Why Is Chinese So Hard To Learn?

Chinese is notoriously hard to learn, and with good reason. It is the bane of many Asian students, who spend day and night studying it. Likewise, many westerners and foreigners alike struggle to comprehend the language, even after months and months of constant learning. But why is it so? Why is Chinese so hard to learn? In this article, we shall discuss the possible reasons behind this phenomenon. Before you continue reading, do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter! Without further ado, let’s begin.

#1: High Stroke Count Per Character

Source: https://www.thatsmags.com/china/post/13288/most-complicated-chinese-characters

One aspect of Chinese that drives many crazy is the number of strokes required to write a single character. Each Chinese character has an average of 12 strokes, making it more complicated than its English counterparts. because of the complicated nature of each character, many struggle to write its characters when first starting out. Furthermore, the Chinese language has 8105 unique characters! Compared to the English’s language mere 26 alphabets, Chinese is a monster. It is exactly because of this that learning new words in Chinese is difficult and require a higher form of memory. Not convinced? The above image contains one of the most complicated characters in the Chinese language. Try writing that.

#2: Words Can Have Vague And Numerous Meanings

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

A single character in Chinese may have different meanings, many of which might be vague and hard to apply. Unlike that of English, many Chinese words do not have a direct meaning and may only be used in certain conditions. This makes it very difficult for a learner or beginner to differentiate when to use a word and when not to do so. Thus, phrasing and conjugating words become challenging and require much skill to accomplish. For example, the phrase “反弹” means rebound. Yes, you might think that rebound only probably refers to the rebound of a credit card or basketball. However, “反弹” also can mean backlash or repercussions! As can be seen, Chinese words often have abstract meanings that can be hard to grasp.

#3: Words That Sound The Same Can Have Different Meanings

Photo by Sound On on Pexels.com

This adds to the confusion of the Chinese language. Different characters with different strokes can sound the same! Yes, you read it correctly, many characters sound the same. As such, many phrases may sound identical and may be difficult to differentiate. Again, this makes conversation very difficult to conduct, as a listener might have to infer the phrase’s meaning by considering and analysing the immediate context of the conversation and the relevant sentence structures in which it is used in. This intuition is not so easy to pick up and it may take years before it clicks in your mind.

Conclusion

In short, Chinese proves to be a infamously difficult language to learn, not just because of its complexity, but also because of its unintuitive nature and heavy emphasis on memory. Of course, learning Chinese is not 100% rocket science and can be achieved. It would just take more time and effort to master compared to other languages. If you did enjoy this article, do consider giving it a like! Do follow me and subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t done so! Thanks for reading!

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I love to review all things music, books, food and tech!

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