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Thread: help with translation (Mandarin language translation)

  1. #11
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    Hakka, thats what it was....


    Also if im not mistaken, That language originally did not have a writing system (kind of like Vietnamese which is why you always see Vietnamese written romanized) which is why i made my comment on an earlier post about the characters.

    sorry if i caused any confusion...tho i cant say itll be the last time


  2. #12
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    dogchow108

    Yeah, Taiwanese has no writing system of it's own. It uses 漢字.

    xing_jian108,

    I'm merely trying to say that you can't call the Chinese spoken in Taiwan Taiwanese. Taiwanese is Hakka. (guess that' s clear though)

    But I have to ask, what's with the foreigner comment? It may be so that Shanghainese will be easier without tones for people to learn, but the comment is a bit silly. I only take notice to this type of comment cause I live here, and, well, the reality is many Chinese have preconceived notions about so-called foreigners and how they are incapable of grasping the language, because of the tones, which is absolutely not the case.

    Isn't one of your parents Chinese and the other "foreign?" You live in the States, no?

    (just kicking up some ****)

    g

  3. #13
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    What I meant by that was for Chinese speakers of another dialect, it's easier because they are Chinese. They are used to speaking with tones whereas other foreign languages don't have these tones on every word. So it is something totally new to foreign learners of Chinese, and therefore more difficult to learn. Not to say that they can't learn it well and be good at speaking it. It's just something new to them while the Chinese are used to tones. Wouldn't you agree?

    I've just lived in USA this century. But yes, my mother's side of the family is not Chinese. It's the reason I know how to speak English as well.

  4. #14
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    Onesp1ng- I agree with you 1,000% on the foreigner thing. Its really one of the few things about Chinese/Eastern culture that i just cant stand.

    and Xing, FYI, My Cantonese-speaking friends who sat with me in Mandarin asked me for tutoring. Also, i can pronounce things in Cantonese "off the bat" so to speak, better than most of my Mandarin-speaking friends. The idea commonly held by Chinese that foreigners cannot learn dialects of Chinese as well as Chinese can is a myth.

    It usually depends on two major factors...

    -How long you've been practicing. Especially pertient to language, from what age. (I imagine you are aware of the research regarding human development parallel to linguistic development)

    -How much effort you put into it.

    ...which really should resemble what a lot of people define as "kung fu". Theres a good reason why people often compare martial arts to learning a language.

  5. #15
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    Well, what I said was that Shanghainese would be easier because it has no tones. Would you agree or disagree that a dialect with no tones would be easier to learn than a dialect with many tones that you must memorize on each word of your sentences? Of course you can be understood by normal context clues, but to really get the language down well you need to know the tones of each word you are using. Wouldn't it be easier to learn, and speak well, a dialect with no specific tones on each word?

  6. #16
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    Xing Jian, before i go on here, how many dialects of chinese are you fluent in? and by that i dont mean this and that type of mandarin, i mean like the difference between Mandarin, and, say, Cantonese. How many dialects of Chinese with extremely significant differences do you speak?


    Having asked that, i'll get to my point.

    It may be easier for chinese to learn a second dialect of their language, but your statement regarding tones as a factor seems extremely arbitrary. heres a few reasons why:

    -My Hong-Kongnese friends who came with me into the chinese class this year, did TERRIBLE. They had to study just to pass.

    -My mandarin speaking friends who are not native Cantonese speakers have the same problem, even in little instances where i will sit at a mult-dialectual table and hear them try to teach each other.

    -Many of my Cantonese-speaking friends, when really called on it, cannot explain the tones of their own language to another chinese, much less learn the seemingly basic and would-be easy-to-learn-for-Chinese Mandarin tones.

    -the Chinese people i know who are fluent in both dialects (amongst others) have spoken the languages, both of them, ALL their lives.

    -here are some interesting ones- My mandarin pronunciation and sometimes even vocabulary is already better after 6-10 months of Mandarin than is most of my Mandarin friends' English- people who have lived here for years. Do i fond tones to be a problem? no...except in the case that its a new word i didnt know. the same way that words in English can have different meanings.

    -More? I am often told that i manage to pronounce Cantonese words better than Mandarin-speaking friends who try with me. And I am not the only "foreigner" who i have seen receive this compliment.

    Now, regarding the familiarity with the ambiguities brought about by tones-

    Even in the sense of the concept being familiar- i agree, it is alien at first, but i think you are making more of it than it really is. First off, you ARE aware, that English has tones. right? second, are you aware that i just used an example? in the same way that a tone in chinese can change the meanin of a word, or even a sentence, the same can happen in English. If you are not aware of this (as i was once oblivious to how important this can be), i really would suggest you read a bit about the tonal linguistics of English. This is something i got to do mor than my fair share of when my Taiwanese girlfriend lived here struggling through her master's degree in English Education. I really think that the complexity of it will surprise you.

    tones exist in English too, and English speakers use tones in ways completely alien to Chinese speakers. you can argue that to really get the language down well you need to know the tones of each word you are using. fine, then in order to really "get it" in English, the same should apply- and i see a lot less Chinese use this concept in English than i see Wai-Guo ren properly use chinese tones. So in my opinion, the tone thing goes out the window as far as it being more difficult for lao wai to learn.

    This is the exact opposite of what you claim- the idea that familiarity with tones is a factor- because honestly it is not. as soon as you find out that one word can have a different meaning depending on how you say it, then fine- after that you are already aware of it as a concept and its a matter of learning how to remember, use and recognize them. a matter which not only do i not have evidence is easier for chinese learning a second dialect of their language, but that i actually have reason to believe is the opposite after seeing my friends go through class with me. I honestly suggest you watch that sometime if you havent- it surprized the hell out of me.

    Now, if some words are similar- as many Cantonese words follow a certain equivalence to Mandarin words, for example, that might make it easier for a Chinese-speaker to learn. But then, at that point, Cantonese and shanghai dialect in that sense shuold be just as easy because tones are no longer a factor, and i have plenty of evidence to support that claim. add to that the fact that like 90% of spoken Cantonese is slang, and theres a whole new dimension to this away from tones.

    tones can be a pain in the ass when learning Chinese, but they have never really seemed to put me at a disadvantage before. and they are no less a problem for me in chinese than they are for Chinese people in English.

  7. #17
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    "Would you agree or disagree that a dialect with no tones would be easier to learn than a dialect with many tones that you must memorize on each word of your sentences?"

    It takes time to memorize all the various tones that correspond to characters, as well as when the tones change and all the exceptions that go along with learning to speak Chinese correctly. The rhythm is also very different. That's part of the process. However, the same holds true in learning French, Spanish, etc.

    Perhaps I've had similar experiences to the ones dogchow108 remarks on, whereby, when living in mainland China I'd ask people what the tones were of the words they were speaking. They would inadvertently give me answers, but, in the long run, it was these answers that confused me the most, simply cause they were wrong. I'm not saying there aren't Chinese who know the tones, but many do not. They have learned the same way native English speakers have, from listening and imitating. Ask a child about tones and he or she will smile, then say, "ummmmmh."

    So, to use the same kind of logic in an opposite fashion, wouldn't it be very difficult for a "foreigner" to learn English, like Shanghainese, which is a language that you are suggesting is devoid of tones? What I'm asking is, is it easier for Chinese to learn English since it has "no" tones? No. Actually, the same process takes place. I understand this cause my English students implant tones into their English. Sounds strange, right? Well, it's true. They raise and drop their voices as if speaking a tonal language -- as if speaking Chinese -- based on habit, and oddly they sound kind of like wacky reporters who over enunciate to project emotion and emphasize meaning. This might be likened to a "foreigner" speaking crappy, flat Chinese. It sounds funny. It's also very difficult to understand. Anyhow, the bottom line is that they just don't understand how to speak using English tones. Some of my friends can't hear when they do this, though their English is pretty good. And if told about it, they more often than not honestly believe it sounds better that way, yet, the reality is it sounds very funny to a native speaker. It also can be very difficult to understand depending on the their level.

    "And I am not the only "foreigner" who i have seen receive this compliment."

    dogchow108, I've been speaking Chinese for years and can speak at nearly an advanced level. Though my teachers want to convince me that I'm at an advanced level, I have 自知之明 (self knowledge/understanding). I can express my self well, live without problems, and I often here that I speak 很標準, but of course there's a lot I don't know. That aside, and although I not familiar with your situation, please don't listen to Chinese who tell you your Chinese is good. When you speak and you know you sound like antive Chinese speakers, your Chinese is good. When you can say what you want and sound like native Chinese speakers, your Chinese is good. When you speak for maybe 6 or 7 hours and your teacher doesn't continually correct you, your Chinese is good. But, with that said, it really is proper ettique (a custom) for Chinese people to say your "great," even if they've only heard you mutter a few words, especially if originally they wouldn't have thought you're capable of speaking their language.
    Last edited by onesp1ng; 12-10-2004 at 03:06 PM.

  8. #18
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    Oh, trust me i am well aware that you will often be told you are better than you really are- When i said compliments, i didnt mean "oh ur chinese is very good!", i meant more like if me and a Mandarin-speaking friend are hanging out and anothe friend of ours tries to teach us a word in Cantonese, i usually have an easier time pronouncing it. In fact, i should probably not have used the word "compliment" at all. as for actual compliments about my chinese, i usually just kind of smile and thank my lucky stars they didnt shoot off talking to me as if i were fluent, which is what they will erally do if they are impressed with your language skills rather than just tell you so in English.

    I can see, though, how what i wrote might seem a little pomphous...and i am in no way fluent. Just, like i said, i have differences of opinions here as to what the onbstacles are in learning Chinese.

    One thing, though,

    If you can speak chinese for 6 or 7 hours without being corrected, that dosent mean you are good, it means you are fluent.

    I usually try to distinguish between good, proper and fluent in the following way:

    Good- capable of getting message accross in the language, the goal of communication to begin with

    proper- uses the correct vernacular and colloqiualisms. also, proper grammar, tones, etc.

    fluent- totally diferent story, with elements of both of the above mentioned things depending on how you are seeing the situation. but generally, i define fluency as what you described in your post about being able to get about with the language and talk for a long time without being corrected on something really major.
    Last edited by dogchow108; 12-10-2004 at 07:40 PM.

  9. #19
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    Sheesh, you guys are long-winded....

    All I wanted to say in the beginning was it would seem easier to learn Shanghainese than Mandarin because you don't have to worry about tones. Forget about Chinese and foreign. I don't see how it would be easier having to memorize each word's tone.

    Anyway, being native English speakers allow you to be able to speak foreign languages more easily than others. You can make any sound you want, while the other country people aren't used to such a language that can make any sound like that. English is full of words from other languages anyway. Chinese always transliterate things rather than saying it like we do in English. So of course it will be more difficult for a Chinese who only makes the sounds in their language than an American who makes sounds of English and words borrowed from other langauges, as well as making up spoken sounds of random sounds you hear in nature. Chinese still uses only Chinese sounds to immitate sounds of nature. Of course not every American is good at other langauges. But I think Americans have the best advantage and natural skill with learning foreign sounds simply because of their native language.

    If there was a test done on it I bet it would prove to be true.

  10. #20
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    what is this latest trend with boring threads?

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