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Second Languages!
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david s
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david s 25 United States MelancholicCholeric ISFJ 621 1193C
What a wonderful thing to talk about. Yes. I'm sure it's been brought up before, but anyway, this thing.

Do you guys know a second language? If so, are you good at it? Do you know more than one second language?(Third language...?) Do you want to know more languages? If you don't know a second language, would you like to? Do you have pugs?

That last question was irrelevant, but please answer it anyway.

Next set of questions.

If you have one, do you like your second language? Is it better than your first one? What is this second language? Is it useful to you, or will it be useful? What made you decide to learn a second language? Is it easy? Are you still using it?

I'm sure a lot of you do know second languages, considering how many of you have English as your second language.

Aaaaaanyway, I bring this up because I'm currently studying a second language myself. I'm in my second semester of Mandarin Chinese, so at this point I'm able to say very basic things in Chinese. I can say things like "我想去餐厅。我也想吃中餐。" which means "I'd like to go to the cafeteria. I'd also like to eat Chinese food." I can also say things that are somewhat more fun, and completely made up in my case. "我的女朋友是很可爱,她喜欢狗,也喜欢猫。她有姐姐,妈妈和爸爸。" which means "My girlfriend is really cute. She likes dogs, and also likes cats. She has an older sister, mother and a father."

Then I can say things like "攀四很太。" which means "climb 4 very too." That's total gibberish, but when you say it out loud, it's pronounced "pan sue hen tie" which sounds like the Japanese "pantsu hentai" which means "underwear porn". Because I'm warped. >:{D

Mandarin Chinese is a very fun language, though! People always say it's the hardest language ever, or one of them, but for me it really clicks. I'm getting straight A's in all of my tests, the lowest score I got on anything so far between two semesters was a 90%, and the lowest grade I got this semester was a 96%. I still feel like I'm talking on a kindergarten level, since the classes are so basic, but compared to everyone else in the class, I'm doing pretty good.(There's one girl in the class who's doing better than me. Other than that, there's a guy and a girl who are close to my level, then everyone else is... not so much. Like, they confuse 有 and 要 all the time.) I think the reason it's fairly easy for me is because I genuinely do want to learn it, whereas most people are just in it to fill their language requirement.(My school requires all students to take 2 semesters of a foreign language. I filled my requirement a long time ago with German, which I'll get to in a moment.)

But also, I'm learning Mandarin so well *because* it's so different from English. German is similar to English, and I had a great deal of difficulty with it. It's so similar to English, but it's slightly different every now and then. It's like you're walking through your house in the dark. You know it by heart, but someone moved a table slightly to the left, someone moved your light switch across the wall, and every now and then there's a claymore mine in the doorway. Suddenly you're fumbling around, trying to get some kind of light going. But in German, I just couldn't start that light.

Chinese, on the other hand, is like coming to a new dungeon in a game. This time there is no darkness, only unexplored stuff. There's no false sense of "I know what's around the corner, it's my table." only to be fooled by German spelling and grammar shifts. Instead, everything is new and interesting and unexplored. You don't know what lies ahead, but you want to. I've never seen this stuff before, so I dive in and find all the little nooks and crannies where treasures can be hidden, or I try to find secret bosses or Easter Eggs.

Also. People say Chinese is hard because "It has over 3,000 letters!". Well, if you're referring to a character as a letter, then you're not wrong, but you're way short. There's over 300,000 characters in the Mandarin dialect, and it's growing every day. However! Each of those isn't just a "letter", but it's an entire word. Rather than being spelled as a word, it's composed of certain character components and radicals. These parts can tell you not only the pronunciation of the word, but the meaning of it, at a glance. They're also pictographs. If you know what the original characters looked like, then you can figure out what the word is. Grammar is also, for the most part, pretty simple and straightforward. When you have compound words, you can figure out what they mean pretty easily because it'll say something like "有名" which literally says "have name". It's a way to say "famous".

Another thing is that it's monosyllabic. That can be... interesting. Not easy, not hard, but different. Then there's tones. That's kinda hard, but not as hard as I expected it to be.

Why, though, did I choose Chinese? How far will I go? Well, my uni offers a major and a minor in Chinese. To get the minor, you have to take 2 East-Asian history classes, as well as Chinese 1, 2, 3 and 4. To get the major, you further have to take the travel abroad trip to China, where you spend... I think it was 4 weeks in China, take 3 classes, then come back. Right now I've taken 3 relevant history classes and I've taken 2 of the 4 classes, I'm signed up for the 4th one(The professor is letting me do Chinese 4 before Chinese 3 because the difference between them isn't the difficulty, so he's basically just letting me do them out of order since they're only offered every other semester and it will help me speed things up.) and then I'd have to do the 3rd class and finally travel abroad for the major. I'd like to do that. With that, I should be fairly fluent in Mandarin, while right now I have a firm grasp of the basics, and could at least ask someone "厕所在哪儿?"

But why, again? To be honest, I first started the language because I wanted to learn Japanese, but the university didn't have it. The Chinese written language shares many characters with the Japanese kanji, which is supposed to be really hard to learn. As is, kanji is beginning to look easier to me since I already know so much simplified Chinese. I was using Mandarin to try to make Japanese easier, but I also figured it'd be nice to be able to say more than 茶, 冰水, and 谢谢 when I went to a Chinese restaurant.(For the record, those are still pretty much the only things I say.)

As is, I realize this is actually going to be a really helpful language for me to learn. It's not that hard for me, and it's something that looks hella good on a resume. I mean, for crying out loud, it's a language that over 1,000,000,000 people can understand, and very few of them are white. It's really good if you want to get into a business where being able to negotiate with foreign diplomats or businessmen is useful, and it's also useful if you want to teach English in China.(For the record, I'd like to teach conversational English in China. And Japan. Among other things to do in life.)

Anyway, enough about Chinese! I told you that I filled my language requirements on German, right? Yeah, the first semester I got a B, the second semester I got a D+. Barely passed. It messed me up, and ruined the language for me. I never want to hear, speak or use another German word in my life. Which bloody sucks, because like 70% of English is actually German. I've already used as least one entirely German word in the post.

I do still want to learn Japanese, though. I'm slowly learning bits and pieces from all the gargantuan anime marathons I've watched. I watch so much anime, I'm constantly exposed to the Japanese language. I want to live in Japan for a few years at some point in my life. I'd like to see what it's like.(I'd prefer to retire in Canada, though. And by "retire" I mean keep working, but be older.)

So yeah. A lot about language. WHAT LANGUAGES DO Y'ALL KNOW OR WANT TO KNOW?!?!