Hardest language to learn? (217)

1 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-03 16:30 ID:yuiNFSb2

I know this is subjective since a person that knows English would be able to learn Spanish more quickly than say, Chinese. But in light of that please discuss which language you think is the hardest to learn.

2 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-04 07:48 ID:Heaven

English, because not even native speakers can get it right.

3 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-08 20:24 ID:0VQV1PGT

4 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-09 17:38 ID:dsREadfk

fails for pdf.

5 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-14 19:39 ID:Heaven

fails for using a system where PDF is still an annoyance.

6 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-14 22:13 ID:dsREadfk

on what system is it not an annoyance?

7 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-14 22:15 ID:6zOhNcy8

I think that is Japanese!!

8 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-14 23:02 ID:Heaven

9 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-15 17:21 ID:bqK6MrPe

japanese without a doubt :'(

10 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-16 10:18 ID:cyUGi2qR


11 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-17 00:31 ID:Heaven


12 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-17 02:31 ID:Heaven

japanese is harder than chinese? stupid

13 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-17 02:54 ID:dsREadfk

14 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-17 03:30 ID:Heaven

Chinese seems the clear winner when it comes to literacy.

15 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-18 09:51 ID:gzY5vS/H

Mandarin is easy:


My experience with Japanese and (a little) Mandarin bears this out.

16 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-18 23:32 ID:Heaven



17 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-22 21:42 ID:0tqddTy6

I would say Chinese, though I don't know about many other Asian languages. I wouldn't be suprised if Japanese was the easiest Eastern language to learn, though (the hardest part is kanji, which is :O~ Chinese!).

18 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-24 15:28 ID:Heaven

>the hardest part is kanji, which is :O~ Chinese!

In this respect, >>17 is incorrect. Kanji are not solely Chinese characters; they may be pronounced with their Japanese pronunciation (kun-yomi) and in many cases their written form has changed over time.

19 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-27 15:29 ID:r2KJ3cI4

Korean is the easiest. Hanja are rarely used, the native alphabet is almost scientific in its structural simplicity. I haven't had much experience with it, though, so I can't say much more.

20 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-27 16:05 ID:Heaven


Dosen't change the fact that it wouldn't exist if not for china. That being said, kanji is not as hard as most people think, although the language would still probably be better served by trading them in for some spaces.

21 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-27 22:12 ID:lcu4DPRA

I'd probably go for Arabic. The conjugations for verbs and nouns get confusing.

Second place would probably go for any Asian language, because the structure is different. I don't think I could ever learn Japanese to the point of having a deep discussion.

22 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-02 09:13 ID:aq+Ekxd3

chinese. simply for the fact that, you have to memorize each word individually before you can write/read it. whereas the other languages, you can phoenetically spell out the words. or atleast be able to read without knowing the words before hand.

23 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-05 04:13 ID:Heaven

Yes, but Chinese has several things going for it, like a lack of conjugation or noun genders like the Germanic and Romance languages as well as a simple and often logical grammar structure.

24 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-15 03:41 ID:6cMd/nZ2

If only Japanese hadn't incorporated characters from China, it would probably be the easiest language in that entire region.

25 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-16 08:48 ID:Heaven

Eh, I dunno. Reading kanji is difficult and a chore, but reading only hiragana is even more annoying, and romaji feels... dirty.

And if you're doing what-ifs, if you ditch the Chinese heritage, there goes a huge chunk of the vocabulary as well. Especially those pesky kanji compounds.

26 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-21 12:37 ID:Heaven

A Chinese person told me you could to some extent pronounce the Chinese characters from their looks. I wouldn't know, though...

27 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-30 13:55 ID:z5WxerLx

>>26 Same goes for japanese. Kanji are (except for the very basic ones) made from two or more "radicals", with one or more being the meaning and one being there for the reading.
Obviously because kanji are originally from china it works the same in both countries, except for the actual pronounciation of course.

28 Name: me : 2006-05-30 23:19 ID:cEsRLGve

Korean is the hardest language tought by the Army. Navaho I beleive is the hardest for an english speaker to learn. Acording to The Army Korean Arabic and Chineese are Cat 5 everything else is below that.

29 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-06-02 16:30 ID:aAr8IjYW

wow very informative. I guess I would agree.

30 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-06-22 15:03 ID:o7O0AuJI

Apparently the Icelandic language is one of the hardest.
Navaho as well as Irish and Scottish gaelic languages were used in WW2 for quick coded transmissions on open radio transmissions.

31 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-06-29 13:26 ID:dKysAhsR

No one has mentioned finnish yet? strange, well that might be because no one actually wants to study it... but if you are looking for some crazy word conjugations, finnish is one full of those...

32 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-01 04:50 ID:xiDhrM8Y

I've heard Basque is one of the world's hardest languages, mostly because it developed in isolation and is unrelated to any other modern language.

33 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-01 05:24 ID:DTp+0ILR

Okay, first of all, the difficulty one has learning a language is directly proportional to its relatedness to ones own language.

For example, a person whose native language is limited to essentially consonant-vowel patterns (like Japanese) is going to have a very tough time learning a language with consonant-clusters (like English); whereas English is likely an extrmely easy language to learn for someone whose native language is Georgian, where consonant clusters on the order of seven-wide lurk, and four-consonants in a row are navigated with ease (English only has three consonants in a row at most).

A person whose native langauge has no tones (French) is going to have a very hard time learning a langauge that has tones (Chinese); whereas a Vietnamese, where tones abound, will have little or no trouble.

A person whose native language has a very limited set of vowels and/or consonants (Spanish) will have trouble learning a language with a rich set of consonants and/or vowels (French); whereas someone whose langauge is phonemically rich (Khoisan) will likely not have much trouble learning one that is phonemically limited (Bantu).

A person whose language is prepositional and whose word-order is Subject-Verb-Object (both in English), will have more trouble learning a language which is post-positional and whose order is Subject-Object-Verb (Japanese); whereas the SVO speaker will likely learn another SVO language with ease (English and Spanish), and similarly with two langauges that are SOV.

A person whose language doesn't inflect much (English) will have trouble learning a language that makes use of a lot of conjugation on verbs and declension of nouns (Fula).

So, a speaker of a phonetically limited, SVO, prepositional, toneless language is going to have a hell of a time learning a phonetically rich, SOV, postpositional languge that relies on tones.

This is why it is much harder for Japanese people to learn English than it is for us to learn Japanese: We have a phonetically rich language, Japanese is phonetically limited, we have consonant clusters, they essentially don't. Where we run into trouble is that we're SVO, they're SOV, and whereas Japanese relies on pitch-accent (a form of tones, but the tone changes over more than one syllable, where pitch means the difference between picking something up with a bridge or crossing chopsticks (ha(L)shi(H) vs. ha(H)shi(L));whereas "tones" is limited to changing over one syllable), whereas we are a stress-accent langauge, where stress can mean the difference between a big plastic disk and the act of putting something on that disk (a record vs. to record).

So, is there a hardest language in the world to learn? No. Are there harder languages to learn for certain groups of people than others? Yes.

34 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-06 10:30 ID:xiDhrM8Y

>Japanese relies on pitch-accent

I don't think there are all that many Japanese words that rely on pitch, and most of the time native speakers would understand what you're saying from the context.

IIRC, English has words that rely on pitch for meaning, but I can't think of any right now.

35 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-17 17:01 ID:FB9vKjmz

English words don't rely on pitch, at least not as far as I can think of, but there are many that rely on context for meaning.

36 Name: Einhander!anzteOw4H6 : 2006-07-19 05:03 ID:STq7iBk9

Questions rely on pitch. That's about it.

37 Name: The Prof : 2006-07-24 21:58 ID:74V8N6EV

They say Hungarian is a very difficult language to learn because the complex conjugating system. Yes, it could be difficult indeed. But I've managed to learn it... I'm a native speaker. :P

38 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-25 17:23 ID:Ex3Zs/UV

I actually found English is one of the hardest languages because there are lots of exceptions, and words have been adapted from many different languages... thus, there are lots of exceptions regarding its phonological features. someone said that there are some difficult aspects in french to learn but there are no exceptions. you understand the rule of french pronunciation, then you have done. but in English you cannot figure out pronunciation from spelling. in this sense, japanese is an easy anguage... well, my mother language is japanese!!

39 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-26 09:01 ID:kVJHtqkJ

I find Japanese a difficult language though. Learning kanji is already difficult on the first place (on, kun and nanori readings), and different levels of politeness in the language make it even harder to learn. It depends on your mother's tongue actually, Asian people may find it easier to learn other Asian languages (while this statement is not necessarily true since some Asian languages are way too different from the others), while European people may find it easier to learn other European languages. And Japanese also has too many, I'd rather say way too many homophones, which are really confusing (in that sense Thai and Chinese too). Somehow Asian languages tend to have difficult writing systems, which make them not easily accessible to people who want to learn the languages.

40 Name: Mineko : 2006-07-28 12:45 ID:pgEgi7eG

If you say kanjis are hard to learn, then the most difficult
language to learn is Chinese. It has nearly 8000 kanjis in
Chinese, while in Japanese only 2000 used in daily life.

41 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-29 02:23 ID:TPg2HO7T

>>but do chinese have many different pronunciations for the very same kanji?

42 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-29 02:24 ID:TPg2HO7T

but do chinese have many different pronunciations for the very same kanji?


43 Name: Mineko : 2006-07-29 03:49 ID:pgEgi7eG

Don't ask me. But I guess no. Even if each kanji in Chinese
has only one pronunciation, so many kanjis remain to be enough
to discourage people from learning Chinese. One of my colleagues who majored in Chinese at college said that Chinese
is not so difficult for Japanese to read, but very difficult
to speak because of the complexity of pronunciation.

44 Name: Leia : 2006-07-29 14:36 ID:qJls74kr

Finnish is pretty nutty. 15 cases??

45 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-07-30 01:30 ID:TPg2HO7T

Even some of the simplest japanese kanjis have so many different readings which are confusing somehow. And I haven't included nanori readings yet, which are hell. I have one friend who knows both Chinese and Japanese and he said that learning Chinese is easier as compared to Japanese. If you're talking relative to complexity of pronunciation, I think Thai is harder than Chinese (or probably of equal learning curve).

46 Name: Mineko : 2006-07-30 13:29 ID:pgEgi7eG

Well, partly you are right. Chinese may be easier for
English speakers to learn than Japanese, because the sentence
structure (word order) of English is more like that of Chinese than of Japanese. For example, in English and Chinese, a subject ismost likely to come at the beginning of the sentence, and an object after the verb.

Well, in that sense, Chinese is easier to learn than Japanese.
But I'm convinced that it is harder to learn new words or
Kanjis in Chinese than in Japanese.

47 Name: CryptoLinguo : 2006-08-03 00:45 ID:44QqnRK6

In the US Military, it is korean. You have to not only consider the language, but what conditions you are learning them under. The korean curriculum is rediculously difficult. you only have 63 weeks to be able to speak fluently and listen fluently and read fluently in topics from your family and every day necessities to politics, accident and crime reports, and economics.

Also, the grammar in korean is so bass-ackwards from english I've known every vocab word in a sentence and still not understood it because of the grammar differences. Chinese has different grammar from english, but in actuallity it is also a bit similar. Plus they have words for rediculous things like 2 girls that fail their college entrance exam so they jump off of a pier and drown for 1 word... gah i'm sick of this language :-/

The hardest are easily Korean Chinese and Arabic though, as previously mentioned.

48 Name: Mineko : 2006-08-03 09:06 ID:pgEgi7eG

>have to not only consider the language, but what conditions you are learning them under.

I think this is out of point, because the conditions under which you learn a foreign language are variable
and not an objective or essential problem in
discussing the "difficulty"
of languages. Here we should focus only on the complexity of
grammar and vocabulary, that is, the purely linguistic aspects of
learning foreign languages.

49 Name: Zhou Zhenning : 2006-10-21 03:51 ID:S1xurezn

Since not too many people seem to be familiar with Mandarin Chinese (as opposed to the ever-popular Japanese), I'll spit out the little I know. First of all, Chinese characters aren't kanji; they're called "hanzi" (approx. pronounced hahn-zuh). Second, Chinese has around 10,000 hanzi in common usage, though you will probably only need around 5,000 to read a newspaper. Third, yes, Chinese hanzi do have multiple pronunciations and meanings. While most only have maybe two or three, some, like the character 才, have as many as several dozen, depending on compounds and context. And then, each syllable can be pronounced four different ways (five counting light tone). And then, each of these pronunciations is associated with different characters, anywhere between five and seventy-five. In short, it's a tangled web.

And that's just Mandarin, the "easy" Chinese. I've heard that some Min dialects have nine tones or more. Ouch.

So I'd say Chinese is pretty difficult, if not the most difficult.

50 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-03 16:33 ID:bcgO9JC8

Assembly, anyone?

51 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-09 02:06 ID:WY3PFuXd


I learned assembly in one semester
Theres no way I could learn chinese in a semester.

Maybe if you'd said "machine"....

52 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-11 23:17 ID:OHFBz1VT

The x86 assembly language has about a hundred basic instructions.
Piece of cake.

53 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-19 03:11 ID:7Ncl2u2W

I would think Korean and Thai are pretty difficult, considering all the "levels" of speech and keeping track of different pronouns. And Korean has those tensed consonants which tend to be difficult for English speakers, and Thai is tonal of course.

Both seem to be very challenging to me, but I've never really researched any African languages, many of which are also tricky.

54 Name: Zack : 2006-12-22 06:03 ID:+RMVONkE

Wow a lot of people thought Chinese, Japanese, and Korean language are the most hard in the world. Well in my opinion, I would say no.

Chinese's grammar is much similar to English, but reason why it is easy because it don't have injecting verbs, like English have "Went" instead of "Go", "BecAme" instead of "BecOme", "WalkED" instead of "Walk", "Saw" instead of "See", so on.

Chinese DON'T have that kind.

Japanese do. For example:

tabe= eat

tabemasu- is eating
tabemashita- ate
tabemasen- is not eating
tabemasen deshita- was not eating
tabemasho- let's eat

so on..

But Japanese CAN be easier than Chinese because Japanese only have 2000 kanji compare to over 50000 characters inside Chinese language alone.

I am not sure about Korean, but I think how Korean's alphabets "Hanguel" reading are very annoying, like have to recognize a letter in whatever sides it is on in one word. I've tried one but I ran away from it.

English COULD be hard too. It has to memorize the spelling while Chinese DON'T!

It's just depends whole world-wide languages could be easy or not.

55 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-24 17:58 ID:vwVnxakR

The basic mechanics of Japanese aren't difficult, they are simply so opposite of Indo-European languages that expressing yourself can be difficult if you don't completely immerse yourself in the Japanese language environment. Plus, learning Kanji is not only difficult, but necessary, especially with a language that has so many homophones.

56 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-27 01:40 ID:7Ncl2u2W

Learning Kanji isn't really all that bad and there are only like 2,000 or so to remember, and if you forget one occasionally you can write in hiragana, which is very consistent.

Lao, Thai, Burmese and Khmer scripts, whose writing have the same origin, and have many similarities. The pattern of reading can be a bit tiresome because of how vowel and tone marks are laid out, and they all have complex systems of how they fit together.

Chinese has a lot of characters, but there are patterns in them because most have a phonetic component, and there are only a couple hundred syllables used in most Chinese languages. It's not terribly different from English, which doesn't really follow its phonetic system too well, and most English speakers have to rely on memorization of word components, so we know with "ough" not to pronounce "gh", as well as the "ou" is different depending on the word, e.g. "through" vs. "dough".

I think people just get little overwhelmed about having learn a new way of writing, but once you get used to it, it seems completely natural.

57 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-27 13:54 ID:Heaven

> we know with "ough" not to pronounce "gh"

"trough", "cough", etc.

58 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-28 04:39 ID:wJsS5kXJ

Korean isn't hard at all, especially with it's phonetic alphabet. Just because it's an East Asian language doesn't automatically make it hard. Maybe the pronunciation, but learning it is no harder than any other language.

59 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-12-31 17:09 ID:+voMaBx3

Well, Korean is undoubtedly difficult if you are expected to master it in 36 weeks, like troops in the US forces of S.Korea. Ouch.

60 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-01-01 18:02 ID:Heaven

영어 할 줄 아세요?

61 Name: lesya : 2007-01-15 07:44 ID:lwXl67Ix

english is the eithiest to learn the only thing it's spelling. other than than grammar is so easy

62 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-01-15 14:02 ID:j2z23lX1

There are a lot more than 2000 kanji. Especially on the internet people use far more than that, because the IME makes it very easy to write them.

Kanji is the easiest part of learning Japanese. Hiragana all blend together, kanji is much easier to read.

63 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-01-15 15:34 ID:oBKxkyM/


From what I know, English is one of the hardest languages to learn, overall.

64 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-01-15 22:24 ID:9iUuY3eb

"kanji is much easier to read"

65 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-01-17 00:11 ID:Heaven

>>63 I am a native English speaker, and I partially agree with this. English has like WAY too many words, all with different spellings that have to be memorized (which in a way is similar to Chinese, IMHO) but people can't remember that "no one" is two words but "anyone" is one. However, because the language is spoken in so many different countries, there is a tolerance for variants and errors, and the grammar is pretty easy other than the tenses, but once again, it's tolerated.

>>64 it's true. Read it in straight up kana and you'll know what I mean.

66 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-01-17 18:23 ID:qVnXruQQ

I think >>62 meant "Kanji makes reading Japanese text easier". That is, when enough Kanji are learned.

When kanji are used in long sentences, it's much easier to see where the words are separated.

67 Name: Kenji : 2007-03-14 10:33 ID:DTGcR9oy


68 Name: lol : 2007-03-17 23:01 ID:b2xXcooN

i learnt english as a second language and in about two weeks i was alright at it. seriously. it's not that hard. XD i think hardest languages would have to be... ooh chinese or russian!

69 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-20 04:34 ID:Fhp+kh4+

I think linguistic isolates and languages lacking common thought elements are hard. For example, Basque, Navajo, Ainu and other such languages with few ties to modern language trees, as well as common concepts lacking. For example, Navajo has no tenses, since Navajo has no way of expressing time.

70 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-20 20:49 ID:9DRKm3g8


Yes, or georgian. If you're choosing from languages with speakers.

Mainly because of difficulty in locating people who speak them and information, and because of grammar and non-patterned behaviour.

71 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-21 23:07 ID:Gd+DlvAQ

I'd go with ancient greek.
I am greek and ancient greek is a fucking nightmare.

72 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-22 16:32 ID:U0rPMkqB

body language

73 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-25 19:11 ID:QJBMoHVF

A friend of mine (native English speaker) who knows like 6-7 languages said Russian was the hardest for him to learn.

74 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-03-28 14:53 ID:w5qTEnHj

broken english.

75 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-07 09:16 ID:fR41YCSq

>>34 Japanese words do rely on pitch. It's just like someone speaking English with the wrong accents. It's possible to understand what that person means thought effort, but they are /not/ speaking English as any native speaker does.
>>35 English words do rely on stress (which contrary to popular belief does rely on pitch primarily not loudness). 'Whitehouse' (where the President's office is located) is pronounced different from 'white house'
(a house that is white).
>>68 You may have learned to say things in English in two weeks, but you did not learn English in two weeks.
As for my own idea of the hardest languages, I can only speak from an native point of view of a native English speaker who is good at syntax/morphology but bad at discriminating pitch. With that said, I'd say Chinese for speaking/listening. Tones are difficult for me to discriminate within a syllable because the more subtle differences never really mattered that much in English. However, writing in Chinese is very easy for me. The syntax isn't difficult at all and hanzi is not incredibly difficult if you can remember them (which, yes, can to some degree be predicted by their sound 教(v. jiao1) 教(n. jiao4) 快(adj. kuai4) 筷子 (n. kuai4zi)). But learning Chinese did help my ability to guess on-yomi and the meanings of compounds (even if I can't read them).

76 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-09 14:59 ID:Heaven

To me, hanzi/kanji don't seem as hard as people say. It's just a matter of quantity really, it takes a lot of time and patience. But when I see something like Arabic or Thai, it seems someho harder. It's just a long line of tiny characters thar all run together, and it makes me think "lol what". It's less to learn, but I think it would take me an inordinately long time to get familiar and comfortable with that kind of writing system. That is just me though, I don't know how many other people feel the same.

I agree with tones making Chinese very difficult, but the relatively simple grammar makes up for that a little, especially when compared with some other languages. I suppose it's just a different kind of complexity, so it's going to vary depening on how your mind works.

The hardest overall must be a language isolate, if only because it wouldn't have connections to any other language, making it equally hard for no matter what the learners native language is.

What about African languages though? I suppose none have been mentioned because knowledge of them isn't so common. I know there are a lot of tonal ones, and of course they come from whole other language families, so some must rank pretty high in terms of difficulty. And the same goes for a lot of other regions of the world. It makes me feel very small when I think about it; all I'm knowledgable about is European and East Asian languages, and a few random other things. There's whole language families that are just totally alien to me, and probably most people in this thread, since on the internet we mainly focus on Europe and Asia.

I just had a vaguely existential moment there... it makes me wish there was more time in the world to learn about these things.

77 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-15 19:57 ID:wuVKscEC

I tried a little while at learning reading Thai, and I might get back into it sometime. It is a little tricky, and the big issue with it is that there is the same problem that exists with English: spelling.

Some of more well-known African languages are Xhosa and Zulu, which have the famous click consonants. Those just sound difficult!

78 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-04-16 16:29 ID:fusrBNvF


There's no pronunciation difference between The White House and a white house beyond the article in front. What accent do you have?

I can't really think of any pitch accents in English either, but I'm not good at remembering that sorta thing. I definitely can't think of any words with the same spelling (i.e. hashi-chopsticks vs. hashi-bridge in Japanese) distinguished solely by pitch, just stuff like indicating sarcasm.

79 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-04 05:28 ID:uoOuPlWu

I am a Chinese myself n most of the time, even i dont even get a single word my mom says. im a disgrace to my race =( hey tat rhymes rofl . . . And have you tried remebering how to write Chinese? Hella different from how you normally talk!

80 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-14 00:59 ID:fR41YCSq

>>78 of course there is a difference. You may not ever have noticed but in 'Whitehouse' (the noun), normally white receives primary stress. In 'white house' (the adjective and noun combination), house receives stress [because of stress clash rules]. It does not seem like a large difference in isolation, but if someone were to speak without negotiating stress in this way (saying both words with stress), you would definitely notice the difference. To convince yourself of this, just listen to a Chinese learner of English who can pronounce all the phonemes right but does not know the tonal prosody of English.

81 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-14 17:00 ID:fusrBNvF


Good point. I can hear the difference in a sentence, but as a single phrase it sounds the same.

82 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-05-16 14:11 ID:j2z23lX1

There are many English words distinguished by stress/pitch accent. Mostly they are nouns and related verbs, eg. record (noun) vs. record (verb), or pervert (noun) vs. pervert (verb), but I can think of two examples of unrelated words:
invalid (sick person) vs. invalid (not correct)
content (happy) vs. content (something inside)

83 Name: Born in the wrong part of the world : 2007-07-24 22:21 ID:74RJt3Ps

Even as a native speaker I say finnish is pretty hard >_<
But I have no trouble with Korean or Japanese!! That´s my luck ;)
And Really after few weeks of learning I can say Chinese is not so hard.. To read or write but oh so damn hard to pronounce xD

84 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-29 09:18 ID:kfnj2Scm

Troll bait? Or very ignorant poster.

I've noticed a lot of people raising the point about pronunciation. It think that English and Chinese are equally as hard in that aspect.

85 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-07-30 18:33 ID:suvxZ25/

I read Thai (also Lao, which is very similar), and I've taught it before, and I would argue that while spelling can indeed be tricky for the beginner (there are some loanwords from Indic languages that have strange spellings, some obsolete letters, and multiple letters with the same sound), it's much more regular than it looks at first.

Once you understand the relationship between the classes of consonants and and the tone system, orthography becomes substantially more phonetic. Although there is often more than one way to spell a given sound, there is only one way to pronounce any given written word. So it has at least one advantage over English.

I'd say the hardest thing for a Western language speaker to master when he or she starts learning to read Thai is usually the lack of spaces between words--if you're trying to look words up in a dictionary it's often hard to guess where to stop. Also, the fact that some letters are written before, under, around, on both sides of, or above the letters they follow phonologically is hard for some people.

86 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-02 22:19 ID:XMIgXuq0

The hardest language to learn if your native language is English is Hungarian. The 2nd hardest is Japanese.

Chinese is somewhere around 25th

Data from the CIA btw. They rate languages on a difficulty level for english speakers to learn. People studying Hungarian and Japanese have to take the most classes and do the most language training.

87 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-02 22:30 ID:XMIgXuq0


>But Japanese CAN be easier than Chinese because Japanese only have 2000 kanji compare to over 50000 characters inside Chinese language alone.

That is a bad comparison. There is only one way to pronounce each Kanji in Chinese, but there can be over 20 different ways to pronounce each Kanji in japanese, depending on what other Kanji it is paired with.

For example, for the Kanji 女 (woman)
It is pronounced "onna" in 女 (woman)
It is pronounced "jyo" in 三女 (third daughter)
It is pronounced "me" in 乙女 (virgin)
It is pronounced "nyo" in 仙女 (fairy)
etc, etc, etc. This is the same case for all kanji.

So there are like only 2000 daily use kanji in japanese, but since how you say each kanji changes with each word, it might as well be 5000000.

88 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-08-03 17:43 ID:T/xUg+n1


They're not so much pronouncing them, if I recall correctly, as assigning them words from their own spoken language. The kanji have a meaning, not a pronunciation, as far as they're concerned.

89 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-09-20 14:43 ID:y10euRfI

I think that is a strange aspect of Japanese. Any Japanese people has vocabularies that they can read and write but do not know how to pronounce.

90 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-09-23 01:08 ID:OC2Cf3qb


This is true to a lesser degree for any language, especially for those who read a lot.

91 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-09-26 23:56 ID:7tksGqXN

japanese is not hard, kanji isnt hard ethier , there are 2,000 kanji in general use , but if u know just the first 1006 u can read about 70-90% of a news paper , and i heard most mangas and video games dont use any of the other 1000, and if they do they most likely put furigana(they tell the u read of the kanji), i think korean is the hardest , many people have not heard korean to actullay understand its complexity , korean grammar is really
really different from english , and its is also very vague in speech. Korean Hangul is also sometimes very annoying, and many pronunciations are much harder than just than chinese , were you can easily research the tone, and once u get used to it , its easy, but in korean many consonant and vowel clusters are pronounced different than most indo european languages. Also chineese characters arent like super bad , first to be able to read a newspaper u need to know about 4,400, to much over , and (im not sure on this) most likeley just like japanese , u only need to know about 3k to read 70% of it , and most of it you could probably infer from context.
Japanese is probably the easiest language of the asian languages, japanese conjugation rules are really easy, with only 2 irregular verbs, almost all conjugations can be even further conjugated becuase they all end the same
e.g. all japanese verbs end in u so for the verb "taberu" u drop ru and add the conjugation for desire"tabe+tai" i want to eat, then u drop the i and u put kunai and u get "tabe+ta+kunai" i dont want to eat m consequently, this is the same for adjectives , kawaii means pretty , u drop one i and u add kunai and u get kawaikunai=not pretty.

92 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-09-27 19:38 ID:NJfpLnjT


I'm trying really hard to figure out if this is serious or not...

93 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-09-28 02:39 ID:Heaven

try mastering English before you learn any more.
I'm not sure myself, but you've just witnessed the birth of a new kopipe.

94 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-04 09:00 ID:UYEo04H1

well I have heard people speaking Korean, the sound this people make are near impossible to ever reproduce. Even their names is only vowels which is impossible for a foreigner to distinguish, let alone to pronounce, so much that most Koreans choose an English name for themselves when immigrating. and its always paul, wendy jason or some name like that.

95 Name: L : 2007-10-04 17:20 ID:zyjfhXSm

First off, I'm a linguistic student studying English(US & UK version), Japanese(major in Kanto-ben, minor in Kansai-ben & Aichi-ben), Chinese(major in Mandarin, minor in conversational Cantonese), Deutsch(Standard), French(Minor take), Malay(Malaysian region), and Spanish(Minor in conversational).

Born as a mongrel that of Japanese and Chinese heritage. Brought up and educate in an International British Boarding School, and have lived in the English environment for more than 11 years. Have had a rich experience travelling around the globe in enriching and brushing up my languages to a certain extent level.

Well, when you speak bout which language is the toughest to master, I'd tell you guys, frankly, from my studies, experiences, environments I've dwelt in, and all -- Japanese is one of the toughest to master, followed by Chinese; as the pronunciation has to be very accurate and precise at all times, French taking the third place due to the difficulties one encounter always in pronunciation, lastly, English, though it's international, but as long as it's spoken and written generally, and even broken, English speakers tend to and/or will often understand what the shit you're trying to express to them, for real. If you're ever skeptical, why not drag some asian who's bad at english to speak english with you today, and see what I mean for yourself?


96 Name: L : 2007-10-05 15:41 ID:Heaven

Disregard all that, I'm a pretentious shit.

97 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-05 23:41 ID:ZpkeZih4


98 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-09 09:46 ID:iA4xcisi

Please don't tell me you're a Wikipedia user...

99 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-09 09:46 ID:iA4xcisi

Please don't tell me you're a Wikipedia user...

100 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-09 09:47 ID:iA4xcisi

Also, 100GET!

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