Bengt Washburn on learning German vs. learning Chinese #DryBarComedy


I went to Germany. It was culture shock.. Germany. The language. I dove into the language. Intensive German. Six months, two thousand bucks, totally worth it. Because I now speak the language like a three-year-old with a severe speech impediment. I could not talk for three and a half years. That was Germany. My friends would ask, “What’s it like? What’s Germany like?” “Well it’s like I’ve had a stroke.” I cannot talk. I thought I’d learn the German. My friends told me I would. Well not all my friends. Just my friends who only speak one language. They know how easy it is to learn a second language. And they’ll tell you, “Oh you’ll pick up on the German, Bengt, because you’ll be immersed in people speaking German.” Well, guess what, buddy. You’re not immersed in people speaking German. You’re immersed in people speaking English “With a German accent.” (In German accent) So no progress. This is my German But amazing progress. That’s my German accent now. I am not bilingual but I can sound bilingual. Ja it’s wunderbar! Its great. Now I use my accent to impress the random strangers. I can just use here to impress people. “Ja I will der fries with der hamburger. Thank you for der good questions you making now.” “Gee your English is excellent!” “Why thank you! Wow-ee! First time I hear deis. Wow! Thank you!” “That’s just because English isn’t your native language.” “No, deis is because I am from Utah. I never hear deis before.” Couldn’t complain either. Not learning German; you can’t complain. This is what’ll happen. If I complain about not learning German this is what I get, “Well, be grateful you’re not learning Chinese.” Grateful? Why would you bring that.. Why would you bring up something I could never do? i’m not even learning German. Why would I.. “Be grateful you stink at something that’s kind of easy. You got that going for you. You could be failing at something that’s hard, but see this way you feel stupid and disappointed. You should be grateful.” Chinese is harder than German. German is technically kind of easy. Grammar is hard. But there’s similar words to English. Same alphabet. Whereas, Chinese is insanely difficult. There’s no similar words or sounds and…and you have to learn their alphabet. We don’t share an alphabet. And it’s not just 30-40 letters. You want to be fluent in Chinese you are going to have to memorize about 44,000 subtly different drawings of sheds, broken furniture, yoga poses, occasional waffle iron. That’s what I see. Like if I look at the menu, “How spicy is your ‘broken television’? Really? Well, then I will take the ‘downward dog’ …again. I’m a menu coward” Chinese is crazy. So many sheds. I think Chinese is the only language on Earth in which you can write an entire sentence accidentally. You can just… “Whoops! I’m literate how did that happen?” Sometimes, the shed drawing will be a whole phrase or sentence. You have to memorize the shed with the sentence. “Oh, ok. The broken step ladder next to the guys with golf club with the two seagulls on the park bench with the roof shed drawing.” “My foot hurts.” “Oh wait, there’s a chimney on the shed.” “Your foot hurts.” “There’s a chimney; it’s your foot. When it…Wait there’s smoke coming out the chimney.” “We’ve got a new Pope.”

100 thoughts on “Bengt Washburn on learning German vs. learning Chinese #DryBarComedy”

  1. I am so impressed by all the language knowledge in the comments. Will start to learn my 4th language this year – Spanish 😀 hope my french will help me and I'll be able to order something in my holiday in october.

    Do you also decide to learn a language because it sounds really beautiful to you?

  2. The problem is he thinks that German and English have the same alphabet… We have the same characters, but that's not really that helpful when the rules of putting them together to make sounds is not the same.

  3. I was hoping he wasn't too ignorant. it would be more funny if he knew the English name for Chinese language….. Mandarin

  4. Nearly all Chinese (meaning here Mandarin/普通话)sounds exist in English actually, though learning to produce and distinguish the tones is in fact challenging. It’s also not correct to say no words sound like English…there are some loan words that do. 三明治,吞拿,巴士, etc. (Sānmíngzhì=Sandwich, tūnná=Tuna, Bāshì=Bus). Chinese also doesn’t have an alphabet at all…not all writing systems are alphabets, and Chinese definitely isn’t (it’s a logographic system). And you don’t need to know 40000 characters to be fluent either—that’s literally an entire dictionary. Most university educated or higher Chinese know around 10000 or so. Still hard, but not nearly as intimidating as he suggests

  5. TV series are the way to go. I write replacement dialogues for foreign materials and Mandarin is pretty easy to pick up. You know why? They don't conjugate! They don't have tenses! <3 I love them for that. So one word, when you've heard it often enough in different context is actually easy to remember. 🙂

  6. I took two years of Mandarin in college and yeah. That description is on point. (My mom's side is German though and weirdly I struggle with that language.)

  7. Language ability is dependent on IQ. Just take a stroll through the hood and if you live you will realize dere aynt much abilatee dere bro.

  8. My train of thoughts:

    -Clicked the video, (consciously?) reads only the "Learning German, learning Chinese."

    -Half way through the video remembers Firefly out of nowhere…

    -Thinking of why the hell am just thinking about Firefly?

    -…
    -After the video ends noticing the guy is called Washburn, just like the pilot from said show.

    -Being astonished about how amazing subconsciousness is, if I never consciously noticed his name, yet it sparked a related memory!

    -…

    -…Realizing I most likely remembered Firefly just because someone mentioned Chinese… And his name was probably only a coincidence…

  9. Just learn how the language sounds and you can simply be an illiterate speaker. Illiteracy is underrated when it’s your second language. The sound came before the Cyrillic alphabet or the characters.

  10. The Chinese language is f**king hard… I'm Chinese myself and even I can't speak or read a lick of the language. It doesn't help matters that English was my first language. XD

    To my fellow Chinese I'm not Chinese enough and to everyone else I'm a white man wannabe.

  11. My great grandfather came over from Germany, I can’t speak barely any of the language but I speak Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. 🙃

  12. As someone who speaks Chinese literally I feel like people who don't speak it know this is funny but they dont know exactly how funny

  13. I'm learning German and Chinese and they both have difficult elements. German is "easier" in that it's similar to English, except the grammar is way more complicated. Mandarin on the other has pretty simple grammar, but pronunciation, with the different tones, can really trip you up. I hear that once you get to "Intermediate" level Mandarin is when things really get complicated, but at the beginner level, it's surprisingly easy. Also, you don't really NEED to be able to read and write a language. It's much more valuable to be able to understand spoken Mandarin and speak it. So unless you really plan on living in China, you don't have to learn the characters.

  14. big facts. I went to live in germany with an ex after the army, and in my efforts to learn german through immersion, I found most people would excitedly opt to speak english with me especially when they realized I was american…spent about 2 years there, and my mastery of german is still that of a toddler.

  15. The average native Chinese speaker only knows about 4,000 characters. Also, Chinese is relatively easy because of the grammar’s simplicity. One character cannot be an entire sentence, as there is a correspondence of 1 character: 1 morpheme.

    morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language.

  16. The thing I struggle most with in Chinese/Japanese is stroke order. I started learning the letters not knowing stroke order was important and then half a year later, I came across photos of ancient scribbled-looking brush written letters and I was… overwhelmed to say the least. Time to relearn a couple hundred characters lol

  17. This should inspire anyone that they could be a standup comic. My gtandmother could literally write these same jokes

  18. Chinese is REALLY easy… Sure, character "memorization" is difficult, kind of. Here's a free lesson. (I have HSK5 and have lived in China for 10 years).

    All characters have radicals (parts) that are common between all of them. These also give hints at the meaning of the word (氵shui) for example denotes water, so each time that is seen the word has something to do with water. wash(洗),pour(淋), moist/wet(湿), get soaked (淋湿). You learn those and then you say OK, this character needs one of those, one of these and one of these.

    Tones… Sure this can be hard, but only if you REALLY want to speak perfectly. Chinese people can't really do the tones as Mandarin (普通话 or the common language) is many people's second language, after the local dialect in their region or town.

    After that the grammar is dead simple. There are no verb conjugations, no tenses (past and past perfect are made by adding a character 了 or 过), and the word order is very similar to English at times. 90% of the time it follows STPVO subject time place verb object. THAT'S the majority of it. Mandarin can be learned fluently day to day in 6-12 months.

    Examples (ma is the question particle 吗)
    Are you hungry
    "You hungry ma”
    你饿了吗
    Yes I am
    "Hmm, hungry"
    嗯,饿了
    You want to go eat with me?
    "Let's together eat go"
    咱们一起吃饭去吧
    Yea let's go
    "En, go"
    嗯,去吧

    It really irritates me as a guy who's been living in China for 10 years how Chinese people think their language is the hardest and most special in the world cause every foreigner says it's "super hard". Just adds to the arrogance.

    None of this is to say that MASTERING the language is easy, but then again so is mastering any other language. In my opinion, English is harder, German is harder, JAPANESE is way harder (JPLT 3 took me ages).

    TLDR Chinese is easy, everyone needs to stop saying it's difficult. Coming from a guy who mastered it and is a self proclaimed idiot.

  19. I'm bilingual in English and Chinese (lived there for 12 years) and I can wholeheartedly say…he ain't wrong. That language is a mental trip sometimes.

  20. As someone who's learning Chinese and living in Germany, I'm failing at German and my Chinese is so much better than my German…

  21. lmao same thing happened with my mom while she was living in japan with me and my father.

    5 entire years of living there and she doesn’t remember a single word :/

  22. I learned German for four years, then Mandarin for two, so this is just a gem of a video 😂 The waffle iron he's talking about? I know exactly which character he means, and that's so hilariously accurate 🤣🤣

  23. I feel this so much. I tried to learn German but quickly ditched it for Japanese, which is so much easier believe it or not. All the German I can muster is Rammstein Lyrics. When it comes to Japanese I have the literacy of a preschooler but I can at least ask "Do you speak English?"

  24. Hilarious! German wasn't that hard to learn, but I wussed out and chose to learn Japanese over Chinese because the pronunciation is so easy compared to Chinese!

  25. Speaking Chinese isn't actually that hard. Memorizing the characters is tough, but you don't need to know 40.000, "only" a few thousand and the simplified characters are pretty doable and all have recurring elements. If you just want to speak however, German might actually be harder.

  26. I’ve been learning german for 10 years and I lived for a year now in germany all I learned was to speak turkish in a ruder way

  27. I'm in Switzerland studying German, but the Swiss all around me speak a very different dialect. Studying Spanish and Korean has been NO help either. So much for the "once you learn one language it gets easier". Ha! They meant if you learn Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, or Romanian. I had to be the genius to choose languages that are step-siblings or complete strangers.

  28. Currently learning Chinese. I have been learning for over a year and I'm sorry to say this but it is hard. It has become easier but I never consider myself fluent at any language but English and I also speak Spanish. (Can understand some French. )

  29. The most accurate description of (attempted) bi-lingualism ever!
    Tried learning Mandarin to speak with a family of exchange students.
    You'll never forget the first time a 3-year-old tells you (with a look of total disgust), "You're doing it wrong!"
    😂 😂 😂 😂 😂 😂 😂

  30. I learned Chinese living in California. Can't order stuff off a menu, mostly because I don't know the names of food, but I can have a pretty decent conversation with someone about common everyday stuff. Chinese is hard, sure, but the grammar is pretty simple.

  31. Apparently, Belgian-accented French is what you get when your first teacher is Senegalese, your second teacher is from Paris, and your third teacher is Vietnamese.

    I’ve had two people ask me if I’m Belgian. Nope . . . I just attended a community college.

  32. Personally, I think Mandarin (even with the tones and the characters) is easier than German. With German, I'm always messing up the thes (das, die, der, etc.), yous (ihr, eure, ihre, etc.), and nos (kein, keine, keinen, etc.). Tones and stroke order were easier to remember.

  33. Japanese also uses Chinese characters, but made it a lot easier by outsourcing many of the grammatical functions into a separate alphabet/syllabary. At the cheap price of learning another 90 characters!

    Oh but in return almost all the Chinese characters now have multiple pronounciations. 海の底 = umi no soko, 海底 = kaitei (both mean sea floor)

  34. Now it's kinda sad but a lot of those Chinese characters could mean more than one thing. Like the Tattoos, people get in the US, they might Think it means Love & Honor.

    But maybe their friend they got to translate or to write it out in Chinese…might've put a meal order like Soup or Chicken. Now I actually do want a Food Order on me in Chinese cause it would be easier just to show the tattoo.

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