Sunday, May 21, 2017

What if you don't speak Chinese in 20 years


There is already a joke there.

But let's move on.

I never thought about it this way, because it's who I am. I haven't used Chinese in over 6 years, but it's like a switch to me. Whenever I do decide to speak, I still possess more and better vocabulary than 99% of Chinese-speaking population, I still know more about the history and culture of the vast land than the majority of them. It's just a switch.

But the other day when I was greeted in Chinese on the street again- would be annoying if I was Japanese or Korean but people will keep assuming Asians are Chinese, and it's a good bet- I figured it would be interesting to entertain if I was not a Chinese speaker to begin with. Spaniards are smart that so many of them are learning Chinese is also what I'm trying to say. They are also probably the least racist people I've met. And probably the most jolly people. Why are they the way they are... I've never lived among a group of people who fail to annoy me in 6 whole months before. - yet their optimism is not contagious... or I am immune. 

All else being the same, I think I would be an idiot not to learn Chinese in this time and age. Whereas weeb culture prompts about at least one third (pulling this stat from my mind and ass) foreigners, probably 80% in teens to learn Japanese, the reasons to learn Chinese seem much more sensical. China has barely any cultural export despite the actual outpouring of flesh aka peoplez- and products. You have to be hella disillusioned to learn Chinese. You don't learn it because it's cute or cool, you learn it because you know the cold hard truth that it's the right move. It's like learning English. Not even a question. You just have to. Otherwise you are falling out of the trend, left out of the conversation, you can't keep up, you can only listen to what others regurgitate, and a smaht person don't like dat.

Note: if you want to crawl those ugly-ass Japanese forums so much, watch hentai without dubs or subtitle, or enjoy their finer lit (which is more respectable, of course), you can make them a pro-efficiency bundle deal. Learning Chinese will certainly help you read Japanese. But beware, always learn Chinese first. If you learn Japanese first and re-encounter some of the kanji later, your new findings will lead you to scream "THAT'S BULLSHIT!" inside. But if you learn Chinese first and Japanese later, you will have such private, enlightened moment- "ah, so that's how they pirated the word".

As of now the state is still quite raw. On one hand, Chinese are insensitive about information they spread be it on or offline. They blab about confidential information about their job or others' publicly on social media and at social gatherings, just because they don't think others can see let alone understand them. That's what's so interesting about these people- despite knowing there are so many of them, they think they are a closed community. They still believe language creates a barrier or secrecy and privacy others cannot penetrate. This is one of the reasons CCP won't loosen up on net patrol.

But the thing- the other thing is, sometimes they're correct. There aren't as many who are fluent in the language as other countries need right now. I saw this discussion about propaganda the other day- I'm crazy about propaganda- and it's basically this very poorly written report trying to sway public opinion on some stuff. This must be a headache. If you want to do any propaganda work now, the only way is to hire Chinese. Because others simply can't write believable paragraphs. In the long term this just won't do. If you want to rise to my standard, of course you can never do it. But on the flip side, if your audience is the Chinese masses, you face a similar dilemma. While you don't have to master the high vocabulary and elegant grammar I so require, the conversational variant everybody uses is a deteriorated one, resulted from being fucked many times over. It carries that certain something, that relatable vulgarity, that ill, based sense of humor that's not taught in any class but acquired by years of amassing social and political cues within the great Chinese landscape. It's not enough to surpass Google Translate, you have to have an innate, intuitve understanding of the people. That is why an exchange student who actually stayed in China for 10 months can speak better Chinese, and be more relatable than an academic who studied it elsewhere for 10 years. No joke.

Now that is pretty difficult. I do it in my head and imagine again- if I was not born a Chinese, but a national of any other country and I'm trying to learn Chinese right now, would I be able to grasp that something from outside?

You know what I don't think it's possible.

But at least I wouldn't be oblivious to what 1.3 billion people are thinking about. I could peek inside the bubble and see the unmasked debate about stuff they care about and stuff they're about to do. I would be so, so, so stupid not to. Like can you even believe. People are herded on two sides, the open Western front and the enclosed Chinese front. Not saying these sides are opposing, but can you honestly tell me if you have an opportunity to hop between them you wouldn't do it?

Come on. The country's playing a bigger role in everything and most people don't know jack shit about it. That's pretty damn crazy.

Can you imagine the day they open the floodgate... in the Great Firewall. Once the Chinese government mastered counterintelligence and developed adequate anti-espionage tools and protocols, once they have caught up on net technology and stabilized the market, they will release the people, virtually speaking. An exodus you've never seen before, because no one in the history of mankind saw a billion people flooding out, covering every major site that was once forbidden, every service that was contraband, commenting, creating, exchanging, transacting... at least half of internet will become Chinese overnight. Can you imagine the drastic changes that are about to reshape the digital landscape? Chaos, pure chaos. Any weak protest "but the official language is English" will be quickly buried under 2000+ backlashes from veteran trolls. Like you wouldn't believe.

I really look forward to the day the floodgate opens. There will be, I don't know, hatred and conflict. But it doesn't bother me one bit. All those migrants and students you see out there? They're undercurrents. There are unfathamable amount of of Chinese who are mentally restrained while the government is working on improving their material life. But there are a lot of happenings and you would be foolish to miss out. Whether your concern is economical or political, by now you know you can't learn everything from the outside. You have to learn the most developed language humans conceived of- you will know countless new ways to express stuff, and actually experience things differently just because you know better how to express them, like all those things you grouped together in your head but never felt quite right before? now you know you are right and they indeed have their own names that fit their attributes. You'll get better at describing things, but only to Chinese-speaking people. And if you work in propaganda, you'll have to learn the trashy version of the language, too.

Fun exercise, really puts things into perspective. There will always be retired people, mentally retired, and villages "frozen in time". But for those who participate in history - it's about time now.

What if you don't speak Chinese in 20 years? You'll be on the stupid side, of course.

Yeah. To recap, if I don't already speak Chinese, I would learn it so hard right now. Even if I'm not fond of it, just because it's necessary. Or, you know, if not for curiosity, as some sort of survival skill.







No comments:

Post a Comment