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Old 24.01.2011, 15:57
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Which Asian language to learn ?

Alright, no big news... Asian market is getting bigger and bigger every day.

So, being able to speak/write/understand an Asian language is one big advantage.

Which Asian language would be the most useful to learn ?
Which one is the hardest/easiest to learn ?
In the future, would it be better to speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean ?

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  #2  
Old 24.01.2011, 16:00
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

Turkish.
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  #3  
Old 24.01.2011, 16:11
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

Most important - Chinese without a doubt in terms of present and potential future economic and political clout. I've never learned Korean but I've learned Japanese and tried to learn Chinese. I found Japanese pretty simple and easy to make progress, though men do speak differently from women. Chinese was harder to learn and pronounce properly. In the end I gave up because I couldn't get to grips with the tones.
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Old 24.01.2011, 16:13
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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In the future, would it be better to speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean ?
Japan: 120 Million; Global GDP rank: 4.

China: 1338 Million; Global GDP rank: 3 - and rising.

Korean: 49 Milllion in the South, an estimated 24 in the North. Global GDP rank: 12


English is a very practical language, not becauese the US is so strong as a nation, but because it became internationally important. Many people speak it around the globe as a second language. No Asian language is in a similar situation and there are more people in China learning English right now that there are English speaking people living in the US... but if you really want to, I guess Mandarin Chinese makes the most sense.
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Old 24.01.2011, 16:21
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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Turkish.
Is it easy?
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Old 24.01.2011, 16:48
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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Alright, no big news... Asian market is getting bigger and bigger every day.

So, being able to speak/write/understand an Asian language is one big advantage.

Which Asian language would be the most useful to learn ?
Which one is the hardest/easiest to learn ?
In the future, would it be better to speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean ?

I've tried Japanese and comparing notes to people who've done Chinese, I guess Japanese is far more accessible. The main reason for this is the pronounciation. In Chinese words that many sound virtually identical to us Europeans have totally different meanings. The pronounciation is much more subtle and for those of us who are getting on in years and no longer ahve the best of hearing, that can be a challenge. Japanese by comparison uses sounds and sound patterns that are much more compatible to the European way of doing things.

But then I guess China is by far the bigger market so the question is, is it worth the extra effort?
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Old 24.01.2011, 17:07
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

amogles summed it up pretty well.

I speak both Japanese and Mandarin (which is my 2nd language in school for 10 years). Conversationally, Japanese is easier. Its easier to get the 5 sounds right - a, e, oo, eh, o, versus the 4 in Mandarin. Japanese vowels are simpler (e.g., the 'a' sound is like the a in father). However in Mandarin, the 'a' sound can be pronounced in different ways (high? low? lower? flat?) and the total meaning of the word could be different depending on whether it is an 'a' sound that goes up or down.

Japanese also borrows many words and phrases from Chinese due to cultural influences - for example: dengwa in Japanese (telephone) sounds pretty similar its Chinese equivalent, as with manga (comics).

Writing wise, both Japanese and Mandarin are a bitch to learn how to write if you are from the Western world but there are many similiarities in both languages especially Japanese Kanji and Mandarin. For example: Tokyo in Kanji is 東京, which has the same meaning in Mandarin. I had no problem picking Kanji up during Japanese classes but my Western classmates struggled.

Word of advice - learn Mandarin even though its more difficult. Branch out to Japanese later if you are still interested. It will be much easier to pick up. China is emerging as the leading economic powerhouse in the world today. Sure, the Chinese are learning English but the power you hold in your hands being able to speak Mandarin as a foreigner is really..........well ask my ex boss In short, no one effs with you.
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Old 24.01.2011, 17:14
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

...well, what will you be usiing your language for?
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Old 24.01.2011, 17:41
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

I'd say tackle Mandarin/Putonghua.

I worked in China for several years, and although even at it's best my Putonghua was... laughable... I found that even a little goes a long way. Yes, it will take a long time to reach functionality, and true elegant fluency may be an unrealistic goal - but one can pick up some of the basics rather quickly.

It won't take too many characters before you can read a menu and exchange pleasantries with colleagues - and concentrating on vocabulary tailored to your profession can quickly give you enough to follow a meeting.

Honestly, I found it far easier to get started with Putonghua than with German - and my Chinese colleagues, friends, and neighbors were certainly far more supportive of my feeble attempts and forgiving of my mistakes than folks are here in Switzerland. Which, for me, made all the difference when learning a language. I'm fairly tone-deaf, but no one seemed to mind when I asked after the health of one's horse rather than one's mother.

Sadly, I've lost most of what I once knew - that danged Deutsch seems to have crowded it out - but I try to keep up a little by watching films. If for no other reason, learn Chinese for the wonderful cinema.

Good luck!
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Old 24.01.2011, 17:48
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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I'd say tackle Mandarin/Putonghua.

I worked in China for several years, and although even at it's best my Putonghua was... laughable... I found that even a little goes a long way. Yes, it will take a long time to reach functionality, and true elegant fluency may be an unrealistic goal - but one can pick up some of the basics rather quickly.

It won't take too many characters before you can read a menu and exchange pleasantries with colleagues - and concentrating on vocabulary tailored to your profession can quickly give you enough to follow a meeting.

Honestly, I found it far easier to get started with Putonghua than with German - and my Chinese colleagues, friends, and neighbors were certainly far more supportive of my feeble attempts and forgiving of my mistakes than folks are here in Switzerland. Which, for me, made all the difference when learning a language. I'm fairly tone-deaf, but no one seemed to mind when I asked after the health of one's horse rather than one's mother.

Sadly, I've lost most of what I once knew - that danged Deutsch seems to have crowded it out - but I try to keep up a little by watching films. If for no other reason, learn Chinese for the wonderful cinema.

Good luck!
i agree that many chinese will be very supportive (and often surprised) when a westerner speaks chinese (even if only a little bit).

for business purposes, i would suggest that learning mandarin and having the ability to consume vast amounts of alcohol while partying all night will probably be enough to see you through...
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Old 24.01.2011, 17:58
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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Turkish.
Turkish is a European language
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:04
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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Is it easy?
Evet but you need to get your head around it..then again i lived for 3 months in Turkey, most of them speak English or French also. (in big cities now, not small mountain villages)

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Turkish is a European language
More in between, Eurasia

Part of Turkey is Anatolia and Anatolia is Minor Asia. But there is a part of Turkey in the European side of the Bosphorus
The problem arises when we ask this question : to which continent Turkish see themselves attached?
Turkish Europeans seems attached to Europe and Anatolians to Asia.
With all the political nuances that go with that.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:14
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

Forget about Chinese. First of all, too many people are learning it for the very same reasons. 1) population 2) economics
You will not go around China and speak to 1.something billion people..and the few you will talk to will speak excellent English. Economics, is a shaky business..once the west stop buying products China won't be as attractive anymore. Look at Russia for example. In the 70s and 80s, people in the US and in Europe studied Russian...it is pretty much useless now. Korean and Japanese on the other hand are very much usefull. They both have a strong domestic economy and are leaders in whatever they produce and have a higher standard of living (along with a higher salary).
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:23
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

My opinion: Cambodian. Why? Because (first) it is a non-tonal language, which means you can't mess up as easy, and (second) because the economy in Cambodia is rapidly developing for industry and agriculture.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:28
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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More in between, Eurasia

Part of Turkey is Anatolia and Anatolia is Minor Asia. But there is a part of Turkey in the European side of the Bosphorus
The problem arises when we ask this question : to which continent Turkish see themselves attached?
Turkish Europeans seems attached to Europe and Anatolians to Asia.
With all the political nuances that go with that.
Some Turks may be Europeans but that doesn't make Turkish a European language IMHO, in that it isn't a language that originated in Europe. If you were to say that Turkish is a European language you would have to say that English is an South-Asian language or French a West-African language. A lot of people would disagree with the latter assertions.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:35
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

I would like to speak Quecchua and the world to learn it as well until it becomes the dominant international language.

It is unwritten, therefore, you'll stop getting all those stupid and badly written emails. Annoyed by SMS too? Gone. Can't stand people covering their faces with a newspaper? Gone. Can't bother to read all those lengthy contracts? Gone, just verbal contracts and a handshake with swine flu.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:37
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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Some Turks may be Europeans but that doesn't make Turkish a European language IMHO, in that it isn't a language that originated in Europe. If you were to say that Turkish is a European language you would have to say that English is an South-Asian language or French a West-African language. A lot of people would disagree with the latter assertions.
Turkish languages are spoken from the most eastern tiny bit of Europe all the way to Western China. The various Turk people are as Asian as it gets. And it does not matter how much of Turkey is technically on European soil... because scientists don't need to be politicians.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:39
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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I would like to speak Quecchua and the world to learn it as well until it becomes the dominant international language.

It is unwritten, therefore, you'll stop getting all those stupid and badly written emails. Annoyed by SMS too? Gone. Can't stand people covering their faces with a newspaper? Gone. Can't bother to read all those lengthy contracts? Gone, just verbal contracts and a handshake with swine flu.
Well, wasn't this the language with the "knots on a rope" writing that unfortunately got lost thanks to some rather rude Spanish gentlement? Imagine we would read our newspapers in the shape of long ropes with knots... I do not want to know what an S-train would look like after the commuters left their 20minutes in there.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:53
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

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there are more people in China learning English right now that there are English speaking people living in the US... but if you really want to, I guess Mandarin Chinese makes the most sense.
You raise a good point. When we opened our China business we had a flood of applications from Europeans with rudimentary Chinese language skills. Turned out we didn't need them. There was such a glut of top notch Chinese native speakers at US and European business schools who were bilingual in English that we were spoilt for choice.

Having said that, if you can speak a bit of Chinese/Japanese, when building those all important personal relationships - it will give you the edge over competitors who don't. It's not just the language. If you learn that, you also tend to learn about the culture/etiquette in the process and consequently come over less of the barbarian gweilo/gaijin.
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Old 24.01.2011, 18:53
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Re: Which Asian language to learn ?

Asian languages are so different from English that the one you should learn is the one you really feel highly motivated to learn. That is all that counts. Hence, if you are wondering which to learn, you are obviously not particularly motivated by one of them, so don't learn any of them.

Find the place and the people that enspire you first, then learn their language.
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