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    I'll get this out anyway, partly for anyone else making this choice and partly to organise my thoughts.

    I think it would be fair to say Mandarin and Latin are 'opposite' languages, at least from the perspective of a native English speaker. Compared to Latin, Mandarin has virtually no grammar. Compared to Mandarin, Latin has no speaking difficulties. Their difficulty curves are also opposite IMO - Latin starts off easy and becomes more difficult the deeper you go (though learning the grammar is more time-consuming than difficult). Mandarin starts off incredibly hard and gets easier: in writing for example the first 100 characters you learn will be the most difficult Chinese characters you'll ever learn. Even if you come across a tricky character in your advanced studies it'll still be easier than learning the concepts from scratch, and most of the time the character is constructed of simpler elements you'll have come across a thousand times already. Off the top of my head I think there's only about 250 or so of these elements (radicals), far less daunting than the 5000 characters you'd need to read well. I think knowing those things would have made it much more bearable for me when I first set out on learning characters.
    Learning the tones in Mandarin is a total *******. First they all sound the same, then when you can hear it you still can't quite pronounce them, then when you can pronounce them in isolation they go to buggery when you try to string them into a sentence, then when you finally manage that the tones screw up your sentence intonation so you sound like "I'm JUst gOIng TO-the SHOP". That intonation bit is the problem they never mention in any of the learning material, but it's a big one. The other issue about speech is there's a bunch of sounds in Mandarin that simply don't exist in English, and they're not easy - particularly the pinyin "r" "x" and "v". It's a matter of learning to move your lips and tongue in completely new ways. With Latin you don't even need to worry about speech, but even if you decide to it's nowhere near as difficult.
    The upside of Mandarin is the grammar. After learning European languages it's very refreshing to be able to fully use a noun or verb as soon as you learn it. Nouns don't really change at all - there isn't even a difference between plural and singular, let alone accusative, dative, genitive etc. Verbs don't change according to the pronoun, nor do they change according to time. You just use various particles before and after the verb to change the time or make it positive or negative, which largely follow the same rules. No need for pages of tables and declensions and cases.

    A big part of how easy a language can be learnt is motivation. There's some pretty cool stuff in Latin to read - and you can get that unique feeling of reading something thousands of years old, but there's not nearly as much variety as modern Chinese culture. There aren't really any Latin songs, movies, forums, comics (I think you can get Asterix and Tintin in Latin though), books and native speakers. The last one is a huge issue, and the difference between learning from dry pages and actual human beings. I know which way I prefer.

    Overall I'd say Latin is easier if you're just looking at the languages themselves. If you factor in the learning resources available I think it levels off with Mandarin.
    If you're feeling adventurous go for Mandarin - it's such a different language, and I think that makes it a very special learning experience. You'll learn not only a foreign language, but gain a lot of perspective on your own language. You'll stretch yourself and drive in directions you never knew existed, and every turn can reveal something completely alien. Besides all that, you can access a society with a rich history and developed culture - a culture being lived and shared by over 1.3 billion people.


    tl;dr Latin is like a sunset drive through spectacular scenery in a finely crafted sports car. Mandarin is like paragliding on Neptune.
    Both sound pretty awesome ways to spend an afternoon, but in the end it's all down to personal taste.
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    (Original post by Vanny17)
    Hi everyone. I would love to study either of the two languages. Which one is easier to learn? I want to study it as an enrichment course at sixth form. Thanks for all the replies in advance.
    Latin is more difficult in terms of grammar and phrase construction and probably pronunciation can sometimes give hard time. Mandarin has the big obstacle of writing that at first is overwhelming, even if later it becomes better

    However, Mandarin is definitely the choice to make, as it is going to be more and more important, and to have a working knowledge of it makes you more valuable on the job market, as China is set to rise more and more for the foreseeable future.
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    I have studied French in the past, and I am doing A level Spanish at the moment.....In my opinion, Latin is easier, but Mandarin is a lot more useful!!
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    latin is a very nice language
    i'm italian and i studied it for 5 years now, obviously i can't speak latin but i can translate most of the phrases written on the buildings of rome

    there are also some english words that are similar to latin's ones...
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    (Original post by Formica)
    I'll get this out anyway, partly for anyone else making this choice and partly to organise my thoughts.

    I think it would be fair to say Mandarin and Latin are 'opposite' languages, at least from the perspective of a native English speaker. Compared to Latin, Mandarin has virtually no grammar. Compared to Mandarin, Latin has no speaking difficulties. Their difficulty curves are also opposite IMO - Latin starts off easy and becomes more difficult the deeper you go (though learning the grammar is more time-consuming than difficult). Mandarin starts off incredibly hard and gets easier: in writing for example the first 100 characters you learn will be the most difficult Chinese characters you'll ever learn. Even if you come across a tricky character in your advanced studies it'll still be easier than learning the concepts from scratch, and most of the time the character is constructed of simpler elements you'll have come across a thousand times already. Off the top of my head I think there's only about 250 or so of these elements (radicals), far less daunting than the 5000 characters you'd need to read well. I think knowing those things would have made it much more bearable for me when I first set out on learning characters.
    Learning the tones in Mandarin is a total *******. First they all sound the same, then when you can hear it you still can't quite pronounce them, then when you can pronounce them in isolation they go to buggery when you try to string them into a sentence, then when you finally manage that the tones screw up your sentence intonation so you sound like "I'm JUst gOIng TO-the SHOP". That intonation bit is the problem they never mention in any of the learning material, but it's a big one. The other issue about speech is there's a bunch of sounds in Mandarin that simply don't exist in English, and they're not easy - particularly the pinyin "r" "x" and "v". It's a matter of learning to move your lips and tongue in completely new ways. With Latin you don't even need to worry about speech, but even if you decide to it's nowhere near as difficult.
    The upside of Mandarin is the grammar. After learning European languages it's very refreshing to be able to fully use a noun or verb as soon as you learn it. Nouns don't really change at all - there isn't even a difference between plural and singular, let alone accusative, dative, genitive etc. Verbs don't change according to the pronoun, nor do they change according to time. You just use various particles before and after the verb to change the time or make it positive or negative, which largely follow the same rules. No need for pages of tables and declensions and cases.

    A big part of how easy a language can be learnt is motivation. There's some pretty cool stuff in Latin to read - and you can get that unique feeling of reading something thousands of years old, but there's not nearly as much variety as modern Chinese culture. There aren't really any Latin songs, movies, forums, comics (I think you can get Asterix and Tintin in Latin though), books and native speakers. The last one is a huge issue, and the difference between learning from dry pages and actual human beings. I know which way I prefer.

    Overall I'd say Latin is easier if you're just looking at the languages themselves. If you factor in the learning resources available I think it levels off with Mandarin.
    If you're feeling adventurous go for Mandarin - it's such a different language, and I think that makes it a very special learning experience. You'll learn not only a foreign language, but gain a lot of perspective on your own language. You'll stretch yourself and drive in directions you never knew existed, and every turn can reveal something completely alien. Besides all that, you can access a society with a rich history and developed culture - a culture being lived and shared by over 1.3 billion people.


    tl;dr Latin is like a sunset drive through spectacular scenery in a finely crafted sports car. Mandarin is like paragliding on Neptune.
    Both sound pretty awesome ways to spend an afternoon, but in the end it's all down to personal taste.
    most of the books from 0 to 1500-1600 b.c. are in latin!
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    Ahaha, i was just reading this thread with no intention to reply, but gotta say i love that you personified Latin, made the post a lot more interesting to read!
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    (Original post by moritzplatz)
    most of the books from 0 to 1500-1600 b.c. are in latin!
    Yeah, but they're not really reader-relatable in the same way a George Orwell is to us. Also important to note is the difficulty scale; practically all Latin books are high level, whereas modern languages like Mandarin have grades from simple picture books to Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It's only natural when Mandarin has millions of children's development to cater to and Latin has been largely out of use long before children's books even became widespread.
    Overall I think the the book resources for Latin are far less abundant and usable for a learner than those for Mandarin, or most modern foreign languages for that matter.
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    Latin has got to be easier than mandarin.
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    (Original post by paperclip)
    Ahaha, i was just reading this thread with no intention to reply, but gotta say i love that you personified Latin, made the post a lot more interesting to read!
    TSR says you originally quoted me so I'm guessing that was aimed at me? Thanks!

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    (Original post by moritzplatz)
    most of the books from 0 to 1500-1600 b.c. are in latin!
    I think you mean from 1500BC-0AD, in which case that's wrong. Most of the books written in Western Europe from, say, 200BC-1,200AD were probably written in Latin.
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    (Original post by BookWormShanti)
    TSR says you originally quoted me so I'm guessing that was aimed at me? Thanks!

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    I am one rep point away from 2 gems
    Someone beat me to it :sad: Repped anyway

    Yeah it was, dunno why the quote didn't show up. I think i broke TSR :sadnod:
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    Latin is easy. Mandarin isn't.
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    (Original post by dshadow)
    Latin is more difficult in terms of grammar and phrase construction and probably pronunciation can sometimes give hard time. Mandarin has the big obstacle of writing that at first is overwhelming, even if later it becomes better

    However, Mandarin is definitely the choice to make, as it is going to be more and more important, and to have a working knowledge of it makes you more valuable on the job market, as China is set to rise more and more for the foreseeable future.
    Thanks.
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    (Original post by jismith1989)
    I think you mean from 1500BC-0AD, in which case that's wrong. Most of the books written in Western Europe from, say, 200BC-1,200AD were probably written in Latin.
    sorry i'm not used to english age notation.
    btw i was thinking about 0-1500 AD .
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    I learnt Latin up to GCSE Level and I am not studying Mandarin at University. Latin is easy in the way that it is easy to learn vocab as English is partly based on Latin, but the grammar is tricky. I don't think (although many disagree with me) that it is a useful use of someones time to learn Latin.

    Mandarin requires a lot of effort due to the symbols. In order to be literate they say you need to know 5000 symbols. Iv been studying it for 3 months and I only know about 300! However it is fun doing it and they say job prospects are improved if you learn to speak it well. Do it!!
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    Why bother learning a dead language?
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    (Original post by Vanny17)
    Hi everyone. I would love to study either of the two languages. Which one is easier to learn? I want to study it as an enrichment course at sixth form. Thanks for all the replies in advance.
    Why are you looking into nonsense languages? Learn some sensible language!
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    Latin is easier to read/write - you can read original within a year if you work at it.

    Mandarin is MUCH harder to read/write though people i know say its easy to speak/listen.

    Latin on the other hand is harder to speak quickly without much practice. And finding someone fluent enough with whom to practice is also a difficulty.

    My advice. Learn Latin. It will teach you many romance languages and give you basic vocab learning and grammar clinic skills with which you can use to learn mandarin afterwards.

    Even better advice. learn ancient greek. its meant to be the best stepping stone. i heard somewhere that during WW2 oxbridge classicists were the ones picked by the war office to learn japanese. Apparently learning two ancient languages teaches people the skills to learn pretty much any new language on the planet.
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    Having done Latin, I would say Latin.
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    (Original post by llpokermuffinll)
    Why are you looking into nonsense languages? Learn some sensible language!
    They aren't nonsense languages as you said. I quite like them and will chose to study anyone of my liking because it is my choice!
 
 
 
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