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.

168 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2008-11-25 18:26 ID:1/shwDVD

Anyone who has an idea what kind of a language Finnish is would agree on it being the hardest one, really!

169 Name: Living in China : 2008-12-15 08:37 ID:XjqiX1d0

I would say chinese is the hardest. you need lots and lots and lots of will power to keep going.

I live in china and i've been studying chinese for 2 years(only 1 in china). I am a native english speaker.

Grammer:doable but not as 'easy' as some other above have made it seem.

tones: verbally, they are a pain in the ass if you want to be perfect. however you don't need to be perfect to be understood. just pretty good.

Character system: while learning, it seems almost never ending. like its this black hole of knowledge for which your brain will never truly capture...until one day you sort of just...do. I've literally woken up one morning, and picked up something i was never able to read before, and all of a sudden it was making sense to me. Today I was reading chinese magazine without any difficulty. before i always had tons of trouble with the same issue. however, if i look at a newspaper, i am once again filled with dread.

Chinese is simply a lot of patience, waiting for your brain to come around and learn the abominable amount of information you need to make it work.

one other thing i hate. I have a horrible time distinguishing names from normal nouns unless the phrasing makes it super obvious. I guess that means i just need to see more names...

170 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-01-02 22:31 ID:FfGqEnEU

I know this is going to make me sound weird or something, but I really find that Chinese and Japanese were easy for me to learn... I'm by no means fluent in either, but I picked up lots of stuff really fast. I think it just depends on how devoted you are to learning the language, and I really think that you should make yourself have fun with it rather than putting stress on yourself when you learn it.

171 Name: shuukyou_gakusei : 2009-01-18 00:02 ID:jsFolgd5


172 Name: heh man!fi.Jek4HW6!!gGKYHXFO : 2009-01-20 02:37 ID:+jv8XjUX


173 Name: Ian : 2009-03-03 12:23 ID:fxu+8T7R

The top 9 hardest languages to learn in the world according to LexiBlog.

174 Name: The top 9 hardest languages to learn in the world : 2009-03-03 12:24 ID:fxu+8T7R

The top 9 hardest languages to learn in the world according to LexiBlog.

175 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-03-06 08:24 ID:gLOX1ihe

Ah, yes, I saw that on reddit. It is very inaccurate in its details, and generally misses the point, IMO.

176 Name: Roman : 2009-03-12 05:28 ID:5PEaXmwM

I was brought to USA when I was 12 years old and I can say that I know English now better than Russian. Russian words can change dozens of times, which is called a highly synthetic morphology. You can mold one word into dozens and then you can mold those words which can create a near unlimited amount of words that is why no one really knows how many words there really are in russian language. then after you done with morphology each word is then subject to six cases of nominal declension – nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, and prepositional.

Many people say that Chinese is the hardest, but I think it is one of the easiest ones. People get scared when they see something unfamiliar, like Chinese characters. But the characters are just pictures basically. each picture means something. there are no tenses as far as I know, which is good.
The hardest language of all, at least for me, are Nordic languages, such as Icelandic and Norwegian. I may break all my that with my tongue if I attempt to pronounce even one sentence in those languages.

177 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-03-12 21:10 ID:G45Dc6nm

Vagina. I try to speak Vagina sometimes but everything comes out muffled.

178 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-04-04 10:57 ID:MzExQBXB

german, with the hardest grammar.

179 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-06-21 15:57 ID:56DiEx91

How about Ubykh? It's phonology is the craziest I've ever seen.
2 phonemic vowels : /a/ and /@/
84 phonemic consonants : 31 plosives, 15 affricatives, 30 fricatives, 3 nasals, 4 approximents, 1 trill


180 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-06-22 10:40 ID:kF4XT71f

Yeah Navajo is hard as hell because you'll have one word for like 3 sided geometric shaped land form, and it's tonal as well, so you have to pick up on the subtleties of language more. Beautiful though.

181 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-06-23 12:52 ID:ruaLqA8F


Ubykh is extinct, so there's not much point in entering it into this debate. No-one speaks it any more.

182 Name: Mustahsan : 2009-07-13 04:41 ID:Qr4q2oTY


183 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2009-07-23 18:51 ID:BkodDKOk

Since this thread is already a near-meaningless opinionfest, I'll offer my opinions and personal experiences.

I'm a native speaker of American English, and have formally studied eight languages to date. I'm fairly proficient in six, and have limited functionality in another four. The hardest of all the languages I've studied to date (which range from Russian to Cantonese) was almost certainly Pāli, a historical Indian language that is the canonical language of Theravada Buddhism. Even though it's a dead language, it's still used in millions of people's daily ceremonial lives--it's a little like Classical Arabic in that respect. It's also had a significant influence on the vocabulary and grammar of the indigenous languages of modern Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia.

I found it difficult for three main reasons: first, it's a very highly inflected language, with three genders and eight cases. Case forms are often identical, but which forms look the same varies depending on classes of words, gender, and number. So while for some words the nominative, vocative, and accusative case endings look the same, for others it's the genitive and dative, or instrumental and ablative. The paradigms are very difficult to memorize, and it's often really hard to tell what case something's in as a result. Even my Sanskrit student classmates were confused, and the two languages have a lot in common. The next incredibly difficult aspect is compounding--it's really hard to parse morphemes. After two years of dedicated study, I had no more than the most basic of reading abilities.

Adding further insult to injury, it no longer has any indigenous script--it is written in different alphabets in all the countries in which it is used or studied (modified Thai script(s) in Thailand, modified Devanagari in India, modified Burmese in Burma, etc.) Each orthographic system that's been superimposed upon it has influenced local pronunciation. So a Thai monk, a Sri Lankan monk, and a Hindi-speaking professor would read the same text in accents that are almost mutually unintelligible. Not that critical for a language that isn't spoken? Well, yes and no--nobody speaks it in conversation anymore, but millions of people chant in it every day.

184 Name: Nil : 2009-08-04 21:08 ID:xSWfxRTL

Just a remark for the hungarian part.
-ban,-ben = in
-ba,-be = to

"Magyarországban" means "in Hungary".
"Magyarországba" means "to Hungary".

185 Name: usude : 2009-08-07 05:37 ID:8yUWXGaM

The hardest in the military is Korean, beating even Japanese.


186 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-08-27 17:20 ID:r8ooUcEq

Really? no ones gunna say it? ....sigh.. alright ill be the one. Comunicating with women. Like trying to learn the language of a brick wall no matter where your from. there i said it. NOW QUICK!! some one call me sexist!!

187 Name: asdf : 2009-10-29 04:01 ID:zBPzQ80U

it is scientifically proven that korean is the most hardest language to learn, and it really is hard. However, people always have to keep in mind that the hardest language is chosen by what kind of language they are speaking as their first language.

188 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-11-03 23:37 ID:Heaven

I wouldn't call Korean the hardest language to learn. It's certainly difficult especially if you have no prior experience with other East Asian languages (namely Japanese whose grammar is strikingly similar). For English speakers, I think the most difficult language to master would be Arabic, followed by Japanese and Korean and then Mandarin Chinese.

189 Name: Bilingual Anonymous : 2009-11-10 13:51 ID:ZhrQ/Riu

I heard that in Korean language there's countless dialects/grammar sets to use in specific situations. (the terminology I used probably isn't perfect, so kindly excuse that) He said something like "Talking to your grandmother and talking to a store clerk ain't even the same language." Can anybody add/comment on this? How he described it sounds a lot more complex than say, Japanese which just has suffixes to add a level of politeness and dialects for use in different areas which mainly just modifies some words with the basic logic being relatively the same.

Saying this for the people who need to hear it. (Those who don't know who they are and I thank you for contributing) Keep in mind that this thread is not absolute, you're not deciding, you're discussing. And try to cut the "I am a professional linguist, I studied Japanese (a lot), Italian (a little), Brainfuck (my mother tongue) for 10 years at Harvard," etc. out of your posts. If your opinion would matter, it would be based on the content of your post and not your alleged past experience.

190 Name: Bilingual Anonymous : 2009-11-10 13:52 ID:Heaven

(Those who don't need to hear it know who they are and I thank you for contributing)

191 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-11-17 19:39 ID:uGJnHs+o

the hardest language to learn is a language that doesn't use the alphabet of your native tongue.

192 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-11-30 02:03 ID:C0ls7KBl


What is your source for Korean being the hardest in the Army?

193 Name: That Polyglot Bastard : 2009-12-04 00:26 ID:BkodDKOk


>>the hardest language to learn is a language that doesn't use the alphabet of your native tongue.

Not necessarily true, in my experience. I've studied languages using seven or eight writing systems, and learning the alphabet has never been the hardest part.

But many people seem to find new scripts intimidating--for example, when I first started studying Russian in high school, most people's first reaction was "Wow, that's so hard, the alphabet's different," which any student of Russian knows is a ridiculous thing to say. Yes, Russian's a challenging language to learn. But you'll know the alphabet before the end of the first lesson.

194 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-12-11 16:49 ID:m6OXibkw

i havent learnt that many languages but i can definitly say that Mandarin is NOT easy as some of you have said. Just being able to listen and speak does not mean you have learnt the language. There is no 'alphabet' for chinese, unlike korean and japanese where if you can speak the language then there is a high chance you can read most things you see everyday.(not including the complex japanese texts which use a tonne of kanji, which are chinese characters.)

When it comes to speaking a language japanese is definitly easier than korean and chinese simply because of the sound of words. You can have a horrible accent speaking japanese but japanese people will still understand you. A horrible accent in chinese could easily make people think you are saying a totally different word. You cant say you can speak chinese if no one can understand your chinese.

195 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-12-19 11:59 ID:nYMUu/gn

not really.

196 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-12-19 11:59 ID:nYMUu/gn

The hardest still is German. It has the most complex grammar.

197 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2009-12-19 22:07 ID:9ezxW0JR

For an English speaker? Definitely not. German is quite easy, English is much harder I think. German makes sense most of the time, while English is riddled with exceptions :/

198 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-03-30 10:41 ID:DM8aJppk

Isn't it a little hard to distinguish the grammatical genders?

199 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-04-03 16:46 ID:cNVbqAOI


This discussion has collapsed on itself.


200 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-05-10 09:09 ID:Z5OeO6gx


>Mandarin and Cantonese are both dialects. They are not separate languages.

Replace Mandarin and Cantonese with French and Spanish, you got the idea.


>Cantonese is the older

Aren't they both descendant of Middle Chinese, that should make them equally old.

>It is the closest resemblance in linguistics to the Han Dynasty.

What about those Min or Hakka?

201 Name: madie : 2010-05-19 03:13 ID:53ZezmLy

in my experience with learning langauges and being a fluent english speaker I would have to say Hungarian and possibly Friasan are the hardest langauges for fluent english speakers.

202 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-05-23 04:15 ID:w5tosch6

I would say, for english-native speakers, that the hardest language is ranked as the following, with 1 the most difficult:

  1. Basque
  2. Hungarian
  3. Mandarin

203 Name: TIM : 2010-06-10 05:30 ID:TAvdyH/J

what's mean?

204 Name: Carl : 2010-07-04 13:39 ID:+YvYmW3d


205 Name: Lithuanian : 2010-07-24 12:43 ID:8jXdAdpi

english the hardest language... ? NO WAY. i dont agree ! have you ever tried to learn lithuanian ?! no ? so try. i bet it's more difficult than chinese or japanese . lithuanian- the hardest language .

206 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-07-31 19:49 ID:jDdUo1UC

Fuckin' hell yea man! Lituanica!

207 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-08-09 23:50 ID:eW8N/nIa

lithuanian is rediculous.

208 Name: Scatterbrain : 2010-08-23 04:16 ID:XGpHJiVT

Spanish is difficult in the conjugation of verbs, Japanese has two main complications (writing and grammar), Chinese has a very complex phonetics system.

Well, that's all I think.

209 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-08-25 16:11 ID:XtYZApEM

the hardest is Russian, maybe.

210 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2010-12-29 12:43 ID:1Oy4yY1e

Why isn't Irish?

211 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2011-09-08 07:06 ID:HV23r6qu

I find greek really really hard. I mean ancient greek.

212 Name: Anonymous Bilingual : 2011-11-29 22:31 ID:pHv/Mfpl

I'm not sure if anyone has said this already, but I've been told Thai is a difficult language because its tonal. So the pitch that you use to say something could easily change its meaning
I don't think I could live with that.

Korean grammar is complicated at times but the writing system is very simple,compared to Japanese and Chinese characters. I was able to memorize it in 3 days. But I guess it would depend on understanding of it.For example, one would have to understand that when the characters for 's' and 'i' are next to each other they are pronounced with a 'sh' sound.

Also, as an English speaker, Chinese pronunciation would be something very hard to perfect, in my opinion. The positioning of your tongue can have a lot of effect on how you sound.

But I would think that your native language would affect your ability to grasp certain languages..

213 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2011-12-04 18:33 ID:z2y/NifG

Хтось говорить українською?

214 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2012-06-17 15:36 ID:O7dMY7Fn

215 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2012-06-18 21:14 ID:9qk6JhbM

Try Aymara and its trivalent logic system on for size.

216 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2012-08-23 20:32 ID:Y6/69v/c

Polish and other slavic langs are hard. and czech sounds for polish people like using diminutive forms of polish words lol.

217 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2012-08-25 08:53 ID:ZEezznYK


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