I was walking through Chinatown today past the TD bank when I stopped dead in front of a poster they were hanging in the window. There, amongst all the familiar logos and stock photography, were little green and black scratches of Chinese writing -- and not a syllable of English (or French) to be seen.
But instead of getting mad and spouting the usual ignorant stuff about this being English-land, a different thought occurred to me: "I should really learn how to read this stuff... it's everywhere".
Now to be clear, I do feel that all signage in Canada should have at least one of our official languages on it. I do however, think that it's pretty arrogant to take up the position that as an English-speaking person, I don't need to learn a second language. Especially in a multicultural city like Vancouver.
So I'm thinking of taking a language course to help me understand people better. The only question left is which one it should be.
Functionally speaking, Mandarain is the logical choice. It's the #2 most widespread language on the planet after all and the Chinese presence in Vancouver is massive to put it mildly. However, (and no offence intended toward the Chinese community) I don't really like the language. It's tonal and not "smooth" at all really. I'd much rather learn Japanese or Korean despite the fact that they are less useful in my current position.
So I'm asking you for input. As a unilingual anglophone, what language would you choose to learn? What do you think would be best for me? Once you understand it, is Mandarain as unpleasant as I feel it is, or would Cantonese be a better choice?