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I didn't have an interest in learning Chinese until relatively recently, but from the news coming out, I'm relieved that I've gotten started. Granted, a bit annoyed that I didn't start sooner, but I can't worry about that now. One reason for the late start is that the number of characters in the written part of the language is still rather intimidating. (I'm thinking the usage of 很 compares to 'rather' in this case - still a complete sentence, but sounds more abrupt without it.)

Knowing some Japanese is helpful with learning Chinese, but only to a point. Some of the most basic terms use exactly the same characters (food, drink, numbers, for a start). Some, like I've mentioned earlier, have a link to the spoken Chinese as part of the written character (Jack 饿 坏 了 吗?). Others are tiny pictures of the literal thing they represent, built out of tinier representations of the components that make them up. (The West has a few examples along a similar idea - like ♂.) It's pleasant to find anything that makes these early stages of a new language a bit easier.

I could stuff this last bit full of adages on history repeating, rhyming, and similarities outnumbering the differences, but why? I'm not the first to say it, and I doubt I'll be the last. It's becoming easier now to watch-hear-read things and know that, for all the barking one side against the other, it's still the same circus.

And I wonder how a Chinese person goes about choosing a Western name.

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