If you’re interested in learning a foreign language you may be interested in knowing which are the most difficult languages for an English speaker to learn? There are many reasons for learning a new language and it may be useful to know some of the more difficult languages to learn. There are several languages which are harder to learn then others. Below we have suggested the ten most difficult of all languages for an English speaker to learn:
Basque is a language spoken in a region of Spain. This is a particularly difficult language to learn because the language has no syntactic parallels to English language. This is curious considering the languages nearby are romantic such as Spanish and French. The Basque language is agglutinative, this means in practice the words are formed, then changed with prefixes and suffixes.
Finnish oddly has no Latin or Germanic influences. This makes the vocabulary quite alien to English speakers. Finnish grammar is also difficult to learn. It has fifteen noun cases. Finnish is a phonetic language and uses the Roman alphabet, so despite the lack of common vocabulary and alien grammar, one can pronounce the words.
Navajo language was also used as is a unique unbreakable code during World War Two and is one of the hardest languages to learn. A code was created using the Navajo language by the Americans. Trained bilingual Navajo tribesmen were able to develop a code that the Japanese was never able to break. The makeup of the Navajo language is the complete opposite of English and one of the hardest languages to learn. It is very much a verb-centered language.
Arabic is one of the hardest languages to learn. Indeed many may say it is the hardest language to learn of them all. Arabic is written in script which is extremely foreign to the English speaker’s eye. Some Arabic letters have up to four different forms and there are no vowels. English speakers will not find any similar sounding words in Arabic. Verbs also come before the subject and object. Verbs can be plural, dual or singular. To add to the general difficulties for an English speaker there are many different dialects of Arabic.
5. Mandarin Chinese
Mandarin is a tonal language and one of the hardest languages to learn. This means a change in pitch or inflection can modify the meaning of the same sound. In some respects Mandarin is much easier than many languages, as there’s no conjugation and words generally only have one grammatical form. But, it also presents challenges of its own. Mandarin uses about a dozen adverbs that have no English equivalent.
Japanese is relatively easy to pronounce for English speakers. The straightforward combinations of consonants and vowels used are very easy for a native English speaker to master. Written Japanese is even more difficult than written Chinese. It incorporates the Kanji pectoral characters from Chinese, and also adds characters that are exclusive to Japanese.
Cantonese is a Chinese dialect and one of the hardest languages to learn. It shares its written form with Mandarin, but the way Cantonese is spoken will differ in the way it is written using Hanzi characters. In Chinese, the writing system is pictorial, character represents a different word. One will need to memorize all 20,000+ characters. To add to complications, the exact same character will virtually always have multiple meanings, according to the context. The same sounding word can have many written forms, with each written form having a different meaning.
The spoken dialect is perhaps even more complex. The same sound spoken in a different tone can hold a different meaning. Mandarin Chinese which has four tones, Cantonese has eight tones, with each, a change in pitch changes the word’s meaning.
Estonian has a set case system. There are 14 cases, that’s a lot to keep in mind. The random exceptions to Estonian grammar rules make this language difficult for English learners.
The Polish grammatical system makes use of cases and the grammar actually has more exceptions than it has rules. Languages such as German have four cases where in Polish seven cases are used arbitrarily, rather than being based on a higher level rule. You will need to be aware of each new usage through practice.
Hungarian is in the same language family as Finnish. Hungarian language uses the Roman alphabet, but the pronunciation is significantly different from English. The vowel sounds that are very alien to English speaker, the possession, tense, and number are not arranged by word order, but by suffixes. Some sentences can take on completely different meanings with slight alterations in the suffixes.
If you’re interested in learning a foreign language you may be interested in knowing which are the most difficult languages for an English speaker to learn? There are several languages which are more difficult to learn then others. Below we have suggested the ten most difficult of all languages for an English speaker to learn.
The above languages are difficult for an English speaker to learn but the list is far from exhaustive and there are many more languages in the world which are also difficult to learn. This should put the student off as there are equally many languages which are relatively easy for an English speaker to learn.