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View Poll Results: ???
English 12 8.33%
French 5 3.47%
Russian 10 6.94%
Chinese 52 36.11%
Japanese 19 13.19%
Arabic 14 9.72%
Spanish 0 0%
German 3 2.08%
Italian 1 0.69%
Another 28 19.44%
Voters: 144. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-19-2011, 05:30 AM
 
Location: Tower of Heaven
4,023 posts, read 7,374,204 times
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I heard it's Chinese or French or Russian.
I'm french and I know it's a complicated language, I learn Russian and I know it's very hard (really hard, but I like it).
English seems pretty easy for me, but I guess a Japanese wouldn't be agree with me lol
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:44 AM
 
13,496 posts, read 18,195,836 times
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I would think that any language with tones, such as Chinese, or a click language, such as Xhosa.

My experience is limited to European languages. I found Greek difficult because it seemed to have so many irregulars and exceptions to its rules.

Irish is difficult to speak well because the pronunciation of consonants varies in ways that are very subtle to an English speaker, and its grammar is very complicated.
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:47 AM
 
Location: Denmark
657 posts, read 697,560 times
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I believe Chinese pronunciation is as hard as it gets, being a tonal language and all. add to that the 4000 or so hanzi you need to master to be fluent and you have quite the task ahead of you
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Old 01-19-2011, 05:47 AM
 
Location: Lowell, MA
6,926 posts, read 6,552,163 times
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I once read that Chinese was the most difficult language to learn with English second!!
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Old 01-19-2011, 06:31 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
9,367 posts, read 14,313,867 times
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As a native English speaker, my first foreign language was Latin. From that perspective, none of the modern Romance languages is too difficult, especially after mastering one or two. Though, perhaps ironically, I never mastered reading Latin.

Much later in life, I studied various forms of Greek, achieving reading fluency in some genres of koine Greek and perhaps intermediate stage in conversational modern Greek.

Indeed all forms of Greek, even the modern Greek, supposedly simplified, are much harder than the modern Romance languages: to build on kevxu's comment, the inflections for many, many verbs really have no rules, you have to learn them one by one, more than 130 or so patterns, if memory serves, perhaps significantly more. In contrast, Spanish, for example, has three verb patterns and a number of exceptions that you can count on one hand.

I tried Hungarian, not on your list, which is even harder than Greek because in addition there are numerous noun inflections.

At one time or another, I also looked at Czech, German, and Russian, but never really had the motivation to follow through.

If I could do it over again, in addition to the modern Romance languages (at least Italian), I would be more fluent in both classical and modern Greek, Hebrew, but also modern Turkish (also not on your list) and even Arabic if I could squeeze it in: culturally, at least, a great part of the world.

One man's experience.

Does anyone know, from the perspective of a western European or native English speaker, how Turkish ranks in difficulty?

Last edited by bale002; 01-19-2011 at 06:58 AM..
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Old 01-19-2011, 07:38 AM
 
Location: Macao
16,259 posts, read 43,201,108 times
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Actually of the TONAL languages, Mandarin Chinese is one of the easiest. Mainly because the grammar is similar to Latin Languages. Plus no verb conjugations. Plus, ONLY 4 tones. (The written is difficult, but not the spoken language).

However, Cantonese IS one of the hardest one - 9 TONES! Which is one of the highest amounts of tones.

Another I believe is quite difficult is KHMER (Cambodia). It's not tonal, but had something like 47 different vowels....many of which can be quite difficult to duplicate.
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Old 01-19-2011, 08:13 AM
 
170 posts, read 769,176 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bale002 View Post
Does anyone know, from the perspective of a western European or native English speaker, how Turkish ranks in difficulty?
It's very difficult due to the 'ü' 'ö' like 'Türkiye' (Turkey), 'Günaydin' (Good Morning) or 'Atatürk' (Famous politican). Although, Turkish has the Latin alphabet (they changed it from Arab Alphabet in 1930 or something like that.) there is a sizeable number of 'own' letters.
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Old 01-19-2011, 01:23 PM
 
Location: Miami, FL
187 posts, read 541,786 times
Reputation: 187
It really depends on your native language. For native English speakers, I believe it is Japanese. Completely different sentence structure, plus you have all the different levels of politeness, which are expressed through using honorifics. It can be considered very rude to leave out honorifics when talking. Chinese is not that hard, maybe writing, but the spoken language is fairly similar to English. I have a friend who speaks fluent Mandarin as a native language and while I can't understand, I can see some similarities when she translates to English. Never really understood how to tell between all the tones though. Oh, this is just for Mandarin, I'm not sure about Cantonese but they sound very different.
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Old 01-19-2011, 02:54 PM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,026 posts, read 24,630,992 times
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Hungarian , Finnish, and Basque .
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Old 01-19-2011, 03:07 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,554 posts, read 86,992,173 times
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Navajo. I think there is no historical record of any adult ever successfully learning Navajo well enough to carry on a simple conversation.

The OP question is dependent on the definition of the word "learn". Many languages (like Mandarin) are very easy to get a grasp of at a simplistic level, but mastering the language formally is exceedingly difficult. Languages spoken by the Bushmen of southwest Africa are relatively simple, grammaticaly, but they are spoken with a dozen implosive phonemes that are almost impossible for a newcomer to differentiate and pronounce intelligibly.

There was the famous joke about the British professor who wrote home from a holiday in Athens explaining that children there are extremely intelligent. They have all mastered Greek by the age of ten and speak it quite fluently, but with a terrible accent.
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