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[–]magnora7 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (4 children)

Interesting they ranked Japan the highest. I've seen similar rankings by the military, and they consistently rate Russian, Arabic, and Chinese at the very top. (coming from English, same as the infographic)

Japanese has a partial-phonetic alphabet, so that makes things easier than Chinese. Maybe it's that Japanese has more of a consistent subtlety to it to sound like a native speaker, which can be hard to master. I've heard that for foreigners this small level of intonation and inflection can be almost impossible to master, even after a decade of immersion.

[–]Chipit[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (3 children)

Once you handwave away the characters (that's a big handwave!) Chinese isn't actually that difficult. It's SVO and most characters have a single pronunciation. Japanese grammar is devilishly difficult and every character may have 5 pronunciations. However there are only 2000 characters in Japanese and 10,000 in Chinese.

[–]magnora7 1 insightful - 1 fun1 insightful - 0 fun2 insightful - 1 fun -  (2 children)

[–]Chipit[S] 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (1 child)

Yeah, John Pasden used to be the man, back in the blog era. But nobody goes for Classical Chinese except bonafide scholars. And the idioms are greatly overrated. It's just something that certain learners focus on for their "bling" value. They just want to look clever, which you already get plenty of being able to put two words together in Chinese.

[–]magnora7 2 insightful - 1 fun2 insightful - 0 fun3 insightful - 1 fun -  (0 children)

I agree about the Classical Chinese, it's not important really. But I'd say the idioms are important to fluency in modern Chinese. But it depends on how many idioms you include... there are a lot that are completely unused in the mainstream for hundreds of years. They collect their chengyu like pokemon cards