tech

Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, Beijing students cheer

26 Comments
By DIDI TANG

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26 Comments
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He said China is a great country and hopes that learning the language will help him learn its culture.

Agreed; their government, though, is atrocious. Good on him for learning his spouse's grandmother's native language. Chinese is not easy, particularly the pronunciation.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Did they cheer his chopstick use, too?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Creep. Given he is supposed to be all for maximum connectivity he should be appalled at the way Chinese Government restricts Internet. i also like how he epitomises the stereotype of the Cali geek by marrying an Asian woman.....

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

Wakarimasen: "Given he is supposed to be all for maximum connectivity he should be appalled at the way Chinese Government restricts Internet."

I'm sure that he is not at all thrilled with the situation, but what should he have done? I can only guarantee that if he made it plain he did not agree with China's censorship, etc., he would not have been allowed to speak and government control of FB would become even stricter. Play nice first, affect change later, even if only at the grass roots level like making them laugh and trying to communicate with them on their own grounds.

"i also like how he epitomises the stereotype of the Cali geek by marrying an Asian woman....."

Maybe he loves her and wanted to marry her for that reason, my friend. Ideally that's why most of us choose our partners. Given that I'm sure he could have had quite a number of choices simply for who he is and his money, he probably didn't bother to look up what Wakarimasen considers geek stereotype and just went with his heart instead.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I am no fan of zuckerberg but do have to acknowledge the fact that learning to converse in Mandarin is quite a feat. Given his immense wealth I'm sure he didnt buy a rosetta stone or betlitz cd on mandarin and play it in his car on the way to work each day. I bet he hired top level language teachers and spent hours every day but too bad they didn't work on his intonation skills which are highly important and mostly ignored by folks learning a foreign language. I always am amused to hear a Brit, Aussie or Yank with a strong native accent speaking Japanese and not making any effort to sound like a native Japanese speaker.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Zuckerberg’s pronunciation was far from fluent

The good news about Chinese is that even if your tones are way off and you mispronounce many words, people can still guess what you are trying to say once they know the context. Zuckerberg had an horrendous accent but people could still understand him.

Nevertheless many Chinese teachers say that bad habits are hard to break later and we need to master the five tones and supra-segmental features right from the start and make sure that we pronounce correctly all the words we have learned so far before attempting to add new words to our vocabulary.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I always am amused to hear a Brit, Aussie or Yank with a strong native accent speaking Japanese and not making any effort to sound like a native Japanese speaker.

Yes, just in the same way that I'm amused to hear a Japanese person speaking English and not making any effort to be intelligible or coherent.

Kudos to Zuckerberg for seeing which way the wind blows.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Zuckerberg’s pronunciation was far from fluent

So? Feeling the need to be perfect only holds people back from trying.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

i also like how he epitomises the stereotype of the Cali geek by marrying an Asian woman.....

What an ignorent thing to say. Instead of applauding one of the wealthiest men in the world, and one willing to humble himself by struggling to learn a foreign language to be able to communicate with his wife's grandmother, you attack him. Sorry, but the only one you fits a stereotype is you. And, in case you missed it, Zuckerberg and his "Asian woman" just donated $25 million to the fight against ebola. What did you give?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

If you live in a diverse community, surprise, you'll have opportunities to marry outside your own race. Check your cynicism at the door please

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"China may ban Facebook ( China bans Facebook )"

What's up with that?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have JT to thank for making me look up how to say Facebook in Chinese. It is 脸书 (lian shu), literally face-book. And Mark Zukerberg is 馬克 扎克伯格 (Ma-ke Zha-ke-bo-ge).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is Mark Zukerberg supposed to do? I hate the Chinese government. It is really atrocious. I'm glad he's smarter than that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Why am I not surprised? He always struck me as being pro-thought police.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Hmm... I always thought Chan was a Cantonese lastname. And Chen is the Mandarin counterpart. Does not his wife's grandmother speak Cantonese?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@eatup

In China, women don't change their names when they marry, so there's no reason to suppose that the grandmother's surname is also Chan.

All we can tell from this is that Gates's wife's father's name is Chan.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

lucabrasi:

All we can tell from this is that Gates's wife's father's name is Chan.

GATES??!!!!

It's amazing how, like the Japanese (and most probably the Koreans), they go all 'sugoi' when they encounter a caucasian speaking their language. Asians don't get any biscuits when they start speaking in French or German.

I'm surprised they've even heard of FB.

Zuckerberg had an horrendous accent but people could still understand him.

Good on him for learning, but I'd have thought after 4 years his accent could be a little less thick.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Pukey

Oops, mixing up my geeks! : )

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Smith. Just observing that it is a stereotype in the US. not critical - I myself fit that stereotype nicely.

Jersey - same applies. As for his success, it is undoubted but achieved on the back (stabbing) of a number of people on the way up and you can't deny that praising the Chinese government while preaching maximum connectivity (to suit his own pocket) is a little bit of a paradox......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that him learning Chinese is ok, but not worthy of adulation. and his wife is apparently very sweet (and definitely good looking). And he is just a geek who caught the zeitgeist, but that doesn';t make him an racle on anything else.....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think that him learning Chinese is ok, but not worthy of adulation.

Taking the time to learn a second language to be able to communicate with your spouse's family is worthy of respect. I've known so many foreigners in Japan over the years who don't even bother to learn the language of the land, and are unable to communicate with their spouses' families. Zuckerberg doesn't even live in China, and he has made that effort. It's commendable.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Yes commendable but not worthy of adulation. plenty of folks learn second or third languages and don't get treated like they just discovered the cure for cancer.......

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow, who knew that there were so many perfectly fluent speakers of Japanese and Mandarin/Cantonese on this site, that you all feel so free to jam on somebody who, even though his language skills are far from perfect, made the effort to learn. More than that, how many of you critics would be able or willing to spend thirty minutes speaking a language that you weren't fluent in speaking to a bunch of college students?

People like you are the reason that getting my students to be comfortable in their own skin and to embrace the fact that they don't need to sound like a native speaker in order to speak English is so difficult. You don't need to be fluent in every facet of a language in order to speak it - some have a better grasp of grammar than others, some have particularly good ears and can learn to emulate native speakers fairly easily. Anyone who takes the time and makes the effort to become fluent enough to be understood for thirty minutes deserves respect.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Why should be a news that a citizen of a Western country of non-Asian heritage is being able to speak and address a public in an Asian language? Pure case of a reverse racism and xenophobia demonstrated by the students of one of the top two schools in China, if you watch the actual videos of the event. There was that news of an Australian reporter who asked a question to a Chinese minister in a perfect pronunciation and who praised her for her Chinese language in the worst possible accent and intonation, giving out his lack of formal education. Speaking a foreign language in 2010s is a must, not something exotic.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I always am amused to hear a Brit, Aussie or Yank with a strong native accent speaking Japanese and not making any effort to sound like a native Japanese speaker.** same could be said for Japanese speaking English like there reading katakana. native english speakers listen for the first time thing there speaking another lanuage

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He has studied and learned Chinese which is fantastic. I would bet that his wife has learned Hebrew also to become part of his multi-dimensional civilisation that he comes from.

Started in 2010 and talked for 30 minutes. Pretty good.

Most gaijin here know as many as two words per year for the total number of years they have been here.

And for those criticising an accent, why would you want to lose your own and pretend to be a Japanese national. That is so boring. Be proud of your roots. Keep the accent.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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