Oh and the discussion actually started with abachler's quite childish statement -
Such an ignorant statement from someone who (quite obviously) knows so little about the topic.Originally Posted by abachler
I speak Chinese fluently, and I can assure people who thought otherwise, that it is nothing "primitive". Like people have pointed out, only the few lowest level components of Chinese characters are pictographic. Other characters are combination of those fundamental "components", with meanings (each character has several meanings) related to the constituents in some way (combination, cause and effect, connotations), and are usually phonetically similar to one of the constituents. They also usually have different pronounciations depending on context.
And then they are put together to form words. With a lot of experience and understanding of the culture, when you see a Chinese word, you can usually guess the meaning from the meaning of the characters. Without such knowledge, though, it's very difficult since many words have many meanings, some a lot more subtle. In most cases there are many words with just about the same meaning. Except they are used in different contexts. Some are more polite, some are more suggestive, some carry different connotations, etc.
It would be nice if they can develop a "functional" subset of Chinese to make it easier for foreigners to learn the language. Theoretically, that is totally doable. There is arguably a lot of "redundancy" and bloat in Chinese. Mostly for backward compatibility. And then Chinese people like to use some rarer words with more specific meanings as a form of artistic expression (just like people do in English), which doesn't really help. For people who speak the language fluently, that's nice. But I can see how it can be frustrating for people who are learning the language. And then there are MANY exceptions to grammatical rules that really follow no logic, just convention.
IMHO, English is a more practical and functionality-oriented language, while Chinese is more artistic partly due to the complexity, and the dependency on culture.
It is EXTREMELY rare for a non-native speaker to master Chinese to a level that is indistinguishable to a local. They can learn enough of it so that they can understand Chinese people and can also be understood, but people will always be able to tell that they are not a native speaker from their slightly unconventional/awkward way of constructing sentences and choice of words, even if they are grammatically correct. It's much easier and much more common for non-native speakers to master English.