Should you teach your kids Chinese?

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natureexplorer
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Should you teach your kids Chinese?

Post by natureexplorer »

Should you teach your kids a Chinese language, for example by hiring a Chinese nanny?
no_name
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Re: Should you teach your kids Chinese?

Post by no_name »

natureexplorer wrote:Should you teach your kids a Chinese language, for example by hiring a Chinese nanny?
hmm...

大家好。卧学习汉语。我是大学的学生。你跟我学,汉语石容易。
Hallo. Guten Abend. Wie heissen Sie? Woher kommen Sie. Wo wohnnen Sie. Du sprecht Deutsch schon bisschen?

To answer your question, I think it is best to become semi-fluent in 2 more more languages!
Last edited by no_name on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:30 pm, edited 4 times in total.
centrifuge41
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Post by centrifuge41 »

It's a really hard language! Maybe that's part of why French and Spanish are the typical second language choices in high school?

Chinese people who have contact with the business world speak English. If your child speaks Mandarin, that doesn't mean s/he can converse with all Chinese - a lot of people in Canton and Hong Kong only know Cantonese. Is there a lot of marginal benefit to being able to speak Chinese? Who knows!

Just for kicks, I think now is a good time to crack the (by-now) old joke: 白人看不懂 It's just a Youtube reference!
DSInvestor
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Post by DSInvestor »

There was an interesting film that aired on PBS last year called "Speaking in Tongues" on foreign language immersion education.

The film's website indicated that KQED is airing it on OCT 01 at 5pm.

Here's a link to the film's website:
http://speakingintonguesfilm.info/

Here's a link to the PBS page for the film:
http://www.pbs.org/programs/speaking-in-tongues/
no_name
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Post by no_name »

centrifuge41 wrote:It's a really hard language! Maybe that's part of why French and Spanish are the typical second language choices in high school?

Chinese people who have contact with the business world speak English. If your child speaks Mandarin, that doesn't mean s/he can converse with all Chinese - a lot of people in Canton and Hong Kong only know Cantonese. Is there a lot of marginal benefit to being able to speak Chinese? Who knows!

Just for kicks, I think now is a good time to crack the (by-now) old joke: 白人看不懂 It's just a Youtube reference!
不是。 Mandarin isn't really that hard. The tones and the characters are probably difficult but the trade off is "easy" grammar. Ich lerne Deutsch. Ich spreche Deutsch nicht gut. German isn't that bad either. I really like both languages and recommend learning both at the same time.

After English, German is the most spoken in Europe. Germany is #1 in Europe. On the other hand, Asia, China is booming. They say that Chinese people learn English; however, how many Americans are learning Mandarin or Deutsch--not too many. Many government agencies would rather hire American who speaks Chinese than Chinese-born citizens.

btw: 无不中国人.我是咩国人。I am not chinese; I am an American.
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Post by Indices »

If this were the 1980s the OP would be asking if kids should learn Japanese.
enochief
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Post by enochief »

you should definitely teach them at least another language, preferably one that is different from English (not Latin based). Don't know about Chinese though, it's mostly useful if you do business in China.
harrychan
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Post by harrychan »

I speak Chinese and Japanese fluently but I am still a Boglehead. I do have a stable job but it is not because of my language. Neither will I seek a job due to my language speaking abilities as it can easily be replaced by a translator.
This is not legal or certified financial advice but you know that already.
epilnk
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Post by epilnk »

If Chinese is important to you, why not? You can't predict whether he'll use Chinese or any other language some day, but whether he'll use it or not there are most likely developmental benefits to raising a kid with more than one language. Of course there are developmental benefits to other things as well; you do have to choose where to invest your time and energy, and decide what you are trading off. Hiring a nanny is not sufficient, though; if you don't make a serious effort to maintain the language as he grows up he won't retain much if anything from the preschool years. Even immigrant parents have trouble maintaining fluency in their kids once they head off to school.

Disclaimer: my 8 and 10 year old are in a Spanish immersion program, with the 10 year old approaching fluency. We're happy with it. But Spanish is challenging enough at my age - there's not a chance I would be able to help them with homework in Chinese.
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wander
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Post by wander »

If you know only one language, you live only once.

A man who knows two languages is worth two men.

He who loses his language loses his world.

(Czech, French and Gaelic proverbs.)
yobria
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Post by yobria »

Spanish would be my first choice, Mandarin second.

There are more interesting places to travel/live in that speak Spanish than Mandarin.

Nick
rylemdr
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Post by rylemdr »

In my opinion, Chinese is the best language to learn for an English speaker. With over 1 billion speakers, it is the most widely used language in the world.

For business purposes, Chinese can be used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Singapore. All booming cities/countries in Asia. China is a rising power in the world and is soon to surpass the United States. Soon enough, Mandarin will be a very valuable language for businessmen simply because with the Chinese, respect is a big thing and if you make an effort to learn their language, that scores big points for you.

In my opinion, the order of the most valuable languages in the world:

1. English
2. Mandarin
3. Spanish
4. Arabic

With a language arsenal like this, an individual can be a formidable force in the corporate world.

Latin is a dying language and I don't see why people still major in this.

French sounds beautiful and sexy, but really, all it's useful for is to not sound like an idiot when reading from the menu at a classy restaurant.

As for the Scandinavian(Danish, Swedish, Norwegian) and Germanic languages, there is really no need to learn them because the people from these countries are all taught English in schools anyway.

With Hindustani(the language of India), you will find that the only people worth knowing already speak English.

Stick with the 4 languages I listed and you will go far in life :D
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TrustNoOne
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Post by TrustNoOne »

I doubt the idea of hiring a nanny will work. My wife is Chinese, and says that when she was little she mainly spoke the language (Cantonese) because here grandmother was her main caregiver. But she lost it, almost completely once she went to school. To maintain fluency one really needs to speak a language regulary. No one in her family, except her mother can speak Cantonese. (And having seen my MIL try to order food in Chinese restaurants, I question if she really knows the language herself.)

Its hard to predict what language would be beneficial for a child to learn. Certainly Mandarin would be a likely benefit if you are correct in predicting the child will become involved in international business, or perhaps work as a tour guide for Chinese tourists. Who knows what direction a young person will take in 20 years. Ask any 20 year old, and you will find out that they frequently have no idea (or some really strange ideas about it all).

My thought would be to try to cultivate the child's math skills and enjoyment of it. Its interesting that people have the attitude that anyone can learn another language, but only certain people can learn math. People seem to be taught some sort of math-phobia.

In the end, you can't teach motivation. Unless a child is motivated to succeed, it won't matter how many languages they speak.
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fredflinstone
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Post by fredflinstone »

I think teaching your kids Chinese is a great idea. It is a very hard language to learn later on, so why not have them learn when they are young.
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FedGuy
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Post by FedGuy »

enochief wrote:you should definitely teach them at least another language, preferably one that is different from English (not Latin based).
Just to clarify, English is not descended from Latin. Germanic languages (including English, Dutch, and obviously German) descended from a parent language in the same way that the Romance languages (of which there are dozens, depending on your definition, but the most widely spoken are Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian) descended from Latin. Both Germanic and Romance languages are part of the Indo-European language family and share a number of characteristics, though.

If you do it right, learning multiple languages within the same language family can be easier and faster than learning completely unrelated languages. For example, I've known people who have studied French, Spanish, and Italian at the same time, and reported that, although there are plenty of differences between the various languages, there are enough similarities in terms of grammar and vocabulary that overall there were economies of scale in learning them.

On the other hand, studying unrelated languages (like German and Chinese, as a few posters in this thread have suggested) can give you a better idea of just how different languages can be, which can get you to question what you think you know about languages and thereby improve your linguistic abilities all around.
ginyah
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Post by ginyah »

I like the idea of teaching your children Mandarin. Not only is it a beautiful language but a great way to learn a different culture. I also think it is a good language to learn because it is not phonetic based. Each character is a word, not a sound. This helps teach children that not all languages (cultures) are the same. By learning the tones, children learn to listen better and to plan their emphasis even in English. All schools in China teach Mandarin and this means that soon all Chinese people will be able to communicate in Mandarin. Also even when the spoken language is Cantonese, the characters are the same as Mandarin and this helps communication (via writing). What a great way to expand your child's world and to learn about the largest culture in the world!
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Post by travellight »

My son is 14 and starting 9th grade. He has decided to take on Chinese in addition to Spanish which he has had for 2 years. He feels these two are the most practical additions to English. He hopes I can teach him some French as well.
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Post by yobria »

rylemdr wrote:With Hindustani(the language of India), you will find that the only people worth knowing already speak English.
Also true in Singapore and HK. Mandarin will be most helpful on mainland China IMO, though you might not enjoy spending a lot of time there.

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Rodc
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Post by Rodc »

One of my 6th grade sons elected to take Mandarin, in part because he has so many Asian friends.

My other 6th grade son chose French.

I am happy with either.

I think Mandarin is a great choice and would send for private lessons if he had wanted. But I would not go to the length of hiring a Chinese nanny for that purpose.

Hire a teacher to teach and hire a nanny to nanny if for no other reason that a nanny is not likely to have any idea how to teach and may have poor grammar. (What fraction of Americans are qualified to teach English?)
We live a world with knowledge of the future markets has less than one significant figure. And people will still and always demand answers to three significant digits.
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Post by mithrandir »

Indices wrote:If this were the 1980s the OP would be asking if kids should learn Japanese.
I agree.
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Post by jodydavis »

I'm not sure I would bother, unless you or your spouse speaks Chinese. And I say this as someone who grew up in a mandarin-speaking household. Sure, your child may learn some Chinese words and tones by having a Chinese nanny. But unless you or your spouse also speak Chinese, your child will find few opportunities to speak Chinese and have little incentive to keep it up. And once he or she goes to pre-school, he or she will lose it quickly, unless you persist and enroll them in a Chinese immersion school.

So overall, it certainly wouldn't hurt. But just have reasonable expectations about what you will get out of it, i.e. some basic vocabulary and perhaps an ear for the tones, which may serve him or her well later if they decide to take up Chinese again. Just don't expect the child to be able to speak the language well, unless you are really committed and send them to immersion school. (I think people routinely underestimate the level of commitment required to have your children speak a foreign language well).
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Re: Should you teach your kids Chinese?

Post by Valuethinker »

natureexplorer wrote:Should you teach your kids a Chinese language, for example by hiring a Chinese nanny?
Spanish first, given where the US is located and the demographic flows.

Chinese second, yes, probably. Most German or other language speakers probably do, or will, speak English. eg English is a lingua franca amongst educated people in India (14 official languages) and South Africa (several official lanugages).
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Post by yobria »

Here's the best advice: Teach your kids a language (any language) effectively.

I "took" 5 years of Spanish in high school, but didn't learn much.

Studying abroad in Spain in college, I was amazed at how kids at better high schools had become almost fluent with the same amount of instruction.

Nick
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Post by Valuethinker »

FedGuy wrote:
enochief wrote:you should definitely teach them at least another language, preferably one that is different from English (not Latin based).
Just to clarify, English is not descended from Latin. Germanic languages (including English, Dutch, and obviously German) descended from a parent language in the same way that the Romance languages (of which there are dozens, depending on your definition, but the most widely spoken are Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian) descended from Latin. Both Germanic and Romance languages are part of the Indo-European language family and share a number of characteristics, though.



.
On English and descent from Latin. English is a grandchild of Latin rather than a child of Latin.

They are both, AFAIK, proto Indo Aryan languages (the connection runs to Sanskrit writing in India as well) ie emerging from the Caucuses mountains and being carried by invading nomads.

English is basically low German or Dutch (there's a place in northern Netherlands, called Friesia, where you would swear they were speaking English, but you can't follow it)

added to that Norse because the Vikings held much of England and Scotland and Ireland for a time

and to that, French, because the next rulers were the Normans, Frenchmen of Norwegian descent.

So the vocabulary of English owes much to Latin (ie to French) but the grammar more to Germanic and Norse languages. By the 15th century the ruling classes had abandoned French in favour of English, but 4 centuries of Norman rule left its mark.

And all educated people into the 1800s spoke Latin, and, particularly in the Middle Ages, it was the language of education throughout Europe. So that had a big influence on English as well.

This means that historically those who wrote in English did so with a firm knowledge of Latin grammar etc, and that influences how educated people wrote in the period say 1000-mid 1900s.



The non Proto Indo Aryan languages in Europe are:

- Basque - no one knows quite were that came from

- the Celtic tongues- Irish, Gaelic (Scottish), Welsh, Breton, Cornish, also I think in Galicia in Spain (where they play bagpipes. Who knew?)

- Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian - they all hale from the Turkic language group (there are dotted communities across the Ural Mountains which speak related languages). Finnish and Estonian are basically identical, Hungarian quite different

I am not sure about Albanian, whether it is a Turkish language or not.

You get some weird ones. Unlike all its neighbours, Romanian is close to Latin-- a bit like Italian. Partly for this reason, educated Romanians all used to speak French, not German or Russian as was common in the rest of Eastern Europe.

There's a group of people in the Balkans called the Vlachs-- not sure quite what they speak in terms of origin.

Ladino and its derivatives spoken in the Tyrol (Roumans in Switzerland-- the 4th official language after German French Italian) is perhaps the closest living relic to Latin.

I presume the Gypsies speak a derivative of Hungarian, but I am not sure about that.
If you do it right, learning multiple languages within the same language family can be easier and faster than learning completely unrelated languages. For example, I've known people who have studied French, Spanish, and Italian at the same time, and reported that, although there are plenty of differences between the various languages, there are enough similarities in terms of grammar and vocabulary that overall there were economies of scale in learning them.
Interesting. I would think it too difficult to remember the differences-- way too confusing.

Spanish and Italian are very close, French a little more distant.
On the other hand, studying unrelated languages (like German and Chinese, as a few posters in this thread have suggested) can give you a better idea of just how different languages can be, which can get you to question what you think you know about languages and thereby improve your linguistic abilities all around
The earlier you start Chinese, the better. It's a tonal language, and since we don't speak a tonal language, it can become impossible for an English speaker (adult) to distinguish the different tones.
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Post by Valuethinker »

TrustNoOne wrote:
My thought would be to try to cultivate the child's math skills and enjoyment of it. Its interesting that people have the attitude that anyone can learn another language, but only certain people can learn math. People seem to be taught some sort of math-phobia.
Finland. In Finland, as many girls take math as boys, I believe, and have just as high scores.

I often find Russians (women and men) have frighteningly high levels of mathematical competency-- people who stopped math at high school have a good grasp of single variable differential calculus etc.

By contrast, the Brits freak out when you cancel in an equation by dividing both sides by the same thing-- they stop mathematical education so early, and it is so 'uncool' to be a geek, that they are basically numbers blind.
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Post by Valuethinker »

Indices wrote:If this were the 1980s the OP would be asking if kids should learn Japanese.
But Japan was a nation of 100 million people-- that it would surpass the US and the English speaking world durably was always an odd bet. It would be like betting on German now (also about 100 million native speakers). Or Russian.

China has 1.4 billion people, and the official language is Mandarin (probably only about 2/3rds of Chinese have that as their first or main language, the local dialects are fearsome, to the point where Cantonese is almost a different (spoken) language). Written Mandarin is universal.

So all China has to do is become 1/4 as wealthy per person as the USA, and it's the world's largest economy (whereas Japan would have had to become 3 times more wealthy per capita).

China could go back into the mess it was in 1850, or conversely it could get to where it was in about 1690, ie about 1/4 of the world economy.

The only other language group that big is Hindi (perhaps 60% of Indians?) but everybody educated in India speaks English and English serves as a neutral lingua franca between the different language groups (not everyone wants to speak Hindi even if they do).
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Post by Valuethinker »

TrustNoOne wrote: My thought would be to try to cultivate the child's math skills and enjoyment of it. Its interesting that people have the attitude that anyone can learn another language, but only certain people can learn math. People seem to be taught some sort of math-phobia.
And here's a killer interview question they use at some of the banks and consultancies:

integrate x to the power 3
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Re: Should you teach your kids Chinese?

Post by Ruprecht »

jumpin wrote:
natureexplorer wrote:Should you teach your kids a Chinese language, for example by hiring a Chinese nanny?
hmm...

大家好。卧学习汉语。我是大学的学生。你跟我学,汉语石容易。
Hallo. Guten Abend. Wie heissen Sie? Woher kommen Sie. Wo wohnnen Sie. Du sprecht Deutsch schon bisschen?

To answer your question, I think it is best to become semi-fluent in 2 more more languages!
"Sprichst du"

/nur sage ich...
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zaboomafoozarg
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Post by zaboomafoozarg »

Valuethinker wrote:And here's a killer interview question they use at some of the banks and consultancies:

integrate x to the power 3
(x^4)/4 + C, right? It's been too long, haha.
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Post by FedGuy »

Valuethinker wrote:English is a grandchild of Latin rather than a child of Latin.
I'd say that English is more a niece or nephew of Latin than a child or grandchild. Languages like French and Romanian arose because the ancestors of today's French and Romanian used to speak Latin, and over the centuries the language gradually shifted until the different dialects became mutually unintelligible. English has borrowed many Romance words over the centuries, most notably after the Norman Conquest (as you noted) and later because the educated classes decided to borrow words from Latin (as well as Greek) for new scientific and technological innovations. But that doesn't make English a descendant of Latin any more than Japanese is a descendent of English because Japanese has adopted English words like "hamburger" and "girlfriend."

One interesting upshot of this is that English speakers often find that learning German vocabulary starts easy (because the basic vocabulary descends from a common ancestor, so German uses words like "Bruder" for "brother" and "Hand" for hand) but then gets hard, because more complicated German words are formed from Germanic roots rather than the Latin and Greek roots that many more complicated English terms are derived from. On the other hand, the basic vocabulary of many Romance languages is often difficult for English speakers because these basic terms come from Latin instead of the Germanic roots that English speakers know, but the more complicated terminology in Romance languages tends to also derive from Latin, which is in this case more recognizable to an English speaker.
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natureexplorer
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Re: Should you teach your kids Chinese?

Post by natureexplorer »

There are of course many key languages, such as Spanish, Arabic, and Russian. Maybe some others are key too (Japanese, Portuguese, Hindi), but German is certainly not one of them.

However, being essentially native in both Chinese and English, particularly if not of an Asian ethnicity, is very rare. No other language paired with English would provide such a key and rare skill combination.
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Post by LDE »

rylemdr wrote:For business purposes, Chinese can be used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Singapore.
I am no expert on the Chinese language(s) but have had some exposure. When people currently talk about learning Chinese, it seems that they are really talking about learning Mandarin.

I am skeptical that there is a single Chinese language with different dialects. Despite the image of linguistic unity that some may wish to promote, I think that China is currently a multilingual society with languages (perhaps more than 10) that are generally mutually unintelligible. That means that a Cantonese only speaker from Hong Kong cannot understand a Mandarin only speaker from Beijing.

It is nothing like the comparatively minor differences between UK English and US English.
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Post by MossySF »

LDE wrote:That means that a Cantonese only speaker from Hong Kong cannot understand a Mandarin only speaker from Beijing.
If you're teaching your children Mandarin on the expectation they might be using it in business in 10-15 years from now, I guarantee you anybody you have a business need to communicate with in Hong Kong (or Macau) in the future will be able to do so in Mandarin. I already see this trend accelerating quite fast just listening to people on public transit. Hell, in some retail area with a lot of mainland customers, they first use Mandarin and you have to reply in Cantonese for them to switch over.

Most older folks (usually retired) won't make the effort of course but I doubt they will be your kids' customers/co-workers/business partners anyways -- not unless you're managing bank lobbies for stock watchers. Some older folks who live in communities closer to Shenzen do have some Mandarin skills because they make frequent forays into the mainland to take advantage of cheaper goods & services.

Where Mandarin is not very useful is amongst Chinese who don't live in China. The vast majority China emigrees are from the Guangdong region where they primarily use some Cantonese variant. So when they leave China, their kids will use Cantonese at home but there is no school system forcing them to learn Mandarin -- not unless they emigrate to Singapore. (Cantonese is spoken though in Singapore's Chinatown -- anywhere else, Mandarin is used if you look Chinese.)

I do agree a few years while young won't make you fluent later in life without continual use but you can reactivate a language learned early but forgotten. If you learn Chinese when you're an adult, you will probably speak with a 鬼老 (gui lao) accent -- much like from a robot. With early immersion, it's easier to pick up the proper tones.

What this really is a question of what extra activities do you want to push on your kids. Sports? Music? Languages? It's fine to do none at all -- after all, not every kid can be above average.
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Post by Imperabo »

FedGuy wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:English is a grandchild of Latin rather than a child of Latin.
I'd say that English is more a niece or nephew of Latin than a child or grandchild.

Latin is the perverted uncle who touched English inappropriately at a vulnerable time. English learned a lot from Latin, but most of what was learned is never spoken in polite company.
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Post by Marquintosh »

FedGuy wrote:
enochief wrote: ...the Romance languages (of which there are dozens, depending on your definition, but the most widely spoken are Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, and Romanian) descended from Latin.
Please don't forget Catalán, an official language in Cataluña (Barcelona region) and Andorra. ;)
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Post by FedGuy »

Marquintosh wrote:Please don't forget Catalán, an official language in Cataluña (Barcelona region) and Andorra. ;)
I hadn't forgotten it, and meant no disrespect by not listing it. According to Wikipedia, Catalán is the sixth most widely spoken Romance language, after the five I listed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_languages
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Post by Valuethinker »

FedGuy wrote:
Marquintosh wrote:Please don't forget Catalán, an official language in Cataluña (Barcelona region) and Andorra. ;)
I hadn't forgotten it, and meant no disrespect by not listing it. According to Wikipedia, Catalán is the sixth most widely spoken Romance language, after the five I listed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romance_languages
And those few places where they still speak Ocittan, literally 'Langue 'D'Oc' (language of Oc).

Supposed to be the greatest poetic language in Europe at least in medieval times.
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Post by Valuethinker »

LDE wrote:
rylemdr wrote:For business purposes, Chinese can be used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Singapore.
I am no expert on the Chinese language(s) but have had some exposure. When people currently talk about learning Chinese, it seems that they are really talking about learning Mandarin.

I am skeptical that there is a single Chinese language with different dialects. Despite the image of linguistic unity that some may wish to promote, I think that China is currently a multilingual society with languages (perhaps more than 10) that are generally mutually unintelligible. That means that a Cantonese only speaker from Hong Kong cannot understand a Mandarin only speaker from Beijing.

It is nothing like the comparatively minor differences between UK English and US English.
A common written language.

And Mandarin is being enforced as the standard in PRC and in Singapore.

This is not so different as English. Go back to 1450, the different regional dialects were not mutually intelligible, I don't think.

If you met a Glaswegian now ('Gaelic' is the Celtic language of Scotland with fewer than 100,000 speakers; the actual traditional language of lowland Scotland since the Middle Ages is Scottish, ie a variant of English with its own unique accent vocabulary) you'd question whether English is mutually intelligible to all speakers ;-).
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Post by Valuethinker »

FedGuy wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:English is a grandchild of Latin rather than a child of Latin.
I'd say that English is more a niece or nephew of Latin than a child or grandchild. Languages like French and Romanian arose because the ancestors of today's French and Romanian used to speak Latin, and over the centuries the language gradually shifted until the different dialects became mutually unintelligible. English has borrowed many Romance words over the centuries, most notably after the Norman Conquest (as you noted) and later because the educated classes decided to borrow words from Latin (as well as Greek) for new scientific and technological innovations. But that doesn't make English a descendant of Latin any more than Japanese is a descendent of English because Japanese has adopted English words like "hamburger" and "girlfriend."

One interesting upshot of this is that English speakers often find that learning German vocabulary starts easy (because the basic vocabulary descends from a common ancestor, so German uses words like "Bruder" for "brother" and "Hand" for hand) but then gets hard, because more complicated German words are formed from Germanic roots rather than the Latin and Greek roots that many more complicated English terms are derived from. On the other hand, the basic vocabulary of many Romance languages is often difficult for English speakers because these basic terms come from Latin instead of the Germanic roots that English speakers know, but the more complicated terminology in Romance languages tends to also derive from Latin, which is in this case more recognizable to an English speaker.
Good analysis.

I think the grammar of English has been informed by the fact that the ruling classes spoke French, and continued to study Latin until the second half of the 20th century?
Valuethinker
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Post by Valuethinker »

zaboomafoozarg wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:And here's a killer interview question they use at some of the banks and consultancies:

integrate x to the power 3
(x^4)/4 + C, right? It's been too long, haha.
And the thing always forgotten is the + C.

A trap.
supersharpie
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Post by supersharpie »

Indices wrote:If this were the 1980s the OP would be asking if kids should learn Japanese.
rylemdr
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Post by rylemdr »

LDE wrote:
rylemdr wrote:For business purposes, Chinese can be used in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and Singapore.
I am no expert on the Chinese language(s) but have had some exposure. When people currently talk about learning Chinese, it seems that they are really talking about learning Mandarin.

I am skeptical that there is a single Chinese language with different dialects. Despite the image of linguistic unity that some may wish to promote, I think that China is currently a multilingual society with languages (perhaps more than 10) that are generally mutually unintelligible. That means that a Cantonese only speaker from Hong Kong cannot understand a Mandarin only speaker from Beijing.

It is nothing like the comparatively minor differences between UK English and US English.
My mistake. I meant to say Mandarin.

I am aware of the Chinese dialects. I speak fluent Hokkien myself since I speak it at home with my parents.

I have been to Hong Kong(thrice), Singapore, Taiwan(2 month immersion tour), and mainland China(particularly in Shanghai, Beijing, Fujian, and Sichuan). In my experience, I have yet to encounter Chinese who do not understand Mandarin.

That is not to say that all Chinese understand Mandarin, but it is highly unlikely that you will meet these individuals.

Even the street food vendors in Hong Kong(predominantly Cantonese) and Taiwan(predominantly Hokkien) can understand and speak it, although not perfectly and can sometimes be very hard to understand with their thick accents.

The beautiful thing about the Chinese language, however, is the fact that you can write a sentence in all Chinese characters and any literate Chinese can read it and understand exactly what you mean. :)

I am not sure, but i think it can be said of Arabic characters and literate Arabs as well. I don't have any experience with the Arabic language though, so don't quote me on that :lol:
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TrustNoOne
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Post by TrustNoOne »

jodydavis wrote:I'm not sure I would bother, unless you or your spouse speaks Chinese. And I say this as someone who grew up in a mandarin-speaking household. Sure, your child may learn some Chinese words and tones by having a Chinese nanny. But unless you or your spouse also speak Chinese, your child will find few opportunities to speak Chinese and have little incentive to keep it up. And once he or she goes to pre-school, he or she will lose it quickly, unless you persist and enroll them in a Chinese immersion school.
This is an excellant point. A basic problem Americans have maintaining language skills is that we simply don't have many opportunties to use them. In Europe there is plenty of opportunity to speak German, French, Spanish, etc. I used to have a Spanish roomate in college. He and the other Europeon students would take turns speaking each other's langauge. In the US we encounter some Spanish speaking people but few Mandarin speakers. Its a lot of investment in time to continually practice a language that one never uses.

Encourage math and science - not sports, not music, not langauges.......(unless of course, you child has really great potential in sports, music or languages.)

BTW - had I told my teacher in grade school that I didn't need to learn spelling because when I grew up, there would be computers that would corret my spelling, I would have probably gotten sent to the corner. I would not be at all surpised to see that in 10 or 20 years we have language translaters. (We already have some simplified devices.) Kids studying math and scient will be working those kinds of things.
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jpsfranks
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Post by jpsfranks »

Valuethinker wrote:
zaboomafoozarg wrote:
Valuethinker wrote:And here's a killer interview question they use at some of the banks and consultancies:

integrate x to the power 3
(x^4)/4 + C, right? It's been too long, haha.
And the thing always forgotten is the + C.

A trap.
I recall being furious with my high school calculus teacher for once giving me a 0 on a quiz in which I omitted the constant on all answers. I never forgot it again, and I'm sure that was the point.
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Post by Indices »

..
Last edited by Indices on Sun Oct 02, 2011 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Cloud
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Post by Cloud »

No
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Post by bpp »

Don't know about Chinese specifically, though not a bad choice, but any other language than English would be valuable.

Yes, English is, or is becoming, the lingua franca of world business. But, by the same token, proficiency at English will never make someone stand out. It is too common. Become really proficient at something else in addition, and value will be added.
SSN688
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Chinese?

Post by SSN688 »

Probably a good idea - considering the facts. By 2015, the US will be unable to defend Taiwan (Stokes, Shambaugh). By 2020 to 2050, the PRC will be the strongest nation on earth, both financially and militarily (AF Blue Horizon study). There are a number of other studies indicating that the PRC leadership feels that conflict with the US inevitable (Cordesman and Kleiber). Also, by 2015, the PRC will become a food importer, instead of exporter. By 2020, their energy requirements will double. When before have we seen lack of food and energy as reasons for conflict?
northernisland
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Post by northernisland »

I have been studying Chinese on and off for more than a decade and have a kid in Mandarin preschool. I know a lot of American Chinese majors, and let me warn you that you can do a Chinese major and still have really, really, really terrible Chinese.

To put this in perspective, imagine that you are an industrious Chinese-language student who takes class an hour a day and studies two hours at night (that's a lot) for your 180 days a year of schooling. After four years, you have around 2000 hours.

But my kid goes to preschool eight hours a day and watches dvd's on the weekend and plays with kids in Chinese. By the time he's five or six he'll have 10,000 hours, which is a lot closer to what it takes to be fluent. He still won't know words like "postmodernism," "stock exchange," or "market analysis," but he'll be able to interact fluently. He also won't have any characters, which would take him another six years of study in order to get basic literacy, and twelve years to take him through high school. And as others have said, if you stop studying you can forget pretty quickly.

People always think studying Chinese will make you a mint, but the idea that your kid is going to be handling legal contracts in written Chinese and negotiating deals seems pretty implausible to me.

If you google "lexical similarity" rates for English and German, you get something in the range of 40-60% similarity. You can guess the meaning of a lot of words in European languages. Chinese is just a gazillion times harder. Yes, the grammar is easier, but the tones are very difficult to really get and I have yet to meet someone who started Chinese in high school or later who can write fluently in Chinese character. I'm sure they exist, but they are the star athletes of linguistics. If you want to read more about this, google the essay "why Chinese is so damn hard."

.... on the other hand, there's a kind of happy pathos in studying Chinese. There's a real reward in trying to understand a culture and language so different from the one you know.
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Post by epilnk »

TrustNoOne wrote: Encourage math and science - not sports, not music, not langauges.......(unless of course, you child has really great potential in sports, music or languages.)
As a scientist I must emphatically disagree. I encourage sports, music, and languages, but not science in my children. I do make them calculate and think quantitatively quite a lot. But among top tier scientists - almost without exception, in my experience - you usually will find a strong bent toward either arts or athletics. A narrow focus on science is the last thing I want to see in a scientist, and not I think the way to develop one.
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