The #1 easiest language to learn? (140)

1 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-17 13:34 ID:Heaven

Which would it be?

(I know it depends on a lot of various factors, but fact remains: some languages are just easier than others, right?)

2 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-17 13:50 ID:DM7JWkF4

african language you don't want to learn

3 Name: bubu : 2006-03-17 18:57 ID:Heaven

>but fact remains: some languages are just easier than others, right?


4 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-17 19:12 ID:2ndkdACQ



I direct your attention to Arnold L. Rosenberg's seminal 1979 paper, The Hardest Natural Languages:

5 Name: bubu : 2006-03-17 19:16 ID:Heaven

>With this dogma thus established, to those who still distract from this scholarly work, I say with the immortal words of Edward III (1349),
>"Honi soit qui mal y pense"

6 Name: Antipika : 2006-03-17 19:17 ID:dT7AE+am

Yes some languages are easier than others, it's obvious :)

But it depend of your native language :) And i can say that english is one of the most easiest language to learn because of internet, everything down here is in english, so because of it's usefullness it will be easier to learn it quickly.

Because of the US culture spread everywhere too.

I sux at school, i'm only 19, all of my grades are below "the average" (50%), except in english where i got 85%+ at every tests, and i'm not studying english, just learned a lot by playing games, surfing on internet, chatting, watching movies in original version, watching japanese films with english subs, speaking english on some online games etc...

I still do many grammar mistakes, by the way i can understand @ 99%+ any english movie or else, understand US TV show etc...

7 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-17 19:41 ID:Heaven

(The same paper is also available in a slightly less huge file here:

8 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-21 22:26 ID:Heaven

PDFs are satan.

9 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-04 13:20 ID:iGQqkywZ

Toki Pona

10 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-04 13:44 ID:A/CyL4f0

it's also available in a less evil file format here:

11 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-06 02:15 ID:L7AJONjG

what about esperanto? that was specifically designed to be easy to learn, i'm surprised noone mentioned it...

12 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-06 03:21 ID:Heaven

> what about esperanto? that was specifically designed to be easy to learn, i'm surprised noone mentioned it...

i personally think yxnomk atpukno ujklevt is much better than esperanto, since it is equally easy/difficult for everyone.

13 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-06 18:00 ID:Y8fEglSi


14 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-07 04:02 ID:WW4HHSWb

i found german very easy too

15 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-07 12:33 ID:UwSX10Uf

>>14 Argh no... I hated German when I had to study it. All those rules... Every word/adjective/article/etc had to be declined in accord with some other part of the sentence, or something like that. Lots and lots of rules.

>>13 French is bad in that you have to memorize all the genders for things, and it makes no sense. A table is female. A bed is male. A lamp is feminine. A pencil is masculine. Etc etc. Lots of anarchy.

16 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-08 03:35 ID:Heaven

GJ at getting the joke!

17 Name: : 2006-05-09 03:09 ID:OvBKHha8


18 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-11 05:20 ID:6N+99AqF

Esperanto sucks as far as IALs go.

19 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-15 03:38 ID:tV7LITqJ

Esperanto is okay, but a bit heavily biased towards european languages to claim to be "international" (IMO, anyway.) For a more unbiased constructed language, try Lojban. The only downside with Lojban though, is that learning it isn't as intuitive as learning Esperanto. But at least once you have the rules down, it doesn't get any harder to make sentences longer.

Japanese is pretty simple too, at least until you want to read or write Kanji. It also has one of the most retarded counting systems in the world, where the way to say a number changes depending on what you're counting. And also, it has so many homophones your ears will start to bleed. But apart from those minor problems it's pretty easy.

20 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-15 14:35 ID:A/CyL4f0

lojban is too biased toward languages with large numbers of speakers. for a more unbiased constructed language, try yxnomk atpukno ujklevt.

21 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-15 19:06 ID:r7ABnCon

The numbers are the worst...

22 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-06 19:19 ID:6N+99AqF

See my post in the converse topic, "The Hardest Language to Learn" or whatever it was called. The ease with which you learn a foreign langauge is directly proportional to the number of features that your native tongue and the foreign tongue have in common.

If you speak a language that has an SVO, prepositional word order, is stress timed, no tones, no pitch accents, no genders, and has consonant clusters (a simplistic description of English), then you will have little trouble learning Another language that has an SVO, prepositional word order, is stress timed, no tones, no pitch accents, no genders, and has consonant clusters (like Spanish).

On the other hand, if you speak a language that has an SOV, postpositional word order, has pitch accents, and virtually no consonant clusters (like Japanese), then you will have quite a bit of trouble learning a language that has an SVO, prepositional word order, is stress timed, no tones, no pitch accents, no genders, and has consonant clusters (like English).

23 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-06 19:21 ID:6N+99AqF

Opps, I didn't mean to say that Spanish has no genders, so strike that part from the above post. Other than that, the rest is accurate. Copy/Paste can get you in trouble sometimes. -_-;

24 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-20 04:09 ID:N05U5SKG

Baby language. Something like "Aa" "Ma" "Pa", with very limited vocabularies to remember.

25 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-09-09 16:11 ID:7/p5H/gr


But wouldn't that make it impossible to get a message across?

I think that's one major problem with langs that are too easy.

What happens when you have to explain how to fix the computer? If the lang is so simplified that all computer components are named "doohickey", you're in trouble.

I think Glosa is probably better at least than esparanto, and probably Lobjan (more because you have an easier time teaching Glosa to someone than Lobjan -- the grammer is a bit heady).

The interlang imo should have an easy to learn grammer so as you can give someone a wordlist and have them communicating in a few days.

Lobjan is too grammaticly complex -- rather than using well understood terms like Noun and Verb, you must learn entirely new constructs and how to use them. With Glosa and Ido, pretty much all you need is a hour looking over the grammar rules (or a printed sheet with those rules and a word list. With lobjan, you need more.

26 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-09-14 06:17 ID:Dud1qypp


Spanish has pitch accents and genders for everything and three ways to say you, etc.

27 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-09-16 16:44 ID:viCV17Qh

Spanish if you know French.

28 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-03 15:54 ID:7/p5H/gr


French is too snooty, and since it isn't spelled phoetically, it's hard to learn spelling. I took a forgein language survey in HS, and essentially being able to read French and being able to speak French are different skills. At least with Spanish or Italian if you know the general spelling rules, if you can say the word, you can spell it.

29 Name: Anonymous : 2006-10-05 00:09 ID:4J/kW6Sg


Snooty yourself, effing anglo.

30 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-16 19:08 ID:Heaven


As this is the language board I must disapprove of your disparaging language. Can't you use insult >>28 with something more ... exotic?

31 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-18 21:33 ID:7/p5H/gr


how about "Anglo Saxon" instead of Anglo

and "Copulatory" instead of Effing?

So Copulatory Anglo-Saxon

32 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-23 01:21 ID:8qs+XVDy

>>1 fact remains: some languages are just easier than others, right?


(Language Myths is a good place to start regarding these kinds of misconceptions, or a "Human Languages"-type anthro or linguists for nonmajors class.)

33 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-23 01:21 ID:8qs+XVDy

Linguistics for nonmajors, that is. Shows how well I speak my own language. ;)

34 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-23 13:28 ID:7/p5H/gr

I think what he meant was easiest from the perspective of learning the language (from english). So from the perspective of an English learner of some other language, some will be easier than others.

German is probably going to be easier than, say Vietnamese or Korean, is your first language is English. If your first language is Japanese, you'll probably find Vietnamese easier than Bosnian. If you speak Hebrew, Arabic isn't so hard as Maori or Souix. If you speak Spanish, Italian would seem to be pretty easy.

You're right that there's no absolute scale, but depending on what you already know, some language may be easy or hard to learn. I know English and Spanish, so I could probably figure out most European languages pretty easily.

35 Name: Ed Croydon : 2006-10-29 00:42 ID:hu0lNuuy


Spanish doesn't have pitch accents. It's all about where the stress goes, much like some English words.

36 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-30 00:52 ID:xDZ8L3WZ

French isnt really snooty. Just not worth the time to learn.

37 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-10-30 14:16 ID:Heaven

The French language may not be snooty, but French people sure are. It's a good thing they only speak French, otherwise those of us smart enough not to learn French would have to put up with their snootiness, too.

38 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-02 17:23 ID:8psALZvH

My native language is American English, but believe it or not, I find Japanese to have simpler grammatical concepts than German, which always irritated me when I had to write in it. I can understand written German well enough. What bothers me about a lot of Germanic/Romance languages is the assignment of genders to seemingly abstract concepts. After all, how is a lamp, chair or table male/female/neutral? Why should I care? How vital is it in a conversation? Honestly, I'm content to use 'die' or 'der' or 'das' interchangeably and randomly.

39 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-13 15:28 ID:UwSX10Uf

>>38 Germana love hierarchy. You cannot have two Germans who are perfectly equal, one of the two has to be superior to the other. :)
If a table is to be moved and there are 4 Germans, Guy1 will give the order to Guy2 who will give the order to Guy3 who will order Guy4 who will move the table.
The German language is impossible to speak perfectly, and therefore is used as a superior/subordinate selector.

40 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-14 17:08 ID:Fxb3doKj

German can be a very unpleasant language for singing in, too. Its too guttural, it sounds imposing and vaguely pretentious, musically speaking, it can be used reasonably in Opera, Military Marches, Church Music, or folk songs (preferrably Bavarian). English, on the other hand, can be inefficent, but no other language can rival its massive vocabulary (Look at Oxfords English dictionary, all 12-13 volumes of it). Of course, as a polyglot language, its native speakers have some difficulties learning other languages, due to English mixing germanic and romance traits, making it one of those "betwixt and between" sort of languages, a "Jack of All trades, Master of None". The various pidgin languages that have evolved from it are fun to listen to, though!

41 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-14 17:15 ID:Fxb3doKj

On another note, regarding English grammar. If you are a foreign student learning English, remember not to 'stress out' too much when you study our grammar. Most native speakers make mistakes on a daily basis. As long as an English speaker can understand what you are saying, they will still really appreciate the fact that you learned their language (we tend to see it as a compliment ;).

42 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-17 15:43 ID:1HLXyyGC


43 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-21 15:16 ID:jBmrTowo

German is not unfit for normal singing. I've listened to this singer Blumchen and she can sing German normal-like.

44 Name: five : 2006-11-23 01:10 ID:WawzTuAn


your own

45 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-25 00:17 ID:7/p5H/gr


I speak my own language.

In fact I've made a few and tried to teach myself Esperanto and Glosa, in addition to Spanish.

However your crazy moon language intrigues me.

46 Name: pupu : 2006-11-25 14:52 ID:74x3NB/W

Bahasa Indonesian/Malay is the easiest asian language to learn coming from a roman alphabet :D

47 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-11-27 18:54 ID:YrIJWZfJ

What about Vietnamese and Cambodian? They use latin letters, don't they? (anyone know what Laos uses?)

48 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-03 00:23 ID:gqBQTHc6


i think vietnamese has all squiggles/tildes all over it.

49 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-04 02:20 ID:6ZZYPVXK

yeah they use them to mark their crazy moon language tones.

ugh, tones. I couldn't tell the difference between ma and ma to save my life

50 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-09 02:04 ID:P19Gl2EI


laos uses latin letters

51 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-29 07:49 ID:4wykUAqK

>>50 Laos does not use latin letters. It uses the Lao script, which is extremely similar to Thai, in fact the two languages are somewhat similar in the way that English and Swedish are.

Speaking of Swedish, it probably wouldn't be too difficult for a native English speaker to learn, either.

Japanese is not all that terribly difficult either, although some seem dazed by the kanji. The most difficult thing for English (or other European languages) speakers to grasp seems to be getting 'wa' and 'ga' straight, among other challenges with particles, and the counters. But the pronunciation is pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

Many of Europe's languages, plus some of India's, are similar in grammar, so you have an advantage in learning another one if you already speak one. The one big thing for English speakers is the so-called "gender" of words - English is one of the few that doesn't have it.

As for >>9, Toki Pona isn't all that useful considering the lack of words. On a side note, I used to talk to the girl who made it and to be honest, I think she's a bit strange.

52 Name: Oily Skin : 2007-01-03 11:55 ID:mM1lmITB

>>51 i guess you are right about swedish but, there is some thing si think al english talking have a problem with there and that are the " å, ä, ö" letters and also the "sj" as in "själv" and those kin of things

53 Name: Nox Puss : 2007-02-18 15:57 ID:DdjD+NGJ

I suppose it depends on how interesting you find the language...for example, I am obsessed with Japan and France, so I'm finding it easy to learn Japanese and French. Spanish just goes in one ear and out the other. It's different for everyone, really.

54 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-02-19 05:07 ID:Kz8akU0q

For English speakers, Dutch might be the most familiar.

But >>53 Has a good point.

55 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-27 19:36 ID:PfY+HXoF

I found Esperanto extremely easy to learn.

56 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-01 16:24 ID:+fc13jtQ

I would assume almost all auxillary languages would be easily to learn since they're so uniform and consistant.

57 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-01 23:33 ID:7/p5H/gr

Lobjan is a bitch.

I've never seen such a convoluted system. Just because every other language on the fucking planet uses nouns and verbs, Lobjan decided to be cute and drop all of that in favour o its own terms. Why? It's retarded. It guarentees that most auxlang learners will choose a language that they can learn without having to learn a new type of grammar.

Glosa is probably the easiest auxlang I've run across, with Ido being a close second. Glosa is an isolating language, so you don't conjugate anything. Just put the words in order, and you're done. Ido only conjugates the verbs, so that's pretty easy too. Esperanto isn't bad, but I'm not acostomed to worrying about conjugating the nouns, so that's hard to learn.

I think if it weren't for tones and hanzi, chinese would be simple enough to learn.

58 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-02 02:13 ID:O5nCEm0G

What exactly are particles (in Japanese) anyway?

59 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-15 20:20 ID:FJmll/+G

Particles in Japanese are little sounds added to the end of words to define their grammatical function in a sentence. For example:

は topic (most learning Japanese as a second language learn this first)
に directional
で manner

A basic Japanese sentence: 幸子 は 日本 に 行った
Sachiko(topic) Japan(to) went

Ask on the Nihongo board if you want to know more about Japanese.

60 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-12 15:57 ID:4r8HxWUt


>but I'm not acostomed to worrying about conjugating the nouns, so that's hard to learn.

Call me a grammar or whatever nazi, but you Decline nouns, not conjugate them.

And you don't like Esperanto due to the declension of nouns, but for me, it wouldn't be that annoying since I have studied Latin.

61 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-15 21:32 ID:7/p5H/gr


But Latin isn't taught so much anymore. Most people in the US are more familiar with French Spanish or German (and of those three probably Spanish is the most common). None of those languages decline their nouns, thus for most people, such a feature is hard to get used to.

And especially for an interlanguage, you don't want to have something that most people aren't used to because it makes the learning curve steeper, and fewer people will climb it.

62 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-16 12:05 ID:2fTX6q9B

German declines quite a bit. e.g. das Pferd, des Pferdes, dem Pferde, das Pferd, die Pferde, der Pferde, den Pferden, die Pferde.

63 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-27 19:30 ID:q+dXxUZ/

Try Tok Pisin. (Google it, wikipedia it, if you don't know what it is.)
This is the easiest language you can ever learn, and I guarantee you'll be semi-fluent in two weeks.

The downside is...

It's absolutely useless and you can't write this on your CV. Too bad.

64 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2007-05-29 18:44 ID:yNfZAcN0

Tok Pisin's not useless if you're looking to work in PNG. Also, language fluency is nice window dressing for any CV. Of course, knowing languages will almost never the thing that gets you the job (trust me - I speak six languages).

I subscribe to the old-school linguistics idea that all natural languages are approximately equally complex/difficult-- I think real native-level fluency even in Tok Pisin is as hard to acquire as fluency in any other language.

But to address the original question, I find that the Austronesian languages are pretty easy to acquire. Almost no inflection, and easy, regular pronunciation. Fairly complicated systems of affixes, but mostly regular, and can largely be avoided in colloquial conversation.

65 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-29 21:08 ID:hNkHIIFK

I think portuguese is easy.

66 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-06-11 18:40 ID:nYwyS4h5

Your own?

67 Name: Joey : 2007-06-14 05:01 ID:Ci2+yrH5

I think Portuguese is the easiest language to learn...but never tell a Brazilian that because they will argue for hours that its the hardest haha

68 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-06-14 10:08 ID:Heaven

I tried making my own language once, it turned out to be pretty hard to learn, even for myself.

69 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-04 13:40 ID:7/p5H/gr


I disagree.

I think languages are much easier the fewer manipulations one has to do to the dictionary words to get the point across.

To make a sentence in Ancient Latin, you'd have to do all of the following (consciously or unconsciously) to make a sentence:

1.) Choose the words. So if I need to say "Go to the Market on Third Street and buy me a loaf of bread," I need to find the dictionary Latin equivilent of each of those words.
2.) I need to put the verbs in their proper form (In both cases, I need the command form)
3.) Put all the Nouns in their proper declension.
4.) Decline the adjectives to match the Nouns as required.
5.) Add the particles where needed.
6.) Put together the final sentence.

6 steps per sentence. Obviously with practice, it gets easier, but even a native must go through the steps unconsciously.

I could make the language harder by adding steps. For example, if the language mutates based on the consonents that come before the word (see: Welsh and Irish), then that would be step 7.

I could make things easier too. Drop the requirement for tense and declining of nouns and adjectives, and it's easier. I need only 3 steps to make a sentence.

The system with the fewest steps is easier to learn and get comfortable in.

70 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-07 16:19 ID:q+dXxUZ/


71 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-07 23:34 ID:m7zRbfxy


I agree, sort of, which is why I mentioned Austronesian languages. The fact that there are almost no declensions means you don't have to do much to the words to make basic conversation, so it fits your rule of thumb.

But that doesn't invalidate the basic principle that virtually any species of natural linguistic communication has exuberances in some places and deficiencies in others, and to be a true master of any language you've got to be a master of all its parts.

Yes, Latin's got some complicated modifications to keep track of. On the other hand, its phonemic inventory is small, and its orthography-to-phonology translation entirely regular. So while it's quite a bit more complicated than, say, English on some scales, its complexity is significantly greater on others.

And I don't agree with your suggestion that natives and non-natives need necessarily go through the same sequence of 'steps' to produce grammatical utterances. A non-tonal language speaker, when learning a tonal word, needs to memorize consonants, vowels, and an unfamiliar sequence of pitches. A native speaker of the same tonal language has a catalog of tonal information that he or she automatically counts alongside his or her phonemic inventory. 'Imitating the pitch,' in the case of most non-tonal speakers, is probably a step somewhere along the way in a manner that it certainly isn't for a tonal language speaker, for whom tone selection happens at the same time as selection of vowels and consonants.

But anyhow, yeah, languages whose parts you don't need to do much to are easier to acquire basic communication in. Fluency's totally different.

72 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-07 23:35 ID:m7zRbfxy

>So while it's quite a bit more complicated than, say, English on some scales, its complexity is significantly greater on others.

Whoops, meant to say that "its complexity is significantly less on others." Sorry.

73 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-10 12:21 ID:7/p5H/gr


Well, it's unconscious for a native, but it does happen. If it didn't, there wouldn't be any form changes. It's sort of like any other activity, parts of it become so automatic that a person is no longer aware that he's doing it. You couldn't drive down the highway consciously thinking about how much pressure to apply to the petals -- that doesn't mean you aren't stepping on the gas.

Now for tones and things like that, it would be somewhat harder than English, but even then, it seems that it would be a case of memorizing the tone with the word, rather than choose the word than the right tone.

But I think we're at least somewhat on the same page here. Fluency comes after basic communication, so it would seem that the faster one can learn to do the basic "traveller's vocabulary" kinds of things in that language, it's easier to pick up the rest.

74 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-12 18:17 ID:Sj0Uke1w

This topic is entirely subjective: everyone will find certain languages easier to learn than others. For instance, I find the guttural sounds of German very easy to replicate, as I am Scottish, so I use these sounds in my dialect of English. Many (especially southern) English people I have met find it hard to pronounce the "ch" in "loch", and struggle with German pronounciation accordingly.

75 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-21 06:59 ID:eBALj0Kl

Sign Language.

I guess I'd describe the reason for it being so easy, is that while you're cramming a bunch of languages into your verbal section, your visual section lies wide open and empty and ready for new things.

76 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-04 21:45 ID:ov6GLXfF

I've made my own language, and it's actually very easy to speak. The grammar is easy to learn, and it can be written with the standard Roman alphabet or it's own, more effective writing system.

The only hard part has been coming up with enough unique words so that there is variety as well as common elements among all the words.

As far as learning languages, American English is my native language and I've found Spanish to be the absolute easiest, until you get into the more abstract sentence structures like subjunctive and such. I can read Spanish very well even with a limited vocabulary, after only 4 years of mediocre high school classes.

German was ridiculous. I could handle 2 genders and simple word order in Spanish, but with 3 random genders and German's unnatural sounding word order and irregular declensions, it became too unruly for me to keep up with.

Japanese has been easier than German, but only because there are no genders and no declensions. Kanji, homonyms, particles, counters, and various other quirks have proven to be considerable obstacles.

Now I'm gonna try Chinese (Mandarin). Hanzi and tones... Hanzi and tones >_<

77 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-05 03:54 ID:NNtGZZCz

Igpay Atinlay.

78 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-06 15:29 ID:80lxyzgF


79 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-06 22:18 ID:qC9bkDoP

Spanish was the easiest to learn for me (native English speaker). The only problem I really have is with relative pronouns and genders, but I'm sure that'll clear up with more practice. I'd also say Italian would probably be fairly easy too, since Italian and Spanish are extremely similar.

80 Post deleted by moderator.

81 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-15 02:40 ID:8gb6lYeh

afaik, that should be "日本へ行った"

82 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-15 02:48 ID:80lxyzgF

Guess which two European languages are actually the same? Spanish and Italian, that's which two! Think I'm lying? Listen for yourself, then apologize... to Mr. X!

83 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-17 15:29 ID:Heaven

Can you tell me what steps you went through when putting together those sentences in your post? Just because you don't notice them doesn't mean they aren't there.

I'd imagine that a native Latin speaker would claim to "just know" how a sentence is supposed to look, and laugh at your "sequence of steps" theory of Latin.

My own view is that you can only move complexity around, not get rid of it. Languages do tend to get somewhat streamlined over time, after all. Why haven't they all evolved to super-efficient minimalist transmitters of information by now? Where does the complicated stuff come from?

84 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2007-08-21 16:39 ID:yNfZAcN0

The Lao script is actually based on an 18th-century Thai script. And Lao and Thai are MUCH closer to one another than English and Swedish -- more like Spanish and Portuguese, or even closer.

They're basically almost mutually intelligible, although the Lao understand Thai better than the Thai claim to understand Lao, as is typical when rich/powerful languages interact with poor/less powerful languages.

Lao people watch Thai television and read Thai magazines, for example.

85 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2007-08-21 16:42 ID:yNfZAcN0


Khmer uses its own script, distantly related to the scrips for Lao and Thai, although more complicated than either of these, and descended (like the rest of Southeast Asia's snaky-letter alphabets and abugidas) from the ancient South Indian Brahmi script.

See here:

86 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-22 18:06 ID:7/p5H/gr

>> 83

"Can you tell me what steps you went through when putting together those sentences in your post? Just because you don't notice them doesn't mean they aren't there."

Actually, if you read the post, I expained the steps already.

The first step is to decide what I want to say.

Now, as a native English speaker, I know the vocabulary, so I chose the words that express my idea best.

English has a SVO word order, so I arrange the words in that order.

After that, I need to make sure that everything is in the right tense. In English (fortunately) I only need to worry about verbs. So I fix the tenses.

Then you put the sentence on paper or on the internet.

87 Name: anonymous : 2007-08-23 00:40 ID:A89QOzvP

icelandic really easy xD!

88 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-24 22:55 ID:wcNnzw3u

I find Welsh, German and Japanese pretty easy to learn. But it's all relative, isn't it?

89 Name: Pseudonymous Tonguetwist : 2007-08-27 13:29 ID:Heaven


> Actually, if you read the post, I expained the steps already.

Not really.

Here's a challenge. What's wrong with this sentence?

"They set up us the bomb."

It passes all of your steps:

(1. choose what to say)
2. Choose words. "They", "us", "the bomb", and "set up". (There's room for improvement here, but still.)
3. SVO order. "They", S, "set up", V, "us" and "the bomb", O. There are two objects here, but no rule for that so we just put both at the end.
4. Verb senses. Well, "set up" becomes "set up". Done.

Therefore, the sentence matches all of the criteria and is correct. Right?

Point is, there really are more things to it than that in a language as English. You have to realize that "set up" cannot have two meanings simultaneously ("they set us up" and "they set up a bomb"), the word order is not as simple as "always SVO", and there are tons of those annoying little words like "with" and "for" that you have to know when to use. If you learn a language as a second language you are always painfully aware of how simple things aren't. And presumably also when teaching, which might be an interesting experience.

90 Name: LinguaOtaku : 2007-09-03 23:26 ID:1+CnouDw

For Westerners whose first language is a Romance or Western Germanic language, Latin would probably be easiest (pivot, slot, pivot, slot, ad nauseum). Personally I find Japanese easy from a grammatical standpoint but hard as hell orthographically. Also its agglunative morphology presents problems when trying to predict how one might construct certain words...though in some respects I suppose it makes it easier.


91 Name: LinguaOtaku : 2007-09-04 13:25 ID:1+CnouDw


Technically you're incorrect here.

[set up] should be considered a ditransitive verb as it takes two objects ([us] and [the bomb]). By their very nature ditransitive verbs often lead to semantic and/or lexical ambiguity, leading to two readings of this sentence:

They [set up us the bomb].

lit. [Certain people mechanically facilitated the use of an explosive incendiary device for me and my comrades.]


They set up [us the bomb].

lit. [Certain people mechanically facilitated the use of me, an explosive incendiary device.]

Whilst the second of these is nonsense it's still a valid reading, therefore it could be argued that it has two different readings.

Also in English, word order is ALWAYS SVO. Sometimes we can omit the agentive object or passivise it to become the subject, but you'll never see a verb or object initial sentence in English.

Also, WITH and FOR are prepositions that can only occur in certain circumstances (ie. prepositional phrases indicating certain situations) and therefore are not difficult for non-native speakers to learn.'re correct. Lol ^_____^.

92 Name: LinguaOtaku : 2007-09-04 13:26 ID:1+CnouDw

Above link should be to



93 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-18 15:57 ID:GxlVtAXI

japanese is the easiest language to learn if you have not meet a single language before, it is it's simplicity that causes ppl from english/ other backgrounds can't help thinking complicatedly

in japanese understood things are left from the sentence, thus it's a non-moron language

altough it's sov in structure, your hardly find sov in conversation, usually you only see ov as subjects are mostly understood

english is quite easy after i've been educated for years, it only needs activation basics and after you passed that activation basics, viola you own the language!

chinese is also quite easy for westerners after the grammar is romanized , which before was like japanese/korean , though the hardest part of chinese is the writing, i can't imagine how long will it take me to fully understand commonly used characters if my mom didn't send me to a chinese school since primary education

94 Name: That GUy : 2007-12-11 02:59 ID:gtcPteRz

I don't know, Dutch is pretty easy to learn. HTML is pretty easy to learn too, as is PHP....Or even Gnome (

95 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-12 03:13 ID:GMfA+DkT

English is pretty easy.
Also, non-written japanese is pretty simple (because 57357357657675 kanjis make it pretty imposible to read/write)

96 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-12 13:32 ID:VBe2PSPD


I don't think you know much about Japanese.

There are 2000 recommended Kanji that are composed of a few hundred radicals and parts. Most Kanji even consist of other Kanji, which is exactly the same as combining letters in English to form a word.

97 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-12 22:48 ID:OSHbawSo

I found Cantonese REALLY easy once it was romanized for me.
Right now I've been starting Japanese and Spanish at the same time.
Here's to Taco Sushi!

98 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-13 02:41 ID:Heaven

Of course the "They set up us the bomb" example isn't exactly good English in the first place. It's like "Write me a letter", the proper form would be "Write a letter TO me", or "They set up the bomb FOR us."

99 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-17 22:46 ID:I8XGF62t


Wouldn't that just be an indirect object, with the (to) being understood?

100 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-18 02:22 ID:xws5t8eJ

The pronounciations are really very difficult (and often at disasterous results! e.g.: buy and sell sounds awfully alike, and often distinguished from context)

101 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-30 04:31 ID:5OqJpDyt

What is meant by "activation basics"?

102 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-30 09:11 ID:Sj0Uke1w

TeX is easy to learn.

103 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-12-30 10:40 ID:VBe2PSPD


Nope. English does have some remnants of the dative case, though the declension is gone, you can still use the sentence structure as before, instead of using prepositions.

I.e. "Write me a letter" is correct, like German "Schreib mir einen Brief", or Russian "Напиши мне письмо".

In English, however, you can also use the preposition: "Write a letter to me"
In Russian, this is incorrect. "Напиши письмо для меня" won't do.
In modern German, I think you can do it, too, but I'm not sure. "Schreib einen Brief zu mir" (interestingly, the pronoun is still in dative, but that's because of the particular preposition, and thus irrelevant)

On the other hand, in New Norwegian, you can only say "Skriv eit brev til meg" with the preposition, while in Bokmål you can say "Skriv meg et brev" without the preposition, though that form is becoming obsolete here as well, since it's no longer a case language.

Interesting how languages evolve and shit.

104 Name: Jason : 2008-02-20 09:21 ID:4L6E6UQL

Icelandic is widely speculated as being the hardest language in the world to date.

105 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-02-20 20:16 ID:6dHLEVL+


106 Name: Frank : 2008-03-08 10:02 ID:xUTIKwey

I like turtles.

107 Name: Frank : 2008-03-08 10:03 ID:xUTIKwey

I like turtles.

108 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:05 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

109 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:06 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

110 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:06 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

111 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:06 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

112 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:06 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

113 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:06 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

114 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:06 ID:xUTIKwey

A quote from Jane Wagner

I personally believe we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.

~Jane Wagner

115 Name: John Stonecutter : 2008-03-08 10:07 ID:xUTIKwey

Hmmmm.. I don't know why it posted my post seven times?

116 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-03-09 02:38 ID:Q2QobEsq


Your internets had a deep inner need to complain.

117 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-03-09 20:22 ID:6lfxox3Y

Perhaps you're just a complete moron.

118 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-03-09 22:17 ID:Sj0Uke1w

I blame Parkinsons.

119 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-05-02 00:18 ID:9Q7X7Rd3

It's easier to learn a language that shares more in common with a language you already know. This includes vocabulary, grammar rules, and phonology. For example, English borrows a wealth of words from French and Latin, which makes picking up the vocabulary faster. English and French also have both become less inflected and more isolating over time (that is, word order and linking words like prepositions and auxiliary verbs do more to determine syntax than various inflections of verbs, nouns, pronouns, and adjectives do).Mandarin Chinese is an isolating language like English (even more so, actually); but the writing system, lexicon, and phonology are all grossly different.

Other factors are motivational: psychological and sociological. For example, you may be more interested in learning Russian because of romantic notions of old Czarist Russia or the Soviet Union, or you may simply enjoy Russian literature. On the other hand, an immigrant coming to the United States experiences considerable sociological pressure to learn English (employment, fewer xenophobic responses, etc.).

120 Name: nativekwelguy : 2008-07-18 01:32 ID:E3xreQqZ

the navajo language is the hardest to learn i know that for sure

121 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-07-22 20:38 ID:kzNRT5jo

Aleut and some Papuan dialects are supposed to be miserably difficult.

122 Name: Charly : 2008-07-31 14:05 ID:Xthd6Dd+

I'm learning Russian (7th language up to now) and it's freakingly difficult. The writing more than the speaking though...

I think the easiest language to learn would be Hindi. I understand about 60% of the language, all learned watching Bollywood movies. Never picked up a book about it, seriously. And I don't even count this as a language I know, because i haven't learned to write it yet. Maybe next year.

123 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-09-26 03:42 ID:konsxdAe

Thai, I've been told, is remarkably simple.

124 Name: snan : 2009-05-16 09:26 ID:EBCd57r9

There's not much to learn about Lojban, and if you're already at least a little familiar with modern programming languages (like Javascript), you can pick it up. There's a huge lack of learning materials for non-nerds, though.

As for understanding it; well, that's another matter. Take for example, the sentence:

.i lo broda cu me ko'a.o'onai co'a ko'e

It takes some getting used to. Even after you've learned the grammar, you might want to tell the other speaker to

.i ko jabre lonu tavla

which means "Speak slower."

125 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-06-08 06:39 ID:AY6JHQwm

Keep in mind the method of teaching is most important.

My 8+ years of French in the Canadian school system taught me almost nothing. However, after one summer of self study and four months in Quebec, I could speak and understand French fluently and a friend told me that my French accent was indistinguishable from a native speaker's.

Also, some aspects of languages come easier for some.

For me, tonal languages are extremely difficult, but I have no problem with a new alphabet (Cyrillic fluency took one week). Also, memorizing noun genders comes easily, but I have some trouble with tenses and cases (Finnish rage).

126 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2009-07-16 22:41 ID:Y0RZmaWg


>>Thai, I've been told, is remarkably simple

I don't know about "remarkably" simple, but it shares a lot of the characteristics that make it easy to pick up the basics of many Asian languages. It's an almost-entirely isolating language, so you don't need to change word forms to conjugate or decline words. And the syntax, once you get the patterns, is pretty straightforward. Also, like most Asian languages, there are no genders, no articles, etc.

With that said, it also has its challenging aspects. There are five tones--intone the word "five" wrong and it's an obscenity; intone the word "near" wrong and it means "far." Also, it has some vowels that European-language speakers have a hard time pronouncing correctly, as well as a few tricky consonants (syllable-initial /ng/, a crucial differentiation between voiceless aspirated and non-aspirated consonants--/k/ vs. /kh/ that a lot of people can't hear, etc.) My family lived in Thailand for a while when I was in high school, and my parents didn't have an ear for the language--they learned a lot of words and basic grammar, but nobody could understand them. I, on the other hand, picked it up quite readily.

The orthography's tough for a lot of people, too--it's an elaborate (60+ letters) and not-entirely-phonetic writing system, and written Thai doesn't use punctuation or put spaces between words--it can be hard if you're trying to look up unfamiliar words to know where they begin and end. As a result, I know many foreigners who've lived in Thailand for years without learning to read or write. It took me several years of fairly dedicated study to be able to read comfortably, and my handwriting looks like a child's.

Oh, and finally, as with all languages, there are many syntactic and stylistic nuances and idioms that may take years to master. So while it's pretty easy to learn to make basic conversation if you've got a good ear for tones and unfamiliar sounds, true mastery takes a long time. Which is true of all languages, of course, and which is why this thread is basically meaningless.

127 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2009-07-16 23:17 ID:Y0RZmaWg


>>Mandarin Chinese is an isolating language like English

I'm not sure where you got this definition, but English is in no way an isolating language--of course, definitions vary, but no language with prefixes or suffixes of any sort (including plural markers, and most compound words) is considered isolating. Sorry, I'm not trying to be a dick, it just sprung to mind since I was writing about isolating languages just one post ago.

128 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-02-04 18:50 ID:/Z8DVonc

It's also been demonstrated that babies learn signed languages more readily than spoken languages.

129 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-02-04 23:08 ID:7s6ffdpp


130 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-07-06 23:18 ID:/0413ClT


Dumbass, Italian and Spanish are mutually unintelligible. Spanish is closer to Portuguese than to Italian and it is still not the same Language.

131 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-09-19 16:09 ID:ZJJZcG6u

Not really, if a spanish speaker talks slowly, an italian will pretty much get the gist of what they're talking about. If there's some word that the italian can't understand, just trying some synonyms will do the trick.
I hear that this doesn't work as smoothly for the other way around, though. Don't ask me why.

132 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-12-10 22:59 ID:A0rpeaXl

Easiest language to learn? One that is closest to your native language.
If you are French, you can learn Spanish or Italian very easily, since they're all very close to each other.
If you are German, you can learn Dutch or English easily.

All it matters is that the languages share the same root and it becomes easy. There's not one language easier than the other for everyone, it all depends on your native one.

133 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-12-11 05:30 ID:NhaQo9kJ

Malay or Indonesian

134 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-12-29 11:13 ID:j+ur0Sfj

>>132 This's no fact. I know English (not very well) and Russian as a native, and begin learning Italian. It's easier then it seem due to the large number of Latin loans into both languages and extremely simple to study orthography system, that's even more simple than in Spanish.

135 Name: forsure : 2011-01-22 02:24 ID:QyNLTLBH


136 Name: Rhetorical question? : 2011-02-25 07:01 ID:Wa5BJ3mC

There is no such one answer.
It is highly subjective, depending on what your native language is, as many has probably pointed out earlier.
I'm of Korean descent, but English is my first language. I absolutely suck at Korean spelling.
It's pretty much how much effort you are willing to put into learning a language. But I should also point out that you could be at it for years, and one day, it just clicks -obviously you won't be a prodigy at the language all of a sudden, but a incomprehensible grammar rule in the language you're learning, you can suddenly understand. I'm pretty sure that every single language follows certain distinctive grammar rules, even if they have multiple exceptions.. The exceptions just take time to get used to.. It's really mysterious how the brain understands language, i think.

137 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2011-05-05 04:26 ID:508bHE5O

The easiest language to learn would probably be the language(s) closest to the student's native tongue. For instance, I'm a native English speaker so I could probably pick up German pretty fast since the two are close cousins.

It also has a lot to do with how dedicated you are to learning and also how your brain is wired. Some people are just born with a natural affinity to linguistics.

138 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2011-05-10 22:05 ID:AgxRxkRP

Japanese is quite simple.

139 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2011-10-05 20:40 ID:Fhi130DM

Esperanto, of course. The grammar is very regular, pronunciation is easy: some Asians may struggle with the R/L, and Spanish speakers with V, but otherwise it's ok. Orthography is dead simple, and a small set of word roots will take you a long way.

If any language beats Esperanto in terms of ease of learning, I'm interested in hearing about it.

140 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2011-11-22 02:47 ID:lb4igXLd

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