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Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is a one of the hardest languages to learn for westerners for several reasons. The tonal system is foreign. Every word is represented by a complex character with no indication as to how it should be pronounced. There are over 40,000 word-symbols, 2,500 of which are commonly used and must be memorized for basic fluency. Mandarin also has many homophones, like "shi", which is associated 30 different meanings. Gaining fluency in Mandarin is not impossible, but uncommon for English speakers, requiring years of full-immersion.