The #1 easiest language to learn? (140)

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.

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