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Posted: 1/3/2006 6:01:46 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2006 6:03:28 PM EDT by MagKnightX]
I want to take one of these languages, and have the option to do so. I'm kind of stuck trying to decide which one, though.

Japanese seems like it'd probably hold my interest longer, but I don't know. They all are very interesting (as are Gaelic [irish and scots], Welsh, Dutch, Attic/Biblical Greek, Biblical Hebrew, and about a thousand other languages, but these are whats practical for me to at least take a class in) to me, although none of them really have any use to me as such.

ETA: I've tried self-teaching myself a little of all of them, but can't get anywhere that way, not least because of the pronunciation, but also because I learn best with a tutor.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:03:46 PM EDT
Japanese seems practical to know.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:05:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By ARDunstan:
Japanese seems practical to know.



one thing i was always told.. if you learn something, be sure you have a way to use it practically, or it will not retain very well..
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:11:39 PM EDT
I say Japanese. English is the basically the official language of business, but Japan has the second largest economy after the USA, their influence is by no measure small, but they all speak english too. Compared to the other options you gave, I'd say Japanese.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:17:51 PM EDT
I studied Japanese for two years in college. In HS I had two years each of Latin and Spanish. IMO, Japanese is a fairly easy language to learn,not too difficult to pronounce,with a structure that makes sense,and two of the three alphabets (hHiragana and Katakana) are not too difficult to learn, and have the benefit of making you a bit literate in Japanese,also. Learning Mandarin Chinese seems a more daunting choice to me-there are tones to learn,and to be even marginally literate,you must learn 1000+ Chinese characters. I say this with only a passing knowledge of Chinese, so maybe others with more experience have a different opinion.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:17:54 PM EDT
I served with troops of the Finnish Army. They sure have some HOT wimminz!!!!!

That'd be my pick. I also respect them for what htey did to the Russians in the Winter War.


-K
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:21:50 PM EDT
Oh yes, one other thing: Whatever language you choose, it REALLY helps if you have a girlfriend that speaks it!
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:23:35 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2006 6:32:38 PM EDT by Black_Rifle_Fan]
Study Mandarin Chinese, I have used it everywhere I have travelled. When the French wouldn't speak to me or help me find directions in Paris, I could at least count on finding someone who spoke Mandarin to help. 1.3 billion Chinese can't be wrong and if you speak English also you have half the world covered. Also, not knocking Japanese, but their society is aging fast and their economy is stagnant. Their wages are very high so many Japanese companies are relocating to China. Like Japanese a lot of high paying jobs in the U.S. ask for Chinese skills, check Monster.com
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:25:22 PM EDT
I've been wanting to learn Japanese for awhile. So I vote Japanese.

(I promise this has nothing to do with my attraction for Japanese women. )
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:34:34 PM EDT


Mandarin
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:38:27 PM EDT
I'm through the first four Rossetta Stone lessons of Japanese. I know that hikoki means plane and that old ladies can dance.


Originally Posted By olds442tyguy:
(I promise this has nothing to do with my attraction for Japanese women.)


Nope. Absolutely none.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:40:28 PM EDT
Mandarin -- Useful if you're ever at a firm (or to get into a firm!) which deals in China.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:44:27 PM EDT
Are you in a career where you would need to use any of them, or where it might look better on a resume if you did?
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:49:16 PM EDT
I speak Mandarin pretty well. I've studied it for the past 3 years and I was there all summer with a study abroad program.


Learning Mandarin Chinese seems a more daunting choice to me-there are tones to learn,and to be even marginally literate,you must learn 1000+ Chinese characters. I say this with only a passing knowledge of Chinese, so maybe others with more experience have a different opinion.


Actually, you need to know approx. 2000-3000 characters to be able to read a newspaper. Altogether, there are about 66000 characters. But so many of them are very reduntant and have similar meanings and have therefore been eliminated over the years.

As for the tones, they are probably the trickiest part of the language. But there are only 4 of them, and if you have a good ear for music, it will probably help you quite a bit.

I'd be happy answer any questions you have about Mandarin. Good luck!

Brian
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 6:55:37 PM EDT
Mandarin or Japanese would be the most useful of the two in the modern world.

I've found that Mandarin Chinese is an easy language to gain some level of literacy in but a very difficult one to master. I find the differences from Western languages interesting from a linguistic standpoint. The language has a higher "bandwidth", so to speak. Speaking the language is a different matter altogether. You'd better be able to sing.

I have no personal experience with Japanese, but I dated a half-Japanese girl who was trying to learn it. She claimed it was too difficult and switched to Spanish. Also, when taking Japanese, you are sitting in a class with 400 lb freaks of nature whose only interests in life are attending Japanese class and masturbating to hentai in their mothers' basements. Expect half of each class to be occupied with arguments between these types and the teacher over some translation in some anime that their online Japanese girlfriends gave them.

That said, Japanese history is very fascinating and might be another reason to learn the language.

Finland has an interesting modern history, mainly the Winter War. But, maybe 1 million people speak the language. Why bother?

Don't discount the historical languages either, like Greek, Latin, or Hebrew. They'll help you out with certain types of women once you get to college.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:31:49 PM EDT
Finnish!!

"One night in Helsinki makes a hard man humble......"
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:34:48 PM EDT
Japanese.

I have come to the conclusion that even Chinese people really can't read, write or speak Mandarin and they are simply making it all up as they go along which is why I can't learn it.

I don't think Finnish is a real language either...

Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:36:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By jeep44:
I studied Japanese for two years in college. In HS I had two years each of Latin and Spanish. IMO, Japanese is a fairly easy language to learn,not too difficult to pronounce,with a structure that makes sense,and two of the three alphabets (hHiragana and Katakana) are not too difficult to learn, and have the benefit of making you a bit literate in Japanese,also. Learning Mandarin Chinese seems a more daunting choice to me-there are tones to learn,and to be even marginally literate,you must learn 1000+ Chinese characters. I say this with only a passing knowledge of Chinese, so maybe others with more experience have a different opinion.



Japanese - 1,945 characters (Kanji) in accepted usage with 5,000+ known to exist.

Chinese - 5,000+ charaters in accepted usage with 10,000+ known to exist.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:40:32 PM EDT
Finnish is about as useful as Hungarian!
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:40:56 PM EDT
I speak Finnish, I would not chose to learn that in your shoes because while I love the Finns deeply and their country, it's not a very practical language. There's only 5 million finns and they ALL speak English.

Plus I don't think Finnish is learnable if you don't live there. I was there for two years.


I would learn Mandarin. As their economy continues to grow and expand, knowing chinese will become increasingly important and usefull.

A buddy came home from Hong Kong at the same time I came home from Finland. I could speak Finnish, whoopee but he was importing coats and cell phones and making a killing of it.

Learn Mandarin. Finnish is AWESOME but there are mor practical languages.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:47:05 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2006 7:48:28 PM EDT by SevenMMmag]

Originally Posted By Black_Rifle_Fan:
Study Mandarin Chinese, I have used it everywhere I have travelled. When the French wouldn't speak to me or help me find directions in Paris, I could at least count on finding someone who spoke Mandarin to help. 1.3 billion Chinese can't be wrong and if you speak English also you have half the world covered. Also, not knocking Japanese, but their society is aging fast and their economy is stagnant. Their wages are very high so many Japanese companies are relocating to China. Like Japanese a lot of high paying jobs in the U.S. ask for Chinese skills, check Monster.com



+1

It would probably be the most application language to learn. Chances are that in the future, you may work for a company that does business in China due to their rapid growth. You'll get the upper hand if you have experience with the language.

It is pretty damn hard though. I was born in China and I can't read or write it; I can only speak and understand.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 7:56:05 PM EDT
I am half Japanese, and speak it as well.

Which ever country you intend to visit is the one you should choose.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 8:01:12 PM EDT
Japanese.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 8:17:19 PM EDT
All the Fiinns speak English (and Swedish) so it doesn't make a lot of sense to learn the language.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 8:18:58 PM EDT
What is your motivation/purpose for taking on a language? I have learned languages for business, travel, study, to read a work in the author's language, and for strategic/work reasons.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 8:26:55 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Big_Louie:
Also, when taking Japanese, you are sitting in a class with 400 lb freaks of nature whose only interests in life are attending Japanese class and masturbating to hentai in their mothers' basements. Expect half of each class to be occupied with arguments between these types and the teacher over some translation in some anime that their online Japanese girlfriends gave them.



So you want to learn Japanese...

I was lucky enough to JUST skip in under the wave on this trend when I took it.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:10:44 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TRW:
"One night in Helsinki makes a hard man humble......"



Why would any man want to 'have his hardness humbled'?

I vote Chinese.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 9:41:40 PM EDT
I would go with Manderin Chinese. The Chinese language has changed very little in in the past 2000 years. If someone from past China came to the present day, he/she would have a very easy time communicating with present day Chinese. This is not so, for instance in English, how many people have problems with Will Shakespaere's Old English?

The following from the Los Angeles Times is somewhat related to the original topic, but not exactly:
================================================================
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cantonese3jan03,0,7885274,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

From the Los Angeles Times
COLUMN ONE
Cantonese Is Losing Its Voice
At home with a spicy tongue that can make words of love sound like a fight, they are having to learn its linguistic kin, the mellower Mandarin.
By David Pierson
Times Staff Writer

8:20 PM PST, January 2, 2006

Carson Hom's family has run a thriving fortune cookie and almond cookie company in Los Angeles County for 35 years.

And for much of that time, it was a business that required two languages: Cantonese, to communicate with employees and the Chinese restaurants that bought the cookies, and English, to deal with health inspectors, suppliers and accountants.

But when Hom, 30, decided to start his own food import company, he learned that this bilingualism wasn't enough anymore.

He checked out the competition at a recent Chinese products fair in the San Gabriel Valley and found that he couldn't get much further than "hello" in conversing with vendors.

"I can't communicate," said Hom, whose parents are from Hong Kong. "Everyone around used to speak Cantonese. Now everyone is speaking Mandarin."

Cantonese, a sharp, cackling dialect full of slang and exaggerated expressions, was never the dominant language of China. But it came to dominate the Chinatowns of North America because the first immigrants came from the Cantonese-speaking southern province of Guangdong, where China first opened its ports to foreigners centuries ago.

It is also the chief language of Hong Kong, the vital trading and financial center that became China's link to the west.

But over the last three decades, waves of Mandarin-speaking mainland Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants have diluted the influence of both the Cantonese language and the pioneering Cantonese families who ran Chinatowns for years.

The surging Chinese economy today has challenged Cantonese further. Because Mandarin is China's official language, entrepreneurs like Hom have been forced to adapt, often learning the hard way that business can't be done with Cantonese alone.

Many Cantonese speakers are racing to learn Mandarin any way they can — by watching Chinese soap operas, attending schools, paying for expensive immersion courses and even making more Mandarin-speaking friends. This is no cinch. Although Cantonese and Mandarin share the same written language, they are spoken as differently as English and French.

At the same time, few people are learning Cantonese. San Jose State University and New York University offer classes, but they are almost alone among colleges with established Cantonese communities. The language is not taught at USC, UCLA, Pasadena City College, San Francisco State or Queens College in New York, to name a few.

With the changes, some are lamenting — in ways they can do only in Cantonese — the end of an era. Mandarin is now the vernacular of choice, and they say it doesn't come close to the colorful and brash banter of Cantonese.

"You might be saying 'I love you' to your girlfriend in Cantonese, but it will still sound like you're fighting," said Howard Lee, a talk show host on the Cantonese language KMRB-AM (1430). "It's just our tone. We always sound like we're in a shouting match. Mandarin is so mellow. Cantonese is strong and edgy."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Cantonese is said to be closer than Mandarin to ancient Chinese. It is also more complicated. Mandarin has four tones, so a character can be intonated four ways with four meanings. Cantonese has nine tones.

Beginning in the 1950s, the Chinese government tried to make Mandarin the national language in an effort to bridge the myriad dialects across the country. Since then, the government has been working to simplify the language, renamed Putonghua, and give it a proletarian spin. To die-hard Cantonese, no fans of the Communist government, this is one more reason to look down on Mandarin.

Many say it is far more difficult to learn Cantonese than Mandarin because the former does not always adhere to rules and formulas. Image-rich slang litters the lexicon and can leave anyone ignorant of the vernacular out of touch.

"You have to really listen to people if you want to learn Cantonese," said Gary Tai, who teaches the language at New York University and is also a principal at a Chinese school in Staten Island. "You have to watch movies and listen to songs. You can't learn the slang from books."

Popular phrases include the slang for getting a parking ticket, which in Cantonese is "I ate beef jerky," probably because Chinese beef jerky is thin and rectangular, like a parking ticket. And teo bao (literally "too full") describes someone who is uber-trendy, so hip he or she is going to explode.

Many sayings are coined by movie stars on screen. Telling someone to chill out, kung fu comedian Stephen Chow says: "Drink a cup of tea and eat a bun."

Then there are the curse words, and what an abundance there is.

A four-syllable obscenity well known in the Cantonese community punctuates the end of many a sentence.

"I think we all agree that curse words in Cantonese just sound better," said Lee, the radio host. "It's so much more of a direct hit on the nail. In Mandarin, they sound so polite."

His colleague, news broadcaster Vivian Lee, chimed in to clarify that the curse words were not vindictive.

"It's not that Cantonese people are less educated. They're very well educated. The language is just cute and funny. It doesn't hurt anyone," said Lee, who does the news show on the station five days a week. "The Italians need body language. We don't need that at all. We have adjectives."

To stress a point or to twist a sentence into a question, Cantonese speakers need only add a dramatic ahhhhhhh or laaaaaaa at the end.

Something simple like, "Let's go" becomes "C'mon, lets get a move on!" when it's capped with laaaaa.

By comparison, with Mandarin from China, what you see is what you get. The written form has been simplified by the Chinese government so that characters require fewer strokes. It is considered calmer and more melodic.

Take the popular Cantonese expression chi-seen, which means your wires have short-circuited. It is used, often affectionately, to call someone or something crazy. The Mandarin equivalent comes off to Cantonese people sounding like "You have a brain malfunction that has rendered your behavior unusual."

The calm tones of Mandarin are heard more and more around Southern California's Chinese community.

Even quintessential Hong Kong-style restaurants, including wonton noodle shops, now have waitresses who speak Mandarin, albeit badly, so they can take orders. Elected officials in Los Angeles County, even native Cantonese, are holding news conferences in Mandarin.

Some Cantonese speakers feel besieged.

Cheryl Li, a 19-year-old Pasadena City College student whose parents are from Hong Kong, is studying to become an occupational therapist and volunteers at the Garfield Medical Center in Monterey Park, where most of the patients are Chinese.

Recently, she was asking patients, in Mandarin, what they wanted to eat. When one man thought her accent was off, he said, "Stupid second-generation Chinese American doesn't speak Mandarin."

Li responded angrily, "No! I was born here. But I understand enough."

"We're in the minority," she added, reflecting on the incident. "I'm scared Cantonese is going to be a lost language."

Still, Li is studying Mandarin.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


There are places where Cantonese is protected and cherished.

At a cavernous Chinese seafood restaurant in Monterey Park, members of the Hong Kong Schools Alumni Federation gathered in a back room to munch on stir-fried scallops, pork offal soup and spare ribs.

It was a regular monthly meeting of the group and a sanctuary for Hong Kong Chinese people who take comfort eating and joking with fellow Cantonese speakers.

"I just can't express myself as freely in Mandarin," said Victor Law, an accountant who left Hong Kong to attend college in the U.S. 34 years ago. "That's why we have this association. I feel like we're the last of a dying breed."

For Law, it's not just the language but many Cantonese traditions that are on the decline. He says it's now hard to find a mah-jongg game that uses Hong Kong rules instead of Taiwanese rules, a distinction concerning how many tiles you use.

"I'm not ready to be a dinosaur," said Amy Yeung, president of the alumni group.

To the trained ear, it was instantly apparent that this was a gathering of Cantonese speakers. The room was deafeningly loud with everyone talking. Even serious discussions were punctuated with wise cracks.

When Yeung announced that members could get seats and walk the red carpet at an Asian film festival, the room erupted in unison in the only way a Cantonese person expresses astonishment.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Near the end of the night, Yeung had important news. A mother in Hong Kong called to say she was moved to tears by a scholarship the federation had given to her daughter to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"She told me to tell you all, 'Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I didn't know there were such good people in the world,' " Yeung said.

The room fell silent for a moment. Sensing the awkwardness and, God forbid, self-congratulatory tone of the story, Law blurted, "Does she know how to cook?"

Everyone laughed and another successful meeting came to an end.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The alumni association can afford to lament. Many of them speak Mandarin already. But many Cantonese speakers are finding out now that they have to learn Mandarin or risk being left behind in business or even within their families.

To learn Mandarin, Joyce Fong sits in her favorite black leather massage chair in front of her living room TV and goes through Chinese soap operas on DVD. Some are about ancient Chinese dynasties. Others focus on the story of a single mother. And a few are Korean programs dubbed into Mandarin.

The 67-year-old retiree says she has to pick up the language if she hopes to be able to communicate with her 9-year-old and 5-year-old grandsons in China.

The boys had been living with their parents in the Bay Area, but the family decided to move to China a year ago so that Fong's son, Gregory, could take a job at a university and also raise his children immersed in Chinese culture. Although the grandchildren will also speak English, they will primarily use Mandarin at school, Fong said.

"I want to encourage them. I tell them, 'Grandma is trying to learn Mandarin too,' " said Fong, who immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong 53 years ago and is socially involved in L.A. Chinatown through her family association.

Walnut City Councilman Joaquin Lim grew up in Hong Kong and immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s. For decades in California, he found he could get by with English and Cantonese.

But that changed when he decided to get into politics a decade ago.

Running for the school board in his suburban community, Lim quickly realized that most of his Chinese constituents in the Eastern San Gabriel Valley were newcomers who didn't speak Cantonese.

So Lim had his Mandarin friends speak to him in their mother tongue. He watched movies in Mandarin and listened to Mandarin songs. By the time he ran for City Council in 1995, he felt comfortable enough with the language to campaign door-to-door and talk to Mandarin residents.

But there's always room for improvement — as Mandarin speakers are quick to remind him when he gives speeches. A few months ago, he was speaking to the Chinese language media at a news conference announcing a task force to improve health standards in Chinese restaurants.

As he spoke in Mandarin, fellow task force member Anthony Wong interrupted him in mid-sentence to correct his grammar.

The ethnic Chinese reporters chuckled, acknowledging that his Mandarin was a work in progress.

Lim recently spoke at a graduation ceremony in Cal Poly Pomona for government officials from central China who took a four-week course in American administrative practices.

Lim thought it went well. But the leader of the Chinese delegation had a slightly more reserved review: "It's much better than most Cantonese-speaking people."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 10:16:08 PM EDT
Personally, I'd take Arabic.

There's going to be FAT cash for fluent Arabic speakers for a long time, particularly if you aren't a native.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 11:04:52 PM EDT
Mandarin.


Japan may be the second largest economy after the US, but most of the ones you will deal with in business speak English.


If they don't, you can still communicate with them if you know Mandarin, since they have a common writing system. That's the only way I was able to get around Nagasaki as a tourist.


1.3 BILLION people speak Mandarin, and as all you xenophobes point out, Walmart does a lot of business with China, opening a huge market....
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 11:30:48 PM EDT
The major problem with learning Mandarin is that it doesn't much matter how well you speak it; if you're talking to a Chinese native speaker, then the instant they see you are not Chinese they will be mentally incapable of acknowledging that you can speak any. They will look at you with total incomprehension as if you are a talking dog, won't understand anything you say, and will generally behave like total asshats.

One of my goals in moving to Taiwan was to learn enough Mandarin to be useful to me. It hasn't worked out. And it won't ever work out. A friend speaks fluent Mandarin and even Taiwanese, and over the phone the locals will talk to him without any problem. The moment he tries to talk to a native in person, it's talking-dog time again.

Learning to read Chinese may have some benefit, but that is also very difficult, especially since character combinations are used to mean various other things. It is perfectly ordinary to be going past a billboard, to ask your college-educated, highly intelligent Chinese native speaking friend what something on the board means, and to be told "I don't know, I've never seen those two characters together before."

But this is the view of a cynical and disillusioned expat, so take it however you want.

Finnish isn't particularly useful in the world. I'd suggest Japanese or Russian, unless you have the hots for Finnish babes.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 11:34:57 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/3/2006 11:39:23 PM EDT by julenissen]

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
All the Fiinns speak English (and Swedish) so it doesn't make a lot of sense to learn the language.



I wouldn't try to communicate with Finns based on Swedish.

In addition to the ~5M Finns you should be able to communicate with Estonians, but the language is pretty much a waste of time to learn.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 11:36:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 71-Hour_Achmed:
unless you have the hots for Finnish babes.



In that case, slap on a Stetson and practice your Texas drawl. Europeans love the Wild West.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 11:38:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Mall-Ninja:
Mandarin.


Japan may be the second largest economy after the US, but most of the ones you will deal with in business speak English.


If they don't, you can still communicate with them if you know Mandarin, since they have a common writing system. That's the only way I was able to get around Nagasaki as a tourist.


1.3 BILLION people speak Mandarin, and as all you xenophobes point out, Walmart does a lot of business with China, opening a huge market....



I went back and forth between Japanese and Manderin....Is Manderin the dominant language in China? I thought there were several different languages. If it is the dominant language, I would agree.
Link Posted: 1/3/2006 11:54:42 PM EDT
Mandarin!

Mandarin is the most useful language currently, and when all the business people will NOT SHUT UP ABOUT CHINA, you will probably have a practical use for it in the future. If you learn japanese, you can...

-play japanese video games
-read japanese comics
-understand what people are saying in crazy japanese porn.

really good if you have hobbies related to Japan... but otherwise, chinese is definately the thing to learn. Chinese porn, comic books, and regular movies aren't bad either. I've never seen chinese porn though, given how most chinese speaking countries are much more puritan and try to ban it.

Also, they did a study and found that in all practicality, you only need to learn 1000 chinese characters to communicate effectively... Which is roughly equivalent to a 4th grade level. If you continue learning more, you just learn sayings, and more "fancy" and elitist ways of saying the same things. Much like in the english language you get "vernacular" and "fancy speak"

Link Posted: 1/4/2006 1:03:26 AM EDT


I have no personal experience with Japanese, but I dated a half-Japanese girl who was trying to learn it. She claimed it was too difficult and switched to Spanish. Also, when taking Japanese, you are sitting in a class with 400 lb freaks of nature whose only interests in life are attending Japanese class and masturbating to hentai in their mothers' basements. Expect half of each class to be occupied with arguments between these types and the teacher over some translation in some anime that their online Japanese girlfriends gave them.



Thankfully, I took my Japanese back in the '70s, and none of that anime crap had popped up yet, so we didn't have a class full of fat fanboys. Japan was riding high at that time,so most of the people were taking it for the same reasons as those taking Chinese now. Thirty years later, all I do with it is talk with my Korean Mother-in-law (She learned it in Japanese-occupied Korea).
Link Posted: 1/4/2006 1:10:35 PM EDT
Hmm. The consensus seems to be for mandarin (with Japanese a close second), but I have a couple questions.

I know Standard Mandarin is the official language of the PRC and the ROC, but how many people in those countries actually speak Standard Mandarin (as opposed to another dialect of Mandarin, Cantonese, or another Chinese dialect)? Isn't it kind of like, while everybody is supposed to know enough of it to communicate, not many really do?

Do most places in the US teach the Traditional Hanzi or have they moved to Simplified?
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 12:47:42 PM EDT
For my question to you answer, the bump is this.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 1:06:53 PM EDT

Originally Posted By mcgredo:
All the Fiinns speak English (and Swedish) so it doesn't make a lot of sense to learn the language.



Most younger Finns speak English, but older ones don't. Also most of the country doesn't speak much Swedish outside of Helsinki.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 1:20:20 PM EDT
Might as well be Mandarin. The Chinese will be runnning the world in 30 yrears or so. At least you will be in on the ground floor.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 1:20:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TRW:
Finnish!!

"One night in Helsinki makes a hard man humble......"



I believe you got that backwards
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 1:23:56 PM EDT
Learn Mandarin! The language of our future overlords!
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 1:36:05 PM EDT
The only languages that will count for anything in 100 years will be English and Mandarin.

Mandarin will be useful in a lot more places than Japanese.
Link Posted: 1/5/2006 7:00:00 PM EDT
A lot of formal programs teach simplified now. Traditional is only used in Taiwan and some scattered areas in the south of China. The official is simplified, I believe.
Link Posted: 1/6/2006 7:12:33 AM EDT
Well, I will throw my 2 cents in.
Turns out Mandrin is actually the easiest to learn how to speak. According to computer programers. The first programs were taught that because there are a few things missing that make it easier compared to western languages.
For instance unlike french and english, there are no tenses for verbs. You say you do this, and you say when. It isn't I said I did this and I did it then.
Also there are no male or female words crap like spanish. So you say that person rather than him or her. Ever notice Chinese that learn to speak english have a hard time with pronouns like that.
As for who speaks it, I know that Cantonese is supposed to be more prevelent, but honestly I have never gone to anyplace that they only spoke cantonese. Now be prepared if you actually plan on using it, that there are accent problems just like here. The guy with a canjun accent is pretty hard to understand if you are from maine. Not as bad as if you were from the mid west and so on.
In my travels, I have found it pretty useful in the majority of asian countrys. Singapore made it one of their 3 official languages. As someone said, funny enough, it was useful in Paris to me. There was a group of Chinese tourists and I needed to find something, and they helped out as well.
But as time goes on, and I don't use it, I find my vocabulary is slipping. As it is, I probably am a kindergardner in vocabulary. It is pretty easy to pick up on converstations around me by context, but I don't know all the words anymore. So if you don't use it, just like anything else, don't expect to keep it.
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