It is fun to learn new languages.
Top 10 Most Difficult Languages to Learn
Being able to speak multiple languages is a huge advantage over monolingual speakers. This allows you to have a better understanding of the culture and can also be used for business. Multilingual people can open up to new possibilities. Learning new languages can help broaden their worldview and improve nonverbal communication. It can also enhance multitasking abilities and assist in brain adaptation to new situations.
You may find it helpful to start learning a language you don’t know well, such as Spanish, German or Italian if this is your first time. If you are looking for challenge, here is a list of the 10 most difficult languages to learn.
The Hardest Languages to Learn
These languages are among the most difficult languages on the planet and are very difficult to learn.
Let us now look at the difficulties associated with learning the 10 hardest languages to learn for English speakers and the challenges they present.
Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language in the globe and is spoken by 70% percent of the Chinese people. English speakers can find Mandarin Chinese difficult to learn. Because Mandarin Chinese is a tone language, each sound in its phonetic transcription, pinyin, can have four different pronunciations and meanings. For example, “ma” can be pronounced four different ways depending on whether it is sung by a mother, fiber, horse or curse. The language is full of homophones which are words with the same pronunciation and different meanings. This can cause confusion for English speakers. Mandarin is also rich in idioms that were developed over centuries of poetry.
Arabic is the official language for 22 sovereign states. There are over 25 different dialects of Arabic, so the Arabic spoken in one place may be quite different from the Arabic spoken elsewhere. Arabic is read from right to left. Arabic letters can also be written in four different formats depending on their placement at the beginning, middle or end of words or as a separate letter. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), which is widely used in all Arabic-speaking countries, is used for formal writing and speeches. Arabic dialects are used for everyday conversation. Arabic grammar is difficult to learn and can be confusing. English-speaking people may be confused by the existence of homophones or false friends.
Japanese only has two tenses (past and non-past) which can make grammar tricky. There are three distinct writing systems in Japanese: hiragana and katakana. Writing can be challenging because there is so many characters to learn before you can write. Hiragana is used to create native Japanese words. Katakana is used to identify loanwords, scientific terms and certain plant and animal names. Kanji is made up thousands of symbols, which represent whole words, phrases, and ideas that are not always easily translated into English. English speakers must be able to understand two forms of speech in order to overcome the language barrier. Japanese is a phonetic tongue, which makes it easier to pronounce. However, it is full of homophones which can lead to false friends.
Hungarian is spoken in over 13 million languages worldwide. The language has unique grammar rules, which can make it difficult for English speakers. Hungarian grammar uses more than 18 case suffixes. They also dictate tense and possession. Hungarian does not have any grammatical genders. This makes the language an ideal language to detect gender bias in AI. Hungarian is heavily dependent on idioms, which can make it difficult for language learners. There are fourteen vowels in Hungarian, each distinguished by different accents. These have different meanings and can make it difficult to learn English.
Korean is a rare language. Korean is the world’s most isolated language. This means that it does not have any genetic relationship with other languages. Korean sentence construction follows the order of subject + object + act. English speakers may find this confusing as they are often challenged by the language’s formalities. These levels are determined by factors such age, seniority, familiarity with the person, and familiarity.
Hangul, the Korean alphabet was developed rather than developing naturally as other alphabets. It is a syllabary that reads from right to left like English. However, it flows from the top to the bottom. The characters in Hangul script are often higher than those of Latin script. This can make it difficult to localize software across different platforms. Hangul’s 24 characters have a phonetic pronunciation, making it easy to pronounce. But, Hangul is also full of homonyms. These are words that can be spelled and pronounced exactly the same, but have different meanings. Korean language learners might encounter false friends like ‘a bat, ball, and the bat flew at nights.
The 6 million Finnish native speakers in the world have many dialects, which can be very different from the standard Finnish language. However, the one constant cultural trait is that Finns tend to skip small talk. This is similar to the Danes.
The Finnish language is very different from English in terms of its lettering and pronunciation. Finnish grammar, for instance, does not have a future or present tense. Instead, it relies on context, and the present tense. There are 15 grammatical case options in Finnish, and even small changes to word endings can drastically alter the meanings. Finnish does not have articles like “a”, “the”, or “the”. Finnish has no similarities to Latin or Germanic languages. However Finns do use loanwords borrowed from other countries like “Googlata” which is “to Google”. Some Finnish words are now part of the English language, including “sauna,” and “tundra.”
Basque, an isolated language like Korean, is spoken by over one million people primarily in the Basque Country, northern Spain. Basque, written and spoken, is unique from any other language. This includes all five Basque dialects. It borrows vocabulary from Romance language languages like Spanish and French. However, there was a push to create new Basque phrases in the 19th century. Sabino, a writer and politician, created a collection called “sabinismos,” which includes “Lehendakari” (“president”) and “argazki,” (photo). Basque does not use gender cases for nouns nor adjectives like Romance languages. This makes it easier for English speakers.
Navajo, which is spoken in the Southwestern United States by approximately 170,000 people, is the most spoken Native American language. The Navajo alphabet is composed of 33 consonants. There are some uncommon ones that may be difficult for English speakers. The Navajo basic order of words is subject + object + verb. Because descriptions are given through verbs most English adjectives do not have direct translations. Navajo uses the expression “love” to express a higher level of respect for a person. Navajo does not use loanwords and uses descriptive terms instead to make Western words. To illustrate, “military tanks” can be described as “chidi’naa’i bee’eldoohtsoh bah naazniligii,” which means “vehicle crawls around, through which big explosions may be made and that sits at an elevation.”
Icelandic, which is spoken by less than 400 000 people on one island in Iceland, has largely remained unchanged since the ninth-century. Modern speakers can still comprehend Icelandic sagas from medieval times. Icelandic coins have new words called neologisms to express new concepts. For example, “computer” can be expressed as “tolva,” which is a combination of “tala”, (number),” “volva”(seeress),” “simi”, (telephone),” and an obsolete word for “thread”. Icelandic has had a significant impact on English by contributing the “th” sound to words like “three”, “thought,” and “volva” (seeress). English speakers can’t master Icelandic grammar, so immersion in Icelandic is required to fluently speak Icelandic.
Polish is second in Slavic languages spoken after Russian. However, Polish can be used for translations and is considered a long tail language. While its alphabet is simpler, it is also more familiar. However, its gender system can be complex and it uses a free order of words. Polish has a different sentence structure than English. Instead of English’s subject-verb + object structure, it doesn’t have a fixed structure. It is difficult to determine who is doing what. Polish can translate the sentence “I gave the cat a meal this morning” to either “I fed this cat this morning” or “This morning I fed the cat.” The last sentence may confuse an English speaker about who was given what.
Polish still uses the Slavic system of cases. There are seven cases for nouns. Polish words are different from English in that they change according to their context. Because of the number of consonant clusters, Polish words are not pronounced the same way as English.
What language is the most difficult to learn?
It’s fascinating that the most commonly spoken language is also the most difficult to learn. Mandarin Chinese is difficult for beginners. First, the writing system in Mandarin Chinese is more complicated than the Latin alphabet. Mandarin-speaking people must memorize thousands upon thousands of special characters. These characters are totally different to those found in Latin-based languages.
Mandarin mastery is not only about the writing system. There are many other aspects that can be challenging. The tonal nature makes it difficult to speak. Mandarin is one of many Chinese dialects. Cantonese can also be found in parts of Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and southeastern China. These dialects are difficult to learn due to their distinct written characters. Mandarin is made up of four tones. Each word can be pronounced in four different ways and each pronunciation has a unique meaning. The word “ma”, for example, can be used to signify “mother,” horse,” rough or scold depending on how it is pronounced.