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Is Chinese worth learning?

  1. Jul 11, 2006 #1
    Which language is most useful nowadays? Is Chinese worth learning? I already know some Spanish, but want to expand my horizons. I have heard that German is useful for people going into math and science. Is this really true?

    Any input is appreciated.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2006 #2
    you need to know 3 languages to communicate around the world.

    then you can communicate almost 80% of the population
  4. Jul 11, 2006 #3
    yes, but my college doesn't offer mandarin. So is Chinese or German good? Don't want to take Spanish.
  5. Jul 11, 2006 #4
    mandarin is a type of Chinese
  6. Jul 11, 2006 #5
    cantonese & mandarin are the two most popular chinese dialects. I believe Cantonese is more widespread...but since i'm half and half I'd go with mandarin cuz it sounds nicer.
  7. Jul 12, 2006 #6
    Mandarin is the official language in Taiwan and China. Cantonese is only spoken in Canton region(Vancouver, and San Fransisco if you wish).

    In general, chinese is refering to Mandarin but not Cantonese. Honestly, if you didn't know this, you might want to do a little research before you go to learn this language. This is totally different language from Latin-based language. Many people having a hard time to learn Asian language because they just thought it is cool.
  8. Jul 12, 2006 #7
    I only know Russian, English, and Spanish.
    Therefore, I must learn Chinese (also I want to :smile:).
  9. Jul 12, 2006 #8


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    As I implied in another thread, the only language necessary in science/math is English.

    Out of your choices, Spanish seems a nice choice - they speak it in many parts of the world, and it's not to hard to pick up the basics.
  10. Jul 14, 2006 #9
    As languages is my second hobby after physics, I have something to say.

    English is by far the most important
    Then Japanese, then German, then French, then Spanish

    The thing about languages like Mandarin and Hindi is that although spoken by so many people, a large portion of these people are located in poor remote villages and farms, so as a scientist at a university, you won't ever have to use these languages to communicate with others in your field.

    Mandarin and Hindi are growing in importance, but I still wouldn't place them over French, or even Italian and Russian, at least for physicists.

    btw Mandarin is a Chinese language. Most courses labeled "Introductory Chinese" usually teach you Mandarin. This is because the other Chinese languages a.) lack a standardized written language (everyone has to write in Mandarin-based Chinese) and b.) Mandarin is imposed as the official language in China and Taiwan. Other related languages such as Cantonese are stigmatized as "dialects" that are to be avoided.
  11. Jul 14, 2006 #10
    leon: i meant cantonese is more international(worldwide) though perhaps this is not within academics since mandarin is taught more. I find I meet more cantonese people than mandarin...and yes i know mandarin is the main dialect in taiwan and china(my mom being born in china and raised in taiwan)

    if you want to learn chinese i suggest learning the bopomofo rather than the han _?_ piying(the one that uses the roman letters...since there are 2 methods) ...does china still refuses to recognize the bopomofo? And with teh bopomofo you make less pronunciation errors.
  12. Jul 14, 2006 #11


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    I studied Spanish in primary and secondary school, and then German in secondary school and university. I have since studied Russian somewhat, and a little French. I have used all four languages in my work and travel.

    I would like to learn Chinese and Japanese. I learned a few phrases to used during travel.

    China and Russia are up and coming economic powers, and so is India, some familiarity Hindi and Urdu might be of use.
  13. Jul 14, 2006 #12
    gibberish is also universal
  14. Jul 14, 2006 #13

    George Jones

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    Kya haal hai?

    Sorry if I'm being so informal that I'm being rude.
  15. Jul 16, 2006 #14
    This is not true at all. Cantonese is not as popular as mandarin in anywhere beside Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Vancouver (bunch of Hong Kong immigrantion). Only Hong Kong government recognises Cantonese as official language in the world, though they also recognises English which is more commonly used by them. From my knowledge, physics and maths communities in US are made up with a fairly large of Mandarin speaker ( a lot bigger compare to Cantonese speaker). (I am a native cantonese, mandarin, and english speaker). What is true is that cantonese speaker most likely know how to speak mandarin and the converse is not true most of the time. In my life time, i have met only one mandarin speaker who learn cantonese in his later life.

    Again, from a mathematical point of view, Russian, German, Mandarin, and French are worth knowing because a lot of research are being produced in those region. Hindi is not included because most highly educated Indians know english due to their history with English.
  16. Jul 16, 2006 #15
    I dont think Japanese should rank that high eveb though japanese universities produce decent amount of research.

    Sorry if i am talking too much about race. but you will probably find at least one chinese and one indian researcher in your maths and phys department.
  17. Jul 16, 2006 #16
    Why not?

    I don't see why race has to do with anything.
  18. Jul 16, 2006 #17
    German and french mathematicians produces lots more researches than japanese.
  19. Jul 25, 2006 #18
    Just a side question, as I am currently studying Mandarin here in China, with physics/math as my main concentration back in the States...

    Is there work out there translating journal articles between languages? Seems like some extra money to be made and and an interesting way to stay abreast of new developments in various fields.
  20. Jul 26, 2006 #19
    I have read lots of chinese scientific article. The word that they use are quite technical. I believe this would be a way to go if your chinese is sufficient enough to translate.
  21. Aug 11, 2006 #20
    I know German, English, Chinese, Spanisch and Latin, but I want to learn Arabic in the next couple of years. I don't have a specific reason, I just want to know that language, should be cool speaking and writing it
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