Friday, 25 November 2005

Learning Chinese: Next Big Thing?

I really like the quote:

"The more our young people know about cultural context in which they're operating, the better their competence as business leaders."
Charlie Kolb, Committee for Economic Development

I support learning Chinese for several reasons:
  1. China is going to be the largest economy soon. To facilitate future job opportunity, learn Chinese.

  2. About 1/5 of the world population speaks Chinese, it makes sense to know Chinese and its culture. Learn Chinese.

  3. Chinese is a very different language from the Romanised languages. It is one of the most interesting and oldest language which is still in use. Learn Chinese.

  4. It is very easy to learn.*

  5. It is one of the best natural language for robotic control.**

  6. The input of Chinese into computer, once mastered, is fast and efficient.***

*Chinese is easy to learn.
  • Chinese does not have tense, gender, plural or singular. A verb is just a verb, no different variations due to all these complications.

  • Chinese is combinational and rational. Let me use an example. To describe different type of meat, it is different for different animal: beef, pork. In Chinese, we use the animal name followed by the word meat. Train, tram, bus,taxi, lorry ,... have nothing in common. If you don't know these terms, you have no clue what it is. In Chinese, these are all phrases followed by the general word car. You may not know exactly the kind of car, but you know it is about car. January, February, March,.... again the same.

  • In English, it looks easy to learn the 26 alphabets. After that, you still have several thousands of words to learn. In Chinese, after you learn the first 800 to 1000 common characters, you can read national newspapers. So it is at least several times easier than English. On top of that, you don't have all the variations introduced in point 1 here.

  • **Best natural language for robotic control
    I am not the first one to notice that. I was told by the inventor of the Chongji input method, Mr. Chu. Mr. Chu, after analysing all the Chinese characters he can put his hand on (about 56,000), he noticed a regular pattern and hence invented the input method.
  • Chinese characters fall into several categories. Most contains parts which is pictorial. (Other includes sound, metaphor etc.) These pictorial parts form a set of radicals which group Chinese characters into logical groups useful for natural language parsing.

  • Because of the way we express numbers, the parsing of the value parts from natural Chinese is unambitiquous and easy.

  • Again, because Chinese has no tense, plural, gender etc variations, the parsing of verbs are easy and accurate.

  • ***The input of Chinese into computer, once mastered, is fast and efficient.
    Against intuition, Chinese input is actually faster in many ways than English.
  • For reference, a Hong Kong primary student won a public competition at the speed as fast as 200 Chinese word per minute.

  • Chinese input methods are still an area of hot research. New improvements are frequent.


    JKCosine said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    JKCosine said...

    Wow it seems that you know Chinese even better than I do!
    "Chinese is easy to learn"...first time in my life to hear that! >_< Even myself find Chinese hard to learn sometimes! lol