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China Education Politics

400 Million Chinese Cannot Speak Mandarin 562

Posted by timothy
from the they-didn't-go-with-the-english-only-option? dept.
dryriver writes with this excerpt from a thought-provoking report at the BBC: "China's Education Ministry says that about 400 million people — or 30% of the population — cannot speak the country's national language. Of the 70% of the population who can speak Mandarin, many do not do it well enough, a ministry spokeswoman told Xinhua news agency on Thursday. The admission from officials came as the government launched another push for linguistic unity in China. China is home to thousands of dialects and several minority languages. These include Cantonese and Hokkien, which enjoy strong regional support. Mandarin — formally called Putonghua in China, meaning 'common tongue' — is one of the most widely-spoken languages in the world. The Education Ministry spokeswoman said the push would be focusing on the countryside and areas with ethnic minorities."
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400 Million Chinese Cannot Speak Mandarin

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:37PM (#44786163)

    Many people in the US can't speak English, and an overwhelming majority of our youth can't seem to do it well at all.

    • by Deadstick (535032)

      Including a few on /.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:04PM (#44787021)
      You sound as if you're suggesting it's a wider problem, but it sounds like that's proof it really doesn't matter: society works fine with different languages spoken. People figure out how to communicate with each other when need be, and it doesn't seem like China or the US are on the verge of fracturing.
    • by Darinbob (1142669) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:37PM (#44787179)

      It's different. English is pretty much the defacto common language in the US, and it was chosen because it was the overwhelmingly dominant language. Mandarin has always been playing catch up trying to drown out regional languages. This article is not at all a surprise, it's mostly just showing how their ethnic homogenization programs are failing.

      • Correction - English was never chosen. It just was, and will continue to be for the near future.
      • by jandersen (462034)

        It's different. English is pretty much the defacto common language in the US, and it was chosen because it was the overwhelmingly dominant language. Mandarin has always been playing catch up trying to drown out regional languages. This article is not at all a surprise, it's mostly just showing how their ethnic homogenization programs are failing.

        That's just a stupid thing to say. Mandarin is not "playing catch up trying to drown out regional languages" - the Chinese government has for a long time had an active policy of protecting minorities, their cultures and languages. However, it is important that everybody is able to communicate in the same language, so Mandarin is being taought in school, just like the Queen's English is being taught to all school children in UK, even if they speak another language at home.

        And I think it is worth remembering

        • by ultranova (717540) on Sunday September 08, 2013 @04:47AM (#44788683)

          the Chinese government has for a long time had an active policy of protecting minorities, their cultures and languages.

          I find that statement extremely difficult to believe.

          And I think it is worth remembering that it was us proud, freedom-loving and democratic Westerners that went about ttrying to strangle local dialects and minority languages: in UK Welsh and Gaelic were suppressed, the Danes tried to eradicate inuit in Greenland, etc etc.

          And apparently you do too, since you immediately start making excuses for them. Not that Danish or British doing bad things to fourth parties actually excuses anything the Chinese might do to unrelated ones.

        • the Chinese government has for a long time had an active policy of protecting minorities, their cultures and languages.

          Just ask the happy and contented people of Tibet. Oh, you can't, the Chinese government doesn't let them talk to foreigners. Well, they're happy and contented. Just take our word for it.

          • by jandersen (462034)

            Just ask the happy and contented people of Tibet. Oh, you can't, the Chinese government doesn't let them talk to foreigners. Well, they're happy and contented. Just take our word for it.

            You're just being silly now. It is perfectly possible to go to Xizang and talk to people; it is rather expensive, but not impossible, and even less so, now the new, high-speed railway is operating. I have travelled all over China in the last 10 years - Yunnan, Hainan, Hunan, Xinjiang, just to mention a few. This is not North Korea, nobody follows you around, discreetly intimidating the general population; but don't take my word for it - go and see for youself.

            Of course the Tibetans are not all entirely happ

    • by MightyYar (622222) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @10:46PM (#44787599)

      Yeah, but they have us beat again... only about 300 million Americans can't speak Mandarin.

  • Make it easier (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Clsid (564627) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:40PM (#44786183)

    Maybe if the language wasn't so difficult it would see more widespread adoption. I honestly believe that the Chinese should switch to some sort of romanization like pinyin, even if it does not have100% of what the Chinese characters provide. I understand the heritage and cultural proudness of having your own characters, but that way you still keep your language, and second you don't waste vauable time thhat can be used to learn something else. Chinese atm is like a legacy programming language with lots of ancient functions that can make the code messy. Learning the radicals, stroke sequences and others on top of all the tones is absurd to me.

    But hey, if somebody can make a counterpoint I will be happy to debate.

    • Re:Make it easier (Score:4, Informative)

      by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:44PM (#44786225) Homepage

      Maybe if the language wasn't so difficult it would see more widespread adoption. I honestly believe that the Chinese should switch to some sort of romanization like pinyin,

      The people mentioned in the article learn how to read characters, they simply ascribe the characters the phonetic value of their own dialect/language as opposed to the phonetic value that Mandarin peoples ascribe to them. Your argument against the Chinese writing system is in the wrong place here.

    • Maybe if the language wasn't so difficult it would see more widespread adoption.

      Save for tones, which come natural to child learners anyway, there's nothing intrinsically difficult about the Chinese language. Please note that script and language are two different things - and apparently, this problem has nothing to do with writing (you may have noticed the phrase "cannot speak" if you read the fine summary. I hope I'm not asking for too much here!)

    • Re:Make it easier (Score:5, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:07PM (#44786377)

      As somebody who spent a year living in the PRC, I went in wondering the same thing. But the fact of the matter is that their are so many homophones that they would need to invent a new language just to make it work.

      The radicals and tones are an essential portion of the language, removing them would be like taking English words and removing the spaces and punctuation marks. It would turn it into a mess.

      The radicals themselves are essential to learning to read and write the Chinese language. Romanization systems don't work because there are too many homophones to worry about. And what's more there are hundreds of different Chinese languages out there whose only point of intersection is the written language. Removing that would require teaching 600m or so people a new language and nearly 1.5b people to read and write in a new language.

      Stroke order isn't quite as silly as you make it out to be, the stroke order is like it is primarily because you draw the radicals in a certain way, and when those radicals are put into a character they retain their order. This cuts down on the amount of time and energy that it takes to learn to write.

      As far as legacy goes, Chinese is far easier than you seem to recognize. Sure, learning the characters is a PITA, but it's not hard, it's just a lot of work. And it's held up remarkably well for millenia. The grammar is simple enough as well.

      As far as "the language" goes, Mandarin is just a voice given to silent characters. It's not any easier or harder than any other Chinese language. It has 5 tones, which in some ways is easier than some with more tones, but it means that you spend more time and energy determining which homophone you're dealing with.

      • Re:Make it easier (Score:4, Informative)

        by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:08PM (#44787039)

        The radicals and tones are an essential portion of the language, removing them would be like taking English words and removing the spaces and punctuation marks. It would turn it into a mess.

        Radicals, maybe, but there do exist tonal languages written with an accented version of the Roman alphabet [wikipedia.org].

      • Re:Make it easier (Score:4, Informative)

        by SoftwareArtist (1472499) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @08:27PM (#44787117)

        Romanization systems don't work because there are too many homophones to worry about.

        Using pinyin with tone marks, the homophones are no more ambiguous than when speaking out loud. Yet people seem to manage just fine using Chinese as a spoken language. Could you comment on this? I'm genuinely curious about it. I've been learning Mandarin, and I've heard other people say the same thing about radicals: that you need them to resolve which homophone you're writing. Yet I don't see how this can possibly be as serious a problem as all that, given that the same problem exists when speaking.

      • Re:Make it easier (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Lurks (526137) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @09:09PM (#44787305) Homepage
        As a weird combination of techie, linguist and Sinophile, I was pleasantly surprised to see this post up on Slashdot. Sadly there's a lot of misconceptions.

        Romanization systems don't work because there are too many homophones to worry about.

        Bzzt! Aside from anything else, there is a standard romanisation sytem called Pinyin (), this is perfectly adequate to represent tones. It's used to teach Chinese both to kids and foreign speakers of Chinese. It's in dictionaries to tell Chinese people how to pronounce new words (since the Chinese orthography only gives you clues to pronunciation and of course no information about tones). Other tonal languages with greater tonal inventories than Mandarin such as Vietnamese have adopted similar schemes as their official orthography. There was even a substantial movement in the PRC to shift towards a roman alphabet at one point. This stemmed from the same political movement that simplified China's orthography from the traditional full form characters. Most of the arguments made about losing information in dumping Chinese characters can also be made about what has already occurred in the shift to simplified.

        Even this argument premise betrays a fundamental misunderstanding about language. If you jump on a massively multiplayer game you'll find Chinese happily chatting away in pinyin without even writing the tones (you can do it in ascii by using numbers eg. ni3 hao3. That's because the act of parsing language is deeply rooted in context. Only certain words make sense in a given context or in a given syntactic position.

        What most speakers of Western languages don't understand is quite how far along the explicit spectrum European languages are. An example is the English fetish on needing to specify a subject leading to bizarre constructions like "It is raining". Speakers of Chinese are much happier and skilled with the art of disambiguating not just lexical words but pragmatic intention from utterances that don't convey the full meaning in their semantic evaluation.

        The high frequency of homophones is no barrier to a romanisation. I also fail to understand why anyone would think radicals are essential. They're very useful in reducing the task of memorising the character set, particularly since they have pronunciation and semantic clues that make it easier to remember how to read (and more importantly write) various words. They are actually quite a lot better at this task for the original full form () orthography because the full radicals often remain where as in the current simplified orthography of China, much has been reduced to arbitrary squiggles discarding semantic and pronunciation information in the process.

        That's a circular argument though. If a phonemic orthography was used, you wouldn't be relying on clues any more. It would be enough to hear a word to be able to write it down. You cannot currently do that in Chinese except by using pinyin. I do this all the time. I write down the pinyin and then later check in a dictionary for the hanzi.

    • Re:Make it easier (Score:4, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:21PM (#44786473) Journal
      " I understand the heritage and cultural proudness of having your own characters"

      I suspect that that's part of the problem; but in a way that the Chinese government is (fairly sensibly) spinning as an 'Oh, gosh, look at the need for educational improvements!' problem: How many of the 400 million non-Mandarin speakers are just really-badly-educated speakers, and how many are speaking-something-other-than-Mandarin-just-fine-thanks?

      It isn't exactly news that China is less homogeneous than Beijing would prefer, and includes a number of both ethnic and linguistic groups that aren't entirely fuzzy toward the capital.
    • From what I've heard the Chinese have been using Roman letters to help their students learn their own language for years now, and especially use roman letters to make it easier to enter Chinese text into a computer.

      But there are still good reasons to use their traditional characters - including the fact that although China has many spoken languages, the use of characters allows most of them to share a single written form.

    • Re:Make it easier (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Miamicanes (730264) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @07:30PM (#44786831)

      > honestly believe that the Chinese should switch to some sort of romanization

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lion-Eating_Poet_in_the_Stone_Den [wikipedia.org]

      The fundamental problem with romanized Chinese is the fact that nearly every word in Chinese has multiple homonyms (to/too/two), even AFTER you take into account the various inflections called "tones" (which are really just ways of formally representing verbal inflections in writing).

      English disambiguates homonyms with silent letters and alternate letter combinations. If Chinese followed the same strategy, the romanized spelling of Chinese words would be almost completely arbitrary, and Chinese kids would spend years memorizing the difference between "shi", "she", "shee", "shii", "shie", "schi", "sche", "schii", and "schie" (plus appropriate tone marks). In the end, it wouldn't be much of an improvement... assuming it were any improvement at all.

      At one time, Chinese had a serious "keyboard problem", but it's been largely solved by keyboards like Wubizixing ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wubizixing [wikipedia.org] ) and Wubihua. At the simple end, Wubihua assigns 5 keys to the most fundamental strokes used to write Chinese: horizontal, vertical, left-falling, right-falling/dot, and hooked/complex. You press the keys corresponding to at least the first 4 strokes, then press the key corresponding to the last, and it presents you with a list of plausible characters that match. The more keys you press, the smaller the list gets, until you're left with either an unambiguous match or you've entered all the strokes.

      Other methods, like Wubizixing, go a step further, and assign keys to the radicals themselves (if you think of characters as being like molecules, radicals are atoms, and strokes are quarks; in English terms, characters are words or stems, radicals are letters, and strokes are the way you'd write those letters... like "vertical, vertical, horizontal" for "uppercase H"). Somebody who's good at typing on a Wubizixing keyboard with the key-cadence of somebody who types English at ~100wpm can achieve an equivalent word-rate of about 120-150wpm (because Wubizixing makes more efficient use of the keys on the keyboard, and requires fewer keystrokes per communicated-word than English QWERTY).

      The irony is that most people in China are amazed when they first encounter a Westerner who can type on a Wubi keyboard (-hua OR -zixing), because they think they're "too hard" to use. The reality is that stroke-based input is REALLY the only way somebody who doesn't know how to speak Chinese CAN enter characters on a keyboard. There's definitely room for algorithm-improvement in a "westerner-friendly" stroke-based input method, but I can guarantee that whatever we end up with ~10 years from now, it's going to look more like Wubi than anything else. It'll just be more forgiving of someone who enters "zhong" (level 'o' tone) as "vertical, horizontal, vertical, horizontal, vertical" (or some other permutation) instead of "vertical, hook, horizontal, vertical" (just to give one example).

      As for "too hard", Wubizixing really isn't any harder for someone in China to master than QWERTY is for someone in the US. For geeks who type all day, every day, nonstop, it's a skill that pays HUGE personal dividends. For people who think computers in general are "hard to use", it doesn't really matter whether they're American or Chinese... they'll dick around with two-finger hunt & peck or Pinyin input, and endlessly predict the death of keyboards in favor of speech recognition. The rest of us, American and Chinese, will laugh at them and keep typing 120-150wpm while they struggle to send email and text messages with amusing autocorrect errors.

      Anyway, getting back to romanization of Chinese... it's not going to happen. Chinese has romanized as much as it's ever going to romanize. Twenty years ago, keyboards and fonts were real problems. Now,

    • Most Chinese I have spoken to on the issue say that Chinese characters are necessary otherwise they wouldn't be able to understand the old texts that form China's cultural heritage. Note this is not the same as keeping your own writing system for the sake of being different from other countires. A related reason is that characters give clues to the etymology of words, just like English spelling does. Just as changing English spelling to be phonetic would break the link with Latin, other Eurpoean language
  • The government in Beijing has been trying to convert the Cantonese-speaking part of the country (which includes Hong Kong) to Mandarin since Mao's day, without much success. Due to development, internal migration, improved transportation and communications, and pressure from the central government, Mandarin is finally displacing Cantonese in some areas. Shenzhen, the high-tech region near Hong Kong, was mostly using Cantonese two decades ago, but is now mostly Mandarin.

    • This article is addressing a slightly different issue, since it is talking about people who cannot speak Mandarin, not people who can speak it but choose to use their local dialect in public. E.g. all university educated people can speak Mandarin. As the summary states, this is mainly an issue relating to people in rural areas with less education.
    • by hedwards (940851)

      I used to live a couple hours from there, and it's the only part of China where I would routinely run into people that couldn't speak any Chinese. The local Cantonese is still very strong there, which makes it difficult for those that don't speak Cantonese and can't read and write.

      Hong Kong was even worse because if they didn't speak English, they probably wouldn't speak Mandarin and the writing system in use is mainly traditional Chinese rather than the simplified system in use in the PRC.

      My Chinese isn't

    • by Guppy (12314)

      The government in Beijing has been trying to convert the Cantonese-speaking part of the country (which includes Hong Kong) to Mandarin since Mao's day, without much success. Due to development, internal migration, improved transportation and communications, and pressure from the central government, Mandarin is finally displacing Cantonese in some areas.

      The process has been going on for far longer than that. A number of ancient poems that do not rhyme in modern Mandarin Chinese will do so when spoken in Cantonese.

  • 'learn chinese' (Score:5, Interesting)

    by globaljustin (574257) <justinglobal@gm a i l . com> on Saturday September 07, 2013 @05:43PM (#44786209) Homepage Journal

    I remember very recently there was a sort of "learn Chinese" fad going around...

    It was usually some techie MBA type...

    OH at the watercooler: "oh yeah, I'm learning Chinese...yeah for sure...it's all China man...it is the next superpower"

    Or yuppie parents...

    "yes we have jonny and suzy both in Mandarin classes twice a week..."

    I taught English in Korea in 2002 (world cup woo hoo) and had several friends who did the same in China, Japan, and Thailand.

    The idea that learning Chinese would ever be anyone's idea of a smart thing for business or education in the 21st Century **baffled** me when I first read it (probably a Friedman article)...

    This kind of bears it out in numbers...

    400 million **don't even speak it in their own country**

    It's English...for better or worse international business and science is conducted in English.

    Same was true when I studied at Telecom Bretagne in France in 2009...in the computer lab all the Moroccans, Russians, Germans, Itialians, Chinese, Japanese, and yes French students spoke English.

    Chinese is fine. If you want a challenge go for it...but don't do it thinking it'll be a good business investment or learning tool for a child...if that's what you want you'll just end with torture ;)

    • I remember very recently there was a sort of "learn Chinese" fad going around...

      It was usually some techie MBA type...

      Probably Firefly fans.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Well if you want business relations with China speaking Mandarin is as useful as speaking Spanish in Mexico, you'll find English speakers but only where they expect foreigners. Even here in Norway with 90%+ English speakers and a massive amount of language training through non-dubbed series and movies it's only in some international businesses everyone can seamlessly switch to English. Everyone where I work now could probably hold a basic conversation in English but many would be severely impeded and would

      • Howdy Mr. Norway, interesting thoughts.

        I was a bit baffled by this:

        OTOH I'd say you're aiming below the "international business" level where people would be expected to speak English

        and your point about middle managers...could you maybe explain it a different way?

        also, I'd like to hear more of your evidence for this statement:

        business relations with China speaking Mandarin is as useful as speaking Spanish in Mexico

        Is this from your experience in *both* China and Mexico?

        Seeing as you are Norwegian, I'm incli

    • Re:'learn chinese' (Score:4, Informative)

      by hedwards (940851) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:21PM (#44786477)

      Those 400m people are mostly in rural areas. Legally all schools are supposed to be conducted in Mandarin, although exceptions are made for foreign language schools as Beijing is keen on having people learn foreign languages.

      But, the difficulty level is pretty low. Of the languages I've studied, Mandarin is by far the easiest one to learn. The grammar is astonishingly simple and even the feared characters are mostly a matter of study. If you start with the radicals and skip learning individual characters in favor of whole words, its' not that tough. Most Chinese words are either one character or the newer style which are compounds of 2 or 3 of the older characters. And considering that the PRC has achieved a literacy rate over 85% it's clearly something that's doable for anybody that's willing to put in the effort and time.

      Tones, do take some getting used to, but none of the tones in Mandarin are ones that we don't have in English, it's just that they use them differently than we do in English.

      I don't personally think that Chinese is likely to be mandatory, however, it is going to be increasingly useful in coming years. Especially the written form that tends to scare people away. But, after a year of looking at them in China, I found after a while that there's a pattern to them, and whenever I see simplified Chinese characters, I get a warm fuzzy feeling that everything is going to be OK.

    • I never thought I'd say this, but I suspect that the MBA's are correct. Yes, lots of international business is transacted in English. I've been in meetings in non-English speaking countries where all the participants spoke English fluently.

      Yet, all other things being equal, if they could buy from someone who spoke their native language, they would. With the exception of truely multi-lingual people, generally people who grew up speaking two or more languages, you'll always be more comfortable in your m
  • But one of the things I stumbled upon trying to learn some asian languages is the logographic writing. Unlike our alphabet, where you can sound it out, in logographic systems you either know the 1 of many thousands of symbols or you don't. Which is why in Japanese writing, particularly geared for younger folk, the more advanced kanji (for that age group) usually has kana (a type of phonographic alphabet) over the Kanji, so they can sound out the words. Don't know how it works in Chinese.

    Anyway, a long wh

    • by xaxa (988988)

      The Vietnamese used to write using Chinese (Han) characters, but switched to Roman letters. It wasn't their culture though, so I don't think they had much attachment.

      In China, one person I asked to read something said they "couldn't read the font", but I /think/ that was just an excuse to avoid talking to me.

      I don't know how realistic your example is -- I'm sure it could happen, but I don't know how "stupid" the boy would need to be. Would 99% of 15 year olds have managed, or only 80%? I have an app on m

  • I learned some Chinese in high school and even won an inter-school award for "excellence", but I could not even hold a conversation. This makes me feel a lot better about my lack of Chinese speaking skills after devoting some years to it.

  • by Jonavin (71006) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @06:44PM (#44786589) Homepage

    A decade ago I visited my adult cousines in Guang Dong province and they barely spoke any mandarin. There was no need to. Local TV/radio was readily in Cantonese and they could read all national documents written in Chinese.

    Situations have changed since there's more business dealings with those outside their province so they have since learned to speak mandarin fluently.

    I imagine they treat the need to learn Mandarin in the same way Quebecois have to learn English.

  • by kilodelta (843627) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @07:41PM (#44786893) Homepage
    Managed to get English spoken pretty much throughout the country. You can thank the British for that - because India is also a polyglot nation depending upon things like region, etc.

    But the Chinese, insistent upon Mandarin yet a good chunk of their population cannot speak it. That's bizarre but then the Chinese didn't have the benefit of British rule I suppose.
  • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @09:24PM (#44787349) Journal

    And speak some of the natives about the Welsh Not [wikipedia.org] and La Vaches [wikipedia.org]. It worked, and the only thing standing in the way of fluency in the official dialect is bitter resentment.

  • by renzhi (2216300) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @10:10PM (#44787487)

    I'm baffled to read comments from those who don't know Chinese, or don't even bother to learn Chinese. The mandarin, is just another dialect in China, which happens to be promoted by the emperor/government as the one unified tongue so as to facilitate communication. Even with tens of different regional dialects, they are all based on the same character set. People had been able to communicate with each other for thousands of years.

    The worst thing is to see people suggest that the Chinese should "latinize" their language. Please, do not make stupid suggestions like on subject you have no idea.

    And for people who said that Chinese is difficult, that's because you haven't really put efforts into it. Look, how many hours have you put into learning Chinese on a daily basis, as compared to the hours that Chinese people (and other people all over the world) had put into learning English? And you even complain that these folks can't speak English correctly, whereas the Chinese people would have congratulated you even all you can say is "nihao" and "xiexie". For non-English-speaking people, English is really a bastard language. Why is "shit" not "sheet" or "shait"? Words such as "anticonstitutionally", where am I supposed to put the tone on? And the grammatical rules and exceptions. And shit like that.

    And the French language. Try to learn just the conjugation of the verbs. Try to master the grammar. And how do I figure out the gender of a noun? Is there a rule for that? I spent years learning French, I know it pretty well, but I can't even say I really master the grammar. And before we went on a trip to Italy, everyone said Italian is really easy. Even with my French background, I still struggled quite a bit to learn that other latin-based language.

    And before going to Germany, I also tried to learn German. Oh, ouch, err... learning German is like being a masochist.

    How about if people in other parts of the world tell the Amerians/Brits to "simplify" English, or tell the French to simplify French, or tell the Germans to simplify German? Or to simplify your _insert_your_favorite_mother_tongue_here_ ? You know what, it's been a struggling experience for them too.

    I master quite well Chinese (Mandarin plus other 3 dialects)/English/French, know a bit of Italian and Spanish, Khmer and Vietnamese, but still struggle a lot whenever I try to learn a new language. Languages evolve over hundreds/thousands of years, it's hard to learn, even harder to master. You need to really put effort into it. Besides, learning a new language or get to know a new culture, is supposed to be an intellectual endeavor of your own journey. People don't give a shit about what you think of their language or culture. You are supposed to approach them. They have no duty to "make it easy" (whatever that means) for you.

All the simple programs have been written.

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