Their priorities are excellent:
- Week 1: saying 'Hello, I am English'
- Week 2: enough family vocabulary to fashion crude insults ('Is that your mother?')
- Week 3: 'I have two small kittens'
This gives me an excuse to link to Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard. I recommend it not solely to ensure that you are appropriately impressed with my feat, but because it is both scholarly and hilarious, and (to the best of my extremely limited expertise) absolutely true. A couple of choice quotations:
One could say that Chinese is phonetic in the way that sex is aerobic: technically so, but in practical use not the most salient thing about it.
Here's a secret that sinologists won't tell you: A passage in classical Chinese can be understood only if you already know what the passage says in the first place.
And that reminds me to link to the linguistics blog that was almost certainly where I found that link in the first place: Language Log. The contributors are all professional academic linguists, and the tone veers wildly between discussing relevant web-comic episodes, tetchy rebukes to inaccurate grammar pedants, and technical academic musing. It may not surprise you to learn, however, that my favorite bits are probably where they drop mad science on ill-founded claims. Also, this sort of thing: