Monday, 31 May 2010

English vs Mandarin

Which language do you think is more important in our society?

English or Mandarin?

Before moving further, I would like to say that I'm not insulting any of these languages in any way, I'm just justifying their importance in my opinion. =)

Back to the main topic,
Did you know that Mandarin is actually the world's most spoken language?
This is due to the fact that population of Chinese makes up of 1/6 of the total world population.

Mandarin is said to have the most native speakers of 873 million
(meaning : the first language a person learns first) while
English have only have 341 native speakers.
However, 1.5 billion or 1 out of every 5 people knows English.

Now, the reason why I am writing this post is because I don't really know how to speak in Mandarin (I do know how to listen and speak basic Mandarin though) so I do get frustrated when I see people don't know English.

For example, this :
Okay, until now, I still don't know what did that guy said. Haha.
Can somebody translate that to me?

I know I sounded like a hypocrite because I'm not very good in Mandarin and other people don't know English but I get frustrated when they don't.
This is because I think English is a really easy language to learn and it is also very important as a language worldwide.
Besides that, it is also one of Malaysia's most spoken language so I find it a bit embarrassing for Malaysians who do not know BASIC English.

Some of the funny signboards regarding poor English usage mostly in China :


I didn't realize moles need rests too!

After "dying"... Haha!

Notice that the vegetable dish on bottom right is written "Black Mushroom RAPE".

Which "come" you are talking about? Haha!
Come on, so many people there but they didn't know it's wrong?

Although Mandarin has the most native speakers, it only has official status in the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Singapore.
Meanwhile, English has official status in AT LEAST 30 countries.
Btw, having official status does not mean that it is the sole language in the country.

Furthermore, more than 80% of the pages on the Web are in English.
With the Internet era where Internet is the source of most FREE information,
not knowing English would be a pity.

That being said, I did learnt Mandarin in kindergarten and took extra classes in Standard 1 and 2.
However, I don't know what happened to the extra classes after that and I forgot how to use it. Haha!
I think schools should actually continue giving these extra classes because knowing an extra language is beneficial.

To be honest, I find our government's move to change Mathematics and Science from English back to Bahasa Malaysia is also questionable.
All subjects (except languages subjects) are taught in English when the students move up to college and university levels.
I studied Accounting in Bahasa Malaysia in secondary school and when I reached college, it was obviously taught in English and I had a bit of a difficulty learning it.

How about Science? Wouldn't it be worst with all those scientific terms?
Excelling in secondary schools does not mean a thing because you can't be a doctor by completing SPM or STPM.

I think there are many other alternatives to popularize Bahasa Malaysia besides this.

Okay, back to the original question,
which language do you think is more important?

A somewhat funny and irritating video for you guys to watch. =)


Have a great day! =)

Sources :
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


  1. im a banana, cant read and write mandarin.. =P

  2. hahahaha! i cant read n write mandarin too! i only know like 1 to 3, small, big, mouth, my name n other simple ones. haha.

  3. LOL.

    den i muz be half-riped banana since i can only read/write a lil huh? lol

    he said,

    "belle, can u speak chinese/mandarin? sorry, i don't know english"

    "sorry, i don't know english la..."


  4. Hey, nice post. =)
    For me both languages're important. =)
    And I can say I'm the lucky one as the first batch of Maths and science taught in English. I bet I will have difficulty if it taught in Malay at first and English at university level. Because I not even know what PEPEJAL when my Form 4 chemistry teacher taught me in Malay. @.@

  5. the signboard.. kinda suprised me huhu

  6. interesting post

    both language are equal important, in my opinion.

    just like u, I don't write and speaks mandarin
    and that's why I have difficulties in communicating with my unimates.

  7. oh my god not Ruby Bernice Video pls =P

    anyway interesting post you have here =)

    need mandarin tuition can ask me also ;) can teach u bad thing hahahaha

  8. both r important. but if u r chinese but u cannot read chinese, it's a shame. if u cannot read eng, then u will be OUT.

  9. English and Mandarin are both international languages (there are 7 altogether including french, german and a few others).

    But, I will say that English is more important because there is a bigger majority of people in the world who can speak english.
    Altho its alittle unfair considering the population of China is so big compared to the world.

  10. Quite frust when people write in lousy English and speak lousy English.

  11. nana : belle?? y did he called me belle???? haha.
    michelle : i also learnt maths n science in english, thank god. but some teachers are still inexperienced in teaching in english at my time. i cant remember if i were the 1st batch too. haha.
    ravishing peacook : haha. there's more but i din wana post too many up so tat it doesnt take up the spotlight in my post. XP
    wai theng : haha. luckily i have majority of frens who speaks english. =)
    kianfai : haha. r u sure its ruby? cuz it really sounded like WUBY. HAHA! bad things all i already know. XP
    john : well i cant read but at least i know how to listen abit. XP
    debbeh : agreed! altho im a chinese myself. haha.
    jfook : true! n some bloggers does tat too. its okay if they made some minor grammatical errors but sometimes their english are unbearable!

  12. Erm..the guy was asking you whether you can speak in chinese since his English is bad. Lol.

    In my opinion, both of the languages are equally important. English is important as it is international. Like you say, there are over 30 countries which communicate in English. Chinese is important for us,the Chinese people. It is like our mother tongue.I think it is important for us to make an effort to learn the language. It is like our culture. However, a lot of Chinese seem to be more interested to learn Japanese rather than Chinese. Lol.

  13. lemon : and my chinese is as bad as his english. hahaha! anyway, ur right. =) i'm trying! =)

  14. I think Mandarin is the hardest language ever. Too many shhh shhh or high frequency sounds. Until now I still stucked at level 1.

  15. TOLANIC : HAHA! the other day i went sing k with a bunch of frens n also an Iraq. she was like saying my fren's sang those chinese songs full of che che che. HAHA.

  16. "Language is a tool, and time consumed in acquiring skill in the use of more than one tool designed for the same end, is wasted. " - from someone >100 years ago.

    the following is to answer a 3 year old kid's question: why chinese name is shorter than english name?

    "We receive information from around us through the 5 senses: sight (eye), sound (ear), smell (nose), taste (tongue) and touch (skin), with sight and sound being the most important as these 2 senses are responsible for most of the information brought into our brain. The importance of sensing the world through our eyes and ears is well illustrated in the Chinese language: the word meaning “intelligent” is formed by two characters with one meaning “hear well” (pronounced as “cong” and the other “see well” (“ming”). So if you can hear well and see well, you should be intelligent. The information gathered by our senses helps us understand the world and form ideas in our mind. If we want to communicate the ideas in our mind to other people, we need to use language. Language is a system of symbols to translate ideas. Some languages translate ideas based on sound, for example, English, whereas some languages use both sound and sight, for example, Chinese. English is an alphabetic language. Every word is made up from a combination of the 26 alphabets or letters. The main form of communicating information is the sound of the letters. The written symbols (letters) do not carry any extra information. All the European languages are like that. However, each Chinese word carries information through both sound and shape of the character, and this allows the word to be a more compact(or denser) information carrier than english. In other words, the Chinese character can carry more information in shorter sound and less space than the equivalent English word. For example, the English word “mountain” obviously sounds longer than the Chinese word ,山, with “shan” as the sound. This is why a Chinese name is usually shorter than an English name. If a full page of English writing is to be translated into Chinese, the Chinese version may only take up half of the page.

    Chinese is a bit harder than English for people to pick up at the beginning because you have to remember both the sound and the shape of the word together whereas with English you mainly need to remember the sound of the word. However, by including the “sight” (shape) information in the Chinese character it helps the language stay more stable over time as sounds (pronunciation) are more easily changed. This has helped the Chinese language remain as one language over the last 2000 years after the first Chinese emperor united China. Having the same language also helps China remain as a big country. If people uses different languages, there might be more chance of being misunderstood, which may lead to conflict and even fights. 2000 years ago most of the european area was covered by the Roman Empire, the size of which was bigger than China today. The official language used then was Latin, which is also an alphabetical based language. Through time, the language slowly changed into different european languages like italian, spanish and french and the empire also split into different small countries in europe because people speaking different languages wanted to have their own country. From this viewpoint, the Chinese ancestors seem fairly wise in including the “sight” information into the language symbol. "

    information coded in chinese is said to take up the least memory bytes, ie, very effecient for storing information.

    there are probably many merits to the diversity of language but the downside of different languages is an increase in communicating cost and thus reducing the communication effeciency. one may relate this to the story of babel tower.


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