Or more specifically Mandarin. Why?! Well, I’m married to someone who is fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese. Her mom and brother only know a tiny bit of English and I don’t see that improving much from what they know now. I am in a better position to learn Chinese than they are to learn English.
But dang, Chinese is going to be a challenge. In English, you can say “I speak English” and there’s not really any way else to say that. In Chinese they have three words to mean Chinese and all are correct somewhere.
我说中文, 我说汉语, 我说国语
Wo shuo Zhongwen, wo shuo Hanyu, wo shuo Guoyu
All three mean “I speak Chinese”
Then we get the numbers… Actually they are pretty simple until you get to 10,000 or higher. 10,000 is 一万 (yi wan). So that means you also have tens of 10,000, hundreds or 10,000, thousands of 10,000, and finally 一亿 (yi yi, Note there are different tones on these yis) which is 100,000,000. Converting big numbers I know will give me a headache. I just hope China eventually adopts the western numbering scheme of every three decimal places at some point.
There are some things that are simpler. No verb conjugation. What a relief. I remember the french classes and filling out the verb sheets.
Reading characters is going to be a hugh challenge. Although I did pick up recently that Chineasy book which, in a way, tricks you into thinking reading Chinese may be simpler than it really is. The examples she puts in the book are simple and easy to spot but nearing the end of the book it starts to lose the simplicity. Cat, 猫 (mao) is not something you can pictorally associate with a cat.
At any rate, so far so good. I haven’t caused the brain to explode yet.