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Why People Who Make Things Should Learn Chinese

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  • Or Not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser&gmail,com> on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:01PM (#36689288)

    China is poised to become the worlds largest non-native English speaking population in the world. They are learning English at a much faster rate than any Americans can learn Chinese.

    • []

      Firefly takes place in a multi-cultural future, primarily a fusion of Occidental and Chinese cultures, where there is a significant division between the rich and poor. As a result of the Sino-American Alliance, Mandarin Chinese is a common second language; it is used in advertisements, and characters in the show frequently use Chinese words and curses. According to the DVD commentary on the episode "Serenity", this was explained as being the result of China and the United States being the two superpowers that expanded into space.

      Life imitates art, or as is often the case, sci-fi is "Future History".

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gstoltz (2041362)
        Apropos Scifi. Philip K. Dick`s novels are turned into movies. John Brunners books are turned into reality. (Its a misquote, but heck, it works.) Other than that, i`d say that nothing is closer to truth about the world than old Frederick Pohl/Cyril Kornbluth novels. But i try to be strange. My working strategy is to view scifi as contemporary, not futuristic. Whatever was conceptualizable when the writers wrote it was also happening then, maybe they didn`t notice, yet they did.
        • by Moryath (553296)

          "Brave New World" is reality today. People are more concerned with the Casey Anthony trial than the actual, important shit going on in the government.


      • by chill (34294) on Friday July 08, 2011 @08:00AM (#36692846) Journal

        Ask put in the second panel of this XKCD cartoon []...

        For a universe that's supposed to be half-Chinese, Firefly sure doesn't have any Asians.

    • Re:Or Not (Score:5, Funny)

      by Swampash (1131503) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:41PM (#36690044)

      They are learning English at a much faster rate than any Americans can learn Chinese.

      Hell, they're learning English faster than any American can learn English.

      • by Dahamma (304068)

        Reminds me of a Dutch exchange student in middle school. The usual moron was making fun of his accent until a couple of us pointed out that said exchange student was getting an A in English while he was getting a C, even though English was his second language (of about 4).

        American students really need to start learning a language much earlier than high school. Even the "gifted" kids who get to start in ~7th grade would be better served by starting a few years earlier...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:01PM (#36689290)

    That Was The Week That Was

  • Largest economy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the linux geek (799780) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:01PM (#36689296)
    What remote evidence is there that the PRC will ever be the world's largest economy? They're displaying symptoms characteristic with a bubble, and their GDP is only roughly half of that of the US. Or is massive growth going to continue forever, just like it was going to for Japan and South Korea?
    • Re:Largest economy? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mashiki (184564) <> on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:05PM (#36689328) Homepage

      None. 10-15 years and China will be experiencing what Europe and the US are. Slowing economy, high local debt and foreign debt. China is the hot shit right now, but most if it's GDP is coming from local manufacturing where the party is throwing money hand over fist for them to spend on things like...ghost cities, and all that.

      And there's no real shortage of news stories about the number of cities with no one to next to no one in them. Here's a good one by SBS []. The real problem is china is still operating on a 3 tier structure for economics, and the poor bastards at the bottom are still at the very bottom eeking out life as dirt farmers.

      • by Evets (629327) *

        That was eye opening.

      • by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:29PM (#36689968)

        It ties back to the same fallacy that people always seem to fall for. The first half of an S curve looks a lot like an exponential curve, so we just assume it is one. Computers get faster? The singularity draws near! The Dow Jones Industrial going up? It'll be at 36,000 [] in no time! Travel gets faster? Where's my warp drive?! I grew from 1 foot to 6 feet in my first 16 years? I'll be two miles high by the time I die!

        Whenever anything is advancing rapidly, we assume it will be that way forever, when in reality it inevitably slows down.

        • by rsclient (112577) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @11:04PM (#36690492) Homepage

          The British felt the same way about the American and German "bubbles" in manufacturing and steel, too. But they just knew that eventually the two small upstart countries would slow down, resulting in Britain continuing to have a comfortable lead over all other industrialized countries.

          Sometimes the view in the rear view mirror is true.

      • I doubt it will take 10-15 years for problems start occurring. People have been predicting that the Chinese economy will surpass the US but most of these projections assume the global economic conditions which led to China's growth will remain static. They have started posting trade deficits this year after posting 15+ years of surplus. They are dealing with rising inflation which is raising the cost of their exports. The only thing that made China attractive was their low labor costs but they are starting
    • by Maniacal (12626)
      Exactly. Everything I'm reading says they are dangerously close to bursting. I'm not an economics guy so I have to rely on the "experts" but it doesn't sound good. Plus, their GDP is artificially inflated with these building projects they're doing. Google "Chinese ghost cities" and take a look. Strange stuff going on over there.
      • Re:Largest economy? (Score:5, Informative)

        by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:22PM (#36689478)

        Exactly. Everything I'm reading says they are dangerously close to bursting. I'm not an economics guy so I have to rely on the "experts" but it doesn't sound good. Plus, their GDP is artificially inflated with these building projects they're doing. Google "Chinese ghost cities" and take a look. Strange stuff going on over there.

        Here's a few articles predicting trouble in the Chinese economy: [] [] []

        But we shouldn't be too happy to see their economy stumble -- a major failing in China will have serious economic impacts throughout the world.

      • Re:Largest economy? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:23PM (#36689484) Homepage

        Not that you don't bring up some good points but consider this slightly re-worded sentence you wrote;

        Everything I'm reading in English says they are dangerously close to bursting

        Some of their other infrastructure is coming in the form of high speed rail, with many parts of it functioning already. Rail links to the rest of Europe are already planned and being built. While there may be ghost cities right now, the 'plan' is to have the infrastructure in place for the hordes coming in from the rural areas, to avoid such nasty things like 'tin shack villages' and overcrowding becoming commonplace, like many other countries have experienced when population growth far exceeded the ability of local infrastructure to be built.

        I think it is hard for many westerners to really understand what is going on in many parts of China. The growth that was once limited to coastal cities, is spreading into more central locations of the country, to take advantage of the population distribution. Human rights, and pollution controls aside(and those really are BIG things to us, and rightfully so), they are absolutely doing almost a perfect job of bringing their country into a more-than-modern era.

        As far as them 'busting'. The likelihood of that happening is much smaller than it was here, or in any of the problem EU countries like greece, portugal, iceland, and italy. Why? They actually have rather sane lending policies when it comes to housing. I have been hearing the line that there is a bubble in China for just about a decade now, mainly from westerners who think that their lending practices closely match ours(they don't), and just by looking at the growth similarities, a parallel is able to be drawn to our meteoric rise, and subsequent fall(it isn't) in real estate.

        It has been about 5 years since I looked when I last heard this same 'rumor' of a bubble going around since I really looked at the financial requirements and legal framework, and I do imagine some of that has changed(possibly the restriction on second homes was lifted in that time, Im not sure), but there are a LOT of reasons why what appears to be a bubble in China, is only a buibble when looked at through the experience of western eyes. I won't say something stupid like 'it's different this time', but there are serious structural and behavioral differences that make a comparison between our two economies incredibly hard to do without spending a large portion of your waking hours immersing yourself in the differences between the frameworks of the two systems.

        End result, learn Chinese. Worst case, you expand your knowledge. Best case, you(more likely your children) don't become a slave.

        • by hawguy (1600213)

          While there may be ghost cities right now, the 'plan' is to have the infrastructure in place for the hordes coming in from the rural areas,

          As far as them 'busting'. The likelihood of that happening is much smaller than it was here, or in any of the problem EU countries like greece, portugal, iceland, and italy. Why? They actually have rather sane lending policies when it comes to housing.

          I'm not sure how to reconcile those two statements - how can you build ghost towns that no one lives in and still have sane lending policies? In the USA, towns are built by developers, who borrow money from the bank to purchase land and for construction costs. Who's paying for all of those ghost towns, and how long do they expect it to take before there are buyers?

          Empty housing quickly degrades, in the USA, vacant houses are often stripped for recyclable materials, but I'm not sure how much of a problem tha

          • Re:Largest economy? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by PhreakOfTime (588141) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:59PM (#36689764) Homepage

            In a way, the US is. China has the ability to artificially peg is currency in a way that is more beneficial to them, than it is to the people lending them money. No other major world economy enjoys this benefit, and they are taking full advantage of it.

            As to the problem of empty buildings, many of the empty buildings are nothing more than concrete shells waiting to have the final build out done. The manpower needed to clean any needed upkeep greatly dwarfs the manpower needed to build it. It is far better to have the infrastructure already in place and clean it, than not to have it in place and then have to deal with things like ghettos, and unbalanced infrastructure needs. Once you fall behind in that respect, the cost to bring an area 'back' to where you want it to be is many orders of magnitude greater than the initial outlay.

            Want to see some large vacant areas right here in the US? Visit the large 'Manhattan West' development in Las Vegas. It is almost completely empty. That is just one of many developments. Who pays for it? Well, the bank writes it off against their loan-loss reserves, and then gets to spread that loss out to offset any profits over the next x number of years.

            banking is a little strange when you fully bury your nose in it, and many, MANY things are almost counter-intuitive if its not your usual line of work. Even when it was involved in my normal line of work, there were still some areas that defied my understanding..Either way, Im not anywhere near that field anymore, and couldn't be happier about that.

            As I said, I am not an expert nor am I silly enough to say this will al just somehow work out great for China. But if I had to put money on them, I would be leaning more to it working out for them as a whole. Mainly because they will do whatever is needed to accomplish that. And that involves some rather ugly things that would never be allowed to happen in a western-style democracy without heads literally rolling. Our banking system shenanigans would have ended with state sponsored beheadings in public, and China is also able to very specifically adjust its currency peg in a way that will soften the blow to them more than any other economy would be able to. This has some downsides, and I think one of the major risks is that they get too accustomed to this setup, and push it right to the edge-conditions, leaving them just as vulnerable as their western counterparts. However, they are not near that point... yet.

            • by mevets (322601)

              I live in Ottawa, and watched the "build out" of Nortel,JDS, Cisco and the like in the early naughties. All that was missing a few years later was tumbleweeds - I wanted to import some and spread them around for kicks.

              It was a huge opportunity missed; all the local ne'er do wells in the city council were wringing their hands over what to do about the "homeless problem", and none had the gumption to shack them up in the empty HiTech campi dotting the suburbs.

              Eventually they were turned over to all variety

        • Re:Largest economy? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by artor3 (1344997) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:16PM (#36689890)

          End result, learn Chinese. Worst case, you expand your knowledge. Best case, you(more likely your children) don't become a slave.

          More accurately: Worst case, you waste countless hours of your all-too-short life learning a skill you never use. Best case, you can communicate with people that you'd be able to communicate with anyway -- every single Chinese student who wants a college degree has to become fluent in English to pass the CET (College English Test) and high scores are necessary for many top jobs.

          English has become the world's language. There's no reason to learn another language, except as a hobby. A better use of your time is to learn to understand thick accents. There are classes you can take on that, and they will likely be far more useful. Also useful would be studying Eastern cultures, as cultural context is very important in communication.

          And as an aside, it's extremely hyperbolic to suggest that people who don't speak Chinese will become slaves. That's like saying Frenchmen who didn't learn English are slaves.

          • That is an incredibly shallow point of view.

            In 10 years, your business deals with a major Chinese manufacturer. You and your competitor are up bidding on the same major project. You didn't bother to learn Chinese because you thought it was worthless, but your competitor did because he understands not only the language, but the culture.

            Your competitor is able to talk to the internal departments in their native tongue, and you are not. If you have been in the three-letter business world longer than a few mi

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      Japan and South Korea have populations substantially smaller than the US.

      China on the other hand, has a population roughly 1.5 times the US. The US has 9 cities larger than 1 million people, China has 160.

      China's population is waking up and rapidly transitioning from the mostly rural poor to modern "western" lifestyles. Even as China starts dropping in competitiveness on the world market, their domestic market is rapidly grown and still has a lot of room to spare.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wikipedia says Chinese population is about 1,35 billion and USA has 311 million.

      • "China on the other hand, has a population roughly 1.5 times the US."

        Not even close. Try "more than 4 times".

        • by Dynedain (141758)

          Sorry, meant to say roughly 5 times, with the US at around 300 million and China at about 1.5 billion.

    • You Westerners are still in denial. Whether you like it or not, the balance of economic and political power is shifting to rapidly developing countries like China and India. No country will forever be "the richest". Your current experience proves this. Prosperity is like a wheel. Sometimes you are on top but almost certainly you won't stay there forever. Now its China's turn. Remember this the next time your nation arrogantly beat its chest about being the "sole superpower" and throw its weight around. What

      • by Niris (1443675)
        *India has the worlds largest population.
      • What about the PRC's massive (and almost entirely self-inflicted) demographic issues? How will this glorious, invincible, socialist juggernaut keep growing 8% a year when half the population is over 60?
    • by ThorGod (456163)

      A simple theory to properly frame comparisons between income and growth of nations is the Solow growth model. ( I'm not going to outline this, but keep it in mind.)

      There are 1.3-1.5 (I forget) billion people in China and about .3 billion people in the US. No prediction is 100% accurate, but contrasting some numbers always helps an argument. GDP per capita is about $4.5k and $45k in China and the US, respectively. Over time (decades to centuries of time

    • Re:Largest economy? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by epine (68316) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @10:25PM (#36690262)

      China needs to achieve 25% of the American per capita income rates to become the world's largest economy as measured in raw dollars.

      The main evidence that they won't achieve this relatively soon is the amount of equity they presently hold in the American economy. At the rate things are going, they'll soon wish they had invested elsewhere.

      Once China reaches GDP parity with America, it will be a symbolic victory only. China will still be an economy with an agricultural sector resembling America 100 years ago. Their social institutions will take generations to evolve and improve. People underestimate the amount of social equity in an advanced economy.

      The more interesting benchmark is when China achieves resource consumption parity with America for Joe Random strategic resource. That will maybe happen a decade after China reaches GDP parity.

      This will create a bit of a seller's market for primary resources (short of America toppling a Chinese regime). Our foothold in Afghanistan might even pay future dividends.

      As for learning Chinese, I worked with Chinese/Japanese/Korean languages from 1985 until the early 1990s back when these languages were poorly supported. I took several Chinese courses at university, and listened to a lot of Japanese instructional tapes.

      Except for a very small percentage of gifted people, learning a second language *for the first time* as an adult is a hellacious amount of work. I had no trouble with Chinese grammar, because my mind already processes grammar at a higher level of abstraction.

      For instance, most people think of singular and plural. Idiots. It's really singular and non-singular.

      negative one books
      zero books
      one book
      one point five books
      two books

      Fowler made a distinction between "fewer" for counting nouns, and "less" for mass nouns (continuous quantities). This distinction was ruined by the express check-out line. He also distinguished "between" for a party of two, and "among" for a party N>2.

      Most people think of possessive pronouns as a branch of property law. Idiots. "Possessive" is actually used in language to indicated a preferred relationship according to largest eigenvalue in whichever mode of PCA analysis is established within the discourse, e.g. the car I borrowed is "my car" if the person I'm talking to is distressingly car-less, and couldn't give a rat's ass how the car I arrive in was originally procured.

      Grammar devolves into metaphor surprisingly often.

      Even starting from this proficiency with the abstractions of the verbal mind, in the end I could hardly justify the net-present-value of becoming proficient with Chinese to any serviceable level, without actually living in China.

      The the time China passes America on more than a handful of critical economic metrics, software translation will be plenty adequate for 95% of people doing business with China.

      I should add here that learning the Chinese writing system is no small project. Reading is enough of a challenge, writing is pure masochism. The Chinese speech system is surprisingly regular with only four or five challenging consonants (c,x,q,zh in pinyin). You just need to completely rewire your tone perception from the music part of your brain to the linguistic part of your brain. I'm not joking. Sounds the brain perceives as linguistic are suppressed from other forms of scrutiny. TED had a recent video about early language learning. It's very early in the language process that the brain codes which sounds are language and which ones aren't (the other active brain skills are sucking, drooling, and eye contact).

      One thing I will say is that if people had more appreciation for the social equity of an advanced technological society, maybe people wouldn't be so actively trying to tear America apart from within. Some of the anti-government voices out there have no clue about the difference between the baby and the bath water. Time after time I listen to economists talk about the world econom

  • by wsxyz (543068) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:06PM (#36689342)
    It's important to learn Chinese so that when you are doing business with Chinese people in English, you can understand what they are saying about you behind your back, cause that's what people do when they speak foreign languages.
    • Re:Here's why (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rastilin (752802) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:08PM (#36689356)

      Funny, but often true. It's useful knowing enough to know what your translators are actually telling them you said.

    • Can you understaaaaaand the words comin outta my mouth?

  • why? So I can save a few bucks on some shit PCB's while giving the knockoff capital of the world the blueprints?
    Maybe its just me, but that sounds pretty fucking dumb

    • why? So I can save a few bucks on some shit PCB's while giving the knockoff capital of the world the blueprints? Maybe its just me, but that sounds pretty fucking dumb

      Spot on! Anyone who has any experience dealing with Chinese electronics companies knows that they WILL fuck you if you don't contract independent, non-Chinese QA folks to work on-site. There's a whole industry devoted to doing this type of QA work inside China. The QA contractors have the language skills. You don't need them.

      If you're not working at a volume large enough to have your own QA guys/gals looking over your Chinese production line YOU ARE FUCKED. Your product may be good in the beginning but

    • That's the red flag that pops up in my head every time someone tells me the Chinese are going to own the world tomorrow. Culturally, they're about 100+ years behind us. We outlawed putting crap in food in 1906. In 2006, they were putting melamine in their baby food, and the official solution was to execute one designated scapegoat. That's just not on the same level of civilization as we are.
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      why? So I can save a few bucks on some shit PCB's while giving the knockoff capital of the world the blueprints?

      If you are real maker, than 't'll be more important to you to make your stuff that who is getting the money. And if nobody else (but the Chinese) is making what you need, you aren't a real maker if you drop the idea just because somebody may get richer.

  • by Trip6 (1184883)

    Absolutely true. To deny this is to not understand that the shift to offshore manufacturing isn't in its early or even mid stages - it has happened.

    • by pudge (3605) * Works for Slashdot

      Absolutely false. The benefit of me learning Chinese, compared to the benefit of using that time to read about math, science, history, and so on ... it's a no-brainer. There's no good reason for me to spend my time learning Chinese, as opposed to doing something else, unless it's something I simply WANT to do.

      I mean honestly ... this guy is smart, and he says it's going to take him more than two years of ALL his free time, and a total of about 5 years, to become fluent. If he wants to do that, great! Bu

      • by ptorrone (638660) *

        hey pudge, i specifically mean "makers who run businesses" - which a lot of the makers who read MAKE tend to be, or want to become. it's been handy for me and if you look at all the companies i point to: sparkfun, tv-b-gone (cornfield), adafruit, EMSL, etc, etc - they're all visiting china at least once a year. these are the prolific makers that are at every maker faire and are the centers of many diy communities. my article is describing what has already happened, it's not futuristic at all :)

        • by Obfuscant (592200)

          hey pudge, i specifically mean "makers who run businesses" - which a lot of the makers who read MAKE tend to be, or want to become.

          Silly me. I thought that the idea behind "MAKE" was to promote home brew experimentation and innovation, not provide info to the new manufacturers. I guess since I don't want to become a company making some electronic geegaw trinket I might as well stop reading MAKE. Especially that section where the guy makes things out of real money that are cheaper than the mass-produced thing he's copying.

          Companies who want to do business with China will be better off hiring a US-based translator than anyone in the co

  • 1980s all over again (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bloodwine77 (913355) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @08:17PM (#36689444)

    I remember the 1980s when everybody said that you'll need to learn Japanese. In popular culture the Japanese were shown as our future overlords.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      yea along with "We will still be a country of innovators" right after the Taiwanese started doing mass production of our products, then proceeded to clone them

    • by Tumbleweed (3706) *

      I remember the 1980s when everybody said that you'll need to learn Japanese. In popular culture the Japanese were shown as our future overlords.

      When in reality, it's only the cafe maids singing "Moe" songs who control us. And don't mind. :)

      Whilst on the topic of things Japanese, I just watched 'Yukikaze" - a very nicely done anime!

    • I remember the 1980s when everybody said that you'll need to learn Japanese. In popular culture the Japanese were shown as our future overlords.

      They were saying the same thing in the 90's when I was in college. The government was actually paying doctoral students to take classes in Japanese. Of course, that went nowhere. It's clear now that Japanese will never dominate science or business.

      Chinese will go the same way. Besides, Chinese is too much of a disaster to subject it to the world at large. It's almost as bad as English!

  • So, while I'm at it, should I learn how to read traditional, or simplified Chinese?
    • by diakka (2281)

      Depends on your goal and circumstances. If your goal is to be conversant, I would say go with simplified, unless you plan to live in a country where traditional is used heavily. If your goal is to be fluent, that is a very very long road, so to study both forms requires less than 5% additional effort if you do it the right way.

    • Simplified Chinese is more common, at least judging by what my Chinese friends write (I have been trying to learn how to read and write Mandarin for a few months, and my friends have been helpful).
  • Complete nonsense (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjbe (173966) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:07PM (#36689834)

    "MAKE Magazine is making that case that any 'maker' who builds, buys or creates electronics should learn (Mandarin) Chinese.

    MAKE has no idea what they are talking about. I DO manufacture electronics (electronic data harnesses primarily) for a living and fairly little of the parts we make come from China and most of what we buy is commodity parts. (wire, terminals, connectors, etc) Lots of it comes from Japan and much of it is made here in the US. Sure there are some parts from China but it isn't as much as one might think. The manufacture of many of these products is highly automated and China has no cost significant cost advantage.

    Furthermore, virtually all sales of commodity electronic components are done through distributors. You simply are NOT going to buy direct from China unless you are a purchaser for a manufacturing company. Distributors have customer service representatives, most of whom do not speak a word of any Chinese dialect. And even if for some reason you did need to contact someone in China directly, there are a HUGE number of English speakers there. I've been to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chengdu and other places in China. It is NOT hard to find someone who speaks rather good English.

    source of just about everything we buy in the USA.

    The US has a $3.7 TRILLION manufacturing sector and most of that stuff we make is also sold here in the US. In 2010 the US imported $364 BILLION [] in goods from China or roughly 10% of what the US makes itself. A big number to be sure, but nowhere close to "just about everything".

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @10:29PM (#36690290)

      The "Oh the US doesn't make anything!" You see it on Slashdot all the time and it is so amazingly wrong. In fact, prior to the downturn the US manufactured more than it has ever made in the past, and prior to the end of 2010, it made more than China. It is now a close second, manufacturing more than everyone but China.

      I think part of the problem is just people wanting to believe America is doomed and/or crap for some reason but the other part is people don't understand the very global and distributed nature of things these days. They also function by what they happen to notice, which in terms of "made in" stickers is a lot of Chinese things.

      Ok well that doesn't mean anything but that final assembly was done there. The "made in" or "assembled in" mark has to be put on something where it was put together. That has nothing to do with where any of the parts or major part of the work was done.

      As an example: Buy an Intel processor in the US and it'll generally be stamped from Costa Rica, but sometimes Malaysia. Well if you do some research, you discover they have no fabs in those countries. Most of their fabs are in the US (7 of them) 1 in Ireland, 1 is Israel and one still being finished in China. All the high tech ones, the 32nm ones, are in the US so that's where the new CPUs are being made. Why then the labeling? Because it was developed there? No, you find their R&D centers are in the US and Israel. So what then?

      Well the chips are tested and assembled there (also other locations, including one new on in the US). The wafers are shipped off, and the chips are cut off, tested, and packaged, then sent back. However, since that's the final place they are put together, that's what you see stamped on the chip.

      When you do some digging, you find that indeed the US does make plenty of stuff, not all of it finished products though. When the US does make finished products, you discover that their are parts from all over in them. It isn't a situation where many things are built, start to finish, in one country much less one location. Companies all over the world make things, and they buy and sell form each other.

      The US has a big share of that, as I said, second only to China currently.

  • China is a billion people, 3x the US, I bloody well hope they'll have a bigger economy than the US at some point, because otherwise it means that they remain poor. Same with India.

    The sooner they take the "#1 spot" and the responsibility that goes with it, the better as far as I'm concerned. The US is still big enough to make sure its own interests are preserved, and Europe can then kvetch about China for a while, while the US can focus on improving its infrastructure and education.

  • Charles V (Score:5, Funny)

    by puppyfox (833883) on Thursday July 07, 2011 @09:12PM (#36689870)

    I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, German to my horse, and Mandarin to my electronics.

  • The author states that he intends to be fluent by 2016 by studying in his free time. I don't think this is likely to achieve fluency unless you're living full time in a Chinese speaking enviornment. Of course 'fluent' word that tends to get thrown around indiscriminantly and rarely used in the linguistic sense of true fluency. If he means functional or conversant, then it's definitely doable. If, however he means C2 on the CEFR scale, then 5 years of full time study might be enough to achieve that, but

  • Everyone in the USA should learn Chinese. For economic, political, and social reasons. I find it absurd that we still push Spanish on kids in our country as a second language, when the sum total of all Spanish-speaking countries doesn't have the economic, political, and social impact of China. I took three years of Spanish in school and hear someone speaking it maybe 3 times a month. I hear people speaking Chinese nearly every day.
  • They held a massive expo. They're building huge skyscrapers, They've got crazy real estate prices, and now Americans are thinking of learning their language. They've got both bases covered if they want to emulate Japan, circa 1986. We all know where that went.

    All we need now is for Time magazine to put China on the cover. Maybe they already did, perhaps more than once.

    Despite all these contrary indicators, China rolls on... for now.

  • Just as in every other market, you have to look at supply and demand. The world is already brimming with people who speak English and Mandarin or Cantonese. Learning a language takes a lot of time and effort, and if you're past your early 20s you probably won't ever be a fluent speaker no matter how much you put into it.. Are you really ready to risk millions of dollars because you accidentally offended your client?

    You'd be far ahead getting a second job and then hiring a translator with the money you

How can you do 'New Math' problems with an 'Old Math' mind? -- Charles Schulz