At Pinyin.info, there is an article, "Why Chinese Is So Damn Hard
" written by David Moser in which his frustration at the difficulties is almost palpable. He is especially disparaging of classical Chinese:
Whereas modern Mandarin is merely perversely hard, classical Chinese is deliberately impossible. 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. This is because classical Chinese really consists fo several centuries of esoteric anecdotes and in-jokes written in a kind of terse, miserly code for dissemination among a small, elite group of intellectually inbred bookworms who already knew the whole literature backwards and forwards, anyway.
He surely exaggerates a bit, but consider the following will left by an old gentleman on how to divide up his earthly possessions among between his son and daughter.
The reading all depends on how you parce it.
Is that 七十生子,非吾子.家産傳之婿.他人勿取! "The son 子 born 生 when [I was] seventy 七十 is not 非 my 吾 son 子. For [my] home 家 and property 産 transmit 傳 them 之 to my son-in-law 婿. An outsider 他人 shall not 勿 take 取 [it]," or is it 七十,生子,非吾子!家産傳之.婿他人勿取. "At seventy 七十, [I] had 生 a son 子. How could he not be 非 my 吾 son 子? For [my] house 家 and property 産, transmit 傳 [them] to him 之. A son-in-law 婿 is an outsider 他人 and shall not 勿 take 取 [it]"?
Or how about the case of the man who had some plots of rice paddy around a well. The paddies below the well were of good quality but the ones above the well were very difficult to water an of significantly inferior quality. He also had a son and a daughter but was unable to afford a decent lawyer for whatever reason and left the a final will and testament that was sure to cause family problems.
Is that "the [crappy ones] above 上 the well 井 are my son's 子 paddies 畓 and the [fine ones] below 下 the well 井 are my daughter's 女 paddies 畓"? Or is that supposed to be "Those [wonderful ones] with the well 井 above 上 are my son's 子 paddies 畓, while [those poor ones] with the well 井 below 下 are my daughter's 女 paddies 畓"? Time for this loving 남매 to spare no expense on good lawyers and rack up more than the total land value in legal fees.
It all brings to mind that old favorite, 아버지가방에들어갔습니다. So what are you trying to say? Is it that dad went into his room or [something] went into his briefcase? Just leaves one question: is modern Korean merely perversely hard, or is it deliberately impossible?