I have been told there are several differnt Chinese languages/dialects.
Which is the most common?
Which is easiest to learn?
Which would be best for a business/profesional relationship?
What is the best way to learn to converse, cd, 121 tutor, book??
Mandarin is the most widely spoken. And probably the easiest to learn given its wide base resources. Cantonese is spoken widely in Hong Kong though, so depends who you're doing business with.
I suppose a combination of all those mentioned above is the best way to learn. But if it's spoken Chinese that's important then getting a tutor in the early stages is important to make any real progress.
Cantonese has 7 tones , Mandarin has 5. Mandarin is the official business language of China. Both are very hard to learn! But Mandarin a little easier due to fewer tones.
I've read for an English speaker, that learning Mandarin is about the same as learning three european languages, and from personal experience that's optimistic!!
Learning Mandarin is a little more difficult than say learning Spanish or German would be for a native English speaker because it does not share the same roots. That said, if you like learning languages then it's not as hard as people say it is. I recommend UCD Confusious institute as a starting point.
I have been thinking about this for a while, but I think Mandarin is the most relevant language. All the others are only spoken regionally and by now almost everyone in China knows Mandarin. Unless you plan to live in Hong Kong, Mandarin should be your first choice.
When people speak about "Chinese" these days they mean Mandarin. For all business or normal communication Mandarin is by far the most useful language for China. I never studied Cantonese, so I cannot compare but Mandarin is not a very easy language to learn. It is however not easier than many people think - at least easier than I had thought.
To learn it, similar to learning any language the best thing is to go to China and speak it. Or Chinese friends here and speak with them. You will not learn Mandarin by just reading books and surfing the internet.
I am just starting Mandarin. My understanding from numerous sources is that Mandarin will take an English speaker about 4 times as long a European language.
therefore, my goal is to spend 3 years in Ireland studying it, to have the level of Spanish I had after about 9 months (fairly basic, but enough to survive there if on holidays).
Managing expectations is very important.
It's not that difficult. If 1/5 of human beings can learn it, you can.
a 7 year old child has spent 7 years immersed in their first language with parents teaching them, school teaching them, tv and other forms of entertainment and still have a very limited vocab and need to study grammar in school.
Hence, it is very difficult for an adult living in this part of the world to learn Mandarin.
That's ture. The point I am making is that the so-called difficulty is not really the difficulty of the language itself per se (at least very much overstated), rather it is the conditions without which learning the language becomes difficult.
I would say Mandarin is as relevant, for Taiwan and Mainland China, as Russian is for Belarus, Russia, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and the Central Asian ex-Soviet republics. Yet although Ukrainian is useful in the western part of that country, Russian is even more so down in that country's southern and eastern parts. It appears Mandarin and Cantonese use the same alphabet, in much the same way as Ukrainian and Russian do (albeit with some letters used only in one of the alphabets).
I would say the same about learning Urdu, Georgian, Armenian, Persian and Arabic. Among Asian languages that don't use the Latin alphabet, I would probably say, transliteration-wise, Russian is the easiest to learn.
Mandarin and Cantonese don't have an alphabet. Mandarin uses simplified characters. Cantonese uses traditional characters. Some of your other observations also expose your obvious lack of knowledge on this subject. @DAVWAIN your post makes no sense at all, is off topic even, and it seems to be trying to preach some other political theory about eastern Europe.
Mandarin and Cantonese are "dialects" which have no direct link to character writting. Chinese is very different from alphabet based languages which indicate the pronounciation in their writting/spelling. Written Chinese does not tell you anything about the pronounciation. The pros however is that you get indication about the meaning of the word. In this sense, your statement that Cantonese use traditional characters are not necessarily correct either, there are plenty (almost everyone) of Cantonese speaking people in mainland China use simplified characters.
What DAVWAIN said is not correct for the simple fact that Chinese does not use alphabet. The loosely correct description is that both Mandarin and Cantonese could (often) use the same writting system, i.e. either traditional or simplified. This would be the case in mainland China where both Mandarin and Cantonese speaking people use the simplified characters.
My posts discuss languages that are spoken in Asian countries and don't use the Latin alphabet. The countries in the South Caucasus may appear to be culturally European, but they are just as culturally Asian. I would say the same for Cyprus, despite that country being a member of the EU.