Français vs 官话

Just a quick update.  To some degree our planning for the move to France has been derailed by an invitation to travel to China this summer.  Specifically we’ll be staying in Chengdu, with a side trip to Beijing.

All of which explains why I am simultaneously talking classes in French and Mandarin.  Or, more interestingly, I am finding that Mandarin is actually easier than French. (For me; your mileage may vary).

Borrowed from

Probably the biggest difference is that Mandarin is pretty much free of irregular verbs – that bane of every French student’s life.  All in all, thus far, it seems to be a sensible and reliable language with few surprises – except for being tonal. I won’t go into all of the fine points, but it helps a lot if you hold your mouth in a “Chinese” fashion while speaking.

French on the other hand requires you to hold your mouth like you’re sucking a lemon, and as far as I can tell there are exactly three verbs that are actually “regular.”   Still it’s going reasonably well both because I studied French in college forty+ years ago, and because I have a wife who is a dedicated and brutal study partner.

I’ll add to this later – after I’ve written my oral presentation for tomorrow’s class.

As for Mandarin, admittedly I’m still working with Pinyin and spoken versions. I am quickly realizing that I will need to learn at least a some characters to really know what I’m doing.



Author: Barry Rueger

North Vancouver based writer. Seeking: honest politicians; justice and honour; intelligence and humour; corporate integrity. Planning to move to France.