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Isn't chinese mandarin language an indispensable skill for today CI professionals?

With a population of 1.4 billion people, and the fastest growing economy in the world, isn't theier language one of the most important skills to CI practioners nowadays, in order to get direct acess to primary sources in this country and be ahead of the competitors?


In order to have an idea about the influence of this country, take a look at: China Global Investment Tracker Interactive Map - Also, see the two images in attached.



How could someone who does not know mandarin could efficiently search at Baido, for exemplo?! How about visiting a trade show in this country with "the eyes" of CI Professional?! Is it english language still enough to this kind of jobs!?



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Nov 16 - REUTERS: Foreign institutions flock to China's social network

What do the International Monetary Fund, Louis Vuitton and Unilever have in common?


Weibo is the China's Twitter! If you take a look at the website, this is all written in chinese mandarim! So, is mandarim imperative or not to a CI Pro of nowadays!?


Another instance where China steals something then bans market access to the original developers. 

This is a very engaging discussion indeed, and opinions vary, also here on the ning I see.

I think there are three time phrases to keep in mind here, the short run, the middle and the long run. In the long run, in 20 years or so, it seems clear that China will surpass the United States both ecomically (GDP) and even militarily. When that happens it will be natural that Mandarin will surpass English as the leading language, the new ligua franca. It will not happen over nigh, of course and English will remain a major language. When that happens it will be much a question of good culture to know Mandarin. 

In the short run it may also be a good idea to learn Chinese. The greatest markets today are in China. Markets in the Western world are either saturated or there is little ability to buy new products. You can always enter these markets with an interpreter and there are already plenty of Chinese who speak English quite well, but you will always find yourself at a disadvantage. This is the case in Western China today, where the growth is largest. 

In the medium term, that is in a few years, I think it will be less important to learn Mandarin (not unimportant). There will be plenty of employees who master the language well. They will not be cheap as salaries are increasing rapidly, but they will not be in shortage either. 

In Sweden we are trying to introduce Mandarin as an elective 2nd language along with German, French and Spanish. I have myself worked for this for a number of years already. Many Swedish industrialists are claiming that there will be 2 important languages in the future: Germand and Mandarin. Many Swedish sub-suppliers are already setting up factories in Western China. They are already taking Mandarin, and having their children take Mandarin. I myself will go to Chengdu to teach just after New Year where I will stay for a few months. My Mandarin is not very good, but I am trying to learn :-)






Considering yours three time phases, I think that in the short run is impossible to learn mandarim, since it took someones at least 5 to 7 years (or 10 as much people say)! In the long run, 20 years, I believe that we are going to have robots doing the translation task very well!

About your point about that german will be one of the languages in the future of the industry made me curious! Konnen Sie mich erklaren? ;)

Best regards


I am on vacation officially, but you know how it is with the internet :-), So just briefly, Sandro, you can learn enough Manadarin to communicate in a year or two, given that the people you meet speak Mandarin, which is another problem. E.g. In Chengdu people understand less of what we try to say, but when we lived in Shanghai a few years back it was much easier. 

German is important because it is the official language of the part of the Western world which is still working economically. Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Netherlands (who prefer English, but understand G), Scandinavia (who also prefer English, but who used to know G well before the last WW)

You may also want to consult my latest book, free to download here

It also talks about different languages

Have a good summer!



take a look at this reporting:

"So which one should you, or your children, learn? If you take a glance at advertisements in New York or A-level options in Britain, an answer seems to leap out: Mandarin. China’s economy continues to grow at a pace that will make it bigger than America’s within two decades at most. China’s political clout is growing accordingly. Its businessmen are buying up everything from American brands to African minerals to Russian oil rights. If China is the country of the future, is Chinese the language of the future?


Probably not! Remember Japan’s rise? Just as spectacular as China’s, if on a smaller scale, Japan’s economic growth led many to think it would take over the world. It was the world’s second-largest economy for decades (before falling to third, recently, behind China). So is Japanese the world’s third-most useful language? Not even close. If you were to learn ten languages ranked by general usefulness, Japanese would probably not make the list. And the key reason for Japanese’s limited spread will also put the brakes on Chinese.


This factor is the Chinese writing system (which Japan borrowed and adapted centuries ago). The learner needs to know at least 3,000-4,000 characters to make sense of written Chinese, and thousands more to have a real feel for it. Chinese, with all its tones, is hard enough to speak. But  the mammoth feat of memory required to be literate in Mandarin is harder still. It deters most foreigners from ever mastering the system—and increasingly trips up Chinese natives.


A recent survey reported in the People’s Daily found 84% of respondents agreeing that skill in Chinese is declining. If such gripes are common to most languages, there is something more to it in Chinese. Fewer and fewer native speakers learn to produce characters in traditional calligraphy. Instead, they write their language the same way we do—with a computer. And not only that, but they use the Roman alphabet to produce Chinese characters: type in wo and Chinese language-support software will offer a menu of characters pronounced wo; the user selects the one desired. (Or if the user types in wo shi zhongguo ren, “I am Chinese”, the software detects the meaning and picks the right characters.) With less and less need to recall the characters cold, the Chinese are forgetting them. David Moser, a Sinologist, recalls asking three native Chinese graduate students at Peking University how to write “sneeze”:

To my surprise, all three of them simply shrugged in sheepish embarrassment. Not one of them could correctly produce the character. Now, Peking University is usually considered the “Harvard of China”. Can you imagine three phd students in English at Harvard forgetting how to write the English word “sneeze”? Yet this state of affairs is by no means uncommon in China.



As long as China keeps the character-based system—which will probably be a long time, thanks to cultural attachment and practical concerns alike—Chinese is very unlikely to become a true world language, an auxiliary language like English, the language a Brazilian chemist will publish papers in, hoping that they will be read in Finland and Canada. By all means, if China is your main interest, for business or pleasure, learn Chinese. It is fascinating, and learnable—though Moser’s online essay, “Why Chinese is so damn hard,” might discourage the faint of heart and the short of time."


Considering my answer below, take a look at this recently released video of Microsoft!

Speech recognition Breakthrough for the spoken translated word

By the way, it was predicted by Ray Kurzweil in his 1999 book The Age of Spiritual Machines. The prediction was to 2009!

Best regards

Hi Sandro!

I watched it. It is truely a great invention. I have  colleagues in France who are workinhg on the same topic so have followed it closely. There has even been article presentations at some of our academic conferences which have presented the same topic. It is highly relevant for Business Intelligence and Big Data.  To think what we will be able to do with smartphones in only a year or two from now. 



Mr Tavares

The China centric approach of the Western Businesses is well understood. So to say, the West has been China's primary export market in the past. At the same time, doing business in China with a perspective that it is a growing economy, while rest of the world takes a hit after another in the economic perspective does hold good. However, there lies a catch.

Besides Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan and other dialects are also spoken in China. Also, more and more Chinese are learning English with an objective to gain maximum from the Western markets even further to their existing domination of a huge chunk of mom and pop store formats in the US & EU.

And then there is an iceberg on whose tip lie many a "Neil Heywood"s and "Rio Tinto"s.

So yes, its absolutely both fantastic and fascinating, to learn and lean on the Chinese market, but fact of the matter is, learning Mandarin is one thing and learning Mandarin for CI activities in China is entirely another. In which case, even open source INT may be treated as an act of Espionage against PRC.

If the purpose is purely reading Mandarin published user manuals and technical specifications of products and services in your home country, it is a great idea. However for a CI analyst to learn mandarin and operate in China, I think, is an avoidable thing to do. Especially when the Next head of state's better half punishes one for it.

Mr. Singh,

You raised a very important question, the safety o CI professionals! I haven't thought about that...

But, one question, there are chinese people in this community that operate there, if I'm not mistake even a "CI in China" blog inside this community, so it would be interesting to invite them to share their opinions about your point! I'll do that!

Here you can see the CI in China Group here at this community:

I am with Craig Fleisher.  It is increasingly more important.  I have had a few head hunters ask me if I knew Mandarin.  Having lived in a foreign country for seven straight years, I know that it is a must to learn the native language--even if they speak English well.  There are so many subtleties you miss if you don't get the right context, intonation and inflection.  It used to be that English and French were the two business languages, I don't think so any longer.  They are offering Mandarin in the K-12 schools here and it is wildly popular.  You can't ignore a Billion business people....


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