English is the most difficult language EVER!

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by FreeThinkers, Apr 19, 2007.

  1. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    There's the dragon I know. Everyone and everything is equal. LOL

    Anyway, English is tough because we incorporate a lot of foriegn words into English. We often keep the pronunciation and the spelling pretty close to what it was in the original language, which means the word makes no sense at all under normal English spelling rules.

    For instance, Rendezvous. It's pronounced rɒn-də-vu. When I was a kid, I thought it was "rend-a-vus". I also knew the word rɒn-də-vu when I heard it, but didn't realize they were the same word.
     
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Most of my Chinese friends think that English is the easiest of all the major languages. In structure, it's the closest to Chinese. It's highly synthetic and word order is nearly identical. Inflections have almost vanished and in a pinch one can speak quite understandably without tense, number, etc. Also without articles and other noise words. As discussed in another post, we are heavy on one-syllable words. As a result our syllable count per sentence is almost as low as theirs and we speak rather slowly like they do (compared to, say, an Italian!) so our sentences are easy for a student or foreigner to parse in real time. Our phonetics are a big obstacle of course, ending a word with a non-nasal consonant is almost painful for them. (Mandarin speakers, not Cantonese.)
    We certainly have subtle differences in pronunciation across the anglophone world and I'm not sure they're all regional. It may have something to do with the style of education that was popular when we were in school. Everyone I know says rahn-day-voo, a more correct French pronunciation. A lot of them also say ahn-ve-lope, although for some reason I say envelope.

    But no one pronounces lingerie in proper French, they all say lahn-zhe-ray instead of lan-zhe-ree. I'll never understand where that came from. I wonder if they say it the same strange way in England?

    And chaise longue ("long chair"), everybody in America is dyslexic and thinks it's chaise lounge.
     
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  5. Oli Heute der Enteteich... Registered Senior Member

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    I'm English. "lan-zhe-ree" EVERYTIME. or "WOW, yes wear that!"

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  7. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    My first language is Spanish, and in latin countries it is advised to teach the dogs to do stuff in English, because it is easier for them to learn.

    For example:
    Sit = siéntate
    Stay = quedate quieto
    Lay = acuéstate
    Roll = da vueltas
    Go = anda
    Jump = brinca
    Down = abajo

    Can you see the pattern? it goes on and on.

    So yes, we teach the dogs in English, even if our first language is Spanish.

    From my perspective (and I only know 2 languages), English cannot be the most difficult.
     
  8. BoSmoke Mr Ganja Lover Registered Senior Member

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    That puts us English ex colony types in our place. You feel proud of yourself, Mr Spanish??
     
  9. w1z4rd Cry the beloved country Valued Senior Member

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    english is a very large language (huge repository of words, and many different words that explain the same thing) that has evolved out of many other languages. Not all of it makes sense, ghoti.
     
  10. Wisdom_Seeker Speaker of my truth Valued Senior Member

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    Hehe, I´m sorry my friend, my intention is not to offend anyone, I´m just pointing the fact that English cannot be the most difficult, it is just a hyperbole.
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Well that settles it then. English is easier to learn for dogs. Budgies and African Greys too, from what I've read. Is there a psittacine anywhere with a big vocabulary in Italian or Arabic?

    And how about those gorillas and chimpanzees who are learning American Sign Language?

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  12. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Mad Anthony: SORRY DUDE! I was trying to edit my own post. Apparently I edited one of yours instead. This is all my own text. I can't find any way to retrieve your text. I hope you can put it back together.

    My apologies. I keep forgetting I'm the moderator. I have an "Edit" button on every post in this forum and it's right where the "Quote" button is supposed to be.

    Never hand a powerful tool to an idiot.

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    FRAGGLE ROCKER TEXT:

    It's the syllable count that really kills speakers of languages like Spanish and Italian. They have few monosyllabic words while our language abounds with them. This makes them talk faster. The combination of the speed and the difficulty in figuring out which syllable goes with which word makes them challenging for foreigners and students to parse sentences in real time and understand spoken language. As I've said earlier in this thread, this is a key feature of English that makes it easier to learn: we talk slower and many of our words have only one syllable. The only language I'm familiar with that has a lower syllable count than English is Chinese, and it is indeed really easy to pick the words you know out of a spoken sentence and puzzle out half of its meaning. You just can't do that with Russian or Japanese.
    They say entornar, which means "to close halfway" or "leave ajar," which in turn is a word we don't have in English. "It's getting pretty noisy outside, would you squint the window please."

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    They also have a word for cross-eyed: bizco.

    I find it difficult to criticize Spanish for vocabulary limitations. Their vocabulary is rich, just in different dimensions than ours.
    Indeed. Chinese's equally large vocabulary is 99.9 percent native. Of course that doesn't help with the "spelling."

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2007
  13. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I pulled my own text out of Mad Anthony's where it appeared due to an editing blunder on my part. I hope Anthony can reconstruct his own post since I appear to have no tools to do that.

    Sorry Sorry Sorry.

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    It's the syllable count that really kills speakers of languages like Spanish and Italian. They have few monosyllabic words while our language abounds with them. This makes them talk faster. The combination of the speed and the difficulty in figuring out which syllable goes with which word makes them challenging for foreigners and students to parse sentences in real time and understand spoken language. As I've said earlier in this thread, this is a key feature of English that makes it easier to learn: we talk slower and many of our words have only one syllable. The only language I'm familiar with that has a lower syllable count than English is Chinese, and it is indeed really easy to pick the words you know out of a spoken sentence and puzzle out half of its meaning. You just can't do that with Russian or Japanese.

    For "squint" they say entornar, which means "to close halfway" or "leave ajar," which in turn is a word we don't have in English. "It's getting pretty noisy outside, would you squint the window please."

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    They also have a word for cross-eyed: bizco.

    I find it difficult to criticize Spanish for vocabulary limitations. Their vocabulary is rich, just in different dimensions than ours. Chinese's equally large vocabulary is 99.9 percent native. Of course that doesn't help with the "spelling."

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  14. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    I'll try that word (entornar) on my next spanish speaking patient. Would it be:
    Lea la linea mas chiquita y no entorna. For crossed eyes, I've been saying something like "cruxado". I hope that's a word. For about a year, I told Spanish speaking patients to mira a la charta
    , until someone finally told me there was no such word. Now I use tabla.

    Fortunately, most Spanish speaking patients are quite forgiving of my poor Spanish and are just happy I make the effort. I actually even did an interview for a local Spanish language station on the importance of eyecare.

    PS No big deal on the editing faux pas.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The examples I saw suggest that you have to give the verb an object, entornar los ojos. Don't forget that when you're giving a negative command, technically you're lapsing back into the true subjunctive mode, rather than the imperative mode, which is a "broken" conjugation without a complete paradigm. In the third person there's no difference: No entorne Ud. los ojos. But when addressing a child (or in compulsively informal Aztlán just about anyone) in the second person you'd say, No entornes los ojos.
    You mean cruzado. Obviously you've studied Latin. If you pronounce it that way, your patients surely understand ojos cruzados after thinking about it for a second.
    It's hard to guess at professional jargon, but I would suggest el cuadro. El cuadro clínico is a medical chart and a el cuadro sinóptico is a diagram.

    And it's Mira el cuadro, not Mira al cuadro. You only stick a before a direct object if it's a person, and then you also have to stick a dative-case pronoun onto the verb: Mírale al gran tonto en la Casa Blanca.

    Check out http://wordreference.com/, my favorite online dictionary for Spanish, French and Italian. The trick I always teach is to take all the words you find and look them up in the Spanish-English dictionary. That will give you the often not-so-subtle differences in meaning and help you pick the right one.
    Yes, they're nothing at all like the French--or us anglophones.

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    Chinese people tend to do that as well.

    I have a friend who lived in Japan, speaks Japanese fluently, even scholarly Japanese, and has done professional translations. He has to be careful to sneak up on Japanese people from behind when he starts a conversation. If they see a gaijin face they automatically assume he's speaking a gaijin language and they don't even hear it as Japanese. They bow and respond, "I'm terribly sorry, sir, but I don't speak English."
     
  16. Ziazan Banned Banned

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    What about Chinese?
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I have found Chinese people to be very pleasant to Westerners who tackle their language. Often they will stop what they're doing and go to the trouble of carrying on a simple conversation, for the sake of helping.

    Recent immigrants or visiting scholars tend to be very gracious, because they're startled and pleased to realize that any of us are even trying. Chinese-Americans can be more helpful, because they've had more time to examine the differences between the two languages. In particular they understand the issue of tone, which is very difficult for us yet something many Chinese don't think about consciously and have trouble talking about.
     
  18. Seabee Registered Member

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    Obviously English is not the “most difficult language ever” as this forum puts it. And the best people to ask this question are not the native speakers, since they learned it when there were toddlers. The best people you would have to ask this question are non-native speakers who are learning it or learned it.

    I am a Spanish speaker dude, who learned this great language a few years ago. I came to the US without knowing a word of English, and after I assimilated myself into the American-culture I decided the best way to improved myself was going to college. Those were very difficult times for me since I had to take 3 levels of remedial English before I was able to continue my high level education, and after doing so, it took me another two more regular English class to meet the requirements to achieve my goal (which, by the way I am very glad to know this is a requirement to get your bachelor’s degree.)

    Now that you guy’s know a little bit of my background, I can definitely concluded that English is not one of the hardest languages to learn for me. Why? Very simple, English at difference from Spanish, verbs don’t have inflection, except for the third person singular on the present tense, where we have to add an “s”!, the past-tense except for a few singularities has the same termination! (“ed” or “d”), oh, and what about the future tense? well just add “will” before the verb, the same for “would” “should” “might”. I still remember the time when I was in eighth grade in Chile, and I had to learn every verbal form known in the Spanish language from a small book called “Castellano, Real Academia de Lenguas Espanola”, there were more than a hundred ways to conjugate a damn verb in Spanish. The verb “To Be” is divided in two verbs in Spanish “ser” and “estar” i.e. “I am Joseph” = “Yo soy Jose” however, “I am here” = “Yo estoy aqui” and as I said before, you have to consider the hundreds of conjugations of these two Spanish verbs have also.

    English does not have to deal with it

    And this is for verbs, what about articles? “The” = “los” “las” “el” “la”
    Or what about possessives “my” = “mios” “mias” “mio” “mia” just for the fist person singular, I didn’t want to mention the second and third persons singular, or the first second and third person plural either

    English does not have to deal with it

    I love English because is easy direct to the point, short and precise.

    However……

    English, due to its nature is very inflexible in the word other. The only way to know what I am talking about it is by using a strict word order, and this is where the confusion resides on whether English is a hard language or not. Grammar rules must be enforce, i.e. “I buy books” “yo compro libros”, in Spanish I can easily said “compro libros” since the inflection of the verb “compro” tells me immediately that refers to the first person singular, but, “buy books” can not tell me who is buying the books

    However, the most complicated part of the English language is its pronunciation; imagine short words being spitted in a fast passed connected with each other. Well know words were Chinese to me when I heard them from a native speaker. It took me years to master the sounds of those words, and be able to understand them.

    Now, I am a successful computer scientist working for a well renowned company in the US, and during my spare time I serve proudly in the United States Navy, from where I learned even more about this great English language as a radio operator in the Seabees, serving in Kuwait and Iraq
    “If you want to talk about love, learn French, if you want to talk poetry, learn Spanish, if you want to talk war, learn German, but if you want to communicate with the world, learn English”
     
  19. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    Hände and Hunde. I'm not sure if Hunde is considered strong. But there are the words Bücher, Nägel ("nails"), Äpfel, and possibly Bäume (which means "trees" but I think it's cognate with "beams").

    Would nouns like "ox" be considered weak or strong? Etymologically it's weak, but seeing as almost every other English noun uses the old strong paradigm, and seeing as you and possibly others consider nouns like "hands" to be weak, it seems like a toss-up.
     
  20. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    I imagine that would be impossibly hard to reconstruct.

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    And how about the African languages? Do you suppose linguists will try to reconstruct an ultra-hyper-mega-family that the non-African super-duper-family and the African languages fit under?
     
  21. ashpwner Registered Senior Member

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    nar come on, im sure vitamise is harder or chinise
     
  22. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

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    What?
     
  23. Odin'Izm Procrastinator Registered Senior Member

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    I learned english in three months, compared to German which took four.

    Try russian greek or arabic, it's by far harder than any germanic language.

    The structure of the english language is extremely simple, much like spanish.
     

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