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lexico
25-03-05, 19:32
Multiple Poll: Click as many that apply to you.

Some people claim that their mother tongue is the most difficult language in the world. Some bilinguals and polyglots claim that the langauges they speak at a native speaker's level are some of the most difficult ones they know.

Why are people more harsh and discriminating with their own/favorite/most proficient languages ?

Are they more demanding with their favorite langauges, while more relaxed with other languages ?
Are they simply too proud to accept any other langauge can be more unique than theirs ?
Or are they just too knowledgeable of their own and hence more perceptive of the fine points, but relatively ignorant of others ?

To rephrase the question: Why are you harsh and demanding on your own langauge ?

In the following excerpt, you see a native speaker of French who also speaks English like, or better than, a native English speaker, claiming that French is the more difficult langauge, and English the easier, but still more difficult than Japanese.
I find English easier, simpler and more logical than my native language (French). In fact, I can't think of a more difficult language than French both for native and non-native speakers (especially non-native of course). It's just so irregular (grammar, spelling, reading), idioms are just so difficult to guess (in comparison "to pop one's clogs" or "to be on cloud nine" seem so obvious in English) and the pronuciation so unlike any other languages (for non natives)...

Just the idiom part is already extremely difficult in English (esp. if you add phrasal verbs and proverbs too), and they are so different in BrE and AmE that it would take a lifetime to learn them all (there are dictionaries only for idioms, only for phrasal verbs and only for proverbs). Even Japanese doesn't have really any idioms (=expressions which one cannot understand just by knowing the words it is composed of).

I think many people underestimate the real difficulty of English. Saying what you want is easy, but understanding all the words, idioms, slangs, regional differences, formality levels, etc. is almost impossible even for a native speaker.

In French, just making one correct full sentence is a challenge for non native speakers. As a matter of fact, I have never seen a French restaurant in Japan with a menu without any mistakes, except where the chef was French. EDIT: Thank you Bossel for your fine suggestions & poll revision. Thank you for lending your article Maciamo; it was the most articulate one in the category I could find. I appologize for using it without asking first.

bossel
25-03-05, 20:45
You left out another option: Because they don't know much about linguistics (&/or psychology).

Else it should be clear that it is very relative whether you conceive a language as difficult or easy.

Void
25-03-05, 21:59
Before comparing something one should define critirions of comparison, otherwise this doesn`t make any sense.

I wan`t make any straight statments concerning difficulties of the languages since I belong to the 10th group and know nothing about lingvistics

I consider Roman group of languages quite simular to Russian in grammar but little different in pronounciation and, maybe, less flexible in phrase and words construction (can i say so?). But, yet, i might be wrong, `cause i a am not even a decent speaker.
As about English it was easier for me to learn, but still i find their verb`s tenses sort of complicated.

i bet some languages are difficult in pronounciation, such as Chinese, of those of Northern Europe (Finnish, for example)

We do conjugate verbs in Russian but still Japanese sort of startles me (but challenges at the same time)

So, i think it`s just the matter of attitude toward your native language and to the other tongues and cultures
:-)

lexico
26-03-05, 00:40
Notwithstanding your wise remarks, it has also come to my attention that it was the firm believers of absolute knowlege and certainty that laid the foundations of our singular civilization on earth. Considering the fact that all these ideas of relativilty were indeed based on comparisons only made possible within the vast empires that brought together under one roof all concrete, local systems of absolute knowledge within the barriers, and the fact that the destruction of local varieties of certainty has been detrimental to the youths of the republic, it is now time to execute Socrates the philosopher king and bring back the muses to announce once again thru the singing mouths of the poets the obvious historical truths in broad daylight, of the battles and heroes on the hills of Ilion.

In other words, personal views are as valuable as abstract reasonings regardless of what linguistic theory might want to say; for even that will one day become outdated. How do you feel about your language ? :?

Maciamo
26-03-05, 03:34
I didn't understand immediately the question of this thread. First I thought the question was whether we spoke in a harsh manner (frankness, abruptness...), then I understood from the choices what it meant. Anyway, I forgot to choose "I have major complaints about it, s.a. pronunciation, spelling, incorrect usage, etc." so I added it manually (but my name doesn't show up).

Btw, thanks for quoting me about French, lexico. I'll try to explain in more details below :

The reasons why I find French so difficult are that :

- I have compared it with other languages I studied (Italian, Spanish, English, Dutch, German, Japanese...) and it is clearly more irregular grammatically, more difficult to spell (English comes 2nd), and with stranger idioms than any other languages I know (except English, which is similar).

- The fact that it has masculine and feminine forms, a lot of (irregular) conjugation, makes it more difficult than English or most East-Asian languages.

- Silent letters in about half of the words, and silent grammatical changes in most of the words, makes it quite unique among the major world languages (I don''t know any other language like that to be frank).

- I have taught the language in Japan, along with English and Italian, and realised that the Japanese found it so much more difficult to learn than English. Even those who had studied it in France had so much problem with the pronuciation that I had to ask all the time "What did you say?", something which always never happened when hearing "Japanese English", or "Japanese Italian".

- The only non-native French speakers I have met who spoke without an accent had spent most of their studies (eg. all schooling) in a French speaking environment. Many people who have studied for 5 years in France still speak with an accent. In comparison, it is much easier (for a French-speaker) to speak Italian, Spanish or Japanese with a native accent. The reverse is not true because there are 13 vowels in French, and only 5 in those 3 languages.

- Most non native speakers, even at a high level, and some native speakers, have problems with incorrect usages. Contarilly to English, French language (or people?) is very intolerant. There is only one right way for most grammatical and pronuciation aspects.

For example, I found the Japanese to be so tolerant of their own mistakes, often dropping the particles (wo, ga, ni, de...), or using one tense instead of another quite freely. English speakers would also tolerate that someone occasionally says "He do" instead of "He does", but French people would immediately point out the slightest mistake.

Part of the problem is that French speakers are too strict about how ther language has to be spoken, and that is partly why French cannot compete with English as a world language (many French people wouldn't even consider the French of Quebec to be French, but Quebecois).

- Finally, there is the politeness level (tu vs vous), which doesn't exist in English and is not used so strictly in other Latin or Germanic languages, except German. I'd say it is more difficult than the Japanese keigo, as every verb in French has a special polite form, while only a handful of Japanese words have a keigo form (taberu => meshiagaru). But as French has in fact 6 conjugation for each tense, that makes it much harder than to master a few irregular keigo words. Here is an example of the conjugation a the verb "to go" (from I to they):


Simple Present Imperfect Past Simple Past Future Simple

Je vais J'allais J'allai J'irai
Tu vas Tu allais Tu allas Tu iras
Il va Il allait Il alla Il ira
Nous allons Nous allions Nous allames Nous irons
Vous allez Vous alliez Vous allates Vous irez
Ils vont Ils allaient Ils allerent Ils iront

There is also the Composed Present, Composed Past, Composed Future, Conditional Simple, Composed Conditional, Present Subjuctive, Past Subjuctive, Imperative, etc. Much more tenses than in Japanese or Chinese.

I think there is as much difference between the informal form (tu vas) and the polite one (vous allez) as the "iku/iru/kuru" and "irassharu" in Japanese. Add to this that "tu vas" (present) is completely different from "tu allais" (past) or "tu iras" (future). There are hundreds of irregular verbs like that in French. Some tenses are even hard to remember for native speakers (same in other Romance languages, although with less irregulars). From that point of view English, and especially Japanese are quite easy.

- Contrarily to the popular belief, some European languages also have tones. Although not to distinguish different words like in Chinese, the use of tones in French is very important to understand the emotional meaning of the sentence. Like in other Romance languages (but not Germanic ones), a rising intonation indicates a question, without grammatical change necessary. I found this to be often misunderstood by the Japanese, although it is supposed to exist in Japanese too (eg. "iku!" vs "iku?"). When I didn't hear well what somebody said, I may repeat a word with a rising intonation. For French speakers, this means "Is it the word you just said?" or even "Do you really mean that?".

Likewise, an order (imperative) is said on a falling tone, while most words in French otherwise pronounced on a neutral tone (and almost no stress on some syllables, contrarily to English or Italian). This makes the usage of tones all the more effective to convey particular feelings. A high tone may imply surprise or excitement, while a low tone implies seriousness or bad mood. As I said, a rising tone is a question or doubt, whie a falling tone means an order or disagreement. I have found that most English and Japanese speakers just didn't get this kind of implied meaning. But it is part of the French (or Latin) way of speaking, although I don't know the linguistic term to describe it.

Index
26-03-05, 03:41
Very interesting poll Lexico, but I don't know which answer to choose because I'm not particularly demanding in my language use (in comparative terms, or in regard to others). Whilst I make efforts to speak as well and "correctly" as I can, especially with languages I am still actively learning, I wouldn't say that I feel or have even considered that one language could be easier or more difficult than another. In all honesty actually, I don't think any language is difficult, as a matter of fact I have realised that nothing is difficult-in situations where I find my knowledge lacking I just assume that I have not yet spent enough time on the subject at hand, or else that I have not yet found the most suitable way to go about studying that particular topic.

NB: I was demanding as a language teacher, but I suppose that is to be expected, if not demanded by the student.

Index
26-03-05, 03:45
- Silent letters in about half of the words,

Surely this would make the language easier, since you only have half the letters to enunciate... :giggle:

Maciamo
26-03-05, 05:13
Surely this would make the language easier, since you only have half the letters to enunciate... :giggle:

No, that makes the spelling much more difficult. For example English words like night, plough, etc. There aren't so many in English.

Index
26-03-05, 05:41
I wouldn't say that French (or any language for that matter) is more difficult than another because it has, for instance, more conjugations than another. For argument's sake, one could just as easily say that a language which has more conjugations is actually easier to learn because it makes expression more straightforward due to everything being specified and explicitly outlined. Alternatively, a language with less conjugations could be more difficult from the perspective of pragmatics because it is not immediately as obvious for the learner how certain ideas should be expressed.

One could also say that French would be easier to learn than Japanese (as an example) because French people are intolerant regarding language (according to Maciamo) and so are more likely to correct your mistakes than the Japanese who are sloppy with their language (eg. particles, again as Maciamo pointed out) and consider it impolite to correct someone.

The point is that ease or difficulty are subjective ideas which depend on one's point of view.

Glenn
26-03-05, 06:52
Really, can we do something about the auto logout after a certain amount of time? I had a long response typed up to Maciamo's post that I lost because of it, and I'm sick of this happening. I also don't have the compunction to type it up again (well, at least not right now). :auch::kaioken::banghead:

Maciamo
26-03-05, 09:30
Really, can we do something about the auto logout after a certain amount of time? I had a long response typed up to Maciamo's post that I lost because of it, and I'm sick of this happening. I also don't have the compunction to type it up again (well, at least not right now). :auch::kaioken::banghead:

I have never had this problem. Have you tried clearing your cookies ?

lexico
26-03-05, 11:24
Really, can we do something about the auto logout after a certain amount of time? I had a long response typed up to Maciamo's post that I lost because of it, and I'm sick of this happening.Sorry about that happening, Glenn. It is such a loss as we may never know the rare and precious insights which were lost in that system hiccough.

This is the fourth time I've heard of this problem in three months from users (including me), so I am quite surprised that you should have suffered, too. My problem disappeared when I reloaded my windows XP which probably wiped out all non-default settings and sneaky programs. Now it's purring like a cat, and no hiccoughs at all, so definietly you should look into that (of course after you're absolutely sure you've backed up all the files and favs you've made in you system.)

Void
26-03-05, 15:43
* gathering all the knowledge of English and reaching for some books *

After reading your post, Maciamo-san, i thought that French is no more
difficult than russian
So let`s see

Verbs
1. they are conjugated by both - number and person (6 personal pronouns) at least in past and present tense (in future tense different prefixes are often added), besides, in past time gender also matters
- there are 2 form of verbs (so one must memorize no less than 12 forms of conjugation)
- they can be perfective and imperfective; transitive and not; have imperative, conditional and conjunctive mood;

Others
2. The politness also exits in our culture. It not nice to say just you to a person of elder age or of a higher rank (like Tu and Usted in Spanish)

3. we are not really strict in order of the words (although, if i`m not mistaken there are some rules) But the chenges in it can result in the meaning of your phrase.
We also use raising tones to indicate the question, and mind hell a lot to the intonation

4. and btw, adding different prefixes and suffixes can change the meaning of the verb (or any other main part of speech), bring new hews and nuances. What woul you think of a word 'under-over-drink' - result of russian social folklore, on one hand completely meaningless and contradictory, but on the other...

5. i didn`t count ideoms... just wait... in one of mine books there are 594 of them (certainly, part of them came from other cultures, but still)

6. spelling also has its troubles even for native speakers

... well, that`s the long way to go... i am not trying to boast, just want to agree with others that difficulty of a language is subjective question

p.s. sharks! i mixed up prefixes and prepositions, my teacher would`ve killed me :p
:?

Maciamo
26-03-05, 18:36
Void,

Yo could also add the (7 ?) declensions in Russian. I agree that Russian is quite difficult, but I was told by a friend who studied it for one year in Russia that the grammar is much more regular than in French and the pronuciation is not that difficult either. I think French and Russian have quite a lot in common though. The sonority of the language is not so far away as it may seem at first. I know that there are also many French words in Russia (like in English, German or Dutch too). I'd say that the difficulty of Russian is more similar to that of German, Complex grammar with conjugation and declensions, but quite regular and the spelling is also quite phonetic (please correct me if I am wrong).

I was told by some linguist who spoke French, English, German and Russian (among others) that German and Russian are hard at the beginning, but easy once we have mastered the basic grammar. English is just the opposite, quite easy from the start (from a French-speaker's point of view), but difficult to master speak it like Winston Churchill because of the more tricky high level grammar (eg. Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few), huge diversity (BrE, AmE, AussieE, formal, standard, informal, slang, cockney...) and number of nuances of the language (eg. connotations and nuances between royal, regal, kingly) and the difficulty to speak it not just like a native, but beautifully (as there are so many accents).

Void
26-03-05, 19:51
Maciamo-san, i don`t want to say that Russian is difficult, i want to say that it migth look difficult.

every language is difficult at the very beginnig. But afrer certain level some people don`t want to go any further (because they don`t need to discover all the beauty for mere comunication) Every languafe has many layers, tricky things, ambiguities, idioms, puns and things like that

i am not a linguist, just pretending dilettante. So, kudasai don`t drive me into panic with all this terminology :D

Glenn
26-03-05, 21:59
Sorry about that happening, Glenn. It is such a loss as we may never know the rare and precious insights which were lost in that system hiccough.

You flatter me too much. :blush: Anyway, I know how to get around it, I just didn't think to copy the message before hitting "preview," and once I got to the login page I had lost my post forever. I guess I should leave a note reminding me to copy messages before I post if I've been working on them for a while, because I get caught up in what I'm doing and don't think about it. Anyway, I wanted to vent, because I was pretty pissed.

-Rudel-
27-03-05, 21:12
I studied german for about 6 months, when I got to the part where I needed to use Das Die and Der depending on the gender, noun, seasons, compound words, it just got to hard. I was unsure when to use which one.

I mean the male and female is obvious. But about those with 2 syllibals and ends with an e. Like the word Sonne. You would say Die Sonne. Wierd. It was so hard because I had no one to talk to in person to keep the knowledge of when to use it. Perhaps I will get back into it some day!

Ich hoffe, daß ich beginne, Deutsches wieder zu studieren. Es ist so einfach, sobald Sie die das, das die und das der Recht erhalten! LOL Sehen Sie, was ich bedeute?

Zauriel
27-03-05, 22:19
I am pretty harsh on my first language: English because it has many clumsy flaws. For example, too many irregular verbs in English.

French is interesting but has its own flaws that drove me almost crazy learning it.

German is advanced and has remarkably difficult language structure.

Tagalog has its cool good points such as articles for persons' names but lacks an advanced vocabulary.

sgt. Pepper
28-03-05, 01:14
I think Swedish is a pretty logical language, except one major thing. There are no rules for Det/den, as far as i know. Det/den is used prior to words, "that train" is "Det tåget" osv. "Den tåget" is wrong, but the only reason i know it's wrong is because it sounds wrong...strange.

Does anyone out there know if there is any rule for det/den?

alexriversan
31-03-05, 13:43
(does not address any member)
knowing vocabluary, grammar rules is one thing.
having something reasonable to say in another thing.

it is an experience i made myself.

of course what to say can vary due to different speak rules.
can you imagine german attaches gender to street (female) and trainstation (male)? but ship is genderless. these assignments have to be memorized.

means i am so harsh even to say german is not my language. sometimes i trap myself counting and assigning numbers in german instead english.

i have made up a page which anwers the sphinx question of the genders to myself. but there is not pointer given.

well to demand from the poor german, after spelling reform photo->foto etc, now they must attach "DAS" to every thing. there are no logical reasons NOT to do this.

next thing: getting rid of the plural forms. attach a number if necessary.
EXPLANATION: talking in plural form without giving the number is UNSHARP communication. especially "many", "most". just discard such sentences.

alexriversan
31-03-05, 14:02
Notwithstanding your wise remarks, it has also come to my attention that it was the firm believers of absolute knowlege and certainty that laid the foundations of our singular civilization on earth. Considering the fact that all these ideas of relativilty were indeed based on comparisons only made possible within the vast empires that brought together under one roof all concrete, local systems of absolute knowledge within the barriers, and the fact that the destruction of local varieties of certainty has been detrimental to the youths of the republic, it is now time to execute Socrates the philosopher king and bring back the muses to announce once again thru the singing mouths of the poets the obvious historical truths in broad daylight, of the battles and heroes on the hills of Ilion.


far too complicated for machine translation.

lexico
01-04-05, 00:54
far too complicated for machine translation.The technical predicament of the trans-bot of your creation is computed reasonable understandably. :D
However, the intelligence of your trans-bot seems to exceed that of J-bot's that order-of-magnitudinally.
Here's to your techincal achievemnt present-tense, futuristically, & whole-heartedly, cheers ! :bravo: :beer:

Lina Inverse
03-04-05, 01:08
I wouldn't say that German is any more difficult than English. While it has a little more grammar (like verb conjugations), it has a nice and regular spelling, unlike English, where the spelling is often quite arbitrary :relief:
Italian is somewhat more complicated than the two. While the spelling is generally nice and regular like German, the grammar is clearly more complex (e.g. having more tenses like Historical Past).
French, then, is still a good bit more difficult - not only the grammar is also complex, but the spelling is a real pain :mad:
Japanese still topples them all - while the grammar is not very complex, the kanji are a huge pain in the a$$ :auch:

Mycernius
03-04-05, 20:07
I've heard many scolars make the claim that English is a hard language and when I was young it seemed that it was. As I have gotten older and had more exposure to various foreign languages I have come to realise that English, Despite its irregularities seem to be a fairly easy language for non-speakers to learn. Its spelling and various rules that can be bent or just plain broken do drive me crazy on occasion and I am often amazed by the fact that they are non-native speakers that can sometimes speak it much better than native speakers. What galls me even more is obvious mistake made by native speakers that should have been taught to them at school. My real bugbears are getting learn, learnt and taught the wrong way round as in, 'He learnt me to drive' (arrrrrrrrg) and lend and borrow the wrong way round, 'Can I lend your pen?' What? These are basic. They are remote tribes in Africa who don't get this mixed up. Another is double negatives such as, 'I ain't got none'. This has led my brother to use this statement, 'They're ain't no P in pretention' :D
If anything I've got a tendency to be harsh on people who are native speakers and cannot use the language correctly. I probably do make mistakes myself. If I do I don't mind being corrected.
Just as a side note. I have just bought a book called 'Spoken Here' by Mark Abley. It is a book looking a minority languages throughout the world and how some of them are at risk of going extinct and how others are staging a comeback. I've only read a couple of chapters so far, but it is a very interesting book. :-)

Sensuikan San
04-04-05, 02:05
Regarding the auto logout ...


I have never had this problem. Have you tried clearing your cookies ?

I have ... just the other day ! (Hi folks ! Been tied up recently !)

I find the answer is to review your post frequently, whilst composing ...

Anyhow - some observations :


- Contrarily to the popular belief, some European languages also have tones. Although not to distinguish different words like in Chinese, the use of tones in French is very important to understand the emotional meaning of the sentence. Like in other Romance languages (but not Germanic ones), a rising intonation indicates a question, without grammatical change necessary. I found this to be often misunderstood by the Japanese, although it is supposed to exist in Japanese too (eg. "iku!" vs "iku?"). When I didn't hear well what somebody said, I may repeat a word with a rising intonation. For French speakers, this means "Is it the word you just said?" or even "Do you really mean that?".

Absolutely true ... although I don't believe the Germanic languages should be excluded either ! Personally I feel that all languages are tonal to at least some degree, particularly so when body language is taken into account. This is especially problematic when one is using a telephone - or using a communication form .... like this one ....


- Silent letters in about half of the words, and silent grammatical changes in most of the words, makes it quite unique among the major world languages (I don''t know any other language like that to be frank).

I don't think French is unique at all in this. As pointed out elsewhere, English has its fair share of unpronounced consonants too - not to mention different pronunciation of similiar groups (e.g. "plough and "cough" ...). And try Irish/Gaelic ! There, you will find complete words unpronounced in a phrase or sentence ! The simplest example I can recall immediately is the original Irish name of Dublin : "Baille atha Cliathe" - it seems to be pronounced something like "Blachlee" !

(I'm sure that my Irish friends can correct me on that one !)


I am pretty harsh on my first language: English because it has many clumsy flaws. For example, too many irregular verbs in English.

... I didn't know we had any regular verbs !


I've heard many scolars make the claim that English is a hard language and when I was young it seemed that it was. As I have gotten older and had more exposure to various foreign languages I have come to realise that English, Despite its irregularities seem to be a fairly easy language for non-speakers to learn. Its spelling and various rules that can be bent or just plain broken do drive me crazy on occasion and I am often amazed by the fact that they are non-native speakers that can sometimes speak it much better than native speakers. What galls me even more is obvious mistake made by native speakers that should have been taught to them at school. My real bugbears are getting learn, learnt and taught the wrong way round as in, 'He learnt me to drive' (arrrrrrrrg) and lend and borrow the wrong way round, 'Can I lend your pen?' What? These are basic. They are remote tribes in Africa who don't get this mixed up. Another is double negatives such as, 'I ain't got none'. This has led my brother to use this statement, 'They're ain't no P in pretention'

I couldn't agree more !

Regards,

W

Maciamo
04-04-05, 06:39
My real bugbears are getting learn, learnt and taught the wrong way round as in, 'He learnt me to drive' (arrrrrrrrg) and lend and borrow the wrong way round, 'Can I lend your pen?' What? These are basic.

I understand. There are native French speakers who also confuse lend and borrow in French (preter vs emprunter), and the "learn" (apprendre) is commonly used instead of "teach" (enseigner) in French. In this last case it's not even a mistake as the verb "teach" is only used for formal teaching (by a teacher), but if you just tell someone how to do something then "learn" is used. The same could be happening in some regions of England, although it has become wrong when English was standardised on one variety of English.


Another is double negatives such as, 'I ain't got none'. This has led my brother to use this statement, 'They're ain't no P in pretention'

This is also regional English (apparently Birmingham too). In some regions of England it is not wrong to say things like "she don't care". Grammar used to be different is the North, Middle and South of England a few centuries ago, and some of these remain in local dialects. For example, at Shakespeare's time, "doth" was standard in the Southern half of England, while "does" was standard in the North. Eventually "does" prevailed. The same happened for pronuciation in such words as "bury", which can be pronounced as "bery", "bury" or "bary" depending on the region, and the differences are still heard in place names. Same for the "r". In the South-West of England both "r's" are pronouced in "farmer", but none in northern ot eastern England, and only the first one in the area in between.

As for the double negative, it is used in many languages (e.g. Italian, Japanese...) and speakers of these languages often mistake when they speak English. It's a common feature of "Black English" for instance.

Maciamo
04-04-05, 07:09
I don't think French is unique at all in this. As pointed out elsewhere, English has its fair share of unpronounced consonants too - not to mention different pronunciation of similiar groups (e.g. "plough and "cough" ...). And try Irish/Gaelic ! There, you will find complete words unpronounced in a phrase or sentence ! The simplest example I can recall immediately is the original Irish name of Dublin : "Baille atha Cliathe" - it seems to be pronounced something like "Blachlee" !

I didn't say French was unique, but it doesn't happen (much) in other languages I know (English, Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese...). Irish/Welsh/Scottish Gaelic are extremely difficult languages. I'd say it's the most difficult family of European languages, although I haven't really studied it (just overviewed the spelling, pronuciation, grammar and a few expressions). It's probably why it's almost extinct ! :D


... I didn't know we had any regular verbs !

Most of the verbs in English are regular. Just add "ed" at the end to make the past simple or perfect tenses. The future and conditional tenses are regular for all verbs thanks to the auxiliary "will", "going to" or "would" (except future perfect, but it's the same inflection as for past and present perfect).

Irregular verbs in English only have 2 forms to remember : past and perfect (eg. write => wrote, written). In Romance languages, there are about 8 inflected tenses (counting only one for all the composed tenses) multiplied by 6 persons, so about 48 inflections to remember. That's a lot more than in English. And in French even the regular are divided in a dozen categories (e.g. verbs in -re, -er, -oir, -ir, special -ir, semi-regular, composed on irregular, etc.). In that respect too French is more complicated and irregular than Italian or Spanish.

alexriversan
04-04-05, 12:32
The simplest example I can recall immediately is the original Irish name of Dublin : "Baille atha Cliathe" - it seems to be pronounced something like "Blachlee" !


well try athliath/dunlaori- (however i failed to learn irish because of...)
dunlaori is well understood/frequent used in spoken language.
dublin is refered to as dublin most of the times, or something like ATH LIATH.

it is rather the case letters are not fully pronounced, but they change the flow of speech, otherwise they would be unnecessary.

seasurfer
25-04-05, 00:19
Hi, Lexico, how are you? Haven't seen you on MSN for a very long time, and you are still so active here. Glad to see you here again.

Can I say "objection" to this question? Because I don't think we can say one language is more difficult than the other.

Why? Every language has its own depth, depending on what kind of level you want to achieve. If you want to be an expert in the English language, then you have really a lot of thing to learn about the language, and I can guarantee, a normal native English speaker don't know a lot of things, because, all these things are just useless in daily conversation, who will bother to learn it? This apply to other languages as well, say French, if one want to become an expert in this language, then one will have a lot of things to learn too. And learning is a never ending process, how do you know that you know everything? Hence all languages are difficult.

Moreover, why some people find it easier to learn one language, but the other find it a hell time. That depends on various factors, such as the enviroment, the native language that this person speak, the interest of this person, the amount of aid given to him/her etc.

A French will find it easier to learn Spanish than a Chinese, that is because French and Spanish have a lot of similarities. A Chinese will pick up Japanese faster because of the similarities in kanji and certain words. A French will probably has more hard time to learn kanji than a Chinese.

A psychological reason that one must take into account is, quite a number of people will normally think that their own language is most difficult, that is because they are more "proficient" or more "expert" in their own languages than other languages they acquired, but at the same time may know very little about their own language, because they know very little about their own language, the find that they have so much more to learn about their own language, hence find it difficult. On the other hand, these people who acquired other languages find these languages "easier" is because they are not bothered to become an expert in this language, lacking the knowledge of all these languages, hence, giving them an illusion that these languages are easier. When one try to learn another language from a language that one is most used to, this person will inadventently relearn or rediscover his own language, thus, giving him an illusion that he don't know so much thing.

Of course, some may not think this way, some may think that one language is more difficult than other after he/she learnt it. But there is psychological reason to this also. Thinking that one language is more difficult than the other just because he/she find it difficult to understand or always tend to make mistake in this language doesn't make this language instrinsically difficult. It is this person ability of understanding. Again, one will argue that, what if a lot of native speakers make the same mistakes too. But one has to rethink on what is the purpose of a language? The main purpose of language is to facilitate communication, we don't decide how a grammar supposed to be, rather, the structure of the grammar will follow the trend of the speakers, if everyone has been speaking in a certain gramatically wrong way, because everyone has been speaking like this, hence this gramatically wrong way is the correct way, and the gramatically correct way is not really correct, since the majority people do not want to use it. Why we want to force ourself into accepting certain theories that we may not use in daily life, just because people previously using this language say that this is the rule? Why can't people who are using the language currently decide the rules?

Some people say that French is more difficult than English, one reason is because of the conjugation of verbs. If you have been conjugating verb everyday, will you find it difficult? You may not be able to conjugate every words, because no one can learn every single word in his own language, those exception in conjugation don't make the language difficult, it all depends on how used you are at it. Therefore saying that French is harder than English is not true, English does have exceptional grammars too!!! English has more vocabulary to learn than French. So how are we going to compare which is more difficult? Both languages just have its own uniqueness.

Then again, some will say English is relatively easier than Chinese. Is this true? To a lot of Chinese people, English is a hell to them and Chinese language is a breeze to them. To an Englishman, chinese language will then be a hell to them, first they are not used to the tonal pronunciation, second, they will have to spent a lot of time memorizing 2000-3000 kanji, and this is definitely not an easy task. Even tough, English may not have those kanji or tonal thing, English has more vocabulary than Chinese. Which may make it more difficult? How are you going to judge? If you want to be an expert in English, then you have to study old English, so a lot of people will say that old English is extremely difficult. Other the other hand, if you want to be an expert in Chinese langauge, then you have to study archaic chinese too. That is very difficult too. Hence, how are we going to compare the difficultness of these two languages?

All in all, I really don't think we can compare languages. Just like we can't say physics is harder than economy or vice versa. The more proficient you want to be at a language, the more difficult you find it. Because if you really want to know more things, you may go into a situation that make you feel you don't know so much.

Food for thought:
A person can command 100 languages, but do not produce any good work. A person who know only 1 language, and this person produces works that set the general trend for the language. What do you think?

Thor
25-04-05, 00:34
English is a boring language, I don't enjoy speaking it. Most of the time, I am just quiet at partys. Although, I am taking german at school. It is very fun, and respect the language. I cannot say that for english. Mainly due to some of the people who speak it.. :okashii: