Will learning Chinese affect my English?
Chinese Language and its Difference With English
The Chinese language is the most spoken language in the world, due to the sheer size of the country’s population. Likewise, Chinese migrants can be found almost anywhere in the world, causing the spread of their culture and language. Their closeness with their countrymen helped create large communities, enabling them to become influential groups, helping each other establish businesses and other organizations to benefit their fellowmen.
Because China’s doors have remained closed to the West for so long, people are fascinated to learn more about the country, its people and its culture. China and its territories form such a large group and China alone is home to 1.42 billion people. Thus, it is inevitable that there will be a variety of Chinese languages as well as regional dialects. Still, for the Western world, when the Chinese language is mentioned, it is either Mandarin Chinese or Cantonese Chinese. However, for interpreting companies, it is very critical to know which version of Chinese language they have to handle when they are given a Chinese interpreting project.
Fascinating Facts About the Chinese Language
As already mentioned, several minority groups exist in China and its territories and each one of them has their own unique language and dialect. However, due to a government declaration, Mandarin Chinese has become China’s most used language, with 918 million speaking it as their first language.
- While there are many people interested in learning the language, Chinese, according to many, is a language that is one of the most difficult to learn. The Chinese language is vastly different from English, which is one reason why English speakers have a hard time learning it. Chinese has a different writing system. It has a different sound and pronunciation style. It also has different grammar. Overall, Chinese and English are like night and day.
- It will take years for a Chinese language learner to be fluent in the language and it is very difficult to reach the level of fluency of a native speaker. To be able to read a newspaper, you should have mastered at least 3,000 characters. But the fact that there are more than several thousands of Chinese characters makes the task definitely daunting.
- Written forms of Chinese do not give signs regarding their pronunciation. It should be learned separately. Complicating the problem is the fact that in some cases, two or more characters make up about 67% of Chinese words.
- The language has several words that sound similar. This is another fact that makes it difficult for non-Chinese speakers to understand the differences between the sound and word combinations. When you add the tones to the mix, it raises the difficulty in differentiating them.
Differences Between English and Chinese languages
Now that you have learned some facts about the fascinating Chinese language, take a look at its many difference from the English language. This will help you understand more about the language and prepare you for the hurdles you are going to face if you plan to learn Chinese. Of course, there are plus and minus points in English versus Chinese in terms grammatical rules.
1. No articles and verb inflections in Chinese
In English, you have to use various articles. The verb changes depending on the person and the verb tense. In Chinese, these things are not used, which make it easier for the speakers to pick up the language. However, for Chinese people who want to learn English, this can be quite tricky. One thing to note is that the Chinese does not have ”th.”
2. No actual equivalent of the word ”yes”
The nearest term you can use for the English word, ”yes” in Chinese is shi. But there are several ways to denote agreement, which is more frequently used in Chinese instead of the basic yes. Depending on the question and the required reply, ”yes” or an agreement can be expressed in the following ways”
- Shì de – yes, that’s right
- Duì – correct or right
- Xing – okay
- Yǒu – have (literally)
- Kě yǐ – okay, fine, all right (literally can)
3. No alphabet
You might be pleased to know that the Chinese language does not have an alphabet, so there is less to master. However, there are thousands of characters that stand alone, which is more difficult to learn than the 26 alphabets in the English language. The good thing is that there is ”pinyin” that helps transcribe the Chinese characters into Roman characters. It makes it easier for learners to memorize them.
4. No distinction between singular and plural forms
English words have plural forms. The Chinese language does not distinguish between singular and plural. It retains the same form, which is another plus.
5. Tones make the words change their meaning
As a tonal language, the pitch used when pronouncing a word is an indication of what the speaker means. It has five tonal pitches, which effectively and completely change the meaning.
6. Huge number of characters
The Chinese language has 50,000 unique characters. A student needs to memorize about 2,000 to 3,000 Chinese characters to be able to read a Chinese newspaper.
7. Focus is on the meaning not the structure
In Chinese, the meaning is the main focus instead of the structure, which is the concern of the English language, making the sentences complicated and long. But it does help people to understand what is being said. But in Chinese, most of the sentences are short. It there are long sentences, you’ll find that these are divided into several short phrases, which are comma separated.
So from the above points we can understand that learning chinese will not affect your English. But perhaps one new language will be added in your list. Though it is difficult to learn chinese in a short span but don’t lose hope. Try and Try, you will succeed.