Chinese is such an archaic language, it will be very difficult

Chinese definitely has a steep learning curve in the beginning. I think once you get a decent grasp on radicals, though, everything suddenly opens up.


The worst part for me was the pronunciation, English have many vowel sounds. You know in Spanish is straight a, e, i, o, u. English is more tricky and had so many different spelling over time.


English vowels are tough, yes. Particularly those affected by R.

Some languages are definitely harder than others but it does depend what your native language is also. if you come from another tonal language then chinese would not be as hard as it is for a native english speaker for example.

and i’ve heard plenty of Europeans speaking very good english. for native chinese speakers the grammar in english is just too tricky.

Mandarin isn’t a particularly old language. It’s only been around for about a thousand years. The characters, of course, are much older.

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Chinese is hard. A very difficult language in terms of having to memorize the written characters. Not to mention strokes matter a lot and there’s the annoying traditional vs simplified problem. I have a much harder time reading simplified because I learned traditional growing up.

Chinese characters are hard because it was not a language open to the public for a long time. And it probably didn’t evolve as much as the other languages imo.

The spoken language is also hard because there are so many accents and dialects. I have a hard time understanding Chinese from other places outside of Taiwan tbh.

isn’t it the same with having to memorize the spelling of words?

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You can sound out words even if you don’t remember. You either memorize the strokes in order or not for Chinese.

it is often in English that spelling and pronunciation are different.

You don’t need to remember exact strokes of characters in order to read and write. If you write a shape something similar to the character you intend to write, they most probably understand it. And parts of a character often give clues on its meaning and pronunciation, as parts of a word in English do often too.

These days, kids are not tested if they remember the strokes in order, at least in elementary school. Is it tested later?

I have learned both as foreign languages after my first language was established. So, it must be different how kids learn the languages.

I disagree. When people pronounce things incorrectly, for example with an accent, then sometimes you have to try hard to understand.

I think it’s the same with Chinese. It’s really up to the person to try to understand what you’re saying. If they are too lazy to try or don’t give a shit about what you have to say, they will just say “Ting bu dong”.

Ting bu dong

I would rather people be straight up and tell me that they don’t understand, it helps you grow. The worst is if people smile and nod politely, while understanding nothing. :slight_smile:

My latest discovery is that if you get the tones right, but the sound kind of wrong (e.g. expressing in pinyin, say, zh instead of j, even q instead of j) - people will often still get you. Maybe because there are a lot of different inflections here given Taiwanese, Hakka etc? Certainly if you get the tone wrong, that throws everyone off, and things get awkward quickly.

Love the idea of a bitching about how hard Chinese is thread - is this the place to do it?

Great quote @Steve4nLanguage above about the phonetic reinforcement. For me this phenomenon is broader than that, it is about seeing a new word in more than one context. If I infer the meaning of a word by talking to a teacher, then later see the same word in a totally different context, while reading news online, I will certainly remember it. Alternatively if I see a character every day on a sign, yet have no idea what it means, it is still there, in the murky recesses of my brain. Later, when I learn the meaning of this character from another source, it is more likely to stick. So I don’t think this reinforcement is as black and white as the author above implies.


A good memory helps learning Chinese characters.

The English spelling system is also excessively filled with exceptions. What good are alphabets if you can’t really spell half of the words without memorization anyway.

I think it is easier to read Chinese characters because people are naturally good with remembering pictures. It is much harder to learn to write it though.

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As for being archaic, Mandarin Chinese is technically only at most 250 years old.

Even in 1815, when Robert Morrison wrote the first English-Chinese dictionary most people in Beijing were still speaking the Chinese Koine, which was based on Nankinese, and was much closer to Middle Chinese that was spoken since the Tang dynasty.

In comparison, English is a much older language. At least I am confident we can understand Robert Morrison from 1815 fairly well.

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A bunch of researchers who specialise in language studies from all around the world have all agreed that Chinese is one of the hardest languages to learn. But you are off course free to know everything better yourself.

as a foreign language for English or similar language speakers?

Yeah, for Indo-European language speakers. For Japanese and Koreans it’s less so. It’s all relative.

Btw, according to the State Department Japanese is the hardest language for English-speakers to learn. It’s category 5 with an asterisk. Chinese is category 5 without an asterisk.

Chinese has the highest information density of the major languages. Meaning that it gets the point across the fastest with fewest words. Japanese is the lowest, probably because they love all their kudasai and desu and crap.


Some people know when they are on the wrong side of an argument, others just keep bumping their heads in the wall. Go ahead, show me how naive you really are.


theres actually very little in common with chinese and japanese other than the chinese characters.
when i went to japan i actually had a easier time than my gf did, she was struggling big time.