What do you think is the easiest and hardest language?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by science man, Jan 18, 2010.

  1. I thought the easiest was Spanish but after hearing about Chinese on here idk anymore. As far as hardest I'd say it's a tie between Latin and Russian.
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  3. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Latin isn't that hard to learn. I've learned quite a bit already.

    You don't have to learn a new alphabet, and the sentence structures are easy to understand, and a lot of the vocabulary is recognizable from English. What's so hard?
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  5. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

    The declensions of nouns are a pain and Latin doesn't sink up with English as much as everyone always claims it does. But from the languages I've taken as an adult Chinese is hard for me because I can't really hear the differences in some of the sounds yet, due to lack of exposure to Chinese I'm sure. My brain always trying to auto-correct sounds in Chinese to English is a pain too. Not to mention the writing being totally foreign. I found ASL (American Sign Language) pretty easy though because the sentence structure was virtually the same as English and they write in English. So I vote ASL as the easiest for a native English speaker to learn as an adult. I think all languages are easy for children who have a little exposure to it.
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  7. all the different types of accents on the letters.
  8. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    It is said that Dutch is one of the most difficult languages to learn, because it has a shitload of exceptions and context dependent definitions compared to other languages.
  9. sandy Banned Banned

    I think English and Spanish were the easiest to learn. Latin was easy because I was 6 but don't remember much. Arabic and Japanese were the hardest.
  10. princelove Registered Senior Member

    English is hard Dari is easiest language
  11. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    i think the hardest languages are chinese and arabic, and the easistest are english and spanish,
  12. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    From what I've read, and I'm sure Fraggle will correct me here if I'm wrong but, it is English that is the most difficult language to learn [by non-natives].
  13. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member

    comparing to french, english is a pece of cake, but it just need following, and some intention, the best way to learn english, is to watch the english films with a transaltion text in the bottom, like traduction,
    my native is arabic, my second is french, and english is my third language, then spanish, i'm starting it next year, and japanese i speak it a litle bet now, still a bigenner,
    i think the hardest language is chinese, wow, they have many hard characters,
    unlike japanese, most of their caracteres are simple, just a couple ones that needs to be memorized that's all,
  14. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    I'm surprised.
    French for me was ridiculously easy.
    The reason being, like all romance languages, it makes sense.
    English is riddled with illogical structures...
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I think you'd have to take a poll to settle that question. One's native language makes a big difference in which foreign languages are easy and hard to learn.

    The two things in English that stand out to me are:
    • Phonetics. English has more phonemes than most other languages. So many of them are hard for foreigners to tell apart, such as our bewildering array of vowels: heat/hit cat/cot/cut/caught red/raid. Our two different forms of TH are unknown in most other languages. And our consonant clusters frustrate everyone except speakers of Slavic languages. "Squirrel" sounds like it has no vowels at all, and words like "wasps" are tongue-twisters.
    • Idioms. So many of our common constructions are purely idiomatic and have no logical basis in a grammatical paradigm. In time/on time -- walking on air/broadcasting on the air.
    We call those subtitles.
    Everyone focuses on the written language. Spoken Chinese is actually pretty easy. The grammar is very simple and the way words are put together is very logical. The hardest part is the phonetics, and that's not really as hard as people think it is.
    Japanese uses 2,000 Chinese characters, you just haven't gotten that far in your studies. And each character has two different ways of being pronounced, which you have to figure out from context. It also has two different syllabaries (a phonetic writing system like an alphabet, except each symbol represents a whole syllable) which have 100 symbols total. One, hiragana, is for Japanese words, the other, katakana, is for abbreviations and foreign words.

    To read a Chinese newspaper you only need to know 5,000 characters, so written Japanese is not really all that much easier. And Japanese grammar is so complicated it will make you cry. The only thing easy about Japanese is the phonetics.

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  16. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    about the japanese grammar, is not that hard, maybe i find it not too hard, cause my public spoken arabic, allwo to put most words, in any place in the sentence, just to make it shorter, and quicker, japanese phrase form, is unsual, but kinda easy, like i say, "i have a balck car" = " watashi no shiroi na kuruma desu." desu is the verb, no, is like, watashi no shiroi kuruma, watashi=i , no=of , shiroi=black, na= put it between the desribing word and the discribed, kuruma, a car,
    not that hard,
    some people find arabic is most hard, in my opinion, comparing to other languages, after the chinese characters, arabic is the hardest, the you can find 5 words, refer to a one meaning, some times some arabic words in teh arbaic poetry, let's say most words, i cant understand them,
    in soem other languages, there are many adapted words,
    here's some links:
    i like languages, esspecially english, also i like french, but, i'm not vezry good at it "salut, comment sava?"
    hey how are you,
    also in japanese,
    "gainki desu ka?"
    in arabic
    "kaifa helouk (for male) kaifa halukom, (for group) kaifa helouki, (for femin)...)

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  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I can see why you like it: the syntax you use in your English sentences is more like Japanese than like English! By our standards it rambles on a little too long and is a little hard to follow. You should try writing shorter sentences. And please learn to user proper capitalization and punctuation! “I” is always capitalized. So are the names of countries and languages. So is the first word in every sentence.
    That kind of syntax drives us anglophones (people who speak English) absolutely crazy. We find our subject-verb-object logical and easy to understand. Japanese syntax is topic-description, It makes everything they say sound, to us, like those unanswerable Zen riddles they love so much.
    English has borrowed thousands of words from other languages. It’s the way we make our vocabulary richer and more adaptable. The Germans and Chinese do that by combining existing words to build new ones.

    In the second half of the first millennium CE, Christian monks added many Latin words, pertaining to religion and philosophy, to Anglo-Saxon, the "Old English" language. Then in 1066, when the French army conquered and occupied England, French became its official language. Middle English borrowed thousands of words from French. Many described new ideas in commerce, government and culture that did not exist before. Yet some words of French origin have the most mundane everyday meanings and replaced native words, for example: use, very, language, second and question.

    Eventually English was restored as the national language. By this time England was a major contributor to European culture so its scholars did the same thing the French and Italian scholars did: borrow thousands of Latin and Greek words into Modern English, for new concepts. A lot of these are newly made-up words that the Ancient Romans and Greeks would not recognize. Many are even hybrids of the two languages, such as "television," from Greek tele- = "distance," and Latin visio = "sight."

    Today Anglo-American culture is still one of the dominant components of global civilization, and we still borrow words from almost everyone, to discuss the things, activities and ideas they give us. Italian “fascism(o),” German “Zeitgeist,” Inook “igloo,” Swedish “smorgasbord,” Japanese “samurai,” Fijian “taboo,” Russian “pogrom,” Yiddish “putz,” Algonquin “tomahawk,” Spanish “rodeo,” Native Australian “didgeridoo,” Irish “lephrechaun,” Arabic “fatwa,” Sanskrit “yoga,” Hebrew “kosher,” etc.
    That’s two words, ça va = “that goes.” Salut! Ça va? = “Greetings! How are things going?”

    In Chinese we simply say Ni hao ma = "You are-good question."
  18. Shadow1 Valued Senior Member


    just wondering, what's fatwa,
    in arabic, fatwa means, to betrate, or, to make something very bad, like killing, or hittign somebudy and put him into problems behind his back,
    like an evil action, of betrating, and making a negative, and a bad effect on a pearson, a group, or a contry or a civilisation in general, to hert her, to make a negative effecton it, like terrorism, anyway, you get the idea,
    so, is my explination right,
    I'm arab, a medeterrenian arab, from Tunisia, and there was a history even in the first days of islam, when somebudy, killed the person, that people chosed him to rule them, and be their kalifa, kalifa, is not like a king, kalifa, is some one, who knows relegion, wise, good socially, talk very well, can convince with speach, and have the ability, to handle problems, with peace in the time of peace, and war in the time of war, those are the requirements, and people, choose one of those people, that they are already known, choose one of them, to rule, unlinke in saudi arabia, and u.a.e., toaday, they are like kingdoms, with kings, if they used the kalifa thing, with voting was better for them, at least, intell they can adapt the democracy well,

    every civilisation on earth, had adapted words from other languages,
    arabic origin, also hebrew origin, are both from the sumerian language, the arabic and the hebrew cultures, are kidna similar, expet relegion, that maked a big difference in some ways, arabian, and hebrew, are both, from a one civilisation, they were both one, sumarian,
    european languages, adapted from easter languages, and eastern languages, also adapted from western languages,
    words and vocabularies, were like, a commerce of knoledge,
    english, is a very plastic language, and very big, also arabic, both of them adapted, or invneted, those things that they gave names to them, or for those things that they adapted them,
    for example in arbic, we call the table (tawila) in past we used to use (a mida) like the japanese table, but round,
  19. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Basically, yes. The word first entered the vernacular English language in 1989.

    When Salman Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses, was published in 1988, many Muslim fundamentalists interpreted it as blasphemy, even though that was not his intention and the more moderate Muslims insisted that this interpretation was invalid. The Ayatollah of Iran issued a fatwa against Rushdie, exhorting all Muslims to join in a campaign to murder him. A great many Muslims were swayed by the Ayatollah's authority and signed the fatwa, including, outrageously, Cat Stevens, a beloved British rock and roll star from the 1970s famous for his songs of peace, who had converted to Islam and now calls himself Yusuf Islam. The fatwa inspired considerable violence around the world in which dozens of people were killed and several bookstores were seriously damaged. Rushie, a former Muslim Indian living in England, migrated to the United States where he was provided with tight security and eventually went into hiding on the advice of his protectors. It's only been in the past few years that he has made public appearances without the kind of security that usually accompanies political leaders.

    This fatwa is one of the key events responsible for the current animosity between the Islamic world, whose more extreme leaders consider blasphemy a capital crime, and the Western World, which cherishes the notion than no one must ever be harmed merely because of what he thinks or what he says.
    Chinese has very few foreign words, probably less than twenty. The reason is that its odd phonetic structure does not allow foreign words to be rendered recognizably and conveniently. All Chinese words contain exactly one vowel, may begin with only one consonant, and may end only in -N, -NG, or no consonant. Every syllable already has several meanings, so it's impossible to build a word that doesn't already mean something.

    The only foreign word I know in Chinese is wei-ta-ming, which means literally "only this gives life," and is their clumsy transcription of the English word "vitamin."

    Of course educated Chinese know words in foreign languages, but these words cannot be written in Chinese because their syllables contain sounds that are not Chinese, so they are not Chinese words and there are no characters for them.
    This is most definitely not what the science of linguistics tells us. Sumerian is called an isolate language, because no relationship can be found between it and any other known language, present or past. There is nothing in Sumerian vocabulary, grammar or syntax to suggest a relationship with the Semitic languages or any other branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family.

    Over the past decades, several linguists have attempted to demonstrate a relationship between Sumerian and known language families, but their efforts have not succeeded. One of these hypothetical relationships was with the Dravidian languages of India, but as far as I can tell no one has made a serious case for a relationship with the Afro-Asiatic family. The differences are too great for a link to be plausible, and the similarities are so meager as to be well within the bounds of random coincidence.
    The Sumerians were the people who founded Mesopotamian civilization, the oldest of the world's six independently-created civilizations. (The other five are Egypt, India, China, Olmec and Inca.) They were the first people in the region to develop agriculture, and they invented the wheel, the plow, and many other key technologies.

    However, they were not Semites. Their empire ruled for 3,000 years, but they were eventually overrun by the Akkadians, who were a Semitic people. Enough ancient DNA remains in the people of Iraq to be analyzed, and it is clearly unique and not found in the genes of Semitic people from other areas.

    The Jews and the Arabs are related, but not as closely as one might think. The Jews are a Canaanite people, and the Canaanite tribes can be traced back beyond 2000BCE. The Arabs can only be traced back to around 900BCE. Based upon linguistic analysis, Hebrew is a Nortwestern Semitic language related to Assyrian, Aramaic, Syriac, several other living languages and a great number of extinct ones such as Phoenician and Moabite. Arabic is completely separate from this sub-branch of the Semitic languages, meaning that the split probably goes back to at least 2500BCE if not earlier.

    Semitic is the only branch of the Afro-Asiatic language familiy that occurs in Asia. The other five branches are all African. They include Egyptian, Amharic, Berber, Chadic and Cushitic. Because of this geographical preponderance it is widely proposed that the original Semitic tribes migrated out of North Africa. Their ancestors are generally assumed to have migrated out of Asia many millennia earlier. The original population of North Africa was driven south by the drought that turned the region into a desert, and when the combination of slightly more tolerable weather and slightly more advanced agricultural technology permitted, an Asian people came in behind them to fill the void.
    The Indo-European language family, as the name suggests, spans a region from Europe to India. The original proto-Indo-European tribe lived, approximately, in the region between Anatolia and Georgia, 3000 - 4000 years ago. They split up and migrated in two directions. The Western Indo-Europeans headed north in several waves. The Celtic tribes first walked into the main part of Europe, marginalizing the earlier tribes who lived there, of whom we know very little except from the Basques, their only surviving descendants. They had the whole place to themselves, including the British Isles, for many centuries. The Germanic tribes also walked north but kept going and ended up in Scandinavia. Then the Hellenic tribes moved into southeastern Europe and built a civilization based on that of the Phoenicians, which was a branch of Mesopotamian civilization originally created by the Sumericans. Finally the Italic tribes came and the Romans built upon Greek civilization, creating the Greco-Roman civilization which is still the culture of Europe and much of the rest of the world. Some time later the Albanians came, who were also Indo-Europeans. The Germanic tribes also came down out of Scandinavia and populated northern Europe. This resulted in the demise of most of the Celtic tribes on the mainland, whose homelands were overrun by more recent immigrants.

    The eastern branch of the Indo-Europeans traveled east and eventually ended up in the region of India and Persia, where languages in the Indo-Iranian branch of the family are still spoken. Somewhere along the way the Armenians also established themselves, rather close to the original Indo-European homeland.

    Eventually a group of Indo-Iranian tribes continued their journey but turned northward, ending up in the Ukraine. These became the Balto-Slavic peoples, represented now by the Slavs and also by the Latvians and Lithuanians, whose languages are closely related to the Slavic tongues. In the early centuries CE, the Slavic peoples pushed westward and populated central Europe, becoming the Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Serbs, Croats, etc. The last Celtic tribe on the European mainland disappeared at this time, leaving Celts only on the islands of Britannia and Ireland.

    So today we have two branches of the Indo-European language family, the Eastern and Western. They have been separated for at least 3,000 years, but the similarities are so clear that the relationship is obvious
  20. sweet Pentax Registered Senior Member

    that´s a german word, i would say ... yiddish is german with a jewish tongue. it even sounds almost like "jüdisch", meaning jewish.

    apart from that, i would say - at least for me, being an european - the most difficult languages are coming from asia. the letters look soo strange, and there so many of them. together with the grammar, it seems to be a pain. i´ve tried to learn a little bit japanese once, but lost interest when i saw how difficult it was for me. one day, if i have free time for years, i´ll continue ...

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    russian is also not that easy. to learn how to read kyrillic was rather easy. they don´t use the verb "be" .... just saying for example "I hungry". but other things are quite difficult to understand. they have something what i call superplural. in english, german and so on it goes like this : "1 year - several years". in russian, it´s "1 god, 2,3,4 goda and 5(or more) let.

    being german, it was quite easy to learn the basics of english and french. though i have to admit, that i´m far away from speaking both fluently.
  21. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    Of course.
    Yet, wouldn't you argue that it would be easier to learn another Romance language [say, Italian] when your native tongue is one as well [say, French]?

    Interesting stuff. You remind me here of many concepts I studied in various semiotics courses.

    What I was getting at with respect to English being [relatively] difficult was its seemingly lack of logical structure/syntax.

    In English for example, we say "A red car."
    Whereas in French one says "Un auto rouge."

    What strikes me here is how logical French is: one actually identifies the object before moving on to the predicate.
    Conversely, in English, one could go on through multiple applications of adjectives and verbs before the listener even knows what it is that you're talking about.

    English seems to me to be a 'frankenstein' bastard type language. Whereas other languages seem to be developments or distillations of each other [or, some common ancestor].

    I've always been astounded at your breadth of knowledge in Language Fraggle; I'm sure you'll be able to comment on my thoughts here.
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Of course. Yiddish was originally the Jewish dialect of medieval German. But they diverged to the point that they're no longer intercomprehensible, so they're separate languages now.

    Yiddish is indeed the German word jüdisch, but Yiddish lost the umlauted vowels so it's now pronounced simply jidisch. However, even though there is no truly standard transliteration system for Yiddish from its modified Hebrew alphabet (Hebrew is an abjad but Yiddish added vowels) into the Roman alphabet, one rule is inviolable: Don't make it look like German!

    So we write hoyz instead of häus', ikh instead of ich, tzvey instead of zwei, zeks instead of sechs, etc. The only exception is that the sound SH is usually written SCH instead of simply SH. I think the reason is that it looks so funny that way that it's just irresistable. Even when it wouldn't be written that way in German, e.g. schtick instead of stück. When the Jews aren't describing themselves as a terminally depressed people, they're just as likely to call themselves a nation of comedians.

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    Everybody is put off by the writing systems. Learn the dadgum language first and then worry about writing it!!!

    Most of those languages actually have phonetic writing systems so learning them isn't really all that difficult. Only Chinese and Japanese are truly daunting. Nonetheless I've known people who were dedicated and learned to read and write Chinese and/or Japanese in just three or four years--in their twenties while holding down a job!
    The Japanese writing system is arguably harder than Chinese, even though it has less than half as many symbols. The reasons are:
    • When you're trying to read a kanji, you have to figure out from context whether to use the han or kun reading.
    • When you're trying to write a word, you have to figure out whether to write it in kanji, hiragana or katakana.
    The Korean phonetic alphabet is very simple, and they use very few kanji, pretty much only for names. In fact by government decree, the North Koreans use none at all.
    We write it "Cyrillic" in English and pronounce it with a soft C, like Saint Cyril, after whom the alphabet is named.
    Well sure. Just like it's easier for an anglophone to learn Dutch or Norwegian than Albanian or Farsi, even though they're all Indo-European.
    As I noted, English has been influenced by many languages because of the accidents of its history. The same influences that gave us a rich culture also gave us a rich language. By your definition Japanese and Korean are also "Frankenstein" languages because they have thousands of Chinese words. And it was very awkward for Japanese to assimilate Chinese words because their phonetic paradigms do not align at all. That's why the Chinese words for "sun root," zh ben (and that is strictly phonetic, not any of the standard romanization systems), come out as Nihon in Japanese. Or the numerals: Chinese yi ezh san sz wu liu chi ba jiu shzh become Japanese ichi ni san shi go roku shichi hachi ku ju.

    The languages of the Muslim nations have a huge vocabulary of Arabic words. For that matter, one of the things that makes Yiddish incomprehensible to a German is all the Hebrew words.
    Hey, it's my job to astound and comment.

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  23. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

    Can you expand on this at all? I'm interested in learing more about the earliest people who were in europe.

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