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Old 02-23-2014, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theunbrainwashed View Post
I agree with you botticelli. Most people who claim to be multilingual almost always speak only western European languages. But what about Finnish citizens? Do they count? Their native language is an Asiatic one



Ex PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd, is fluent in Chinese I believe



According to the US Foreign Service, the hardest languages for Anglophones to learn is not Thai or Vietnamese, but Japanese, Chinese, and curiously enough, Arabic.
Hardness is subjective, and they do say that those languages are harder for English speakers than others on that level, so probably the same as the hardest. Considering spoken languages, I'd say they're definitely the very hardest. Vietnamese, for instance, has 6 tones instead of the 4 in Mandarin and pronunciations which are less similar. Thai, Cantonese, Vietnamese would certainly be more difficult than Mandarin.

It's funny how German is harder than a lot of less related language, so the idea that they're ranked on 'cultural difference' to English is silly, because Indonesian is ahead of a lot of European languages. Indonesian isn't hard, it's partly because they use the Latin alphabet, but how does it make it culturally more similar than say Greek?
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:45 PM
 
Location: Singapore
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Hardness is subjective, and they do say that those languages are harder for English speakers than others on that level, so probably the same as the hardest. Considering spoken languages, I'd say they're definitely the very hardest. Vietnamese, for instance, has 6 tones instead of the 4 in Mandarin and pronunciations which are less similar. Thai, Cantonese, Vietnamese would certainly be more difficult than Mandarin.

It's funny how German is harder than a lot of less related language, so the idea that they're ranked on 'cultural difference' to English is silly, because Indonesian is ahead of a lot of European languages. Indonesian isn't hard, it's partly because they use the Latin alphabet, but how does it make it culturally more similar than say Greek?
I agree that the level of difficulty is subjective. I once had a woman at my previous workplace saying that Tamil is the hardest language to learn because of how rapidly it's spoken and how much the tongue has to curl in order to achieve certain intonations. And she said that with such conviction. She happens to be one of those who goes to Paris and claims that the Louvre is boring and that it can be done in "a few hours". I could only roll my eyes at her myopic comment.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lepillow View Post
I agree that the level of difficulty is subjective. I once had a woman at my previous workplace saying that Tamil is the hardest language to learn because of how rapidly it's spoken and how much the tongue has to curl in order to achieve certain intonations. And she said that with such conviction. She happens to be one of those who goes to Paris and claims that the Louvre is boring and that it can be done in "a few hours". I could only roll my eyes at her myopic comment.
Well yeah. Japanese pronunciation isn't hard. I mean I've heard the Japanese is so hard thing to, but it also talks about MASTERING the language. I feel if one wanted to just casually learn the basics, Japanese is quite early. I mean or else why would Japanese be now the most studied language among school children in Australia? Either way, it's obvious far more people want to take the effort to learn Japanese than other languages because of their interest in Japan.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theunbrainwashed View Post
It depends on what your needs and goals are. If it's for the thrill of the challenge or you are interested in all things Japan, learn Japanese. If utility is what you are after, definitely learn Spanish. I'm already a native Spanish speaker, and I'm gonna learn Chinese (currently learning Japanese as I've been interested in the country for a long time) after I finish nursing school because it is the 2nd most spoken foreign language in my region of the US after Spanish. Plus, for me, eastern Asia is my favorite region of the world, doesn't hold a candle to Europe
Well, Chinese for me is a combination of thrill, challenge and utility. I am very interested in Japanese culture - probably more so than Chinese - but the problem is maintaining or retaining what you learn. Even with the amount of Chinese speakers in the US, it will still be a struggle to keep my level up here. I imagine Japanese would be much more of a problem in this regard. I was actually planning on studying it before Chinese, but I realized I just wanted to be able to watch anime without subtitles.

Spanish is (relatively) easy to learn, easy to maintain, and has wide utility throughout the world.
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:06 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I think if you learned Mandarin and Spanish you'd be able to talk to half of the world (plus knowing English of course).
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Well considering I've heard many Chinese themselves sometimes struggle, it would indeed. It seems most Chinese students tend to only really learn/use the basic characters unless they are interested in reading Chinese literature or media.
Typically, those who graduate from middle school can read newspapers without any problem.

In fact one only needs to master about 6000 characters to read newspapers and novels, which is accomplished at 15 years old. Many young children did read the famous works (e.g. Journey to the West, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms) by that time.

In China, students also start to learn Classic Chinese (a dead language) at grade 7. It is tested in the national college entrance exam too (for all majors). However, I would say the vast majority of high school graduates cannot read classic Chinese fluently.
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:14 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Originally Posted by Bettafish View Post
Typically, those who graduate from middle school can read newspapers without any problem.

In fact one only needs to master about 6000 characters to read newspapers and novels, which is accomplished at 15 years old. Many young children did read the famous works (e.g. Journey to the West, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms) by that time.

In China, students also start to learn Classic Chinese (a dead language) at grade 7. It is tested in the national college entrance exam too (for all majors). However, I would say the vast majority of high school graduates cannot read classic Chinese fluently.
I've always wondered how hard it would be to read Chinese. For one, the characters seem so tiny and intricate...wouldn't it hurt your eyes?
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
I've always wondered how hard it would be to read Chinese. For one, the characters seem so tiny and intricate...wouldn't it hurt your eyes?
Pattern recognition does not require you to look at all details, especially when you are fluent. Human eyes can recognize an image very fast.

English letters are about the same size as Chinese characters, in the published materials.
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:20 PM
 
Location: singapore
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nah it doesnt.. That's exaggerated to say it hurts eyes. Just my opinion
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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^ Oh okay. It's just sometimes, like in newspapers or say on the computer, the strokes are so small it looks just like one big black shape lol.
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