercise.

Also the standard of Chinese teacher out there is pretty good (especially outside of China!)
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Post by Ghost » October 21st, 2015, 2:32 pm

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Re: Don’t learn Mandarin!

Post by droid » October 21st, 2015, 2:49 pm

Ghost wrote:I'm only up to about 100 so far


:shock:
1)Too much of one thing defeats the purpose.
2)Everybody is full of it. What's your hypocrisy?

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Post by Ghost » October 21st, 2015, 7:15 pm

...
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Re: Don’t learn Mandarin!

Post by droid » October 21st, 2015, 9:52 pm

No no, I meant
:shock: Holy smokes 100, that's pretty good!

By the way, I was told the text on the phone by using a limited set of characters and going by context, is that true?
1)Too much of one thing defeats the purpose.
2)Everybody is full of it. What's your hypocrisy?

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