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You have 7 years to learn Mandarin

Fortune magazine's Geoff Colvin agreed with economist Angus Maddison that by 2015, China will become the largest economy, supplanting the USA, of the world. That's 7 years from now.

He noticed that the US supplanting then the largest economy only in 1890, overtaking, guess which country, China. Since technologies will inevitably spread to every corner of the world, population will eventually became the main factor for economy. It is only natural that China to "resume its natural role as the world's largest economy by 2015," taking them 125 years to catch up the lead the US has from industrial revolution and and wars.

I agree with the eventuality of this prediction, but not necessary the exactness of 7 years: more like 20 in my opinion. But this is hardly the main arguement.

The new generation of business leaders, now in their 20s or 40s, must learn to do business in China and with Chinese. 7 years is not that long to master a language, especially when one is not even trying.



Thanks Jim Grisanzio for mentioning. I am adding this line just to send trackback.

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Comments:

The best way to learn a language is to immerse oneself into that language environment. No exception for learning Chinese.

Nowadays, what's the better way to learn Chinese than to boot into a Chinese-localized environment, doing your web browsing, emailing, wordprocessing, etc., in an environment surrounded with Chinese icons?

To do that in Windows, you have to spend thousands of dollars to get a new computer, AND purchase all the necessary software.

But with the OpenSolaris LiveCD:

https://www2.sun.de/dct/forms/reg_us_2307_228_0.jsp

it's free, and you can log into both the Chinese and English (& Japanese, and Korean, . . .) windows on the same machine! And you don't even have to leave your home or office.

Posted by W. Wayne Liauh on May 09, 2008 at 05:35 PM CST #

Not sure about the seven years either. It may actually be a shorter period. As for the language, I'm not sure. I would think that there will be a natural selection of languages with one winning the top language for business. It may be Chinese, but it might not.
I was exposed to Chinese in my forties. It is quite an experience. My children have a better chance to not only speak Chinese, but to actually BE Chinese.

Posted by Amiram on May 10, 2008 at 09:48 AM CST #

I'm not sure about the 7 years. I think it will take a little longer.

As for the Chinese language, it's a fun language to learn. It is completely different from Latin-based languages. Imagine you have to memorize 3000+ different characters. How challenging is that?

Posted by dfan on May 11, 2008 at 06:22 AM CST #

I'm learning Japanese, so I hope to pick up a bit of Chinese along the way. Also, many people don't realize that the Japanese and Chinese have deep business interests (they don't always fight). In fact there are a lot of Japanese-speaking Chinese in Dalian, from what I've read, so I want to explore that city and the China-Japan connections there. When I visit China next, I will absolutely go there. I'm beginning to research this now. Also, I'm finding that Chinese developers are emailing me to connect with Japanese developers in Tokyo. All good opportunities to explore. I wish I were 20 again. :)

Posted by Jim Grisanzio on May 11, 2008 at 10:50 PM CST #

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