Changing China

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Chinese … it’s easy



It’s a piece of cake. In fact, China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi says Chinese is one of the easiest languages in the world to learn.

“Otherwise,” Yang reasoned at today’s National People’s Congress, “it’s hard to explain why 1.3 billion have chosen it as their mother tongue.” (Thanks to Danwei for the Xinhua link.)

Right, said the foreigner who took his first Chinese lesson 16 years ago and is still learning.

Maybe Yang meant Chinese was easy to learn for kids growing up immersed in the language (although he did encourage reporters and others to take up the language). Maybe he meant it was easy for Japanese people to learn because some things are written the same way in both languages, with characters. Perhaps Yang knew that prospective Korean and Vietnamese students of Chinese, too, would benefit from the many words in those two tongues that came from China and still sound vaguely similar.