June 11, 2014

"we should all be learning Chinese..." thus they say

In a recent Facebook posting, I read

I keep coming across the same opinion, something along the lines of "we should all be learning Chinese, they're going to take over the world, etc etc..."

I, personally, think it's a pile of rubbish,...

To that, I responded (with slight modification here):

Whoever said "we should all be learning Chinese, they're going to take over the world" is wrong. This kind of claim occasionally appears on Chinese forums, just to create a few hours' laughs and sneers. Seriously, I can think of two reasons to refute this claim, other than a well-known one, i.e. China is still far behind in innovation in everything: the current practice of the Chinese government in promoting the Chinese culture has too many flaws; the Chinese is a difficult language. The first problem may be largely solved when the element of ideology goes away, which will happen eventually, probably sooner than most people have expected. The second problem remains as is. In spite of certain individuals' language talent, there are indisputable statistics to prove that Chinese, Arabic, and a few others are the most difficult languages (among popular languages) for an English speaker. See How hard is Chinese?. (I already emailed and asked, Defense Language Institute will not have a web page hosting that frequently referenced content even though it belongs to them.) If a language is difficult for most people of the world, it's unlikely to become a dominant language. The success of English in this regard is not just due to the coincidence of the UK and then the US being advanced in most areas of technology and their mother tongue being English, but also because English takes less time to learn for non-English speakers than do many other languages (largely due to replacement of case systems and gender, the rarely useful features in modern languages, by word order, prepositions etc). People in the 21st century are just too busy to learn a language in order to conduct normal business. Unless the Chinese language magically becomes simple, it won't take over the world.

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