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Author Topic: Which (natural) language should I learn?  (Read 9447 times)
theymos
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March 27, 2012, 11:29:13 AM
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I need to take two semesters of a foreign language, but I'm not sure which language to learn. My choices are French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and German. I've been leaning slightly toward Chinese; I don't really like the "sound" of Romance languages, and Chinese culture seems interesting. I've heard that Chinese is pretty difficult, though, and it probably wouldn't be as useful as Spanish. Also, I intend to learn Japanese someday, and I'm worried that knowing the Chinese readings of characters would mess me up (or would it actually help?).

Any advice?

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March 27, 2012, 11:37:42 AM
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I need to take two semesters of a foreign language, but I'm not sure which language to learn. My choices are French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and German. I've been leaning slightly toward Chinese; I don't really like the "sound" of Romance languages, and Chinese culture seems interesting. I've heard that Chinese is pretty difficult, though, and it probably wouldn't be as useful as Spanish. Also, I intend to learn Japanese someday, and I'm worried that knowing the Chinese readings of characters would mess me up (or would it actually help?).

Any advice?

As a Chinese, I'm willing to remind you that learning Chinese is not that rewarding as learning IndoEuropean languages. You should be prepared that after one year of study, you will be still struggling reading element school level materials, while your friends who chose French are already happily reading Bastiat without any difficulty.

Not because Chinese is intrinsically harder. It's just too different from English in almost all aspects. Smiley

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March 27, 2012, 11:48:37 AM
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In 50 years, the majority of the world will speak English, Mandarin (Chinese) or Spanish. The Chinese are teaching English to their youngest generation in a big way. So Spanish will be the most "useful" language to learn.

Spanish is also easier to learn than Chinese. It is pronounced the way it is spelled, and uses the same alphabet as English. Fluency in Spanish will greatly increase your enjoyment as a tourist in Spain, the Canary Islands, most of South America, and much of the Carribean.

Of course, if "usefulness" and "ease of learning" are not your criteria, the field is wide open. French and Italian are beautiful languages, and open up the enjoyment of French and Italian movies. I would not bother with German. It's not an attractive language to my ear, and young Germans speak great English.

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March 27, 2012, 11:51:15 AM
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... Also, I intend to learn Japanese someday, and I'm worried that knowing the Chinese readings of characters would mess me up (or would it actually help?).
Learning ANY second language makes it easier to learn ANY third language. It wires up the brain for multiple languages. So don't worry about that.
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March 27, 2012, 12:03:38 PM
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March 27, 2012, 12:12:40 PM
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Whatever you do, stick to it.

I find learning any languages very rewarding, but you do need discipline to progress. If you constantly hop subjects when you're bored, your learning curve will never really catch up.

Find motivation and make a resolution not to abandon it for any long period. Don't do the OCD thing to study 12 hours a day three weeks and burn out, only not to touch it in 2 months. A steady, disciplined approach works SO much better.

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March 27, 2012, 01:52:36 PM
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I need to take two semesters of a foreign language, but I'm not sure which language to learn. My choices are French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and German. I've been leaning slightly toward Chinese; I don't really like the "sound" of Romance languages, and Chinese culture seems interesting. I've heard that Chinese is pretty difficult, though, and it probably wouldn't be as useful as Spanish. Also, I intend to learn Japanese someday, and I'm worried that knowing the Chinese readings of characters would mess me up (or would it actually help?).

Any advice?

As a Chinese, I'm willing to remind you that learning Chinese is not that rewarding as learning IndoEuropean languages. You should be prepared that after one year of study, you will be still struggling reading element school level materials, while your friends who chose French are already happily reading Bastiat without any difficulty.

Not because Chinese is intrinsically harder. It's just too different from English in almost all aspects. Smiley

Learn Chinese if you wanna learn Japanese someday. You won't regret it. The katakana(or was it hiragana?) alphabet for Japanese comes from Chinese. In fact, I don't know Japanese but I could survive for two weeks at Japan - you can pretty much figure out wtf those words are on the signboards if you know Chinese. Most of the similar-looking words have the same meaning. Also, ribuck has a good point there. Many countries are starting to set English as an must-take language in addition to their native tongue.

Friedcat has a point there - Chinese is damn hard to pick up if you don't have a base. However, most of the kids over my country learn 3 languages here, and some Indians even go to 4 as they learn Indian as their native language. I'm sure you wouldn't have any problems picking another language up.  Wink

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March 27, 2012, 02:37:01 PM
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you should learn swahili

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March 27, 2012, 04:06:38 PM
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one thing that hasn't been mentioned is that learning italian or spanish is almost like learning two languages in one.

out of those two i've only ever studied italian, but as a result i can understand a lot of spanish, purely because of my italian study.
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March 27, 2012, 04:21:14 PM
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I need to take two semesters of a foreign language, but I'm not sure which language to learn. My choices are French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and German. I've been leaning slightly toward Chinese; I don't really like the "sound" of Romance languages, and Chinese culture seems interesting. I've heard that Chinese is pretty difficult, though, and it probably wouldn't be as useful as Spanish. Also, I intend to learn Japanese someday, and I'm worried that knowing the Chinese readings of characters would mess me up (or would it actually help?).

Any advice?

Since your required to take the classes for your major, I suggest choosing one of these three: French, Chinese or German. Spanish, ergo Italian, could easily be learned via Rosetta Stone. Pick the one you desire to know more about its country of origin, unless you're concern about your GPA, then go with the easiest one of those three, albeit Spanish is the easiest of the five. ¿Comprende?

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March 27, 2012, 04:28:08 PM
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As a Chinese, I'm willing to remind you that learning Chinese is not that rewarding as learning IndoEuropean languages.

Agreed. It takes 5 years to bother speaking Chinese fluently and 10 to learn Hanji.

So Spanish will be the most "useful" language to learn.

Seconded. Out of all the languages Theymos mentioned, I think Spanish is the most useful and rewarding.

Learning ANY second language makes it easier to learn ANY third language. It wires up the brain for multiple languages. So don't worry about that.

At least when that language is in the same family of course. Learning Korean doesn't help me learn Vietnamese any easier at all. Learning English though sure does help me learn Spanish!

If you're in the US, Spanish, absolutely. You'll get to use it all the time.

Agreed. Languages are learned to use. Spanish is actually useful, although not very exotic in the USA. Too bad Korean is not on your list.

Whatever you do, stick to it.

Couldn't have said it better myself. I have never studied Korean once, but I'm fluent in reading, writing, speaking and listening, only because I stopped using English when I got here and wrapped my life around the process of using it continuously. The result? My English got worse every day, proving that continued usage is key.

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March 27, 2012, 04:32:52 PM
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Funny, Spanish is similar to Italian, as well as French and Portuguese... So if you learn one of those Romance languages you have access to pretty much hotties from latin america, spain, italy, and france

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March 27, 2012, 04:35:00 PM
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Learn Chinese if you wanna learn Japanese someday. You won't regret it. The katakana(or was it hiragana?) alphabet for Japanese comes from Chinese. In fact, I don't know Japanese but I could survive for two weeks at Japan - you can pretty much figure out wtf those words are on the signboards if you know Chinese. Most of the similar-looking words have the same meaning. Also, ribuck has a good point there. Many countries are starting to set English as an must-take language in addition to their native tongue.

So ... first, Hiragana and Katakana are the two parts of the written Japanese language that do not
come from Chinese (at least not directly). Both are in fact phonetic alphabets. The part of the written
Japanese language that come from Chinese are the Kanjis.

Second, I disagree that learning Chinese will help you with Japanese. Yes, knowing Chinese Hanzi will help you
figure out what's written around you in Japan, but the languages themselves are *fundamentally* different,
in spite of the fact that they use (more or less) the same ideograms.

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Friedcat has a point there - Chinese is damn hard to pick up if you don't have a base. However, most of the kids over my country learn 3 languages here, and some Indians even go to 4 as they learn Indian as their native language. I'm sure you wouldn't have any problems picking another language up.  Wink

Yeah, well.
It depends on your age.
Picking up a new language after 30 is damn hard.
OTOH, if you're in your twenties, you ought to be good.
Best way to learn Chinese: speak it. Even better: find yourself a Mandarin speaking girlfriend.

Oops, derped there with the kanji stuff - guess I do need more sleep.

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March 27, 2012, 04:38:22 PM
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I took 3 years of German because its very similar to English, thought it was a pretty easy class. Go with Spanish if you want something you'll use more often.

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March 27, 2012, 04:39:19 PM
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In 50 years, the majority of the world will speak English, Mandarin (Chinese) or Spanish. The Chinese are teaching English to their youngest generation in a big way. So Spanish will be the most "useful" language to learn.

Spanish is also easier to learn than Chinese. It is pronounced the way it is spelled, and uses the same alphabet as English. Fluency in Spanish will greatly increase your enjoyment as a tourist in Spain, the Canary Islands, most of South America, and much of the Carribean.

Of course, if "usefulness" and "ease of learning" are not your criteria, the field is wide open. French and Italian are beautiful languages, and open up the enjoyment of French and Italian movies. I would not bother with German. It's not an attractive language to my ear, and young Germans speak great English.



Don't discount the bolded part. Not having the hurdle of learning a different character set to get over will speed your acquisition immensely.

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March 27, 2012, 04:45:56 PM
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Funny, Spanish is similar to Italian, as well as French and Portuguese... So if you learn one of those Romance languages you have access to pretty much hotties from latin america, spain, italy, and france

Since Spanish, ergo Italian, Prtuguese and now French, can easily be learned via Rosetta Stone, your choices have been greatly narrowed to either German or Chinese. Since you're attending college, you need to make your decision based on the following two images.


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March 27, 2012, 06:01:55 PM
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Funny, Spanish is similar to Italian, as well as French and Portuguese... So if you learn one of those Romance languages you have access to pretty much hotties from latin america, spain, italy, and france

Since Spanish, ergo Italian, Prtuguese and now French, can easily be learned via Rosetta Stone, your choices have been greatly narrowed to either German or Chinese. Since you're attending college, you need to make your decision based on the following two images.




Also, the language will make literally make your ears bleed: it is very guttural and anything
but delicate. Wait till the hotties in the picture above start to actually open their mouth to say
something and you will run away scared.

My totally unbiased opinion, of course  Grin


My father is german and my mother speak french. I speak only ~50 german words but a hottie that speak german arouse me.

Mais la même chose se produit à peu prêt dans n'importe quel autre language! / But same things happen in virtually any language!

Bitcointalk is my first forum where I have to write in english. I see myself improving way faster than by only reading it. Smiley

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March 27, 2012, 06:40:26 PM
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Funny, Spanish is similar to Italian, as well as French and Portuguese... So if you learn one of those Romance languages you have access to pretty much hotties from latin america, spain, italy, and france

Since Spanish, ergo Italian, Prtuguese and now French, can easily be learned via Rosetta Stone, your choices have been greatly narrowed to either German or Chinese. Since you're attending college, you need to make your decision based on the following two images.




Also, the language will make literally make your ears bleed: it is very guttural and anything
but delicate. Wait till the hotties in the picture above start to actually open their mouth to say
something and you will run away scared.

My totally unbiased opinion, of course  Grin


My father is german and my mother speak french. I speak only ~50 german words but a hottie that speak german arouse me.

Mais la même chose se produit à peu prêt dans n'importe quel autre language! / But same things happen in virtually any language!

Bitcointalk is my first forum where I have to write in english. I see myself improving way faster than by only reading it. Smiley


But the German accent is so, so, so... You'll just have to view the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_VZdQ92pQc
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March 27, 2012, 06:49:59 PM
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Max Keiser Germany and China will be worlds only superpowers
theymos
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March 27, 2012, 07:45:31 PM
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Thanks for the responses! Smiley

Probably Spanish would look best on a résumé, but I almost never meet Spanish-speaking people who don't also speak fluent English (here in Wisconsin), so I'm not sure how useful it would be to me. I also can't think of any Spanish literature or media which might interest me. I feel like I would never use Spanish once I complete the required courses.

Sounds like Chinese is very difficult and likely not very rewarding, so now I'm leaning toward French. There's a ton of French film and literature which might be interesting, and there seems to be quite a few French-speaking people involved in P2P projects like Bitcoin, Freenet, and I2P, so French might be one of the more useful languages for communication I'm likely to engage in.

As a Chinese, I'm willing to remind you that learning Chinese is not that rewarding as learning IndoEuropean languages. You should be prepared that after one year of study, you will be still struggling reading element school level materials, while your friends who chose French are already happily reading Bastiat without any difficulty.

Not because Chinese is intrinsically harder. It's just too different from English in almost all aspects. Smiley

Ah, I hadn't realized learning Chinese would be so slow-going. Being unable to read anything substantial would make learning the language much more difficult, I'd imagine.

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