Originally Posted by Aaron
I just got back from traveling through China and picked up an extremely small amount of Mandarin while I was there. It's an extremely hard language to learn (coming from a Western, English speaking-perspective) but I believe it could open up a lot of doors for you. Plus, if you like challenges, Mandarin is a big one. I've been told it takes 9 years of full-time study to become fluent and I fully believe that.
Nah, spoken Mandarin is pretty easy once you get over yourself. Reading and writing is a different matter, but hanyu pin yin-ed out, Mandarin isn't hard once you accept that the sounds are kinda unnatural and then just roll with it. Cantonese was harder. Vietnamese harder than them both, despite its natively Romanised written form.
Originally Posted by Sherlock
Why would mandarin open a lot of doors? Unless you're planning on going to china, I can't see how knowing chinese will help you in anything here in the western hemisphere.
Because of this:
Originally Posted by Milpool
So much mfg is conducted in China now, plus it is a massive economy that most every US company wants to sell their crap to the Chinese.
I agree that Mandarin would be on my list with English and Spanish as the most important languages to learn. People have made the case that senior business folk in China 'all speak English anyhow' - the same case can be made for Japan, Korea, pretty much anywhere in Asia, and certainly for most Spanish speaking countries, where English is closer to their native tongue that learning it is not such a stretch... Plus they will always speak among themselves in Chinese, so you can eavesdrop and reveal yourself at will (or not at all, and then you will know how they plan to screw you in the end). I do it all the time. Anyhow, I would say, with the direction that the world is heading and the moment, and the ongoing dependence on China for manufacturing and as the world's largest market for basically everything, Mandarin sits high.