Ask a five year-old American child “what’s an archipelago?” and the child probably won’t have a clue. Ask a Chinese child the same question (in Chinese, of course), and they’ll know or at the very least they’ll be able to guess, even if they’ve never heard it before. This is because the Chinese word for archipelago is a self-defining term composed of the two words “group” and “island,” referring to geological formations like Hawaii or the Philippines.
This is one of thousands of terms that are far easier to learn and remember as a Chinese-speaking child, which is part of the reason that perceptions of Mandarin as the world’s hardest language to learn are all wrong. As I’ll explain in this article, even after accounting for tones and characters, Mandarin is significantly easier to learn and use than English which is why we should all be a little annoyed with the British empire for spreading the wrong language around the world. Way to go, guys.