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Thread: What's the most difficult language you've taken to learn?

  1. #1
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    What's the most difficult language you've taken to learn?



    I am currently learning four different languages at the same time.
    French, German, Italian and Filipino/Tagalog.

    Even though German has basically a similar grammar to the English, German is the most difficult language for me to learn, because German language's morphology is richer than that of English. It makes the distinction between nominative and accusative cases of three genders. It also distinguishes the cases of "wo" and "wohin".

    There are four forms: masculine, feminine, neuter and plural. And there are four grammatical cases: nominative, genitive, dative and accusative. And they apply to all articles like definite articles (der, das, die), indefinite articles (ein, ein, eine), demonstrative articles (dieser, dieses, diese), possessive articles (mein, mein, meine), etc.

    In feminine, neuter and plural forms of the German articles, the nominative and accusative cases are the same. But as for masculine form, the articles has a distinction between nominative and accusative. However, I had quite little trouble with the articles and pronouns, except for the dative.

    Examples of wo/wohin.
    Ich gehe in den Wald
    I go into the forest.

    Ich bin im Wald
    I am in the forest.

    I had trouble remembering the differences between the accusative and dative cases of wohin and wo.

    Furthermore, some of the German prepositions are different from English prepositions, so I had to remember hard to find a correct preposition to use in a sentence.

    Also, There are main clauses (Hauptsätze) and subclauses (Nebensätze)
    the subclauses use SOV (Subject-Object-Verb) word order. So each time I put a subclause in a sentence, I had to make a mental note to put the verb at the end of a subclause, although I till keep making that mistake because I'm not used to SOV.

    But one of the factors that made my learning of German easy was that a German verb use a few conjugations, although more conjugations than English has while the person cases of Italian verbs require all conjugations.

    German verb conjugation:
    ich mache- I make
    du machst- you make
    er/sie/es macht- he/she/it makes
    wir machen- we make
    ihr macht- you (pl.) make
    sie machen- they make, you (formal) make

    Italian verb conjugation:
    io parlo- I speak
    tu parli- you speak
    lui/lei parla- he/she speaks
    noi parliamo- we speak
    voi parlate- you (plural) speak
    loro parlano- they speak

    English verbs use only one conjugation: Third person singular. All the other person verb conjugations are the same. That is one of the reasons why English is very easy.

    Italian is also very difficult because it has four forms: masculine singular, feminine singular, masculine plural and feminine plural. All the person cases of Italian verbs are required to be conjugated in every tense: present indicative tense, present perfect tense, imperfect tense, future tense, present subjunctive tense, present conditional tense, future perfect tense, past perfect tense, past conditional tense, past subjunctive tense, past absolute (passato remoto), etc. Which can be said similarly about French.

    French is relatively easy, because of its simple grammar. In French, the usual word order for affirmative active sentences is SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) except in the case of object pronouns, while the word order for interrogative sentences is usually VSO (Verb Subject Object). But for object pronouns, French uses SOV.

    example:
    je parle a l'ami.
    je lui parle.

    Also, in French, to combine an article with the three cases applies to only one article in the masculine and plural forms: Definite articles. Unlike German, French doesn't apply that rule to other kinds of articles like indefinite articles, possessive articles and demonstrative articles.

    Le garçon/les garçons
    Du garçon/des garçons
    au garçon/aux garçons

    un garçon
    d'un (de + un) garçon
    à un garçon

    ce garçon
    de ce garçon
    à ce garçon

    son garçon
    de son garçon
    à son garçon


    English is a germanic language with a vocabulary, of which 60% are from French origin. It was my first language, but I had some troubles using English grammatically properly, even though I can clearly understand the rules of the English language.

    Lastly, Tagalog is the second most difficult language for me being a native English speaker, because it is not an European language. First, it uses VSO (Verb-Subject-Object) order. And it is an ergative-absolutive language, not a nominative-accusative one. German, French, Italian, Spanish and English are nominative-accusative languages.

    Ergative-Absolutive language:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ergativ...utive_language

    Tagalog grammar:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tagalog_grammar


    Tagalog grammar has pretty complex syntax, semantics and morphology different from European languages . To conjugate a Tagalog/Filipino verb in any tense is pretty difficult. Ligatures and articles of names and nouns are among the easiest linguistic features of the Tagalog/Filipino language. Unlike European languages, Tagalog applies the articles to the persons' names.

    For example:
    ganda= beauty (noun)
    maganda= beautiful (adjective)

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    Well, I've not tried learning many languages - only French, Japanese, Russian and Latvian, and those last 2 I haven't done much of. I am still very much a beginner in Japanese and Latvian, but out of the two, I find Latvian much harder to get an immediate grasp of, because it uses 7 cases and so there is quite a lot of grammar learning right at the beginning. Japanese of course has the difficulty of kanji, but that isn't quite as hard as I expected. The grammar is also easier for a beginner - but I expect that difficulty to increase as I start learning more, because no grammar is really 'easy'!

    French I didn't find really difficult at all, but I was learning that since the age of 5 (maybe a bit younger) and also the alphabet is Western so... not the kanji or cyrillic script difficulty.

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    If we includes languages which I stopped quickly because they seemed too difficult, I'd say Gaelic (esp. Irish and Scottish varieties), Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit.

    Among those I have continued till a fairly or very fluent (or native) level, French is certainly the most difficult, followed by Dutch, then Japanese.

    The easiest was Italian. I learned a bit of Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia, and it seemed by far the easiest language I have come across so far. I managed to make myself understand after 2 weeks from a zero-beginner level (but I have since forgotten most of it as I have only used it for about a month, 6 years ago).

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    The languages I am studying right now are Japanese and French, but they're not that difficult to learn. The hardest language I've tried to learn had been Arabic and German.

    Arabic doesn't seem to have a rhythm to and I don't know what I was thinking about when I decided I wanted to learn it.

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    I think Finnish is quite hard to learn, not to talk about talking ! I'm not actively studying, but I'm learning from friends.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ma Cherie View Post
    The languages I am studying right now are Japanese and French, but they're not that difficult to learn. The hardest language I've tried to learn had been Arabic and German.
    German was the 3rd easiest (after Italian and Spanish) of the 6 languages I have learnt seriously. It should be fairly easy for English speakers. The pronuciation is relatively easy, spelling is perfectly regular, grammar is very regular once you know the rules, so the difficulty is mostly the gender of nouns (only basic rules with lots of exceptions for that), care about declensions, and the rejection of the composed verbs at the end of the sentence. Dutch is quite similar to German, but more difficult for the pronuciation and more irregular, so I find it more difficult (despite the near absence of declensions).

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    I'm currently learning Mandarin which seems surprisingly easy, probably because I've found it the most enjoyable language to learn so far. One draw back is the need to learn the image of each individual character. The beauty of romanised languages is you can generally guess the spelling of a word by sound and structure conventions, I'm just not getting the hang of writing the characters accurately. I can recollect them but not recall them. I can read but not write.
    Latin was perhaps the hardest, staying awake long enough to learn the declensions and conjugations was an impossibility.

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    um.. well I haven't try to learn so many...


    I'm learning English since 4th grade, learned French and Latin in high school.. and last three years I'm learning Japanese... really cannot say which one is most difficult.. i guess Japanese (yeah, even more then Latin lol) because of whole different grammar and, hell - letters

    oh, yes, I started to learn Italian, but I quit due to lack of free time... but I found it really easy to learn!

    but I do heard quite often from many foreigners that came here and study Bosnian that it is really difficult.. but I doubt I'm in advantage of other people because of this.

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    Hmmm... Hungarian is difficult because it isn't related to other European languages except (distantly) to Finnish, so there aren't little cues and similarities to help you "cheat" when learning it.

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    Hmm, I would have to say Japanese is the most difficult to learn, which unfortunately I feel like I have given up on. Chinese pronunciation was more difficult, but the grammar was easier. French I have always found difficult for the pronunciation, and some of the verb tenses. Getting the concepts wasn't hard, and we already use some French words in English (and of course 'murder' the pronunciation) so getting the meaning is made easier as they often share Latin roots with some English words.

    The easiest, actually Spanish, a language I have learned not so much of. Grammar, range of recognized pronunciation, structures, much easier than most other languages I have encountered.

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    I also forgot to add that the plural markers are one of the most difficult things to learn about the German language.

    There are too many different plural markers in the masculine, neuter and feminine cases.
    And they are also complicated by the inclusion of umlauts.

    Masculine nouns:
    Der Mann = Die Männer
    Der Freund= Die Freunde
    Der Name= Die Namen
    Der Herr= Die Herren
    Der Helfer= Die Helfer
    Der Gast= Die Gäste
    Der Vater= Die Väter

    Feminine nouns:
    Die Freundin= Die Freundinnen
    Die Verbindung= Die Verbindungen
    Die Schwester= Die Schwestern
    Die Mutter= Die Mütter
    Die Maschine= Die Maschinen
    Die Frau= Die Frauen

    Neuter nouns:
    Das Brot=´Die Brote
    Das Mädchen= Die Mädchen
    Das Auto= Die Autos

    German plural markers are far more extensive than the English ones, most of which attach the -s to the end of each word except for the words that end in -s, -sh or -x which are marked with the plural of -es (ex. class= classes, ash= ashes, fox= foxes) or those that end in-y are pluralized by -ies (sissy= sissies, dictionary= dictionaries).

    However some English words require the irregular plural markers like oxen (plural of ox), mice (plural of mouse), children (plural of child), alumni (plural of alumnus), data (plural of datum), octopi (plural of octopus), areolae (plural of areola), phenomena (plural of phenomenon), algae (plural of alga) etc

    There are more irregular plural markers in English than in French or Italian. French and Italian plural markers are easy to memorize because few of them are irregular.

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    In what other language than French can you say things in such a formal way that it bears no resemblence to the everyday language ? Compare :

    Normal : Si j'avais su que vous viendriez si tôt, je me serais preparé.

    Formal (old-fashioned) : Eussé-je su que vous vîntes si prestement que je me préparasse.

    Both mean exactly the same : "Had I known you would come so early, I would have got ready."

    This is the kind of thing that makes French so difficult. Some past and subjonctive tenses have become so rare that most native speakers cannot use them properly.

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    ^ I guess it's simply that old expressions go out of usage, and eventually they will die out altogether.

    There are some ways you could talk in English that would sound so ridiculously old-fashioned if anyone actually used them! Hast thou seen my toothbrush?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kinsao View Post
    ^ I guess it's simply that old expressions go out of usage, and eventually they will die out altogether.
    There are some ways you could talk in English that would sound so ridiculously old-fashioned if anyone actually used them! Hast thou seen my toothbrush?
    Yes, but "hast thou" is 16th century English, while my old-fashioned example is still used in contemporary French. 16th-century French would sound very weird, not just old-fashioned.

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    Japanese. I realise I should know, but grammar leaves me cold. I don't speak English wondering about grammatical structure, and children don't learn languages that way either. I'm learning Old English (Anglo Saxon) and know that I'll need to get to grips with grammar given the lack of online courses, but my personal preference is to learn languages the 'natural' way. Not right or wrong - just personal preference.

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    Russian was difficult for me, perhaps because of the Cyrillic alphabet.

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    it is much better to learn the langauge as a baby not when grown then it will coem easier to you.

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    None is...

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    I think German...

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    Japanese is very hard language even it's bit easy to me , Chinese and Arabic are difficult too . since my mother language is Arabic , it's easy to me but still we have some difficult words.

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    Hey,

    I'm new here and so goes a hello to all of you : D
    I'm from Germany, Berlin (But I speak "Hochdeutsch") and for myself French, Japanese and Norwegian are a problem. Actually Norwegian is a germanic language, but it has two absolute different accents (Bokmål and Nynorsk) which have partially absolute other words to describe and build sentences (for instance: I = Eg / Jeg), or the different uncertain articles (as: ei, eit, et, en) - but the pronunciation and the most of words are quite similiar and easy.

    French has (but I think this may be subjective) a very hard to master pronunciation (for myself) I find.

    Japanese has a really confusing grammar I find - the sentence structure is absolute different compared to the EU-ones, + the words aren't exist in the EU-ones. But that's just my experience.

    - Schöne Grüße aus Deutschland

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    French. I'd like to be able to naturally express myself as well as some writers and philosophers do.

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    German was the toughest for me.

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    I learned arabic,english,french and latin and latin was the most difficult and boring one..i still think my teacher didn't teach it always right..

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    Polish !! oh god, the pronunciation, all these consonnants, the spelling, the writing...
    I would also say gaelic irish. It's impossible to read a word like it's written.

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