Well, we were talking over yum cha the other day about the Japanese language. After I had been there for about a week I had worked out that there seemed to be two methods of pronouncing the Kanji. I was very very annoyed. Over lunch some friends mentioned that this was because there was the Japanese pronunciation and the Chinese one. I was surprised and annoyed at myself. I should have been able to work this out. Since traveling in Japan I have been to Korea and it is the same there, though they tend to use Hanji rather than Kanji.
For example Da4 in mandarin is: 大. In Japanese Chinese it is Dai as in Daimaru the big circle department store and in Japanese it is O as in Osaka. Interestingly in the south of China in the mountains behind Kunming there is a minority called the Dai People (Big People).
If only I had know this I could have done what I did in Korea which is to focus on working out which words I already knew through transliteration and ramped up my vocabulary much more quickly.
Back at lunch they said - well you never asked!