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How bad are tones. Thinking of switching.

#1
I don't have access to instruction here. I know one can use playback features if I can get it working on Linux but I really hate the sound of my voice. On the plus side I am pretty good with impressions and accents [I do an awesome Shrek/Fat Bastard]


IIRC there is this Chinesepod.com or something like that seems to be pretty good. If I start with that and work on tones, will I be able to "get it" or will I be one of those people who spend ages learning Chinese only to be utterly not understood when he speaks to Chinese people.

I am thinking Mandarin, not Cantonese.
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#2
depends on who you're talking to. In my experience people from the mainland are more understanding than people from Taiwan, but that's anecdotal. Everyone I've met from there says that people can understand you even if you use the wrong tone, but that's obviously subjective. They all stated that they've never met a foreigner who uses them correctly though.
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#3
(2016-01-03, 11:33 am)Zgarbas Wrote: depends on who you're talking to. In my experience people from the mainland are more understanding than people from Taiwan, but that's anecdotal. Everyone I've met from there says that people can understand you even if you use the wrong tone, but that's obviously subjective. They all stated that they've never met a foreigner who uses them correctly though.

I hear horror stories of people who go over and can't actually speak to anyone.
However I also hear that in North America often the teaching of tones is very slack, in a can't win don't try way.
Also it is my understanding that even Standard Chinese is only roughly understood by 70% of mainlanders and only really spoken fluently by about 10% many of whom probably speak Beijing Mandarin. It is my understanding that there are dialects of Mandarin that are not mutually intelligible.
So perhaps that is the reason for the difficulty.

How close are Taiwan Mandarin and Standard Mainland Mandarin. If I switch to Chinese I'll have to choose if I am going the HSK route [mainland] or the TOCFL [Taiwan] route. If I do the Taiwan route how understandable will Chinese movies be. How easily will I be able to communicate with people in say Montreal Chinatown [I hear Mandarin is either taking over from Cantonese and other dialects or at least common as a second language]

Sigh. I know so little.
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#4
Unfortunately I can't be of that much help there, I don't actually know that much about Chinese. However, regarding the dialects... Chinese is a macrolanguage so it does involve some non-mutually intelligible languages. However (at least in my experience) educated Chinese people all know standard Mandarin, and frankly you will not meet any non-educated ones unless you take make some interesting life decisions. All my friends are from different areas and (aside from the occasional laugh at the odd word) can understand one another. Difficulties with dialects exist in all languages, so no point worrying about that.
If you ask someone from the mainland, Taiwan Chinese is not all that different. If you ask someone from Taiwan, they're completely different*. It's political more than anything. The writing system is the greatest difference, really, but it's not that hard to read traditional once you know simplified (and vice-versa). But I can't be of much help, since I still don't understand any spoken Chinese.

*expect being understood and commented upon that 'haha, that's so mainland'.
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#5
Tones are essential. Learn to produce them well right from the beginning. If you 'know' a word, but don't know the tone, you don't know the word. People won't understand you if you are using the wrong tones.
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#6
Tones are not that bad.

Get a lot of audio input (I've used Chinesepod, but I think there are a lot of good podcasts out there), and pay attention to trying to hear the tones and trying to reproduce the tones. My rule for the first year I was seriously learning Chinese is that I tried not to read anything unless I had audio to listen to. It takes work, but it's not that bad.
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#7
ya dont believe the internet hype. you can learn to speak chinese just fine, just like many people here can speak japanese and be understood no problem.
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#8
The pronunciation differences between Taiwanese "Mandarin" and Mandarin can be enough to make words incomprehensible, in my experience, but supposedly, at least, the differences can be learned reasonably quickly. My former Mandarin instructor taught classes to fix "Southern Mandarin" speakers. Tones were hard for me to learn to hear, but it's certainly not impossible. I don't think Mandarin is any harder than Japanese, all in all.
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#9
I know tones are important which is why I ask. I also am under the impression that it is important to start off right instead of waiting to fix them later.

I was looking at the Chinesepod thing. On the page about tones where they list the same word together with different tones I can sort of make it out a bit but when I was bouncing around the lessons I really can't make out the tones at all. The tone page it seems they exaggerated things a bit so you can sort of make them out.
I'd hate to make the switch and then hit the wall on tones and have to crawl back to Japanese and start over again.

If I did switch I think I'd start with Chinesepod or Chinesepod101 well and RTH rather than normal texts just to be able to hear the tones. I've read somewhere, I think on their forum that when they [Cpodd not Cpod101] moved to Taiwan they started switching the Mandarin they use to the Taiwan accent. I suppose it isn't an issue if it is just a matter of an occasional word but if there are large differences in the vocab it sounds like the site would cause a lot of problems.
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#10
Honestly, if you want to learn Mandarin, the difficulty of the language is much less important than your motivation level. Personally, I would learn mainland Mandarin, since the audience is larger.
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#11
(2016-01-05, 6:12 pm)bertoni Wrote: Honestly, if you want to learn Mandarin, the difficulty of the language is much less important than your motivation level.  Personally, I would learn mainland Mandarin, since the audience is larger.

Difficulty matters somewhat. More difficult means you need more motivation. I was doing a tone game from the BBC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/chinese/g...ones.shtml

For anyone wondering, it would be a good place to start if you have the same question I did. I did improve from the first round a bit but they seem to speak very slowly and clearly and it was the same two voices so you had a bit of a tell there also and you get the same words pretty quickly.

They seem very difficult and annoying and my motivation isn't high enough to try and push past it. Been doing quite a bit of thinking on the issue since I posted. I don't mind consuming media via translation and Japan, at least a place like Sapporo seems much more liveable than the semi tropical heat of Taiwan or the major pollution of the PRC to this Canadian. Maybe if I lived closer in a town with a stronger Chinese presence I'd be more inclined to give it a shot but the major non English and French languages locally are Urdu and Tamil if you don't count exchange students and I am a bit old to be hanging out with teenagers.

Back to Japanese. 65% of the way into RTK, might as well keep going.

Pity but there are so many languages out there so no need to smash my head against the wall. Maybe later on.

Major respect to anyone who picks up any form of Chinese as an adult and a major thanks to everyone who gave me advice.
Edited: 2016-01-06, 12:22 am
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#12
Sorry to hear that =(. Hope you find something that works out!

(this was in core 1000 on iKnow... I swear that the Chinese core is trying to tell me something)

[Image: 10413366_1226902747325382_90236873417648...e=574612CA]
Edited: 2016-01-06, 8:00 am
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#13
(2016-01-06, 7:59 am)Zgarbas Wrote: Sorry to hear that =(. Hope you find something that works out!

(this was in core 1000 on iKnow... I swear that the Chinese core is trying to tell me something)

[Image: 10413366_1226902747325382_90236873417648...e=574612CA]
I just love your sense of humor
[Image: 10.gif]
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#14
(2016-01-05, 6:02 am)Dudeist Wrote: I know tones are important which is why I ask. I also am under the impression that it is important to start off right instead of waiting to fix them later.

I was looking at the Chinesepod thing. On the page about tones where they list the same word together with different tones I can sort of make it out a bit but when I was bouncing around the lessons I really can't make out the tones at all. The tone page it seems they exaggerated things a bit so you can sort of make them out.
I'd hate to make the switch and then hit the wall on tones and have to crawl back to Japanese and start over again.

If I did switch I think I'd start with Chinesepod or Chinesepod101 well and RTH rather than normal texts just to be able to hear the tones. I've read somewhere, I think on their forum that when they [Cpodd not Cpod101] moved to Taiwan they started switching the Mandarin they use to the Taiwan accent. I suppose it isn't an issue if it is just a matter of an occasional word but if there are large differences in the vocab it sounds like the site would cause a lot of problems.
Generally speaking, it is better to learn the "same word together with different tones" in order to sort out the changing tones.  Either if the lessons are not structured properly or when the learners choose to "cherry-pick and bounce around" without understanding the basic Chinese phonetic (sound structure) system in the first place, it will become chaotic and then they cannot make out the changing tones at all.

Unless an individual have issues such as "tone-deaf", "short-tongue" and other physical condition, otherwise it is not that difficult to learn the changing tones and produce the sound into speech form.  

In Japanese, 石の上にも三年
http://kotowaza-allguide.com/i/ishinouenimosannen.html
(英語では、Perseverance will win in the end./ Patience is a virtue.)

Switching around, in the English proverb - A rolling stone gathers no moss.
said to mean that a person who is always traveling and changing jobs has the advantage of having no responsibilities, but also has disadvantages such as having no permanent place to live.
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#15
(2016-01-06, 7:59 am)Zgarbas Wrote: Sorry to hear that =(. Hope you find something that works out!

(this was in core 1000 on iKnow... I swear that the Chinese core is trying to tell me something)

[Image: 10413366_1226902747325382_90236873417648...e=574612CA]

Sounds like a message from Chuck Norris may peace be upon His name and you are His messenger.

It isn't all that bad. It cuts down the language to do list by a lot. When one is 46 time starts to become more of a factor. Sure one can learn a language very late in life but you don't have a lot of time to actually enjoy it.

It would be much worse to pound away at the language only to find that I can't really make myself understood to the bog average Chinese Canadian because either my tones are not right or because they are Cantonese or some other dialect and their Standard Mandarin is either weak or non existent.

If I could afford a lot of 1 on 1 tutoring or had lots of patient Chinese friends I'd probably consider it more but even then, tones sound antifun to deal with.

Anyways, if I switched, you guys would miss me, right? Wink
Edited: 2016-01-06, 12:50 pm
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#16
I did the opposite and dropped Japanese in favor of Mandarin. Japanese is more difficult in my opinion and the media I'm interested in gets translated to Chinese anyway.
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#17
I've done both. Japanese is a more complex language grammatically. But if you can master the grammar, which is possible with enough time and effort, you can sound close to native. Unless you have a gift for sounds, it will be more difficult to sound native in Chinese, though you will be understood (unless you have no ear for tones for all). I was very relieved when I heard people in China yelling at other Chinese -- "Hey, I can't understand a word you're saying -- where are you from anyway?" Even without getting into different dialects, the pronunciation differs from region to region. It's not just us laowai with the pronunciation problem.
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#18
(2016-01-08, 5:06 pm)Saruyatsu Wrote: I've done both.  Japanese is a more complex language grammatically.  But if you can master the grammar, which is possible with enough time and effort, you can sound close to native.  Unless you have a gift for sounds, it will be more difficult to sound native in Chinese, though you will be understood (unless you have no ear for tones for all).  I was very relieved when I heard people in China yelling at other Chinese -- "Hey, I can't understand a word you're saying -- where are you from anyway?"  Even without getting into different dialects, the pronunciation differs from region to region.  It's not just us laowai with the pronunciation problem.

That is my impressions. Japanese is just a matter of putting in the hours and the effort. Chinese I am concerned might require some skill or at the very least feedback.

I was reading somewhere of the difference between something that is hard vs something that just takes a lot of effort.

As for the other stuff, yeah that drives me a but nuts. Hell there are dialects of Mandarin which are not intelligible to each other. Same with Hindi from what I understand.

I've read that only 10% of the population is considered fluent in Putonghua and 70% know it to a degree. I suspect a lot of that 10 and 70 percent come to it via having similarities with their home dialect, I'd guess folks from Beijing and Harbin would find it easy to pass as fluent.

I wish everyone would just speak Klingon, it was good enough for Shakespeare.
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