5.12.3. Does Ciro Santilli speak Chinese? (三西猴会说中文吗?)

As of 2019, oral enough for daily things, but not understand most natural casual dinner conversation or watch TV series, because they go too quickly into vocabulary subject areas that he doesn’t know. And obviously, using slangs just makes things really hard.

When it matters, and with some patience, he can make himself understood though with some analogies (archive) and a dictionary.

From the HSK vocabulary list, he estimates that he is definitely HSK 3, but not quite HSK 4. This would likely equate A2/B1 in the European system.

Phonetics wise, Ciro can’t distinguish or produce a few sounds, notably -ing vs -in and his off-tone rate is high, but it tends to not matter at all compared to his lack of vocabulary. Except for his mother-in-law, who sometimes does not understand it at all without correct tones!

Ciro reads with https://github.com/cschiller/zhongwen after Perapera died when he wants to learn new words/has patience/something is very important, and can basically understand everything in that way. TODO perapera support stopped in 2021: https://www.perapera.org/plugins/ and since browsers don’t have stable API’s it very quickly stopped working for everyone. Alternatives asked at: https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/78268/on-mouse-hover-pop-up-chinese-dictionary-browser-extension-alternative-to-perape/ Zhongwen worked, source at https://github.com/cschiller/zhongwen

When he has no patience or for larger not very important chunks of text though, he reads with Google Translate as it tends to work, and then if there is an important sentence that was translated to garbage with Perapera.

Ciro writes with a mixture of Pleco, Google translate and Googling to see if Chinese actually say the sentences that way, never Google translate alone as it would be too imprecise.

Ciro really wishes he could learn more Chinese. Ciro really loves the Chinese language. But he has other more important endeavors at the moment. There simply aren’t enough hours in a day.

Spoken Chinese is in Ciro’s opinion a relatively easy language to learn from scratch, because word formation is so often logical:, e.g.:

  • volcano = fire + mountain: 火山(huo shan)

  • train = fire + car: 火车 (huo che), a reference to old steam locomotives

and there is no useless crap like verb grammatical conjugation, grammatical gender, plural inflection, capitalization, etc. (latino sine flexione anyone?)

Ciro hasn’t tried to learn characters because too much effort, but he did learn some of the most common ones without trying.

Ciro initially learnt from book that come with audio recordings in the first 6-months to 1 year in 2010, but that got impossibly boring afterward, so he later moved to just basically talking as much as possible non-important things to his wife in Chinese, and whenever he reaches one that he doesn’t know that seems useful, he Plecos it up or just 怎么说 to his Ciro Santilli’s wife (三西猴的老婆) and then Pleco.

It should also be mentioned that Ciro also feels that it would be better if all countries more officially adopted English as an international language that everyone should learn for reasons explained at: https://cirosantilli.com/having-more-than-one-natural-language-is-bad-for-the-world