Mandarin is usually said to be the hardest language in the world to learn. I think it is hard - but a large reason is that it is very different to English and so English speakers find it hard. I have a guess that Japanese and Korean speakers (whose language is coming from Mandarin) find it easier.
Anyway, taking a break from all the politics for a while, I thought I'd posting some thoughts about our language.
1. Chinese people find many of the English grammar hard. One reason is its very different to ours. We don't have plurals, genders, case or tense like you. We don't have suffix or prefix. We don't have irregular verbs. A couple of examples that always drive us crazy:
i) The most 'classic' verb is the word 'to be'. English has 'to be' which becomes I AM, you ARE, he/she/it IS, we ARE etc.
If something happened yesterday then I WAS, you WERE etc.
If it happened tomorrow, it is I WILL, you WILL etc.
All of this am, are, was, were, will looks VERY different to the original 'to be'.
We have one word for 'to be'. 是。 Whether it is me or you, whether it is one person or two people, whether it is yesterday or tomorrow - it is 是。And every single one of our verbs work like that. So the changing verbs is very hard for us.
ii) In English, if you want to have more than one, you sometimes add 'S' and sometimes add 'IES'. In Chinese, we have no plural form.
iii) In English, there are many suffix and prefix even more normal verbs. I walk, yesterday I walked or was walking, tomorrow I will walk or will be walking. In Mandarin, we have none of those changes. Today I 走, yesterday I 走, tomorrow I 走.
iv) In some of the European languages like German, French, Spanish etc. there is the added complex of every noun having a gender. French, Italian and Spanish have male and female for tables, chairs and banks. German has male and female and neutral for extra fun.
For us, gender means boys and girls - like whether you stand or sit to go to toilet. It's hard to understand why in German an apple is male but a green plant is female. And then working out how the verbs, nouns, adjectives, suffix and prefix all change based on noun gender and timing is dizzy.
iv) A great bonus of western language is the alphabet - you can just put letters together to make words. It is very practical.
One thing that I miss when using western language is the 'poetry' of the word. We don't have alphabet and that makes our language hard for alphabet used to people. On the other hand, it is beautiful to see how words are made from pictures.
山 - mountain.
木 － wood. (it looks a bit like a tree)
森林 －forests (its lots of trees)
大 － big (its a man standing with his legs split apart)
小 － small (its a man standing with his hands and feet together)
田 －rice field
力 －strength (with some imagination, you can see a flexed arm with fist pointing down. Ok.. a LOT of imagination)
男 －male (some who uses his strength in the rice field).
女 －female (use your imagination, its a woman crossing her legs, sitting down and carrying a child)
子 －child (this one has changed so much from the original picture, difficult to see history)
好 －good (a woman caring for a child is a very good thing)
安 －peace (a woman under the roof makes for a peaceful place).
I think that's enough for now - going through all 45,000 of our characters might take a bit long time