Why learn Chinese?

There is an increasing interest in learning Chinese these days. Different people have different motives. I have found learning Chinese to be a fascinating journey that has enriched my life in many different ways.

I am one of five judges who will choose the winner of the 2011 Miss Chinese Vancouver pageant. We will be interviewing the contestants in Chinese and English tomorrow afternoon, and this is followed by a Chinese dinner with them. Next Wednesday is the Gala Show on Fairchild TV, where yours truly will try not to make too much of a fool of himself.

For a look at the contestants, and to understand the advantages of learning Chinese, check out the photo gallery. Needless to say I am looking forward to a scintillating intellectual discussion and a great meal tomorrow. Ah the cultural delights of learning languages!


I hope your wife is ok with it :slight_smile:

A good example how important it is to learn traditional characters.

All who know only the simplified (and ugly)
华 or 选,
will maybe have problems to read
華 or 選.

And I assume that this pageant website will never be in simplified characters!
So, LingQ, come on! Where is the support of traditional Chinese characters?
Everybody wants read about these lovely ladies! :wink:

One thing I don’t understand is why many people say simplified characters are ugly. They look the same to me. Both are interesting.

When I learn Mandarin, I’m going to use the script which is most used: simplified. Most of the arguments against simplified seem to be aesthetics or political.

A pageant website? That’s the weakest argument I’ve ever seen. :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, the following video illustrates how much language matters in a beauty pageant anyway.

Well, hard as it is to say, the most detailed account of both sides of the simplified and traditional arugments is found on wikipedia’s page on the issue.

Having read through it and what both sides argued, I agreed more with the traditionalists. As Simplified has many flaws of it’s own, and seemed pointless to impliment in the first place. With increasing numbers of academics in PR China advocating a return to traditional form.

But, I want to learn Chinese because it is so fascinating the way it works and sounds. It’s what we call a nerdgasm.
Also being pretentious, I want bragging rights.

My position: learn both. Pick one first, then learn the other. Hardly a difficult task if you’re going to put the work into it to begin with. Do which is more important to you first. The political and other nonsense can go take a long stroll off a short pier! :smiley:

Regardless of all that: go Steve!!!

If you first learn Traditional, you’ll find it very easy to learn simplified afterwards. The other way around is just a pain. Starting with traditional will also help you to understand the characters more easily due to many “hints” within the character’s building blocks…

I agree with Hape and recommend doing this. It is not a lot more work. In any case it is the way I did it.

As I see it, the big problem is that most content is in simplified characters, not traditional. If there are tools for conversion, I wouldn’t feel very safe with doing that because I don’t know the scripts at all, so I wouldn’t be able to see any mistakes the converters would likely make.

Wenlin - http://wenlin.com - does a great job (simp-trad. / trad-simp. / character-to-pinyin conversions plus great dictionaries builtin). It’s GUI is a bit outdated, but it works great on both Mac and Windows.
See also this review: Wenlin 4.0 Review - Sinosplice

Being a Linux user, I’ll find a free tool which can do the same thing. The thing is that, one of the complaints that traditionalists have, is that many traditional forms have become the same in simplified characters. How can the converter work out which one is intended?

干 is such a character that has different traditional forms:

If I convert these simplified sentences with Wenlin:

Wenlin finds the correct traditional forms automatically from context with its built-in dictionaries:

So, it will never make a mistake? I’m too skeptical of computers to believe that, hahaha!

Taiwan’s got tons of material in traditional characters. I’m a big fan.