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Picture of BobHale
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I recently sent a question to Victor Mair at Language Log.

Here is the response

http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3987
 
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Picture of arnie
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That is priceless, Bob!

As I said in a comment to the article,
quote:
That is most definitely one of the best “lost in translation” entries so far! I know no Chinese so can’t comment on the text but I love the graphic!


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Picture of wordmatic
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What a great picture and reply! Unbelievable. Cannot imagine being inspired by such an ad to buy the product advertised!

Wordmatic
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Very nice, Bob. I suspect you were being far too modest about your knowledge of Chinese.
 
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Picture of BobHale
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quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
Very nice, Bob. I suspect you were being far too modest about your knowledge of Chinese.


If only that were true.
After ten months in the country I have the numbers 1 to 6 and 10 (for some reason that baffles me 7, 8 and 9 just will not stick in my head no matter how many times I learn them), and (I've just counted them) eleven common words and phrases.

I have lessons every week and a book full of notes but nothing ever sticks. Not even phrases like "good morning". Looking in my book I find that it is "Zao shang hao". I have literally learned this phrase in every one of my lessons, in practice dialogues, and in hours of repetition. I learned it again only yesterday when I was talking to Erika whose Chinese is progressing in leaps and bounds but still I had to look it up when I wanted it a moment ago.
Five minutes after sending this I will have forgotten it again.

I have absolutely no idea why I am so bad at learning Chinese, or rather at remembering it, when I have had little trouble with German, French or Spanish. I can remember as much Norwegian as Chinese and I had one, one-hour lesson twelve years ago.

Now the grammar is dead easy. I can tell you how to form past, present and future tenses in both simple and continuous forms. I can tell you all about counting words (though I can only remember the ones for people and bottles). I can tell you how to turn any numbers that don't involve 7s, 8s or 9s into ordinal numbers.
I can tell you the personal pronouns and how to form possessives. You want a negative in your sentence? bu - you got it.

Grammar? No sweat. The trouble is I just cannot remember any actual damn words. (Apart from the words needed to construct those various grammatical forms which I can remember but, generally, can't pronounce.)

I still have to rely on a piece of paper with it written down to tell taxi drivers my address!

This message has been edited. Last edited by: BobHale,
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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Bob, do the words have a lot of sounds that we don't have? Most languages do, of course, but some have more than others. Would that be the problem? I know that's the case with Hebrew.
 
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Mandarin has a lot of sounds not found in English. Listen here.

The tones might also have something to do with it.
 
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Picture of Kalleh
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I listened to some of them, and you are right. That's what would be hard for me.
 
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