During my travels around China people often said to me “Your Chinese is better than mine.” When I adamantly denied even the remote possibility that their assertion may be true, they would clarify: “Your Putonghua is better than mine.”
The First Western Chinese Language Learner?
Learning Chinese is a big task, but learning how to use the language to accomplish simple, everyday tasks is not. You may never, like Matteo Ricci, translate Chinese classics or write books in Chinese yourself. But even Ricci had to start with the basics, learning the sounds, the tones, and the simple vocabulary to accomplish the stuff of everyday life.