I am stunned that Chinese is still written in 2009 by the most primitive means of writing--a logographic writing system-- and that you need to memorize about 4000 weird looking characters in order to read that language. This is insane. Even the ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform was more advanced than this. The Sumerian cuneiform characters were about 1500 in the 3rd millenium BC, and by 500 BC the Semitic Akkadians had reduced them to about 500 syllabic charcters. The Chinese writing appear to have never even developed into a syllabary. I can't understand how can somebody memorize a character for each word. I am thinking of learning only the Pinyin. What do foreign learners usually do?