Are you for cereal? I found this hilarious and somewhat inspiring article that breaks down exactly why Chinese is hard.
While several things in the article are true, and funny because they are true I think the overall tone of desperation is for comedic effect. Chinese is hard, really hard, but its fun as hell. Maybe I’m just crazy for liking the challenge, but you can put together the pieces of the puzzle if you ask “why” enough. The radicals start making the characters look familiar, the sounds start becoming distinct, and the culture starts shining through. Im starting my third year, and I havn’t always been a good student, in fact I’ve never been truely studious. I just try to pay attention and I have had increasingly more fun speaking with Chinese people as my skill progresses. I mean, that’s what it’s really about for me anyway, just being able to talk to more people than I can now.
I have two issues with the article. The first one is serious about section 6. where the author talks about dictionaries. He never mentions electronic dictionaries. I payed about 50$ for a decent pocket sized electronic dictionary with a qwerty keyboard in china. All the menus are in chinese so I can’t use close to half of its functionality, but I’ll be damned if I ever use a paper dictionary again. When my skill progresses I’ll probably have to buy a traditional character one too, and eventually I’ll probably shop for a more sophisticated one. With these its much easier to look things up because you can choose between a couple different methods at the click of a button. Book dictionaries are much slower and have fewer options.
My second point is a small note on the cultural boundaries talked about in section 9. The author never mentions Friends, the hit american TV show. I am willing to bet that the average Chinese student of english knows at least twice as much about Friends as the average American that fits the target demographic for Friends. It’s sick how much they know. It is funny to be told you have a Chandler personality (or is it insulting?) out of the blue. My favorite was hearing “Sorry, I’m being a total Monica.”
I’m still waiting for the day that I am proficient enough to karoake Jay Chow…