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Which are the Most Difficult Languages to Learn?

Diana Bocco
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are over 2650 languages in the world plus over 7000 dialects. Deciding which language is the most difficult to learn may not be as simple as you may think. Different languages present different challenges, and what constitutes a difficult language depends a lot on the individual studying it.

Your mother tongue is an important deciding factor when it comes to difficulty. For example, native speakers of Italian seem to learn Spanish and Portuguese rather easily despite the complex grammatical structures of the Spanish language. On the same basis, Chinese speakers will probably pick up Japanese faster than people whose first language uses the Roman alphabet. In fact, Chinese has no grammatical system per se, which makes it easier to learn than many Western languages once you have memorized the basic characters.

Individual aptitude is another factor. Some people have a natural talent for learning new languages, while others struggle through the basics. Factors such as environment, materials used, motivation, and even environment also play an important role in how difficult a language is to learn.

All that aside, the British Foreign Office conducted a language study recently and concluded that the most difficult language to learn is Basque, spoken in parts of Spain and France, followed closely by Hungarian, which has 35 cases or noun forms. On the other hand, German and Russian languages use a punctuation system said to be among the most difficult ones in the world. Languages that use characters may seem hard to read and write to users of the Roman alphabet, but they are not always that difficult. Experts agree that Chinese and Korean can be learned rather easily by speakers of Western languages; Vietnamese and Japanese, however, are much more complex.

While many native speakers seem to forget this, English is actually quite difficult to learn because of pronunciation issues and irregular verbs; in English, many words are spelled the same but sound different depending on the meaning. This makes the English language hard to understand even for people whose native tongue is a related language.

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Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.
Discussion Comments
By anon97199 — On Jul 18, 2010

Anon37805 - Armenian is gorgeous. Just the writing; it's beautiful. I recommend to everybody just looking at a random sentence of Armenian, it's more Beautiful-looking than Russian, German, or Quechua.

By anon97192 — On Jul 18, 2010

To anon3612 - I think they should add Danish. Yew go through what Spanish speakers go through, but your situation makes mine look like nothing.

Yes, some languages are spoken different socially (conversation) than it is grammatically (written in a formal essay). It's not even a slang anymore, it's like a vernacular that is hard to understand.

By anon97189 — On Jul 18, 2010

Well,I speak English, Korean, Spanish and French. (I spent a long time speaking French and English, but now I mainly speak English and occasionally Spanish to my hispanic friends, but not much).

I'd say that English and Korean have the most sounds and sounds that are harder to pronounce.

French has a difficult accent (if that makes sense to yew) like the pattern in pronunciation (I can't explain it). An accent can make one word sound like another one.

Spanish and Korean tie up with learning pronouns and courtesy/respect. Why I say Spanish is because many, many countries speak Spanish and they all alter the pronouns. Like the word tú, which means you (casual). Some people use tú, te, vos, and even usted (usted as a casual...).

I'm sure there's harder languages than Spanish, and maybe even every language I speak, but I think that every language has it's part that is hard to master.

By anon97183 — On Jul 18, 2010

"chinese has no grammatical system per se"? come on, the person who wrote this entry must know absolutely zero about chinese.

as a native mandarin speaker, i do however agree that, in some ways, chinese is not that hard. i only speak english, german and french besides my native tongue, so compared to those languages, grammars indeed play a less important role in chinese. but that's not because it doesn't have grammars! it's because it's very flexible. you can express the same idea using numbers of grammatical structures. therefore, people who master the language can use it very creatively and beautifully. so if a learner is unfamiliar with those structures, it can be difficult to grasp the actual meaning one trying to say. not to mention the vocabulary is insanely gigantic - not surprising considering it's the oldest language in use today.

chinese is a tonal language. there's a "melody" to every character. and the melody varies dramatically throughout countless dialects. my foreign friends love to complain about how hard it is to "sing" the language right.

but yeah, overall, i wouldn't say chinese is the hardest to learn. it's just the characters seem daunting, even for us chinese!

By anon97103 — On Jul 18, 2010

they say chinese can be learned easily, well maybe the theoretical part but the prununciation is real hard for me.

By anon96470 — On Jul 15, 2010

Well,i speak english, spanish, french, japanese and Basque. Basque is my mother language.

You guys aren't even close to how hard, hard, hard, hard, hard basque is. The grammar, the syntax, the pronunciation -- they are all something so, so difficult. I meet hundreds of people who tried. No one learned to carry a conversation in basque and no one has learned to write even a diary in basque. It's the hardest language.

Forget about japanese, russian or greek. Once you have mastered the difference, it's easy. Basque is like trying to jump from an airplane without a parachute and survive.

By anon96242 — On Jul 15, 2010

To the person who said that Arabic, Hindi, etc. would be easier to learn if they used a Romanized Alphabet instead of their own script...

What do you suggest we do with the four "k" sounds in Hindi? The three "th" sounds in Arabic? How will we among these sounds? If I say khoi instead of koi in Hindi, I'm saying a completely different word. How can a non-native learn to distinguish among these minimal pairs and avoid saying the wrong thing, if we're using an imperfect writing system?

I tried learning Hindi via a romanized script and I can tell you: it doesn't work! When I started learning Arabic I immediately started learning my Aliph Ba Ta's because I realized I would quickly encounter the same problems if I tried to learn it with English characters.

By anon95204 — On Jul 11, 2010

As a linguist, I feel Arabic is the more difficult language because its native speakers can't master its syntax. What makes it hard for speakers of other languages is its sounds. Arabic has sounds that don't exist in other languages.

By anon93645 — On Jul 04, 2010

My native language is Arabic. I started learning English about four years ago and it's already better than my Arabic.

Arabic is not difficult, it's crazy! The grammar is just impossible to master.

By anon92729 — On Jun 29, 2010

My native language is English, and I speak four other languages fluently: French, Spanish, German and Polish.

In my opinion, facility in learning a new language is greatly improved in proportion to how many other languages one speaks, not necessarily due to any 'intrinsic' difficulty of a specific language.

A common mistake made when one begins learning their first foreign tongue is to keep searching for 'one-to-one' equivalents between the new language and one's mother tongue.

Once one realizes that the grammar of one's native language is but one of many syntactical structures, increased attention can be directed toward the nuances of the new language rather than hopeless comparisons to one's primary or native tongue.

Although French and Spanish are far easier grammatically, I mastered German and Polish way faster being that they were my third and fourth foreign languages.

By anon92096 — On Jun 25, 2010

I'll say, without a doubt, as a native speaker of English, Hungarian, and Irish (Gaelic), that those three must be some of the hardest I've ever heard.

But I won't say anything about the difficulties of languages I've never tried to learn. Surely, all must have their hard and easy points.

Last I checked, there can be up to 238 different forms of a noun in Hungarian.

And I'll agree with what many are saying here: there are different degrees and interpretations of "difficulty."

For example, I also speak Japanese, Russian and Spanish, all fluently, and I'd rate each of them a different type of difficult. Japanese has no conjugations, which is really hard for us Westerners to grasp. Russian has, in addition to a very difficult alphabet and grammar system to learn, a constantly varying word order, in addition to many sounds that we don't have in English. And prepositions in Spanish? Forget about it!

I agree that with more experience in learning languages, the ability grows stronger, and one starts to grasp the idea of placing one's self outside the boundaries of his or her own language.

Bottom line? Practice, practice, practice.

By anon91010 — On Jun 19, 2010

The most difficult language in the world is mainly ta Slovak grammar and pronunciation of soft and hard y, i.

By anon90557 — On Jun 16, 2010

I'm native speaker of Czech and i think it is the most difficult language to learn to speak and write correctly because of very complicated and irregular grammar.

A lot of native speakers are going out of their minds while learning at school and some of them will always make mistakes writing in Czech. Great fact is that Czechs understand Slovaks without problems and the reverse is true.

Some talented human beings can understand Polish and Russian as well because it's very easy to learn them for a Slavic native speaker.

I also mastered German but my opinion is that the most beautiful and useful language is English. I hope i will speak as fluently as i want to speak in the future.

By anon90551 — On Jun 16, 2010

Well guys I know that Japanese isn't really hard. The hard part is in writing, but the grammar is somehow easy. A language that is really hard is, of course, the Greek one. With countless remains from the ancient Greek one it is grammatically a challenge. But let us no forget that Greek was the language which gave its lights to so many other ones.

By anon90484 — On Jun 16, 2010

Of course it is Turkish!

"Aren't you one of those people whom we tried - unsuccessfully - to make resemble the citizens of Turkey" is a long sentence but we say it in two long words.

By anon90327 — On Jun 15, 2010

I'm 16 years old, born and bought up in Slovakia and still can't speak it properly. Might call me stupid but it's bloody hard to learn.

By anon89871 — On Jun 13, 2010

It would be a big step forward for mankind if every human being would only have to learn two languages: the native language and a global language (for example, English). Though learning a language can be a lot of fun, actually it is a waste of time. We better learn to express yourself well in one of two languages, so better understand each other.

By anon88988 — On Jun 08, 2010

I am circassian and i really don't know how to speak circassian and it's really hard to learn it.

By anon88762 — On Jun 07, 2010

i am from India, and my mother tongue is hindi. I'm learning japanese and it seems very difficult to learn. i have to face problems with the script of this this language: hiragana,katakana and kanjis. There is no doubt that the language is so sweet.

I really want to learn and speak japanese and i have decided that whether it will take three years or 30 years, i will learn. I don't know about other languages, but according to me, Japanese is tough.

By anon88334 — On Jun 04, 2010

I have to say that Lithuanian language is very, very difficult and is very hard to learn.

By anon88230 — On Jun 03, 2010

To speak a language takes dedication to learning the language. I am a native English speaker.

There is no difficult language to learn; the question is just flawed. Anyone can learn any language -- they just need to practice! In the end you have a huge confidence boost! I believe any language is fun to learn.

I'm currently learning German! Many people complain how difficult it is, but actually, it's not so complicated. A few reflexive verbs and the cases are weird, but so long as you understand it and study it and want to learn it, it doesn't seem hard!

The next language I really, really want to learn is Norwegian or Japanese!

Here's something to remember: "All languages are difficult. There is never going to be an easy language."

So long as you have fun and enjoy the language you're trying to learn and practice it, i think you can learn any language you want!

By anon86959 — On May 27, 2010

I think the most beautiful and easy language in the world is "body language." No need to do much about it, but we all understand each other, and somehow, I think that is the perfect language.

By anon85800 — On May 21, 2010

I can talk to small rocks, but their grammar is way harder than Arabic and Slovak.

By anon85797 — On May 21, 2010

Post 27 summarizes pretty well every alleged stance in this discussion and the reality that lies behind it.

(Basque language does not have 24 cases: you do not hold the EGA).

By anon85540 — On May 20, 2010

My experience when it comes to language difficulty:


Reading: 2/10

Writing: 7/10

Grammar: 8/10


Reading: 7/10

Writing: 8/10

Grammar: 7/10


Reading: 6/10

Writing: 6/10

Grammar: 4/10


Reading: 7/10

Writing: 7/10

Grammar: 7/10

By anon84565 — On May 16, 2010

English is difficult because it has a tendency to break its own rules. As native speakers we hardly ever speak correctly, in the prescriptive sense. But for me the tonal languages are most difficult. I spent six months trying Vietnamese and people would just look at me funny and ask what I was trying to say, in English. I ended up running away from it.

Japanese wasn't all that difficult, especially in terms of grammar, but Arabic grammar and vocabulary is enough to make a person crazy. I'm about to jump into a Slavic language -- at least there aren't any tones.

By anon83350 — On May 10, 2010

I can speak to the animals. I found badger very difficult, but ultimately the most rewarding.

By anon83081 — On May 09, 2010

I'm a native English speaker, but I'm technically dutch. I can read and write in both languages fluently (though I do have some grammatical mishaps when writing in dutch).

I have lived in several countries and have had to take classes in the native tongue in every one of them. So far I have tried to master Arabic, Swahili, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

In my (humble) opinion all languages are difficult to learn especially if they are related to your native tongue because of the subtle differences between them. For example, Dutch and German sound similar but the German grammatical system is far more complex and simply incomprehensible.

Then again I'm not be the sharpest knife in the shed so maybe learning a third / fourth / fifth etc. language might not be so difficult.

"The hardest language to master is the one you are currently trying to learn."

- Anonymous...

By anon82979 — On May 08, 2010

the tlingit language of the alaska natives is indeed the most difficult.

By anon82963 — On May 08, 2010

English isn't my native language. However exposure to it since a young has made me proficient in it to the extent that I can converse in it better than in my native tongue.

By anon82443 — On May 06, 2010

I'm confused. I've been learning Russian for quite some time and i found it kind of hard because of the stress-changes during verb conjugation, noun declination, short-form adjectives, but Polish after one month I completely mastered the declensions (I agree it's a lot more complicated than Russian), because I didn't have to bother memorising the stress accents (almost all words are stressed in the penultimate syllable, and that alone makes everything so damn easy).

Or maybe it's only because i suck at stress-accents and am better at complex grammar. still takes me 5-10 seconds to think of making a polish sentences, including those conditional sentences. Is there anyone out there with the same opinion?

By anon82096 — On May 04, 2010

I`m Vietnamese but live in Finland. Vietnamese is very easy to speak/understand!! (okay maybe I'm not the one to talk).

I speak Finnish and Japanese fluently, but Swedish (<--giving up soon) and English (easy to speak, but not easy to write) give me some problems. But trust me, Vietnamese is not hard at all!

I'm going to learn Chinese someday, but university is taking my time right now.

By anon81488 — On May 02, 2010

I think all foreign languages are difficult. Just the same english for me. I have learned this language for 10 years but i can speak it fluently. absolutely all of foreign languages are very difficult if your environment does not use it.

By anon81310 — On Apr 30, 2010

Interesting how so many people state in comments how their native language is the most difficult one and even after one or two decades they still haven't mastered the grammar or whatever. This says something more about yourself than about your native language.

I'm native Dutch, and there are plenty of grammar rules i don't properly comprehend, mainly because i don't care about them. This doesn't make Dutch the hardest language to understand.

I've been studying Japanese (in Japan) for quite some time now and aside from their use of Chinese characters i found the language not too hard to study.

Chinese on the other hand... I can try pronouncing the same words 10 times and native Chinese people still don't seem to understand what i am trying to say.

Lastly, about what languages are the hardest to learn -- it all depends on what your native tongue is and your feel for language. For me Chinese seems to be a challenge.

By anon81214 — On Apr 30, 2010

I'm arab and it's not that hard.

Yes, it is called being Arab not Arabian. please, if you are really arab take the time to correct the use of the word. I speak fluent english and almost fluent arabic (according to mr. linguistic).

I'm learning spanish (which is quite easy if you took English, and find it much easier to pronounce than Spanish). I am planning to move to Copenhagen but after reading that Danish is hard to learn i'm thinking I won't after all.

By anon81094 — On Apr 29, 2010

The hardest language is the one you do not want to learn.

By anon80625 — On Apr 28, 2010

I am czech. i know to speak cyech, russian, chinese, arabic, german. to learn Chinese i found like very easy, to learn arabic was most difficult for me.

By anon80572 — On Apr 27, 2010

all the comments are true but the language malayalam used in the kerala state of india is the most difficult language to read and write.

By anon80199 — On Apr 26, 2010

Spanish is so stereotypically classified as the easiest of foreign languages for a native speaker of English to learn. Yet Spanish can be very difficult if learned and spoken properly. I am a Chilean raised speaking both Spanish and English.

By anon80069 — On Apr 26, 2010

This really seems like everyone just wants to say the language they learned was the hardest. "My language is harder to learn than yours." Who really cares? What difference does it make? I also couldn't care less that you learned 419 languages by the time you were six years old. Quit bragging about unimportant things.

By anon79861 — On Apr 25, 2010

I am Mongolian-American and happen to think the Mongolian language is one of the hardest ones to learn. Really.

Its grammar and structure are sort of like Russian, but still have so many illogical issues that should be systematized. Otherwise young people today in Mongolia will be incomprehensible by their older generations, which would be not only sad but it would also cause so much social issues and segregation among them.

I think the main problem is that people talk "metaphorically" (in the sense like you'd say something but expected to be understood otherwise) which makes it almost impossible for foreigners to master it.

Russian and German, in my opinion, are not really hard, but you have to put in a lot of effort to make it happen. I am now trying to learn Italian, and, oh my goodness, its grammar is really complicated and hard to get (I feel like it's almost like "messed up" language) even though the sound of it is pretty sexy.

Oh, by the way, one thing I love learning Italian is that you get to pronounce words as you write them. How easy it that!

English was not hard at all to me. Maybe, because I just fell in love with it.

By anon79859 — On Apr 25, 2010

The question of what's the hardest language to learn is impossible to answer because it varies depending on who's learning it.

However, I can tell you that I'm a native Finn and I've studied a bunch of other languages and not one of them comes close to the level of complexity of Finnish. It's a difficult language because of its suffixes, long words and because the spoken and written languages are very different from each other. Also finnish doesn't have any regular verbs.

By anon79186 — On Apr 21, 2010

I am from Slovakia. I can say it is really a difficult language. Even people here need about 12-14 years to learn to write Slovak correctly. (Yes writing is way more harder for us.). Seven cases mentioned here are not the main concern! There are tons of other aspects and complications in the Slovak language. I will list some of them: the rule where to use y/i at the end of words (really a though and complex thing), rule where to use y/i after consonants like b,p,m,v,k,r,z,l (we have to memorize hundreds of words and for the rest there are other rules/or exceptions), different declensions for masculine/feminine/neuter gender (each of them contain at least four patterns how to declinate), several tenses, rule of using 'ť'/'t' 'n'/'ň'.., rule how to use 'de'/'ďe', 'te'/'ťe', 'ne'/'ňe'..etc, adverbs prepositions numbers adjectives - all of them are declinated too.

There are also tons of rules in pronunciation: the rule of assimilation (Consonant clusters containing both voiced and voiceless elements are entirely voiced), rule for pronunciation of the letter 'v'... and many more.

And in addition to comparison with Czech language - in Slovak language there are things you can't find in the Czech language. To mention a confusing rhythmical rule (A long syllable (that is, a syllable containing á, é, í, ý, ó, ú, ŕ, ĺ, ia, ie, iu, ô) cannot be followed by another long syllable in the same word.) and also you can't find 'soft' letters like 'ď','ť','ľ','ň','dž','č','ä','ô','ia','ie','iu' in the Czech language. (And yeah - for them there are just another rules in the language.)

Well I mentioned just some aspects of the Slovak language (there is a fairly long book covering just Slovak syntax and grammar) and you can see it really complex with plenty of rules. Not to mention that with every rule there come even more exceptions.

So at the end you need to even double the complexity of the Slovak language.

Do you still doubt which is the hardest language?

By anon78516 — On Apr 19, 2010

I'm Danish, and I've never had troubles learning languages. And I never thought Danish could be tough, but I'm now a foreign exchange student in Japan, and when I try to teach someone a little Danish, I myself can understand why it is so hard for them. Soft D's, æ ø å, and silent d's and g's.

By anon78426 — On Apr 18, 2010

of course it's Arabic, because it's the origin of languages.

By anon77953 — On Apr 16, 2010

the most difficult language is arabic -- no doubt about that. It's even hard for arabic people. Take me, for example. I'm arabic and i find much difficulty in learning arabic language rules, the written numbers for example. if you study arabic you will see that.

By anon76914 — On Apr 12, 2010

I speak English, Italian, Spanish, French and Czech. Now I'm learning Danish and I have to admit I never had so many problems in learning a language. Learning Danish is like learning two languages at the same time because written language and spoken language differ a lot!

By anon76834 — On Apr 12, 2010

No.232: It's "Slovak",not "Slovakian" and saying it sounds like badly spoken Czech? Ugh. i agree that Czech is little bit more difficult but Slovak is prettier (all foreigners are saying it). And most of the Czech people can´t speak any decent Slovak anymore. I live in Prague and i see how hopeless they are.

By anon76134 — On Apr 09, 2010

Can any language be harder than either Cantonese or Teochiu? Because I never met anyone who learned Cantonese as a foreign speaker to even a genuinely intermediate level.

By lizzet — On Apr 08, 2010

oh come on, you are all just saying the languages that are most commonly heard about. I'm czech

and i learned english when i was 12. it took me one year to master it and I've been speaking czech all my life and i haven't mastered it yet.

I am 14 and i already know English, czech, japanese, french and german so i think i know what I'm talking about.

You would be surprised how much harder czech is than Slovakian. i know it as well and it still just sounds like someone speaking bad czech.

By anon75112 — On Apr 05, 2010

I am Hungarian and must say that the Hungarian language is like no other. I grew up being told that the Hungarian language is the second hardest in the world, so that is what I think.

By anon74331 — On Apr 01, 2010

Body language is the hardest to learn!

By anon73519 — On Mar 27, 2010

Think if Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and Hindi all used a Romanized alphabet writing instead of their own scripts. I'm sure then a lot of European and Native American languages would easily surpass them in overall difficulty. Finnish, Polish, and Navajo come to mind first.

By anon73516 — On Mar 27, 2010

Reading this I saw one particular comment I can't help but reply to. You don't have to be a kid to master a language. I know adults that have learned a language as one, and "mastered" it, so to speak.

It all depends on the person on how difficult a language is. All languages have their easy points and hard points for people.

By anon73474 — On Mar 27, 2010

I am Filipino, but living here in Denmark. I always thought that i was outside this planet every time i heard them speaking danish, but now that i am used to living here, it makes is more easier to understand why danish sounds like they have potatoes in their mouth and feel like throwing up every time they speak. Scandinavian is a hard language to learn I think.

By anon73354 — On Mar 26, 2010

As an English speaker, I have studied both Polish and Slovak for several years. I would place them on the same level in terms of difficulty.

Slovak is indeed a very complex language and less accessible to English speakers than Polish generally, with more dialect variation across such a small country. My wife is a Slovak, so I have extra motivation to focus on Slovak now.

By anon73249 — On Mar 26, 2010

Hungarian is extremely difficult to learn as a second language. I have never ever heard any foreigner speaking it correctly and truly fluently. Also, for every Hungarian, it is very very hard to learn any language, because the Hungarian language is just so very different from all the other languages.

Learning a language can be pretty easy and fun:

-memorize the grammar in two days.

-build vocabulary - let's say 50 words per day = 1500 words in a month, and close to 20000 in a year.

But to be truly fluent, that is way beyond that.

Language is culture - you cannot learn any language just for the only reason of learning that language. It has to be lived to fully understand.

By anon72967 — On Mar 25, 2010

Five thousand most widely used English words have twenty thousand Slovak expressions.

By anon72873 — On Mar 24, 2010

The majority of these comments are very stupid and it's obvious that you are not linguists. Every language is hard on its own basis and it's all dependent on the depth you want to take it.

Those saying hungarian, finnish, etc. are not difficult, especially those who are not natives in any other finno-ugric language obviously do not know your stuff. This topic deserves to be given some element of seriousness.

Russian is not easy - but it's not impossible. I'm fluent in English (my native) and Russian (having lived and studied at a Russian university). I also know Romanian and Polish but I'm not fluent in them - because the word fluent obviously isn't understood by most.

I can communicate in them very well but I am not a part of that culture and culture makes for successful language learning. Language is culture. This should be understood. You can't speak a language well by "learning" it you need to be part of that culture and have lived" it to get the true feeling for a language. So if being fluent in 10 languages but speaking with an accent, not knowing the culture, the literary references, the full grammar, the ability to think in this language - then yes you are fluent in a not very fluent way.

Sorry to sound so patronising but languages are something I take very seriously and as a qualified linguist, a lot of comments here make me shiver just out of pure misconceptions.

I would like to mention, though, there were many comments which made perfect sense. Especially that there is no "officially" easy language it all depends on the person learning.

By anon72355 — On Mar 22, 2010

as a Dutch person I laugh about the comments here by the Polish. They all make the same mistakes in the Dutch language. I have many Polish friends that lived here for years and they still speak funny Dutch. I know many Dutch people that don't even speak it well. We have a green book with the rules of Dutch grammar. It changes every few years.

By anon72350 — On Mar 22, 2010

I am a native Filipino speaker, and for me the Mandarin and Nihongo are the most difficult language to understand and to learn. because it's like a tongue twister when I speak a Mandarin and Nihongo words.

By anon72051 — On Mar 21, 2010

I'm a native English speaker and personally i think Arabic and Russian are the hardest languages to learn but that's simply because they are in no way similar to English, while Spanish/Italian/Frisian have a lot of common words with English.

Arabic and Russian are written and spoken much differently so therefore very hard to learn.

I can understand that English could also be very hard to learn because we have so many slang words and dialects that they can't very well teach in textbooks.

By anon72047 — On Mar 21, 2010

I'm from Poland. For me, Polish is very easy and I'm very surprised, that for you, Polish is difficult! I thik, Arabic is difficult. But it is only my opinion.

By anon71602 — On Mar 19, 2010

i think the language is easy. i just can pronounce all asian languages very well. i don't know what they said but can pronounce them the same way. it depends on talent and the person who is interested on which language he or she wants to learn.

for example i like to learn chinese and can pronounce it very well. i don't know yet what it means at all but i hear it like english.... sounds to me like it is english and I really will learn it like i did with this english language. i already know i speak spanish and english.

I came to usa at 15 years old then like year later you see me here. easy.

things like this just depend on the people and like a computer, their capacity to learn. mostly like, i want graphics. chinese is a must skill to have. remembering each >ideogram< chinese letter.

By anon69992 — On Mar 11, 2010

I'm from Greece and I'm trying to learn Korean. I also believe that if you want to learn a language then you will. Korean is difficult especially when you try to write something. I have heard that vietnamese is difficult too.

By anon69655 — On Mar 09, 2010

I think Arabic is the most difficult language in the world, but to tell the truth, I'm Arabic. The spoken language is easy, so you can quickly understand it, but it's unwritable because we use foreign letters like ch and g which are not Arabic letters, and it's easier than formal speech because we always ignore most of grammar.

It makes our formal speech is terrible, although nobody uses it to speak.

if you want to learn Arabic,you shouldn't learn the formal speech to talk, but to write only.

the languages I learn are only three: English, Japanese and persian. Besides, I'm still learning Arabic!!

the mercy of being Arabian is that we are able to pronounce most of the sounds -- even foreign ones! Arabians can easily learn another language because any language we learn is still easier than Arabic.

when you walk in our streets you will see misspelled words, but believe me, the writing is the easiest thing in Arabic and personally, I write well.

By anon69375 — On Mar 08, 2010

This is probably one of the most flawed debates going around. I'm not even sure where to begin. Let's just say that:

1. depends on first language of speaker. An English speaker would find Spanish easier, while a Finnish speaker would find Estonian easier etc.

2. the learner's ability (sound recognition, sound reproduction, etc.)

3. what is meant by 'to learn' and what level the learner wishes to achieve.

4. Learning environment (types of resources).

5. Prior language learning experience.

And a thousand and one other factors come into play.

Let's just agree that there is no 'hardest language', and stop pretending that you have the answer to a flawed question. It's a complete logical fallacy.

By anon69155 — On Mar 06, 2010

Portuguese is very hard too. It has a very complex grammar, some pronunciations are close to Spanish, but some words like LH together makes a sound that I have never seen in any other language.Portuguese is my first language, and it's very hard to learn everything and speak fluently, it has a very rich vocabulary.

By anon68813 — On Mar 04, 2010

Just stating a point. Everyone on this board who learned English as a second language. You all have got no capital letters. You put i like that when its supposed to be like this: "I." But anyway i find English only hard because there's so many words that i still don't know and I'm 12. The only other languages I tried to learn are French and German and German's easier than French.

By anon68679 — On Mar 03, 2010

I speak english fluently and have only been taught that, besides taking spanish during school.

I have just begun to learn Danish for fun, but i find it very easy. In many of the words and phrases there are similarities between english and danish.

I also find it pretty simple to write Danish except for the words that include the four weird letters. The only thing i find hard about it is that i can't understand conversations because all the words seem to mush together. Anyway that is my two cents

By anon68356 — On Mar 02, 2010

have you guys heard of language called malayalam? it's an indian language. Well, it's the hardest -- even for a malayali.

By anon68221 — On Mar 01, 2010

Saying that Dutch is the most difficult language in the world is a very good joke, for me. As a native in the Polish language I found Dutch to be extremely easy. As your language has no cases and relies heavily on German (of course, I am totally aware of the differences, but knowing German helps a lot to master Dutch) it stood as no challenge for me.

In the end, I ended up living in Belgium and working for a Dutch-speaking firm in only just two years and people cannot believe that I speak the language so well. It is very often that I find people (Dutch native speakers) saying that their language is so difficult.

Well, I have to say, you are wrong. I find myself often correcting other people's mistakes in Dutch, even though it's their native language, but just think about English and then you will know that often foreigners know how to spell better than the English speaking natives. This is just normal.

For a change, try Finnish. I will also not be as pathetic to say that Polish is the most difficult language in the world, or any other Slavic language, because it is simply not true. They are logical and easy to learn.

By anon68148 — On Mar 01, 2010

I think it's impossible to answer such a question. The most difficult thing in learning a foreign language is to learn proper pronunciation. And as the teacher from Toronto said, unless you are a kid you can't master it.

In every single language there are hard parts to learn, e.g., in English, it's the pronunciation and complex vocabulary; in Japanese, the alphabets; in Polish, grammar and pronunciation.

In my opinion in majority we think the language is hard to master if its difficult at the beginning. And that's why we think english is easy and french is hard.

For me English is easy except for pronunciation. Spanish is just easy, but french and Japanese were way too difficult.

My mother tongue is Polish, which is very illogical and super hard to pronounce. I can't think what is easy in learning polish. It's hard to learn from the beginning.

I think Arabic would be one of the most difficult to learn for me. Irish is hard too.

By anon68047 — On Feb 28, 2010

Has anybody tried Dutch? As a native speaker, I make way more mistakes in my own language than in English, which is in my opinion, one of the easiest languages to learn! I can communicate quite easily in German, although i only learned it in secondary school and was never bothered to put any effort in it.

Dutch is surely impossible to learn fluently if you are not a native speaker, just because it lacks a structure and has for example no masculine forms (so it only has feminine and neutral forms). Moreover, the word order in Dutch is extremely sensitive and rigid, in contrast with english. Therefore, German might seem hard because of all its forms, but once you understand that and know the gender of most nouns, it is possible to speak it correctly, but Dutch lacks this structure, but is still gender sensitive (although no Dutchman could tell you what gender a specific noun actually has) and that is why it is extremely difficult for foreigners to learn this language.

Moreover, verbs are very often irregular and do not make any sense to outsiders as for the reason they are used in that way (sometimes an irregular verb actually is formed in a way you would expect another verb to be).

Finally, spelling in Dutch is a complete nightmare, and most native speakers can not spell Dutch correctly at all! There is actually no one in the Dutch speaking area who can spell without mistakes.

That, in contrast with English, which can be hard in the beginning, but once you know how to spell a basic amount of words, you can change almost any similar formed word in that way. Moreover, the verbal system in English is in my opinion extremely easy, and many native speakers speak in present form actually only with one form ('he/she do').

I am learning Russian, and have not touched the construction of grammar cases properly yet, and it seems to be a hard to learn this language, but in some way I found it actually quite easy.

It seems to me not very word order sensitive and you can easily describe something comprehensively only using a few words.

By anon67983 — On Feb 28, 2010

I am from Denmark. I have heard that danish should be one of the hardest languages to learn. I don't think its hard but that's because i am from Denmark. But if any of you talk danish, or are trying to learn it, can you tell me what's so hard about danish. I can't find anything that's especially hard in the language.

By anon67416 — On Feb 24, 2010

the most difficult language is the Slovakian language.

By anon67380 — On Feb 24, 2010

I can tell you people, Spanish is the easiest language to learn. I'll tell you why. There is not a gap between grammar and pronunciation. Spanish sounds exactly as you write it. There are not exceptions. It is so logical that's impossible to get lost. I haven't found this fantastic feature in the other languages that I've studied.

By anon66828 — On Feb 21, 2010

Stay away from hungarian! It's a nightmare!

By anon66736 — On Feb 21, 2010

i would say Dutch. It may seem easy at first. but when you advance you notice it is going to be extremely hard. because you need to name all the words in a sentence, for example:

Mijn hond loopt over de straat.

(My dog walks across the street)

All the words in this sentence could have all kinds of "names," and that makes it really hard. Just understanding all these names is hard.

But, if you're living in the Netherlands ( where they speak dutch) and you are dyslexic, well than it's almost impossible.

so if you want to learn Dutch and advance in it, make sure you're bringing paper towels, because your going to cry. believe me.

By anon66478 — On Feb 20, 2010

Learning various languages is my hobby! I am a native speaker of Russian but I can speak French and German more or less fluently.

As for English, it is a kind of my second native language. I've recently begun studying Spanish. I also learn Japanese, Korean, Chinese (Mandarin) and Swahili, and it's not always that easy (it was hard to find good textbooks for these languages, so I have to learn Swahili using textbooks in French and Chinese with books in English).

At university we also study Latin. I also don't have many problems with understanding Ukrainian or Bulgarian speech (written or spoken) since Russian is my mother tongue. Looking forward to studying Swedish and Italian! Yay for the multi-lingual society!

By anon66345 — On Feb 19, 2010

hola como estan??' soy Nathanael el q dijo de su idioma el q habla español please responde a mi correo...

By anon66344 — On Feb 19, 2010

good, my name is Nathanael I am 15 years old. I'm from Venezuela. I live in zulia state. As you know I speak in Spanish. that is my first language, and on my part I can say that one of the harder languages is English although I know how to speak it.

I consider that is very easy. Its pronunciation for me and moreover I have had many conversations with person that speak it in different places such as in the high school, by messenger, face to face, etc., until I had the opportunity to know a wonderful person in my life. Her name is Faith and she is from England. She is really a good person. I love her but it isn't the case that we are talking. Like I said before English is harder in the dialects and in a few contexts.

I learned to speak in English for myself studying much all the day at home with an English grammar and still I cannot speak it perfectly for the simple reason that I don't speak all the days with people face to face and I don't listen much. No one speaks it, but I have had many conversations, and this day I want that you tell me how I speak in English? Good or bad? tell me. I need it. Answer me, please. Don't lie to me.

By anon65810 — On Feb 16, 2010

The most difficult language is pushto. The language of afghanistan.

By anon65439 — On Feb 13, 2010

i'm hungarian and i speak english fluently. however, even with its similarities to english, i could never understand any of the german grammar. i studied german for three whole years and yet i cannot speak a word of it. i understand some written stuff but boy, it's still close to nothing.

i'm planning to take czech courses next year at the university.

By anon65298 — On Feb 12, 2010

My Chinese is easy, but Russian and Arabic are extremely difficult.

By anon65220 — On Feb 11, 2010

I, as a native speaker of Bosnian language, (Serbo-Croatian ) have found following languages the most difficult to learn and master (only languages related mostly to Europe).

1. Lithuanian - it has some relations with my maternal language but they are minor. This is an extremely difficult language with many inflections, difficult grammar and pretty strange vocabulary. (+ Latvian )

2. Icelandic - definitely the hardest living Germanic language (along with Faroese). Archaic vocabulary, different endings in cases for definite and indefinite articles and nouns, adjectives and other words following them, tricky sounds make the language(s) challenge to master.

3. Polish - without any doubt the most difficult Slavonic language (for me). I am aware of fact that the language is pretty much related to my native tongue, but regardless of that fact, I found it extremely difficult, mainly because of the completely illogical writing system, some tough sounds that don't exist in my language and different endings (comparing them to the endings in my language) for cases and verbs that could be very deceptive.

4. Harder Celtic languages - I don't know much about them, but from that what I've seen, they look very alien and tough.

5. English - yeah, it is the most spoken language in the world and has many resources for learning it and we can hear and read it everywhere. But there are still some difficulties that make the language very hard to master, such as different dialects (some of them very hard to understand), a large vocabulary, weird constructions and so forth. it has a weird writing system.

The next five languages are the ones I found the easiest to learn and master for me as a native Bosnian speaker.

1. Spanish - easy to pronounce, "international" vocabulary, many similarities in gender endings with Bosnian, many resources, domestic TV channels showing telenovelas in Spanish and its dialects.

2. Macedonian - easier grammar than most Slavic languages, vocabulary that rarely differs from Bosnian in wider aspects, easy writing system (regular cyrillic), pronunciation.

3. Slovenian (just the written form and when slowly spoken) - it is in the same group as Bosnian, very similar vocabulary, almost completely understandable in written form but not so much in the spoken form, similar endings, aspects, tenses, lack of some letters (that exist in Bosnian and are tough to master) in written form. Yeah, the dual form is tough.

4. Italian - everything like Spanish but you can't hear it so much as Spanish on TV or so, and it has a little harder grammar.

5. Norwegian - easy grammar, lack of conjugation for persons, ordinary germanic vocabulary, but still hard to understand it when spoken (many dialects, sound spilling, fast speaking and so on).

By anon64721 — On Feb 09, 2010

The question itself is flawed. First off, the hardest language for one to learn is contingent on which languages they already know. (Ex. If I already speak a Slavic language, learning another slavic language would be easier for me then someone who spoke a language from another family.)

Second, difficulty can be measured differently depending on the method. (ex. children, the whole true blank slates, have statistically been proven to learn any language as their native language at approximately the same rate.)

Immersion levels the playing field when considering syntax and structure, where as Finnish could be argued to be the most complex based on complexity of rule structure.

Forming new sounds with the mouth depends often times on age and ability to change muscle memory.

Long story short: if the question was more specific, an answer may be possible. Other than that, this is all just useless debate.

By anon64549 — On Feb 08, 2010

I'm a native japanese speaker,and i was surprised that many people who posted comments here learn japanese. I'm happy to know that.

Anyway i don't know what language is the most difficult one, but at least for me, french is more difficult than English.

I'm learning korean now, and it's said japanese and korean are close, because we have same words, and the order is the same. Whatever...

but korean has lots more sounds than japanese.

(i think japanese is an easy language to pronounce.)

also, as you know, we use chinese letters, but chinese is also difficult for japanese (at least for me) because we use the same letters, but sometimes the meanings are different (each chinese letter has meaning) and the pronunciation is totally different, but still we can guess what they write because we use the same letters.

so i think every language but yours is rather difficult for you. but still i think we can speak any languages if we practice, because when i was little, i couldn't speak english at all.

and i like to hear languages i don't understand; they sound cool. i wish i could know how japanese sounds for people who don't understand.

every language is attractive,isn't it?

By anon64012 — On Feb 04, 2010

believe me the hardest language is Polish. i couldn't get my polish right until i was about 17. i know they say russian is harder but polish is like 10 times harder.

By anon63750 — On Feb 03, 2010

I´m from Slovenia, that lies between Austria, Italy, Croatia and Hungary. In our country we learn mostly Italian, German and English. We don´t have to learn Croatian, because it´s quite similar to our language, but still different. Our language is the only language which has -- I will call it two. It's really hard to explain but I´ll try.

For example: All other languages have plural and singular. Like me, Like we. That's all in all your languages. It's the same in the all other languages in the world. Well in our language it's quite different. We have, I'll call it three. single for one person (like me), the plural (like we) and the third is second (like us two). The second I can't explain to you because it's so hard.

like I would invent a new word in english. like "us two" would be, say, like "WO" that marks a word for two persons. so the spelling would be like in english, he, she, it thwn the second "ho, sho, ot" and the plural we. I'm pretty sure you didn't understand what I wrote, but don't worry. That's not so hard.

By anon63590 — On Feb 02, 2010

I´m Czech. In the Czech alphabet there is a strange letter called "ř" (very, very difficult to pronounce)!

But if you couldn't pronounce it, don't be sad, even the Czech president Václav Havel couldn't pronounce it very well. :-)

By anon63022 — On Jan 29, 2010

There are some basic errors in your intro. I speak and read both Russian and German and there is nothing special about their punctuation. The rules are essentially the same as in English and are quite intuitive.

The most complex aspect of Russian for English speakers is the concept of "verb aspect", where different forms of the verb are used for single or completed as opposed to repetitive or ongoing action. This applies to other Slavic languages as well.

I also disagree about the difficulty of Korean. I studied it for a year and it is certainly the most difficult languages I have ever tried.

The structure is, in fact, very similar to Japanese and I doubt one is inherently more difficult than the other. The trouble with Japanese is the complex writing system with a combination of Chinese characters (kanji), many of which have several readings or pronunciations, depending upon the context, and two sets of syllabaries (kana).

To # 181, I've never tried Slovak, but I have learned a little Czech, which is very similar, as you know. It is not too difficult for someone who already knows Russian, although there are a number of grammatical differences.

By anon62373 — On Jan 26, 2010

and what do you think about slovak language?

i am from slovakia, so i really want to know what do people think about our language. for the answer thanks.

By anon62000 — On Jan 24, 2010

Albanian is the most difficult language!

By anon61878 — On Jan 23, 2010

my parents speak spanish and i speak both english and spanish so im Mexican-American. what languages can i learn quicker?

By anon61782 — On Jan 22, 2010

From Indo-European languages (biggest language group), try to master Lithuanian. Finno-Ugor languages are difficult too (Finnish, Hungarian). English is fairly simple but has idiotic pronunciation.

By anon61717 — On Jan 21, 2010

I'm a native arabic speaker actually i like learning the english language and i think it's simple and very important because it's the most used language in the world. peace

By anon61688 — On Jan 21, 2010

i know you are explaining that spanish is the easiest; no way is one of the hardest languages in the world. In spite of the pronunciation is quite easy, and is easy for someone who your mother's language is "latin." but for english-, german-, hungarian-, russian-speakers, etc., it is difficult because the pronunciation is very different.

spanish is also difficult because there are more tenses than english german, hungarian, etc.

besides, in spanish exists the gender and number, and in english not. also, accented letters exist and that complicates things for german-, english-, dutch-, russian- and hungarian-speakers."

very wise. well here in hungary we have those accented letters, even more than in spanish so we can easily get away with that. i have no idea if spanish is complicated for russian etc. speakers but i can assure you it is just as easy for me as for anybody else. (and i am hungarian)

By anon61164 — On Jan 18, 2010

I know 10 languages. They are spanish, english, russian, polish, chinese, german, aramaic, finnish, arabic, italian, japanese and they were all very easy to learn.

so i don't know why anyone would think that languages are so hard to learn because they aren't.

By anon60873 — On Jan 16, 2010

"In fact, Chinese has no grammatical system per se, which makes it easier to learn than many Western languages once you have memorized the basic characters." The person who wrote this needs to be shot.

Chinese does have grammar. A simple sentence comprising of the words for, "sky", "blue", "enjoy", "I", "looking", "the" and "at" only has two or three, if that, and not many more, variations before it becomes incomprehensible.

By anitadenoche — On Jan 16, 2010

Hi, I'm from the Ukraine. I was 12, when I went to live in Barcelona, Spain. Now I'm 26, and I can speak seven languages in perfection: Spanish, French, Italian, Russian, Arabic, Polish, Romanian. Also I can speak German, Japanese, Turkish, but I can't say that's easy for me. Spanish is very easy. French and Italian are similar to Spanish in grammar and in words, but they are different in pronunciation.

German is very hard. Articles, sort and plural forms one of complexities of this language.

Russian and Polish are very similar to Ukraine, but they're very difficult because you have to change almost each word in the sentence. There are a lot of problems in plural forms of the nouns. Besides there are many exceptions, because there aren't articles and many verbs and pretexts. English and Spanish speakers, do you think that Polish is more difficult than Russian? If you answered "yes" you are mistaken. If you have ever learned Polish, maybe you remember about 17 grammatical forms for the number 2. In Russian it is similar, but it is more difficult for reading. So to my mind Russian isn't easy enough for English speakers. But Russian isn't more difficult then Arabi, Japanese and Turkish.

By anon60674 — On Jan 15, 2010

Okay obviously, all the languages even mentioned are ones that are well known and spoken by many people.

In my opinion, there are many languages that are being forgotten. For example ones in Africa. Have people tried learning those because they are extremely difficult? the problem is that they are not as well known as languages like Mandarin or Slovak.

Languages in South Africa and southern Kenya use languages that have "click" noises in them. Have people ever considered those languages? No, it's too bad, people are just so caught up with "Russian, Stock and Mandarin." Hey don't get me wrong they are hard but they do not come close to languages in Africa.

By anon60673 — On Jan 15, 2010

Nothing comes close to like Arabic -- well, except Somali. I haven't heard Polish but if it's hard well then oh well, I hope I hear it for myself.

But seriously, like Arabic? Has way too many dialects. Somali is my second native tongue and my first is English (I learned them at the same time but I'm more fluent in English than Somali). It really depends on the person.

Mandarin and Korean are actually quite easy to learn because of the lack of grammar. it's just that Korean has formal and informal speech. The difficulty I think lies in the reading and writing.

By anon60430 — On Jan 13, 2010

I'm a spanish speaker and i lived in hungary for a year and i have to say that magyar (hungarian language) is so difficult. I don't know if it's the hardest one but for sure one of the most.

Also i think vasko, finnish

well for me i have to say that in mexico we have a dialect called nahua and it's quite difficult.

By anon60377 — On Jan 13, 2010

Hi, I am Slovak and I speak 12 languages including the most difficult ones such as Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Arabic. And I am only 28. By the way, I do not see Russian as difficult, rather easy. But that is because of my mother language.

A slight challenge I have seen in Chinese writing, speaking and other stuff is easy. Japanese-slight challenge is grammar, but not much. Everything needs time, that's all.

And for those who think that I just was learning languages, not true. Direct opposite. I was doing other stuff and working, languages came to me naturally.

For example I have learned Japanese from manga anime. Afterwards I studied Japanese. Or just watching Korean movies, now I understand Korean, not writing of course, and that goes for similar languages.

For example I can read and understand around another 5-10 languages. When I was on my trip in Norway I could read a Norwegian paper and understand everything. Of course some few words I needed to guess, because I never learned Norwegian. ;) I guess I have a talent. I picked up Arabic in a few days and later could understand most of arabic conversations. In just a few days, with no prior knowledge, just like that I can pick up any language.

Of course for truly knowing any language you need to spend a few years. ;) There are exceptions like me who can learn language fast, but you still need a few years to really know the language and to have a big vocab in targeted language. And everybody makes mistakes, so don`t worry too much about mistakes. Willingness to communicate is important. If you speak with second language, everybody will tolerate your small mistakes.

The most important thing is that you speak. You will improve later on.

By anon60338 — On Jan 13, 2010

Number 165, forgive me the wrong information.

I'm Hungarian, interested in the Polish language.

I am learning it for over 10 years and probably more I do not understand.

Polish grammar is indeed illogical, and I do not understand. It's as though no one could know how the language beyond the Poles:)


(Ai came to the conclusion that the Russian is terribly difficult. Another alphabet, it is quite difficult to learn)

By anon59009 — On Jan 05, 2010

hey, fella number 159: You are wrong with the information that croatian/bosnian/serbian/montenegrin has only seven forms of "two", it has as many forms as polish has! SBCS is even harder (according to some expert issues) to learn than Polish because of unpredictable stress, but i doubt it.

I'm native speaker of Bosnian and I can't understand much of spoken Polish, but they understand me very well. Also, their writing system is much more illogical and complicated than ours. They speak faster too, yeah.

By anon58943 — On Jan 05, 2010

greek is the most difficult language and 2 is arabic.

By anon58530 — On Jan 02, 2010

English is usually easy for foreign people to learn because they hear it often. The music they listen to is often in English and finding examples of it aren't hard.

So no, no one I've spoken to found English hard to learn.

By anon58529 — On Jan 02, 2010

I am a native speaker of English.

Personally, I do not find memorizing the grammar of a language difficult. The only thing that determines its difficulty is the pronunciation.

I found learning German ridiculously easy, as the pronunciation for an English speaker is quite natural. Mandarin Chinese? Not so much. Vietnamese is very difficult for an English speaker, too. Speaking English my whole life I never had to make sounds like they do; it's very -- unnatural for me, I guess. I found the same problem with Russian.

Anyway, the difficulty of a language really depends on what someone finds difficult. For me it was pronunciation. But for many people in my Russian class the grammatical system was the biggest obstacle.

By anon58505 — On Jan 02, 2010

Polish and Arabic

By anon58339 — On Jan 01, 2010

To be honest, there are many languages considered the most difficult to learn but its very hard to have a specific one. I think it depends on your native tongue really. I mean, like if you're a native Russian speaker, you would be able to pick up Polish with a lot more ease than someone who is a native speaker of English. Russian and Polish are very similar compared to Russian and English.

If you're a native English speaker, you would be able to pick up German, Italian, French and Spanish. These languages are very similar to English. Out of these four, I think Spanish would be easiest, then Italian, then French and then German.

By anon57618 — On Dec 25, 2009

my native language is German, but I can speak Arabic fluently, learning Turkish since three years but not doing very well. i found Arabic is much easier than the Turkish language, but English is easy too.

By anon57474 — On Dec 23, 2009

I totally disagree with you people, i think that Arabic is the most difficult language in the world.

Because, every letter is pronounced in many different ways with the "chakl" ( it's the way to read properly a letter, it's like a letter up another letter (i don't know how to explain it).

Arabic is my mother tongue, and I speak fluently French, English, German and Japanese.

I am now 16 years old and still have some bad grades at school because of it.

For all those who disagree with me, I defy you to try reading (and of course understand) the "Jahilya" poems or the Quran (I am not preaching, I just said that because it is the most difficult book in Arabic). Good luck. You'll need it.

By anon56890 — On Dec 18, 2009

There are difficult languages to speak in this world and i believe it. i agree that arabic, Russia, Korean and japanese are the most difficult languages to speak and learn. even the native speakers know the difficulty of their languages.

but the good thing is if you know how to speak french, german, italian, spanish and english. you can travel anywhere in the world with no problem of language translation.

By anon55940 — On Dec 10, 2009

I am a native English speaker and have studied French for some years and am nearly fluent, yet I found studying Arabic much easier.

By anon55407 — On Dec 07, 2009

I am slovak and I find english very difficult. I have been learning the english language for six years, yet I do mistakes. 23 languages or 43, how on earth can you speak in so many languages? I have got to study more.

Spanish or french is for me spanielska dedina (impossible to understand). The most difficult language is the language that you are learning and cannot pick up.

By anon54489 — On Nov 30, 2009

Hello. I am native persian and speake fluently russian, english, french, a little german and learning finnish. I think the most difficult language is the last one.

By anon54069 — On Nov 26, 2009

Honestly, people exaggerate way too much on the difficulties on Chinese and Japanese (and Korean). The Chinese language, especially.

The difficult part about the Chinese and Japanese languages are the 2,000 characters or so that you'll have to memorize to read and understand a newspaper. Even then, there are radicals in each character that will give you a clue to their meaning. After that, things aren't really hard.

In Mandarin Chinese, you'll have to attempt at four tones, but if you at least try at the tones, natives will understand you. (People can piece together sentences.) Chinese has an impossibly easy grammar. Yes, a simple sentence structure (usually in subject-verb-object form, like in English), and they don't actually conjugate verbs. So the word in present and past tense form is the same. You simply add in words that can be loosely translated as "already."

In Japanese, the grammar may be difficult with verb conjugations, but pronunciation isn't that difficult.

I would imagine Korean is not that difficult as well -- I love their logical writing system. However, learners might have some problems with the different sound values of "b" and "p" or "j" and "ch," to name a couple.

As for myself, I find a language difficult if they have a lot of exceptions and a lot of memorization compared to other languages.

I don't care if it offers very little similarity to my native tongue, because we can all memorize, and thus, learn, a few new things. If I had some set, concrete rules that would apply to every case in the language, and simply memorized it, I would be on my way to fluency. That determines how difficult a language is to me. The more exceptions, the more I am scared away from the language.

By lexiophiles — On Nov 25, 2009

This topic seems to raise a lot of debate. As you mentioned, individual aptitude and a person's native language are relevant in determining how difficult they find learning a particular language.

We posted a similar article last year and it attracted a lot of attention.

By anon53235 — On Nov 19, 2009

I´m a basque speaker, but not a native speaker, I learned it 20 years ago. Nowadays I´m fluent and is my everyday tongue, as spanish is. In my opinion learning basque isn´t more difficult than another language like french, english or another one. I heard that chinese or arab languages are tricky. Basque? I don´t think so.

By anon52980 — On Nov 18, 2009

您好吗 Qué tal كيف حالك Wie geth es Ihnen आप कैसे हैं How are you Comme vas-tu

After reading some comments and being devoted to teaching Spanish -my mother tongue, I can say that it depends on the person himself, on how he faces his study and on his own background.

In my case I think Spanish is not difficult, but it is very, very similar to French, more to Italian and even more to Portuguese. There is not such a difference among them to make a big gap from to other.

If you really want to learn there is not a difficulty big enough, but I think Arabic is the most difficult I have studied, although I speak it without any problem. Chinese is very easy, but its pronunciation and writing are difficult. German is from my point of view more difficult than French. I studied a bit Hindi too, but not so much to be able to give a good opinion. Greetings

By anon52513 — On Nov 14, 2009

I think any language may be easy or difficult depending of your native language, your natural ability to learn, enthusiasm, etc.

My native language is Portuguese. Some people say it is a difficult language. I disagree. In fact, it is easier for English speaking people than Spanish. Of course most of them are not aware of that. Portuguese still shares a lot of the inflections of the Latin spoken during the roman empire and many of its words, coming directly from it, are very similar with the words in English.

If you speak English try to read a text in Portuguese. You will be amazed to see how many words you can easily understand. One thing I can say.

To learn a second language is easy. The reason being is, if you could identify the most stupid person in this planet you would know that person is able to speak one language. Why then shouldn't you be able to speak two?

By anon52460 — On Nov 14, 2009

Let's everybody speak IDO (reformed Esperanto).

it's easy and simple.

By anon52419 — On Nov 14, 2009

I don't think there is such a thing as a "difficult punctuation system". I speak both German and Russian anyway, and there is nothing mysterious about the punctuation.

By anon51717 — On Nov 08, 2009

Malayalam (A regional language in india) is very hard to study. it has only 51 letters in the alphabet but its pronunciations are very hard to understand. Dr Laurie Baker, who lived in india for about 50 years was not able to speak malayalam well.

By anon51507 — On Nov 06, 2009

My observation is that languages with difficult grammar systems have easy, logical spelling and pronunciation, whereas languages which are quite easy grammar-wise have very often terrible pronunciation rules or use difficult tones instead. Languages with difficult grammar include, for example: Polish, Arabic, Sanskrit. Languages with difficult pronunciation are English, French, Irish Gaelic.

By anon49830 — On Oct 23, 2009

The Circassian (North Caucasus) Language is the most difficult language in the world.

I speak five other languages: English, Arabic, Russian, Hebrew and Turkish. These languages are so easy if you think about the circassian language. One of my English speaking friends told me this, “I think that you, the Circassians are not speaking and you are not understanding each other, you only making voices like birds”.

Some word in circassian.

There are three Circassian republics in thr Russian North Caucasus, republic of Adygeya, Kabardino-Balkarian republic and Karachaevo-Circassian republic.

Good luck.

By anon49522 — On Oct 21, 2009

Chinese is not as difficult as you think. You only need to learn about 2500 of the most popular characters and 1000 subordinate characters. Then you can use it very well.

By anon48836 — On Oct 15, 2009

I'm a native Arabic speaker and have a master's degree in it. I've spoken it before any language so it's quite easy for me. However, it is in *no* way an easy language. The grammar is extremely complex. For example: The word for girl is "bint". Two girls is "bintaan". More than three is "banaat". As you can see, unlike English, there is a completely separate word for two girls and three girls. However in certain contexts, instead of "bintaan" it becomes "bintayn". In English you just say girls for two or more girls. It also has up to six letters that do not exist in English. As for "irregular" words (example in English: octopi, plural of octopus), Arabic is full of them. For example: the word for house in Arabic is "bayt", but it's plural form is "byoot". This happens in many words and in different forms. For the people saying "Arabic is an easy language to learn" are probably either fast learners or they only speak an amateur form of Arabic and claim they know the language. For a person who speaks Hebrew as a native language, Arabic would be a lot easier to learn than for a person who speaks English as a native language, because of the similar grammar and words.

By anon48616 — On Oct 13, 2009

I find it interesting that a native English speaker earlier posted that he/she thinks French is easy. I have a goal that I sent for myself to speak five languages (to make it easier I include English (my native language) as one of them)but right now I am studying only French and Italian and I have to tell that Italian is far easier for me to pronounce. Granted I have been studying it longer but still the r that French has is a nightmare for me and I can't get it right. While native speakers of Italian have told me that I am pretty good. Grammar wise Italian is harder than English, I think due to the number of past tenses and not to mention subjunctive ones. Not sure if the grammar in French is harder or not. Also I find it interesting that native Spanish speakers are saying that English is easy yet the ones who live near me are always going into local markets and insisting that they be spoken to in Spanish. Maybe they think they are so much better than Americans that they don't want to lower themselves by learning English.

By anon48250 — On Oct 11, 2009

i am a native english speaker, currently working on a masters degree in arabic. i'd say that formal arabic is quite difficult at the outset, but once you learn all of the complex grammar structures and the word root system, you realize how beautifully logical the language is. i speak spanish as well, and arabic is several orders of magnitude more difficult, but i nevertheless think that languages like chinese and korean are somewhat more difficult than arabic.

By anon48248 — On Oct 11, 2009

for me the easiest languages were: 5. cebuano; 4.spanish; 3. thai; 2. english; and 1.tagalog. sempre filipino. i'm proud to be filipino. The most difficult languages for me were: 5.slovak; 4.japanese; 3.arabic; 2.chinese; and 1. vietnamese.

By anon47841 — On Oct 07, 2009

I am a German native speaker and speak English and Polish fluently. I also know some French, Dutch and Czech and started learning Russian some weeks ago. I can only comment on European languages as I have little knowledge of other languages. But I guess learning the Chinese alphabet or trying to read Arabian calligraphy have their own, well, difficulties. Anyway, among the languages I got in touch with Polish is by far the most difficult one. While intonation and pronunciation are very regular, the grammar is horrible and the languages is spoken so fast that it takes a lot of training to understand native speakers. Czech and Serbo Croatian have also words/sentences that are difficult. The Czech sentences given above like "Strč prst skrz krk" or "mlž pln skvrn zvh" are telling examples. Polish in comparison has more vowels. On the other hand, in Polish you use much more words with these typical Slavic consonants like sz, sz, rz, szcz etc. How do you like this verse from a poem for children(!): "W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie"? Or John the Baptist is in Polish "Jan Chrzciciel". Try to read that loud. Compared to Polish, the Russian grammar is considerably easier. The difficulties in Russian lie in the irregular pronunciation. Judging from my journeys in Europe, my guess it that Lithuanian is also quite challenging.

By anon47332 — On Oct 03, 2009

I have equally heard that English is simultaneously the easiest and hardest language to learn. I suggest it's easy to pick up the basics, but hard to ever master the immense subtley of the language. This is due not only to the ever present irregularities of spelling, pronunciation and grammar, but mainly to the ever increasing vocabulary and the subtleties of meaning possible in a language with 750,000 words and growing daily. What I also find interesting about english is that it's fundamentally made up of two or three languages (german, norse, norman french) and heavily influenced by many others from various points in history - therefore we have at least five words for everything but with different subtleties of meaning. Quite often the latin version of the word e.g. "no molester" - in spanish meaning simply "do not disturb", has a whole other connotation in english - to molest someone. My experience is that native speakers struggle to keep up and articulate themselves, so I dread to think what it's like for foreigners! That said, it is probably the most potent and virulent virus ever to beset the human race. I have just returned from Ibiza where I regularly heard Europeans of different nationalities conversing with each other in English as their only lingua franca. About time the French gave up any ambition of dominating the world or even the EU with their language - it's just a practical reality that most people speak English as their second language. Ahhhh - how satisfying!

By anon46520 — On Sep 26, 2009

I think every language has its difficult parts and its easy parts. I am a native Greek. Most people agree that Greek is very easy to read, because there are no exceptions. You read what you see. On the other hand, this is not the same with English. An English text does not always show correct pronunciation. I think German or Italian are most easy in this aspect. A language has many parts. For example many would agree that Italian is quite easy, concerning pronunciation. Chinese is tonal so it is difficult. Vietnamese is also tonal, so for a Vietnamese, Chinese may be easy as far as pronunciation. Also we must distinguish levels. I think Greek is easy if you want to make yourself understood, but difficult to master. While I have met many foreigners who speak Greek well enough to communicate, I have yet to meet a foreigner speaking perfect Greek. Also, a problem with Greek is spelling. Even native Greeks have problems with orthography. There are five letters or letter combinations that sound "i". You have to memorize the orthography of each word. Now, while many say that Japanese is easy, mostly because it is easy to pronounce, it is extremely difficult when it comes to written forms of names. Even native Japanese have difficulties in reading Japanese names. I think in no other language you may experience the case of not knowing how to read a written name. I do not say mispronounce. I mean no clue of how to read it at all. Sanskrit is complicated in its written form. Writing Chinese is indeed very time consuming. Chinese needs memorization. Also one more problem is sources. For example, it is easy to find books in English and practice English. On the other hand it is difficult to find books about let's say Ainu. So to sum up: The question should be posed as: What parts of a particular language are difficult to a particular speaker? E.g.: What parts of Chinese language are difficult to a Greek speaker? And also: What is "To know a language?" Reading a book without dictionary? Speaking perfectly? Or just speaking in order to communicate? Does this include writing texts? Japanese is easy to speak, but very difficult to write.

By anon46335 — On Sep 24, 2009

It's sort of silly to ask which language is the most difficult to learn. A languages are equally difficult to learn - it depends on what level of fluency you are talking about. For example, even though Spanish is widely studied in the USA, I have yet to hear an American speak Spanish even close to a native level. Ditto with Spanish speakers speaking English. If you read most of the posts in this column you will notice that most are not written by native English speakers. Therefore, in many cases what they're saying is not entirely clear. In some cases it's not really English. The *words* may be English, but the sentences are almost funny in structure. It's almost like a "code," but it's not English. However, despite what I said above, there are some languages that are difficult for everyone, regardless of what language their mother tongue is. These language are extremely difficult to learn foo anyone to the point that you really can't learn them as an adult. I'm talking about the American Indian languages, such as Ojibwa, Cherokee, Navajo, etc. All these languages are currently spoken by several million people. Perhaps the most "difficult" of these is Hopi - a language spoken in Arizona and so complex that just it's description it is nearly incomprehensible. PS - As for English, one of the most difficult things in English are the *prepositions." No foreigner ever really gets them right.

By anon45593 — On Sep 18, 2009

As others have mentioned, the ease of learning another language is surely dependent upon your mother tongue. As a native English speaker I have found French to be the easiest language to learn; it is really very easy for a native English speaker. Spanish, likewise, is relatively easy. Interestingly, I have found English's close relatives, Dutch and German, more difficult. I believe this is due to the over-riding similarities in vocabulary and syntax across the language groups. So it cannot even be said that the easiest languages to learn are those within the same language group as one's mother tongue.

By anon45544 — On Sep 17, 2009

What about Dutch, Flemish, Romansh, Icelandic? Thank you.

By anon45354 — On Sep 16, 2009

English the most difficult? :) I just went through 127 comments written in English by people from all around the world :) It cannot be *that* difficult, don't you think?

By anon45154 — On Sep 14, 2009

Come on, all you people saying that Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to learn: it isn't true. I'm Italian and have been learning it very much as an amateur for three years, and journeyed in Hungary for one month last year, trying to speak it as much as I could. I picked it up because I wanted to learn a non-indoeuropean language. Indeed, it's structure uses a slightly different logic, but it is still very comparable with our indoeuropean mentality (I even think that someone proposed a closer relationship between IE and uralic languages, but it's very controversial): the example of the "35 different cases" -- Bah! To call them "cases" is deceiving: from our point of view, it is rather like attaching a preposition/suffix to the noun, hereby differentiating the direction, too. But in English too, I can and I do say into the house, inside the house, from inside the house (hàzba, hàzban, hàzbòl), so it is not really different than learning a set of propositions. The most difficult aspect for me is the determination of the verb: we only use one form, but in Hungarian it changes whether the object is determined or not. So it is still difficult (also because the vocabulary has almost no correlations with the IE one), but not as many as one would think. So, in conclusion, I would say that to ask which is the most difficult language is a very silly question; too many factors are in play. However, if I should choose one, surely it would not be IE or Hungarian or Finnish (which is still harder than Hu); Georgian is by far much, much harder for us than all these ones. It could be one with a complete different syntactical logic, for example a polysynthetic language. And in this regard, Japanese (and I think Chinese too) presents some stunning difficulty, as, from what I remember, many sentences appear as a casual bunch of words without too many connections to us!

By anon44732 — On Sep 10, 2009

My mother's language is polish. i am studying german and i am learning danish now. As a native polish speaker i can say that polish isn't easy at all. Grammar is complicated and the pronouncation is pretty hard (unless you're a native speaker). Polish is for sure one of the hardest languages. German isn't as hard as many people think. German has just lots of synonyms and it's hard to learn it. It depends very often on the situation (context). And danish -- it's not so hard to write in danish (im not writing about formal language) but it is *very* hard to understand Danes and to pronounce some words. But the point is not to give up, even if it seems impossible to write. It is tough if someone is perfectionist (as i am) but I'd say it's all about having fun with languages. It doesn't have to be a chore. English for me is actually quite difficult (which explains my mistakes here). Good luck to everyone, who tries to learn a tough language (it's a big satisfaction!) Greetings from Poland!

By anon44533 — On Sep 08, 2009

I think cree, inuktitut and French should be on this page!

By anon43841 — On Sep 02, 2009

English is definitely one of the hardest to learn and speak properly. Just think about the many ways that 'ough' is pronounced for example.

The Nguni aren't the easiest of languages to learn properly either, and their pronunciation (all the various clicks, 9 in Xhosa I think) makes for difficulties for people who are not teenagers and who haven't had the sounds in their language previously.

German must be one of the most difficult. There are about 12 ways to say 'the' depending on the case of the noun, and the cases don't always seem correct, a maid (as in young girl) is neuter and a petticoat is masculine!

I have learned several languages and am of the opinion that the Basque language is way up there too. Maltese has oddities too, in its pronunciation, and the way the words and names are spelled don't bear too much resemblance to the way they're said :) A bit like Gaelic in that respect imo.

By anon42264 — On Aug 20, 2009

Trying to rank the languages in order of difficulty is a moot point. The difficulty of a language depends upon how different it is from our mother tongue. The way we think, express ideas and speak are all limited by our language so learning a new language will depends on what we know.

And one more point, if a language is easy it is not an insult if you are a native speaker of that language; likewise, if the language is difficult you should not act too proud (especially if you are a native speaker).

By anon41526 — On Aug 15, 2009

I've heard czech was in Guinness world records as the most difficult language. Maybe it has "only" 7 cases in singular and 7 in plural and 40 different models of words but it is very known for so many exceptions. Also try to pronounce letter "Ř", no language has this letter. And letter "Ť" is also very hard to pronounce (slovaks use that one too though). Or try to say the sentence "Strč prst skrz krk" or "mlž pln skvrn zlvh". And at the end the rules whether to write "I" or "Y", "S" or "Z", "JE" or "Ě" etc. are usually not understandable. Really, just look this language up and you will see. I think it's not possible to speak it 100 percent correctly.

By anon40033 — On Aug 05, 2009

I speak English, Spanish, Chinese-Mandarin, Taiwanese and write only Spanish and English. After reading the most of the entries, I would like to conclude that talent, resources, environment and motivation are factors to define each person's hardest language.

By anon39580 — On Aug 03, 2009

I've studied Chinese, Japanese, and Spanish all to pre-advanced levels. From my limited experience in these languages, I believe that a grammatically complicated language is not necessarily harder to learn that one that is not as complicated. Spanish and especially Japanese have more complicated grammar than Chinese. However, I found that while they were initially difficult to grasp (due to the complex grammar), it was easier to continue raising my proficiency in the higher levels. Chinese, on the other hand, initially seemed easy but proved to be extremely difficult to polish and master. I think this is due to the fact that, although Chinese grammar is not very complicated, it's structure is much more divergent from my native language (English) than Spanish or Japanese.

By anon39016 — On Jul 29, 2009

Just thought I'd mention exposure to a language is a big factor. For example, I've taken both French and Japanese and find the basics of Japanese much easier, despite French being closer to English. But I've had a higher exposure to Japanese, since I'm an anime nut and, 9 times out of 10, the English dub sounds ridiculous, so I watch most animes in Japanese with the English subtitles. On the other hand, I have very little exposure to French outside of class. For another example, I found Spanish a bit easier than French due to my exposure to it, since my dad speaks it. I think the difficulty of a language depends largely on the person and any list of difficult languages would be wrong for a large number of people. That said, you could probably compile a general list based on size of vocabulary, complexity of grammar, and such.

I do agree with English being one of the hardest languages. Most English speakers don't even have perfect grammar! I'm a native speaker with a large vocabulary (I read a lot) and I still have to crack open a dictionary on a regular basis to make sure a word means what I think it means.

By anon37989 — On Jul 23, 2009

Seems to me that the most difficult language is the one you don't care to learn.

I'm currently learning Japanese, and the only difficulty about it is finding native speakers who'll talk to me at my level, and not switch over to English when I stumble over a word. That is most annoying and not at all helpful!!

By anon37806 — On Jul 22, 2009

English once was even tougher than it is now. In its original Anglo-Saxon form, there were more tenses and moods, just like Icelandic/Old Norse does/did. Icelandic has an incredible amount of declensions. English after the Norman invasion became *much* simpler. But I have to say Hungarian looks ridiculous and I have troubles finding any parallels between it and Finnish or Finno-Ugric languages. I sometimes wonder if it's a language isolate itself, or a descendent of one (like Hunnic?) It has my vote.

By anon37805 — On Jul 22, 2009

it is obvious that most people aim towards popular languages and say that they're hard because usually people don't take other "unpopular" languages into consideration, such as Armenian. It is one of the oldest languages in the world and is among the first to develop an alphabet. It has a one of a kind alphabet that isn't similar with any other culture.

By anon37804 — On Jul 22, 2009

I think the Klingon language is very difficult because no one seemed to be fluent. I also think the Elivish language is tough to learn although it sounds so beautiful. Watch Star Trek and Lord of the rings to hear these languages!

By anon37708 — On Jul 21, 2009

to mrmofo, english is not that difficult, and yes people can master all the idioms. hungarian ranks among the hardest, unfortunately most of the learned people here that comment have never tried to learn it, and why should they. i agree with it being in the top 3.

By anon37693 — On Jul 21, 2009

Maybe I am just being a little ethnocentric, but I do believe that English is an extremely difficult language. There are so many mistakes that native speakers on a daily basis make. Even my own little sister, who is ten, makes mistakes all the time, and I am constantly correcting her. English is a mix of many different languages. It gets words for many different languages such as Spanish, French, German, etc.. Also the original spellings for the most part are kept. English also has one of the largest vocabularies in the world, making it next to impossible to master the entire language. Then you add the double meanings to some words and words phrases that mean entirely different things than the individual words themselves. The grammar is not all that easy either. There are three verb tenses: present, past, and future. Then within each tense there are four "auxiliary tenses" that can be made (i.e. present progressive or past perfect). Then you add the four moods: indicative, conditional, imperative, and subjunctive. Although compared to some other languages moods are not as important in English the still add a level of difficulty. The average native speaker would basically have no idea on how to form a subjunctive sentence. Another reason English is hard would be because on some levels it is very simple. For example, there is only one word for love. In other languages there are several words depending on what you are loving. In English you say "I love that man." and you would say "I love spaghetti." Also, the sentence "I read." can have two different meanings with exactly the same words. English is complex and takes years to master even for native speakers.

By anon37688 — On Jul 21, 2009

i am a korean who is putting in an amount of time learning English. many koreans learn japanese more easily than English. so sometimes i regret why i started this. but i want to have my second language. anyway as far as i found out, korean and japanese are sounded from their mouths,while other western, and chinese languages from their belly. that makes people hard to understand the other languages. anyway, good luck to all the learners!!

By anon37682 — On Jul 21, 2009

Being fluent in 8 languages, and a native finn, I can honestly say that finnish is the most difficult language to foreigners to learn.

Give it a try, not that you´ll need it as most finns are fluent in at the least 3 languages, finnish aside.

By anon36152 — On Jul 10, 2009

I think the most difficult language to learn is language of peace, and the easiest language is the language of violence. But I think we're talking about different kind of language here. Just my 2 cents.

By anon35994 — On Jul 09, 2009

I am a native speaker of chinese. i strongly agree chinese is easy to learn for it has almost no grammar compared with English and no case and a small vocabulary. It just looks difficult. But once you can get in you will figure out it is like a walk in the park.

Although Chinese and Japanese share many same characters, they are totally different languages and belong to separate language family. Korean is more akin to Japanese,both of them are not tonal languges. vietanamese is more akin to Chinese,since both of them are tonal languages, which is very different from other languages in the world,making the speakers more likely to have perfect pitch ability. And it is said reading through characters,like Chinese and Japanese, is faster for it uses both side of brain,while non character languages only use left brain.

By anon35453 — On Jul 05, 2009

In response to those who have made the rather discouraging claims that it is impossible to master a second language, I would like to say that I think it is this attitude that prevents millions of people from contuining their education and broadening their cultural horizons, and that is very, very depressing and wholly inaccurate. It is especially disappointing that an English teacher would make such a claim. I am proof to the contrary. I teach French at a top US school, where many of my star students are adults who have never spoken a word of French in their lives. I have dual PhDs in French and French literature, and I myself never spoke a word of French until the age of 25. It is *never* too late. Don't let anyone discourage you from trying something new. You can do it. ;)

By anon33051 — On May 31, 2009

It is accepted by various U.S. DoS and DoD government agencies, such as the Foreign Service Institute, that Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Arabic (MSA) are the most challenging languages to quantifiably acquire fluency in for a native English speaker. These discussions are entirely based on the individual's experience and background, so "easy" or "difficult" is an arbitrary term. However, standardized language proficiency tests in reading, listening, speaking, and writing are one way to test these sorts of claims.

By anon32186 — On May 17, 2009

Well, I'm a bulgarian, can speak german and english and learned polish and would like to say some things about these statistics... I think it's impossible to define a particular language as the world's hardest! Everybody in this forum is discussing the problem with the cases. Wait a minute ... the cases are not the only thing in a particular language...*far from that*.. there are so many things that define it as easy or difficult.. I can tell you the following: Everything *depends on the mother tongue*! If your mother's tongue is a slavic language it would be easier for you to learn another slavic than any other.. *as simple as that*!

Moreover I've been observing some tendencies recently and I can tell you that we can understand russian and polish better that russians and poles - bulgarian. You tell me why! *moreover* ... they define it as *difficult* ! And I have heard that from many people.. I'm not figuring that out at the moment. And I can assure you that russian and polish are not so hard for us..by no means a piece of cake but not that hard at all. Russian and Polish have 6 respectively 7 cases. We have *only rests* of 4 cases. Despite that people from other slavic countries say it's difficult for them to comprehend it.. what remains for the rest of the world's population..you can't just say it's the third easiest language in the world... *by no means*! There are lots of russians that have been living in Bulgaria for more than 20 *years* and still confess it's still hard for them and experience difficulties while speaking.. *russians*!!! The same ones that have the same alphabet and perhaps far more than 50 % of the vocabulary ! And you tell me it's the *third easiest* language for the *whole* of the *world's population*. Hey.. excuse me guys but did you go nuts or something?! You are old enough to decide for yourself what I'm talking about.

By anon30950 — On Apr 27, 2009

I've been studying Japanese for several years now, and haven't found it that difficult yet, though I am starting to have to memorize more conjugations and such as I go on.

By anon30761 — On Apr 24, 2009

What is a "punctuation system"? I speak German and am learning Russian, and both have normal punctuation. Besides, a punctuation system can't really be hard. Armenian doesn't have the question mark; it marks the word in the sentence that the emphasis of the question is on. I doubt it is that hard to grasp, though.

Also, Korean ain't easy.

By anon30671 — On Apr 22, 2009

anon5582: The most difficult languages are Czech and Slovak. They both are almost one identical language.

By MrMoFo — On Apr 22, 2009

A lot of people on this discussion board seem as eager as used-car salesmen to sell their native language as one of the most difficult in the world for non-native speakers to learn. (Perhaps this is because it gives them a smug-like satisfaction to be very good at something that other people find immensely difficult?)

Let's try to remember that *every* language has its difficult points... and its easier ones.

English is "easy" because of its relative lack of verb conjugation; its abundance of loan words usually present in the learner's mother tongue; its adjectives, adverbs and nouns that don't change due to verb tense or gender; the "cut and paste" aspect of its basic grammar structure. Not to mention the fact that (as mentioned at length in earlier posts) the language is everywhere, with plenty of learning materials available in just about every mother tongue imaginable. While that doesn't speak to the intrinsic difficulty of the language itself, it does factor into the relative "ease" of learning English.

English is "difficult" because of its extensive vocabulary and high number of synonyms (though I think the impact of the latter is overblown); its high number of irregular verbs (which can be mastered, though it seems few learners get all of them right, all of the time); its horrendously illogical spelling (which even native speakers mess up all the time); its prepositions that generally don't follow any tangible rules whatsoever; the surprisingly complex ways in which its articles are used (or not used); its wealth of counter-intuitive idioms (it was "a walk in the park"- or was that "a piece of cake"?) and phrasal verbs ("go off", "make up", etc.) with multiple meanings and usages that simply have to be lived rather than studied.

This last point is key. I can guarantee that every single non-native speaker on this site who claims English is "easy" has not been able to master the thousands of idiomatic constructs and expressions that make up everyday speech in English. Personally, as a former English teacher and resident of (hugely multicultural) Toronto, I have yet to meet a single one. (Though my Polish dentist comes close.)

But that's no fault of yours. Non-native speakers of *any* language, unless they're a linguistic genius or started learning at a young age, simply cannot completely master a second language. (You may think you can, but you can't. And native speakers will quietly snicker at your heavily-accented claims to the contrary.) But as long as you can communicate in a functional way, it's all good.

Meanwhile, I can also guarantee that any native English-speaker who claims English is bar none the "most difficult language in the world" has never studied a second language in any meaningful capacity. (Ha! Caught you!)

Can I offer one observation that we might be able to agree on? That, for non-native speakers, English is relatively easy to speak, write and comprehend at a basic level, but dare I say very difficult to speak, write and comprehend at a consistently high level. That's what I usually tell people who ask. (Not that you asked.)

But then again, can't the same be said about any language?

By anon30310 — On Apr 16, 2009

Have you ever heard about Tabasaran language? It belongs to Nakhsko-Dagestan group of languages. It is considered to have the 3rd most difficult grammar in the world, after Arabic and Japanese.

By anon29836 — On Apr 09, 2009

To anon29208: I would mention that while English is a globally common language, even those who speak it primarily rarely speak it precisely. And that is, after all, the beauty and finesse of the language. There are even grammatical errors in posts here. I don't intend to attack personally, but I grow tired of hearing this argument from people who, generally speaking, fumble with English syntax or punctuation while singing the relative ease of its facility.

By anon29460 — On Apr 02, 2009

I'm french, and russian appears to be according to me a really difficult language, even though I love to practice it. The endings in general and particularly of the adjectives are kind of tough.

By anon29270 — On Mar 30, 2009

on anon 29197, I don't readily agree that Bahasa Indonesian is the hardest just because of nouns having an affix in front of each on of them. I'm a native speaker and in my humble opinion, Bahasa Indonesian is the most flexible if not the easiest language because it uses alphabets (roman) giving an ease when learning language such as English, with and uses phonology similar to those of Italian or Spanish in terms of vowels and consonants pronunciation, as opposed to English phonology.

Indonesian grammar has no tense e.g past tense, for example, we say for English equivalent "we_eat_banana_today"(present) "we_ate_bananas_yesterday"(past)= "kita/we_makan/eat_pisang/banana_hari ini/this day/today"(present)"kita/we_makan/eat_pisang/banana_kemarin/yesterday"(past)[notice the indifferent verbs], no gender etc couldn't make better point than anon 10929. This is surprisingly very similar to Chinese grammar in many ways.

On the other hand, English is theoretically not the easiest. Most people would assume that English is the easiest, just because they hear it everywhere. Being one of the most widely spoken languages in the world does not necessarily mean being the easiest language.

English usage of vocabulary is precise, there is always a particular word for every definition as mentioned by annon 22623 (rightfully thank him/her) quoted "But then these words are very logical... e.g Umweltverschmutzung consists of the words Umwelt and Verschmutzung... in English it would be Environment and soiling, why doesn't the language allow to say Enviorenmentsoiling, instead we have to say pollution." Thus, instead of logically matching up words as in German, you have to actually know the specific word in English, and literally there are hundreds of such words.

Languages used in programs such as BBC is considered as English. English would seem more complex to even most native speakers, due to this wider vocabulary usage mentioned above. However, it is perhaps the most interesting and beautiful of all language as said "when one masters English all else seems out of necessity" thus answers why it is the most popular of them all.

By anon29208 — On Mar 29, 2009

I believe that the hardest languages are Japanese, Chinese and Lithuanian. I'm from Lithuania myself so it's not that hard for me, but learning it if you're from other country is very difficult. Grammar has *a lot* of rules and plus all the dialects... And the easiest language is clearly English, as people all over the world speak it. I myself learned it by watching TV and reading books.

By anon29197 — On Mar 29, 2009

Well I think Indonesia is the most difficult one, because it has an affix in front of nouns and in the end. e.g "Memasyarakatkan diri kita sendiri untuk memulai hidup bersih di lingkungan kita"

By anon27765 — On Mar 05, 2009

My mother's tongue is hungarian, so it isn't difficult for me :). But I am aware of it: Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages of the world. I can speak Hungarian easily, but it's grammar is really hard.

We have a lot of causes (I think 35).

Our language is an agglutinative language, so we use inflections (for (almost) everything) (I think the best example is the word "fiaiéi". It's forming the next way: first stop is fiú (boy), second stop is fia (his/her son; it's an irregular possessive case; the word "son" in hungarian is "fiúgyermek", but this word isn't very used), third stop is fiai (his/her sons; "-i" is the inflection of plural), forth stop is fiaié (his/her sons'), and the final stop is fiaiéi (his/her sons' (plural object))).

We also have extremely long words, such as "megszentségteleníthetetlenségeskedéseitekért" (it's forming the next way: "meg-" is verb prefix (in this case, it means "completed"), "szent" means holy (the word root), "-ség" is like English "-ness", as in "holiness", "-t(e)len" variant of "-tlen" (noun suffix expressing the lack of something, like English "-less", as in "useless"), "-ít" is a constitutes a transitive verb from an adjective, "-het" is expresses possibility (somewhat similar to the English auxiliaries "may" or "can"), "-(e)tlen" is another variant of "-tlen", "-ség" (it mean's see above), "-es" is constitutes an adjective from a noun (like English "-y" as in "witty"), "-ked" is attached to an adjective (e.g. "strong"; produces the verb "to pretend to be (strong)") "-és" is constitutes a noun from a verb (there are various ways this is done in English, e.g. "-ance" in "acceptance"), "-eitek" is plural possessive suffix (second person plural (e.g. "apple" -> "your apples", where "your" refers to multiple people)) and "-ért" is approximately translates to "because of" (or in this case simply "for"). So this extremely long word means: "for your [plural] repeated pretending to be undesecratable" (we also have long words, such as "töredezettségmentesítőtleníttethetetlenségtelenítőtlenkedhetnétek" (it means "you [plural] could constantly mention the lack [of a thing] that makes it impossible to make someone make something defragmenter-free") or "elkelkáposztásítottalanítottátok").

We also have a lot of (used) synonyms (for example, we have 78 synonyms for verb "to move" (and all's meanings are a little bit other): halad, jár, megy, dülöngél, lépdel, botorkál, kódorog, sétál, andalog, rohan, csörtet, üget, lohol, fut, átvág, vágtat, tipeg, libeg, biceg, poroszkál, vágtázik, somfordál, bóklászik, szedi a lábát, kitér, elszökken, betér, botladozik, őgyeleg (old word, we usually don't use it), slattyog (old old word, we usually don't use it) bandukol (old word, we usually don't use it), lófrál, szalad, vánszorog, kószál, kullog, baktat, koslat, kaptat, császkál, totyog, suhan, robog, rohan, kocog, cselleng, csatangol, beslisszol, elinal, elillan, bitangol, lopakodik, sompolyog, lapul, elkotródik, settenkedik, sündörög, eltérül, elódalog, kóborol, lézeng, ődöng (old word, we usually don't use it), csavarog, lődörög, elvándorol, tekereg, kóvályog, ténfereg, özönlik, tódul, vonul, hömpölyög, ömlik, surran, oson, lépeget, mozog, mozgolódik).

We have a lot of dialects in Hungary (and we usually understand all of it, but sometimes it is complicated). The understood difficulty is a result of hungarian word order in the hungarian sentences. As a matter of fact, in the hungarian language there really isn't any kind of attached word order (but every sentence's mean is a bit other). For a hungarian person (who's mother's tongue is hungarian) this doesn't constitute any kind of problem, but for an other person (who's mother's tongue isn't hungarian) it means incredible difficulties.

Our spelling is also complicated. We have many irregular causes (almost everywhere) and our accent is also very hard (for a not-hungarian), because we use many rules for a hungarian word's accent (and we have many-many irregular words from this grammatical category too). The word's irregularity is the hardest in inflections (for me too: it's very hard for me to learn it at school, when we learned irregular conjugations). Our phonetics is also difficult. And we also have slang.

I can keep on this assignment, but it would be a very long comment. So everyone, believe me: Hungarian is possibly not the most difficult language of the world, but it is very difficult (but not for me, because I'm hungarian :D).

By anon27524 — On Mar 01, 2009

I grew up speaking English and Polish and am fluent in both ... Studied French for years and years in school, never had a chance to use it day to day, and still find it difficult. German, on the other hand, which I don't know per se, seems inherently easier than French because of the logical way that words are built up. If you know the parts a long German word is made up of, you tend to be able to figure out the meaning therein. French on the other hand is quite a non-literal language; it's very idiomatic and if you have a literal mind, it can be very hard to know how to say things using standard idioms that you have never heard of previously.

By anon27364 — On Feb 27, 2009

Chinese "has no grammatical system per se"? That makes no sense. Every language has a grammatical system.

By anon26598 — On Feb 16, 2009

Well, after doing a little bit of research i found out that in Holland we not only speak 2 national languages but the main language (dutch) has over 5 million different words that could be used !

This is according to the Dutch Dictionary "De grote Van Dale".

By anon26159 — On Feb 09, 2009

its absolutely depends on your mother tongue. my mother tongue is persian and for me learning arabic is pretty easy(because its similar to arabic).. btw have you ever heard persian? its very beautiful..try it!

i'm learning english and french, and i think english with american accent *is the most beautiful* language.

By anon25147 — On Jan 24, 2009

I don't agree Arabic is one of the hardest languages to learn. It might not be one of the easiest, but I am brazilian and I've been studying Arabic for 4 months and I did not find it very hard to memorize, but I have troubles in my fluency, y'know, i have to think a lot before speaking, checking if my sentence is correct.

English is, in my opinion, far the easiest language to learn. Thanks to its grammar.

By anon24840 — On Jan 19, 2009

I'm a native Arabic speaker and i speak English fluently; actually i once worked as an english teacher, recently i started to learn spanish and found it very easy to learn, it's true that it's more complicated than english when looking at the cases but hey! english is a piece of cake in the world of languages! i think germanic languages are a bit hard to learn - for me - but i think once you learned one you can easily catch up on the others (talking about germanic languages)

Arabic is a bit hard to learn...that's what my non-native speakers friends say...

i have some friends who learned Japanese and i was kind of amazed by how fast they learned it... after less than one year i was able to catch some japanese phrases only by watching some Anime series in Japanese translated in english! it's an easy language to learn but you'll find it a little bit hard to pronounce...

By anon24805 — On Jan 18, 2009

Any of the Caucasian Languages, specifically Chechen, Abkhaz, and Georgian, are by far the most difficult languages to learn.

By anon24644 — On Jan 15, 2009

Croatian ( Bosnian ) on the list of the easiest languages? That's ridiculous. Like Slovak, which is the first on the list of the most difficult ones, Bosnian has 7 cases ( 7 in sg and 7 in pl + several different declensions )and very complex grammar. Script is easy, but there are some challenging letters. It also has perfective and imperfective verbs and there are no rules for building one from another: Raditi(imperfective)-uraditi(perfective) but ukidati(imp.)-ukinuti(perf.). Way to express some states is pretty strange and there are many ways to express smtn as in english. Word order is arbitrary, someone gave examples for russian, it's same in bosnian. Also, we have several verb conjugations and we don't have to use pronouns cause verb ending indicates what person and number is word about.

By anon24510 — On Jan 13, 2009

Amazing how so many people think Arabic is a difficult language. It most certainly is not. In fact, my mother learned Arabic in two years in a special school. I have some little brothers and sitters (one baby bro, one lil sis), so my mom only went to school for like half an hour a day. She now speaks like a native.

By the way, I'm from Kashmir, and I'm sure none of you have heard of or would ever try to learn Kashmiri. The accent is so weird. Search it up.

I know five languages. And I'm fourteen. (English, Arabic, Urdu, Kashmiri, Indonesian-my best friend teaches me this, I learned Indonesian in a month)

By anon24420 — On Jan 12, 2009

have any of you heard about the Maltese language? It is very similar to arabic in the case of grammar even though we use the roman alphabet. we also use a different word according to the pronouns. the most difficult in maltese is the spelling because we have two letters .. 'gh' and 'h' and sometimes they have a sound, and sometimes do not.. apart from this, they may change position in a word according to gender or if it is singular or plural. I do not think it is the most difficult language, but definitely it is not easy.

By anon24365 — On Jan 11, 2009

All the languages that have their own alphabets, such as Russian, are difficult, so please, don't tell me that those languages that belong to latinate language group are harder that Chinese, Russian or Greek.

By anon24364 — On Jan 11, 2009

I've seen a list of the most difficult languages in the world and those were:





My mother language is Russian, second language-Latvian, third-English and fourth-French and in my opinion, English is the easiest out of four and Russian is the most difficult one. Probably because of exceptions. For example, you can either say "I love you", "You love I", "Love you I", "I you love", "Love I you" and "You I love" in Russian while in English every single sentence is like a template-you just have to match words for them.

By anon24234 — On Jan 09, 2009

I absolutely agree with anon3612. It's a surprise that no-one has commented on Danish, I've even seen people on other webpages say, that Danish is an easy language to learn. As written, Danish is an extremely hard language to learn if you are not native (which I am).

However, even the written language is a nightmare for most people, too. We have a grammatical order that is basically upside-down for many people.

Instead of 'the' in front of nouns we have 'den' and 'det', and instead of 'a' and 'an', which are easy to figure out, we have 'en' and 'et'. It depends on the word and doesn't really make any sense.

For example, the Danish word for dog is "hund". It's an en-word, en hund, a dog. But the word for pet is 'kæledyr' and that's a et-word. Whether it's an et- or en-word also decides the endings. A horse - en hest. The horse - hesten.

And that's just the beginning. To mention some more, we have the hv and d-words; the hv-words are words like "hvordan" (how), "hvorfor" (why) and "hvad" (what). The H is not pronounced and many people become confused with that. Even worse are the d-words where the d is silent. In the word hund, as mentioned above, we do not pronounce the d. There are many words like that in the Danish language.

And not to mention our famous æ, ø and å, the Danes being the only ones in the world to have the å. These three letters are pretty much impossible to pronounce if you're not from Denmark.

Even native speakers often have trouble spelling things correctly. How sad is that?

And then comes the talking. Denmark is a land where about 50% is made up of islands, only Jutland being the only part not an island. Therefore the Danish language has been pretty much mangled up because we live so separated. There is not one part of Denmark that doesn't have it's 'own language', where the dialect simply has become the language of the island. The only non-dialect 'language' in Denmark is what we call Rigsdansk, pretty much Government-Danish. But no-one really talks like that.

We have eight main dialects in Denmark and many, many accents to come under that. Many Danes understand what other Danes say, no matter where they're from, but to a foreigner hearing a Jutlandish person and a Zealandish person talking together would be like hearing an English person and a French one talk to each other and understand everything.

I myself speak four languages. Danish, English, Swedish, German, and I've been learning a variety of different languages that I don't speak fluently, though.

English is actually a very easy language to learn, I think, if you want to learn it. German is not that hard either, contrary to most beliefs.

But (BUT!) which languages you think are easy depends totally on yourself. Just because I find English easy it doesn't mean that everybody does, and that's what most people are misunderstanding.

I have good friends who think that Japanese is the easiest language to learn on the entire planet, while I perchance understand some words now and then but doesn't really get anything at all. I have a friend who hates English because he thinks it's hard as hell but speaks fluent Polish. His sister doesn't understand Polish at ALL but finds Norwegian very easy and natural.

It's all a matter of what person you are. You can't really just point out a language and say, "That's the hardest language in the WORLD!" because there's always someone who'll think that it's easy. It's all a matter of opinion and personality.-Cecilie

(By the way, I'm sorry if this giant ramble is harshly incorrect grammarvise - my keyboard is acting kind of stupid right now; I think it needs new batteries.)

By anon22830 — On Dec 11, 2008

I am English and learning Turkish which is difficult. Lots of suffix use which can give one word that reads as a sentence in English.

Many words have dual meanings and the sentence structure is alien to me as well. I thought it might have featured as a difficult language but as it doesn't, perhaps I am better off than I thought.

By anon22623 — On Dec 07, 2008

My mother tongue is English but I grew up in Germany, hence I speak both languages fluently! I learned French at school and I am learning Spanish at the moment. Here in Germany it is said that French is very difficult and English very easy.

Considering the fact that you cannot really compare every single language because every language has its individual difficulty. Some languages have an easy pronunciation, some easy dialects to understand.

For instance Russian has hardly got any dialects so the language types don't vary among the population. On the one hand English is easy to use for small talk. That's got to do with the culture and usage of the language. We mostly don't use that many words whenever we explain something or tell a story. Sometimes we describe words within a conversation or story. That makes it very easy for foreigners to grasp and learn the language.

Another example is German. It is not difficult to use the tenses in German. All you have to use is two (mostly just one) tenses for the past, one for the present and one for the future (occasionally you need a second one even though that is seldom).

I think there are two main reasons why people think English is the easiest... there are hardly any conjugations and the words all seem to be quite small. Whereas I look at German or even Spanish... there are tremendous words in German and you can connect many words to each other. But then these words are very logical... e.g Umweltverschmutzung consists of the words Umwelt and Verschmutzung... in English it would be Environment and soiling, why doesn't the language allow to say Enviorenmentsoiling, instead we have to say pollution.

I hear various languages in my daily life and I love looking at facts of other languages even though I don't speak nor understand them.

I think German is one of the most difficult languages across the world, surely not the most difficult because I think Hungarian, Finnish and Japanese are on a different level.

Even many foreigners who were born here in Germany have a very slight accent. There is also nobody who came here as an adult who was able to comprehend and learn the language like a native speaker. The best example is the German "R", ever tried to pronounce it properly? Most languages roll it, some have a stronger sense of rolling, (Russian is strong, same with Spanish, every slavic language rolls it, turks roll it a bit differently but they do roll it, I think even japanese roll it) The only language I have ever heard which has the same is French.

Not being able to roll an "R" doesn't mean that the language is difficult.

I'm just trying to tell you that it is absurd to say that somebody is able to learn a language from books and at school and speak it perfectly or nealy-native and understand the language of the streets or adolescent language if the person has never left their own country. And that also applies to English, even though everybody can sing the songs when they watch MTV or listen to the radio.

Ever listened to a Chinese or Japanese speaking in English. No harm to them, I'm not able to speak a word of these languages and I guess I never will, but there English is very often a catastrophe. Same applies to French and Spanish speakers!

I think the fact that English has millions of words and that nearly every word in every sentence can be replaced by a synonym is just incredible. That's what makes English very difficult, and obviously the spelling must be one of the hardest. I told a German friend this and he answered I don't think so, it is very easy. I asked him to spell easy words like receive or perseverance.

Like in every other language there are some words with different meanings... admire, estimate, appreciate, value, regard, prize, reckon, guess, treasure, cherish, esteem, appraise etc.: all these words are being translated into one word in German: schaetzen. And same vice versa.

Another point is the heritage of your language. I wouldn't say it easy for me to learn Danish, Swedish or French, but it ought to be easier than learning Japanese or a Slavic language due to the similarities which do exist.

German has one big disadvantage. You need a large vocabulary to even do small talk. Very often there are special words needed to communicate. I once read that it is proven that German has the fourth largest vocabulary among all languages.

I suppose English belongs to the easiest languages in terms of providing people with small talk. But when it comes to difficult topics and discussions the language gets very hard to understand and use. Switch on BBC parliament (which isn't too hard to understand but it will give you foreigners some trouble understanding it). There are also no rules for pronunciation, which are very easy to understand in Romance and Slavic languages.

So it depends where you come from, which languages you speak and if you are that kind of person who grabs up a language easily and quickly. Thus we should appreciate every language and look at the special things and difficulties or even simplicities of them.

But still I think Navajo, Finish, Hungarian and Chinese considering that it is a tonal language. Thank you for reading my text ;)

By anon22606 — On Dec 07, 2008

What about Dravidian languages, tamil, malayalam. Unbelievably hard to pronounce with very complex scripts. A real tongue twister. The plus side is the phonetic alphabet.

By anon22339 — On Dec 02, 2008

I don't really understand what level of competence is assumed to say that you "learned" a language. Getting basic English or Italian might be easy if all you want to do is book a hotel, but Italian for example is a very formal language - no way a foreigner would have an easy life with it. In fact, I have never seen even a small article written in Italian by a foreigner with no mistakes in it.

I'm not trying to push Italian among the most difficult languages to learn but how could a language that has 6 different forms for each of the 8 indicative tenses, 4 subjunctive tenses, 2 conditionals tenses and 1 imperative be easy to learn?

It might be easy to order a pizza not to talk business.

By anon19723 — On Oct 18, 2008

Greetings from a brazilian guy trying to write in a poor English!

You should try one of these:

Ubykh, !Xóõ (Taa), Nuxálk or Hmong (White Meo language)

Despite being extremely complex (for 99% of the humanity), you probably will not find tutorials, nor manuals, nor didatic materials, nor native people to talk...

Hungarian, Mandarin, Basque or Slovak are piece of cake in comparison with any one of those.

Granted that there is a thing such as 'The most difficult language in the world', it could be one of the four oddities I listed, or else some other obscure language with many complexities, very few speakers and/or written, recorded materials.

By anon18920 — On Oct 01, 2008

I read that english is one of the easiest language.

My mother tongue is Spanish, I know English and French. Personally, I think that the most difficult language is chinese.

By anon18607 — On Sep 26, 2008

Spanish is my mother tongue, and I also know, more or less well, Catalan, English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Galician, Asturian or Bable, Aragaonese and Aranese, all, but English, Romance languages. And, connected as they are, all those languages present difficulties and are a challenge to learn! In my opinion, there is not an "easy" language! I speak Catalan every day, with my wife, our sons and the rest of the family, as well as with the people around us, and, although I speak it "almost" as a native, I don't speak it as well as spanish.

By anon17114 — On Aug 22, 2008

I'm learning Arabic now, to be honest, I think it's definitely up there in the difficult languages to learn, but it's by no means the most difficult. English is probably more difficult than Arabic.

By anon17006 — On Aug 20, 2008

I have read most of this site and can see many of the points. My comment would be that difficulty should/could be measured to two ways...(1) complexity of the grammar, spelling, etc. and (2) ease of pronunciation and being understood.

I live in Vietnam...am native English speaker and I know that English is extremely difficult to read and understand so many of the irregularities...so it would fit under complexity of grammar, spelling, etc.

*However* I swear that Vietnamese must be one of the most, if not the most difficult to speak because of the closeness of tones, even more than Mandarin (I have studied Mandarin somewhat while living in Taiwan for two years), but no matter how hard I try, I seem to not be able to make myself understood whenever I try to speak Vietnamese! Drives me crazy. I know the "word" I'm trying to say, but somehow that *exact* tone has eluded me, therefore the meaning eludes the listener! It is truly crazy-making! However, Vietnamese is not so difficult grammatically and it's quite easy to read once you get a handle on the tone marks which are very clear on every (monosyllabic) word. It's a fun language, and interesting to listen to as it has many accents depending where in the country you come from. But it's a nightmare (for me and according to *many* other foreigners I've talked to!) to speak...and be understood!

By anon16623 — On Aug 10, 2008

Is Slovak the only language with 7 cases? I don't think so. Let's also take Polish, Czech, probably Croatian, and some other languages belonging to the Slavic group. It's hard for me to pick the hardest one from the family, but they are presumably on a similar level of complexity, though they can differ in some respects (South-Slavic languages- a lot of "no-vowels" clusters, while e.g. in Polish, there is a "normalized" amount of vowels in a syllable, while the consonantal system itself is more complicated). Such lists are a bit funny-it's obvious that the more a given lg differs from your mother tongue, the more difficult it seems; but let's not make the matter oversimplified. As far as I'm concerned (and I'm talking about _my_ opinion on that) the Romance languages (+Norwegian) are among the easiest to learn for a person like me (Polish and Italian grammar have a lot in common, just like the reflexive pronouns system, or the accent falling on the same syllable, no vowel-shortening in unaccented syllables, and so on) while I have more problems with learning...Russian, which resembles Polish to some extent (too many false-friends as for me to remember). Personally I find Gaelic and Hungarian/Finnish the most difficult, but I don't know much about the Basque (hey, my blood type is Rh- A, so maybe I even have some roots in there).

By anon16608 — On Aug 10, 2008

I've studied many languages and speak 3. Try Navajo. You'll want to kill yourself.

By anon16239 — On Aug 01, 2008

Chinese would be hard to learn for English speakers at first because of the lack of alphabets, which means thousands of characters to remember, as well as distinctions between aspirated and unaspirated consonants and consonants which do not exist in English. Another issue for English speakers might be tones. However, once you get pass the initial difficulties, the grammar is much simpler than English so that wouldn't be a problem. In any case, Mandarin would be considered one of the easiest "dialects" to learn. Minnan and Cantonese would be more complicated due to pronunciation issues.

For Japanese, English speakers would get the pronunciation fairly quickly, but the grammar can be rather complex. And as someone mentioned earlier, the Japanese you learn in lessons is drastically different from the Japanese on the streets, as you are usually taught only the formal grammar in classes.

By anon14985 — On Jun 28, 2008

I'd just like to point out that English is not nearly as easy as some of you seem to think...

1. Irregular verbs- more than 200 of them. 2. Extremely irregular spelling- silent letters, many different ways (combinations of vowels and consonants) to make the same sounds (up to 26 in the case of one vowel sound). 3. More than a hundred different accents (that's just in London). 4. (Most important?) You just have to know which preposition goes with which verbs and phrases- there are even combinations of two or more together! 5. Multiple meanings and pronunciations for the same words and phrases- 'get down' means what it sounds like, but it also means to go wild on the dance floor; read and read (simple present and simple past) are spelled the same, but sound different. 6. Over a million words- more than twice the next highest number in any language in the world (though they say most of us only really only use about 5,000 and only really understand about 50,000 of them). 7. Verb tenses- we have five infinitives!! (to take, to be taken, to be taking, to have taken, to have been taken) We have more than 40 tenses (twice as much, if you think there are multiple ways to make passive tenses [be taken, get taken, have taken {to have someone else take something}], also 'will future' is not the only way to make future tenses [going to, for example]). And that's just what I've been able to find names for. What do you call this- 'having taken'? I can't even find a name for that... some kind of double participle tense. I'm an English teacher and writer, so I believe I'm correct in stating that English is not as easy as you think. [Most of you on this page have made multiple mistakes, even after 'having professed' (I still don't know what to make of this tense) your profound fluency in the language.] And true, writing well is quite difficult in one's own language. If it weren't (Check out that subjunctive- bet you thought it didn't exist in English. Ooh, and check out that zero subject before the word 'bet'.), anyone could do it... You only think you speak English. Take my word for it. At least we don't have 126 cases, as in Tsez (it's a language).

By anon14601 — On Jun 20, 2008

I completely agree with Lithienne. Like most middle-class Germans I have grown up only with my dialect until I came in contact with books for the first time. It's a really HUGE difference! Apart from many words and phrases that can only be roughly translated even into regular German, my mother tongue has got a lot of special mutations, simplifications and variations even if only regular expressions are applied by the speaker ("Eich sinn em Faader sei Bou" "Ich bin der Sohn des Vaters" "I'm the father's son").

I can understand many of what people above have stated. For example, learning Swedish was very simple for me, on the one hand because the vocabulary and the grammar can be (this may be a bit arrogant) regarded as a mere simplification of the german equivalent, and on the other hand because of the very similar cultural background that defines what can be expressed. Contrarily, Bulgarian which is listed as very simple in one of the first posts, is a real difficulty for me (if I want to be confident in formal situations). There are so many grammatical moods with which you can express that you talk about something historical, that you doubt what you are telling, that you doubt the facts that you are telling historically (...). And this is a really unique linguistic phenomenon!

We have only spoken about modern languages until now. I have been engaged in the Vedics for fun, and believe me that there is no language that can be as complex as Sanskrit (if we like to define complexity as the main criterium for difficulty). Complexity can be created by the language structure on the one hand by the structure of the thoughts that you can express. Basically, Latin may be a simple language if we only look at the funny grammar and stuff. Perhaps it WAS very simple until Horatius, Cicero and friends came and messed it all up.

Kafka, the german writer, said that German is so much influenced by the works of Goethe that you can hardly overcome this influence!

Sanskrit scholars have early developed a meta-language to deal only with grammatical issues! Computer scientists have stated that both Sanskrit and Russian would be most predestinated among all natural languages as computer languages because of their regularity.

A befriended literature professor (latinoamerican) also told me (as a joke?!) that he doesn't believe that any lyrical poetry can be possible in Russian because of the missing ambiguities.

OK, there goes my train, have to shut up :D

By anon14576 — On Jun 19, 2008

Slovak is not the only language that has 7 cases. In fact, Slovak almost lacks vocative case - it's extremely rare and found in nouns only. Two nouns that have it come to mind: pán (sir, gentleman, mister) and šéf (boss). While Slovak language definitely IS one of the hardest in the world, there sure are other languages that are even more difficult.

Western Slavic languages are harder than German because German doesn't take much inflection and the inflection itself is quite regular (speaking as a speaker thereof), while Slovak, Sorbian, Czech and Polish are much more complicated and heavily inflected. Czech also has a phoneme not to be found anywhere else - an alveolar fricative trill sound - 'ř', quite difficult to pronounce even if you're Slovak (my case).

Slovak and Czech is also difficult for the y-i distinction, which in fact, has no effect on pronunciation (of the vowel), but still there are rules and the use affects the preceding consonants (t,d,n...and in Slovak also 'l'...'i' makes them palatalised, but the pronunciation shift/change of them is not general and there are exceptions).

Well, there are exception to everything in Slovak, and there are exception to exceptions. Still, I wouldn't dare to challenge Navajo.

By anon14548 — On Jun 19, 2008

I think that much of the difficulties about language learning (and thus stating which one is the hardest) are basically up to one's mother tongue first and personal (could I say brain?) skills?

Being an italian native speaker, I get to have romance sounds in my ears, so it has always been easier to grasp meanings out of other romance languages. Since I also had latin and ancient greek courses at high school, I developed a sharp "translation skill" which right now, at 25, allows me to read almost flawlessly spanish, french, portuguese, romanian, latin, ancient greek, english (which I took up at 11), german and russian.

Same doesn't apply to talking, since I speak them from a near-mother language degree (english) to mid-level (french and spanish) down to complete zero (e.g. romanian and ancient greek).

Why have I bored you with all of this? Just to add that, I swear it, NOTHING even distantly compared to the troubles I had in dealing with the magyar language which, after almost 4 years of efforts, I still cannot master to an average degree. For the sake of clarity, it took me 4 months to take up spanish to the same degree I got after 4 years of hungarian...

Therefore, I absolutely rate hungarian as the hardest language.

By Lithienne — On Jun 18, 2008

Hi, I would like to know, if ANYONE who isn't from Finland, can speak finnish? I mean someone who haven't ever lived in Finland? Just lived in own home country and learned from internet or books or ya know, just learned? Cause I cannot understand what is so difficult to speak finnish.. All you need is a wordbook and some kind of book where is word endings.. "-sta, -in, -n, -lle, -lla/ä" -types of endings you learn, and you could live here. But of course here is all kinds of slangs, but everyone can understand that "real" finnish in Finland. Heres one example of finnish slangs.. "Moro, mitäs kuuluu? Sä oot varmaha käyny jo biitsillä." and heres "real" finnish "Moi, mitä kuuluu? Olet varmaan käynyt jo rannalla." and here is for english "Hello, whats up? I quess you have been at beach already."

By anon14353 — On Jun 15, 2008

no way, guys... The most extremely difficult language in the whole world is Bakjalukasha. It is located in the Shore of Elephant Bone or also known as Cote D'Ivore. I am European and lived there for a year on Help Africa program. I offer you to try this one to experience real difficulties. =)P

By anon14089 — On Jun 09, 2008

I am from the U.S. but my mom is from sverige (sweden). I learned to speak svenska along with english at a young age. Both were easy for me. Later I also learned danish and norwegian. Norwegian was easy but danish was really hard difficult to pick up. The hardest foreign language I learned was Finish however. Downright not fun!!!

By anon13667 — On Jun 02, 2008


Having the most difficult language does not make any country more superior than others and we should always be proud of our native language. talk about the beauty of a language and stop wasting time on the difficulty of it. i know 4 languages and i have to say that Russian and French sound beautiful. keep listening and keep learning everyone!

By anon13410 — On May 26, 2008


I speak English natively and I think that it really would not be that difficult to learn. Definitely the hardest thing to learn about English is the spelling because it is quite unpredictable unless you have a very good command of the language. I speak quite good Spanish, as I am 16 and have just spent 6 months in Spain on an exchange program after studying it for 1.5 years. I have looked into German and Malay and from what I can see and my own experience, Spanish is not too difficult, even if the grammar is a little difficult to grasp.

I definitely have to say that I was living in the north of Spain in Basque country and it is extremely difficult!! Unless you have grown up in the Basque country its an extremely difficult language to grasp. People don't even know where its from - they are guessing it originated in Africa!

By anon13383 — On May 26, 2008

i think slovenian language is the most difficult language on the earth, not just to speak but also to write it:)

By anon13382 — On May 26, 2008

it is not slovak but it is slovenian language! :)

By anon12921 — On May 16, 2008

The difficulty when one person is learning languages depends on several factors, I think. The first one is whether or not the mother tongue is related with the one that is being studied. For example, people who speak Portuguese do not need to take a course in Spanish to understand it, and Spanish-speakers feel the same with Portuguese. The reason is that those languages have its origin from Latin and the same situation is presented with other romance languages; like French, Italian or Catalan. Although French pronunciation is very difficult to imitate and catch, if you pay a very close attention, you will be able to do it.

The other one is that every language has its own particularities. English pronunciation could be a challenge for everyone, because some sounds are very related to others and could be difficult to distinguish them. Spanish has many verb sentences and that is a very true headache when using irregular verbs with all the different pronouns. German declinations are in many cases very confused and it is necessary to learn too many exceptions to the "rules". Plus the fact that they have very long words.

Another factor that could help is the facility with which we learn to listen. Japanese pronunciation is very close to Spanish, but in grammar there's nothing in common.

My mother language is Spanish and I think it is not that easy (although I am a native speaker) compared to others western idioms. For example, when I was studying English, which is my second language, I learned it very fast. English native speakers tend to learn Spanish within more time than a Spanish native speaker learning English.

Right now I am studying German and with this one I am making a real effort, although German and English are related.

Whichever may be the real difficulty, I think that the only wall is in our mind...

By anon12537 — On May 08, 2008

I agree with the initial comment on hungarian -not just because of the 35 nouns but because they have even changed the names of the countries and nationalities such as Italy to olazorszag, germany to nemetzorsag etc. also the word and preposition are joined as one-making it look even more difficult..

By anon12045 — On Apr 29, 2008

Hi all, I think "Sinhala" is one of the hardest languages to learn. I speak 5 languages Sinhala, English, Maylay, French and now learning Dutch. Try learning Sinhala, you will be surprised how hard it is.

By anon11585 — On Apr 19, 2008

Hi anon11422,

I agree with you that you feel Japanese is not that difficult. I am a Japanese native and I know lots of people in Japan consider it is impossibly hard for foreigners but I suppose actually it is not so extremely. I think one of the problems on learning the Japanese is that there is a huge difference between the language which you learn by grammar book in school and colloquial version spoken in Japan. All of you may say every language has there 2 aspects, but as I have heard from people who study my language and as I compare it to other languages I know - as if this difference is much bigger in Japanese. Anyway we understand of course the textbook version of Japanese when you speak it. Although I accept those simpleness in Japanese grammar, being without genders, cases and etc. But still I don't think it is so easy one. Why? Try to read a novel written in Japanese, then you will see:)

By anon11422 — On Apr 16, 2008

Every language has its complexity. Trying to figure out what language is the hardest is pretty much impossible. We all have biased opinions, and I seriously don't think that someone's "mother" language is more difficult than any second, third,.. language that you know. It really all depends on how much effort you put into it. I studied French for 5 years, and all I can remember is "boulangerie". Why? Because I didn't like it at all. Tried German too, and yes, it is way more complex.

For example, Spanish (mother language) verb conjugations are somewhat complex, irregular, they vary from person, (sg/pl). Every noun has a gender, and each country has its unique words. My point is, I can't say my mother language is hard b/c it really isn't. We are exposed to our mother language, therefore, all the information just "flows" in. Try asking me to explain to you Spanish grammar, or why such rules exist. I probably won't be able to give you a good definition, but the meaning is there, in my conscience.

Right now I am learning Japanese and it's really not that difficult (although I still haven't learned the honorific form of speech). Japanese lacks gender, particles, and pronunciation is not that hard. Although my teachers do tell me that my "r"'s are too strong :)

I still don't think Spanish should be considered the easiest language in the world though, try reading novels in Spanish, I bet you'll be spending more time looking up the words in the dictionary than enjoying the novel.

What's the hardest language in the world? Who knows...

By anon11164 — On Apr 09, 2008

sorry....but have you ever tried to speak spanish??

i know you are explaining that spanish is the easiest; no way is one of the hardest languages in the world, in spite of the pronunciation is quite easy, is easy for someone who your mother's language is "latin." but for english-, german-, hungarian-, russian-speakers, etc., it is difficult because the pronunciation is very different. spanish is also difficult because there are more tenses than english german, hungarian, etc.

besides, in spanish exists the gender and number, and in english not. also, accented letters like ÑáéíóúÜ exist and that complicates things for german-, english-, dutch-, russian- and hungarian-speakers. the easiest language of the world is the english because all the verbs for each person has the same conjugation. the english-speaker says "my friend" for a boy or for a girl but in spanish it is different.

in the spanish there are 3 forms to say you : vos, tu, and usted. and for each one the conjugation is different. for example, if you learn spanish from spain and later you go to argentina, it's going to be very difficult to understand. in spain you use tu and in argentina and honduras you use vos.

conclusion: spanish one of the hardest languages to learn.

By anon10997 — On Apr 07, 2008

Hi all, In advance, sorry for my english skill:)

Well, here I would like to say that it seems in principle there is no sense for us to decide which language is the most difficult. Actually it is impossible. Surely some languages have really complicated grammars than others. But in general, this "difficulty" highly depends on subjective view of people.

I realize people tend to think their mother tongue is quite hard to be learned. Probably since they have huge lexicon and keen sense on their mother languages, understanding very subtle nuances of words or expressions. To the contrary they tend to think some other language which have studied (but not achieved to very fluent level) is easier than theirs. Another reason sometimes is maybe a kind of patriotic propaganda by governmental education system.

Also we must underline that the difficulty of languages depends on the distance between the learner's mother tongue and the target language. It is natural for Spanish people Portuguese is easier to learn than English.

Anyway as a Japanese native, reading a comment of an English teacher above, I would say that practically Russian is much more difficult than English - at least on everyday's usage level - He wrote English has so many tenses and richness of words, but how it can be harder than Russian in which you cannot say some elemental sentences without mistakes even after 1 or 2 years study (of course because of the terrible declination..also genders may.) It is a matter to use your brain even when you order something to drink in a pub.

On this meaning I suppose English is easier than most of European languages because of lack of these grammatical aspects. Surely it is hard to be able to speak, read and understand English like natives, as the teacher said. But it is same in every language, I think.

By anon10929 — On Apr 05, 2008

Just to start off, the languages I spoke while growing up are Indonesian and English. Then, I studied German and Italian intensively. Now, I'm beginning to study Icelandic and Thai.

I disagree with the results from these language studies, because I don't think they've studied the 2650 languages of the world. And it also seems like they only include languages that are socially, politically or economically powerful. European languages+ East Asian languages (economically strong Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, Singapore)+Arabic (official language of 25 countries and highly regarded in the Islamic world)+the native language of Jesus. The list doesn't include African languages, Native American languages, Native Australian and Papuan languages, languages spoken by very few speakers/communities, etc.

IMO, the Indonesian/Malaysian (practically the same language) is one of the easiest language in the world. It has no tense whatsoever. I eat today, I eat yesterday, I eat tomorrow, etc. We use the 26 latin alphabet that English uses, no accent marks or anything. It's read exactly the way it's written. No tones. Very few prepositions (in, into, onto, upon, at, off, etc are all classified as towards, from and at, like Italian and not like English, believing IN, thinking OF, depending ON, looking AT, IN 2007, ON monday, ON the 27th of May, IN May, waiting FOR, ON strike, BY accident, AT risk, etc, sorry got off topic, hehe) No gender (he=she=it), just repeat the word twice for the plural, add di- in the beginning of the verb for passive, pe- for actor of a verb, -an for the patient of a verb. So makan (eat/to eat/eating) becomes dimakan (eaten/to be eaten/being eaten/etc), pemakan (eater), makanan (food). Although, the difficulty may be that in colloquial version has diverged from the formal version.

By icegirl — On Apr 02, 2008

if one squinted one's eyes and saw the page with finnish in it, one could see k's, t's and n's interspersed with little dots all over!!!!

By icegirl — On Apr 02, 2008

guys this is not an attempt to figure out the most difficult language in the world but rather to say that i just read a text of finnish and although belonging to the roman letters' family, it's almost funny to read it!!!!

Every letter is repeated twice over in every word, so it looks like a design more than anything else!! I have been reading finnish text alongside english in my work in national accounts and laughing my head off at the idea of ever having to speak it :))

By anon10598 — On Mar 30, 2008

I agree with some of the previous comments saying that a language is easier to pick up by speakers of languages of the same family. I think this is specially true for romance languages speakers. It's pretty obvious, since basically, romance languages are dialects of the same original language: Latin. The exception is French, which is the most "bastardized" romance language.

On the other hand, there are some language combinations that usually "don't mix well".

I'd also like to point out that it's always easier to go from "more to less". For instance, if your mother tongue has cases (nominative, etc.) it's easier to learn a language without cases --or at least that part of the language--. If your mother tongue has lots of verb tenses and modes, it's easier to learn a language with only 3 verb tenses. If your mother tongue has 10 vowels, it's easier to learn a language with only 5 vowels. And so forth and so on.

As for writing and reading, I'd say that any language using ideograms/logograms is difficult to write and read even for its native speakers.

I've noticed that speakers of Polish, Russian and Czech, among others, are able to learn and master languages like Spanish, English, French or Italian in an amazingly short time.

By sheva29 — On Mar 25, 2008

I'm learning Italian and I find it hard to deal with numerous irregular verbs in Italian. How can I remember all of those? I'm from Vietnam. Vietnamese is a lovely language. Chao moi nguoi!

By anon10304 — On Mar 24, 2008

I'm a native Arabic speaker, and I have passed the most difficult examinations in Arabic language, and I can assure you that it might be the most difficult language ever, however, not enough research by foreign researchers are taking place which possibly makes it the reason why it's not classified as the most difficult language.

By anon10206 — On Mar 22, 2008

Lithuanian is the hardest language I know.

By anon10201 — On Mar 22, 2008

I totally agree with this article, I am a Hungarian, and I have to confess that even if Hungarian is our mother language, we have a lot of difficulties with the grammar as well...it is extremely complicated and complex, I admire people who takes the challenge and try to learn it...I would not do it by myself if I were from an another country...

And I have to add, that I totally agree with the writer who wrote that Danish is complicated...but it is not that hard to learn it...I am studying Danish now, and after 4 months I can understand daily conversations, and I can talk by myself...but yeah...it is a weird language...

By pixiedust — On Mar 20, 2008

the oldest languages are the hardest to learn because their history goes back many centuries. and as a result their techniques are not as refined. the history of some languages like slovak goes back just over a hundred years and therefore the number of words are much lower and their structure comparatively simple.

By anon9986 — On Mar 17, 2008

italian is 100% the hardest grammar in the world.

There are thousands of rule and exception just to make plurals, hundreds of combinations to make articles and prepositions and thousands of irregular verbs with all different irregularities.

There is not grammar in the world which can be compared to italian grammar. Italian grammar encompasses books of hundreds of pages.

Writing rules are virtually impossible to follow at 100%.

But Italian has very easy sound, that makes it easy to pick up the basics, but almost nobody can speak it thoroughly perfect, even Italians themselves speaks dialects and speak and write Italian with tons of mistakes.

By cantabo07 — On Mar 11, 2008


all slavic languages have seven grammar languages and many suffixes.

My mother tongues are Croatian and German and I speak English of course, French and a bit of Arabic, Russian and Chinese.

I have heard that the Coptic language is very difficult.

By pixiedust — On Mar 03, 2008

I speak Hungarian, English, Russian, Slovak, Czech, and German, and Hungarian by far is the most difficult to speak properly. This is mostly because of all the nuanced different endings for the same word used in different circumstances. Yes, Slovak has 7 grammar cases as someone earlier stated, but many other languages have this many. But Hungarian has many special forms for a single word. This complex way of modifying a word, allows you to express very precisely what you want to say. In fact, of the six languages I know, I'd say Slovak is the easiest because there is generally one word for one thing, whereas in these other languages you have many ways to say big, for example.

By anon9175 — On Mar 01, 2008

Languages can only be so complex - our brains are wired from birth for certain universal characteristics of language, so a language can't deviate too far from those, or have so many idiosyncrasies that a child couldn't learn it. So probably the best measure of "easy to learn" is similarity to English - unfortunately, English has gone through a lot of changes, so that it has some uniqueness to it, but grammatically it's related to Germanic languages, and a lot of its vocabulary comes from Romance languages. The other Indo-European languages come next, including ones like Russian. Then comes everything else. The writing systems are a separate concern, really, but do make something like Chinese really hard to learn (Hebrew and Russian, though, are phonetic, so you can pick them up pretty quickly).

By anon9161 — On Feb 29, 2008

No way! French is easy, for some people Portuguese is hard, have you ever tried to talk Portuguese? there are so many verbs! I have Portuguese friends with 15 years speaking over than 5 languages, as French, English, Spanish, German, and Italian! And I have always studied languages and I can only speak English, Germany and Russian (my mother language).

By deepakverma — On Feb 27, 2008

Hi Guys, I speak 43 languages but still i can't tell you which are the most difficult languages to learn for me i still find english quite difficult...all i can say that i found chinese very complicated.

By anon9025 — On Feb 26, 2008

I'm sorry but you gotta take a look at mother languages, 'cause I saw that thing that said that Spanish is the easiest, but, for whom? then it should be Italian and Portuguese and french as well, as they're quite similar, then you most take a look at who speaks and which language, as someone said here, it depends on where you are located. The easiest language to speak should, according to me, the easiest language to speak. That's a stupid statement though, as far as I'm a spanish native speaker, it's obvious that it's easy for me. Then first let's take a look at native languages. I speak Russian as well, and it has nothing complicated!

By anon8957 — On Feb 25, 2008

I speak 23 languages. Although I am not a translator, I have use for most of the 23 languages in my work. My work is very technical. I speak, read and write most of them well enough to be able to function in each of them as I would in one of my mother tongues. Every language has its own complexities, regardless of what one has as a native tongue. Different does not mean difficult. Writing a language is always more complex than speaking a language. Writing well is difficult in every language, even in one's own. Also, not every one knows their own language well.

I think that Romance languages are probably the most easy language group, French included. Scandinavian languages are also quite easy, apart pronunciation. Scandinavian languages use limited vocabularies. Japanese is also not that difficult for various reasons. It just seems exotic to people who are not from East Asia. Like in northern European countries, there is a lot of communication in Japanese that is not expressed through words. That is difficult for people who cannot understand communicating in that way.

Korean is very difficult. Thankfully the Korean alphabet is easy. Mandarin is not that difficult. Cantonese is more difficult than Mandarin, writing included.

Polish, Greek and Turkish definitely not easy. Although I do not speak Slovak, Slovak is quite similar to Polish. Both are rather mutually intelligible. Slovak does not seem to be an extremely difficult language.

Although not very difficult, English is also not that simple, due to the large choice one has in terms of vocabulary, syntax and style.

I would say that German is difficult, especially due to how its sentences are structured in formal communication.

Although I don't speak Basque, Vietnamese or Hungarian, I think that Finnish is the most difficult language that I know. It never becomes simple through extended use. One always has to be aware of how to use different possible grammatical structures when putting together a sentence. Just try translating a text, especially a technical one, into different languages and then into Finnish in order to understand what I mean.

By anon8916 — On Feb 24, 2008

I think some of you guys don't even know there are more than 2600 language in this world, and the most difficult language in this world is Sanskrit and Hindi.

By anon8811 — On Feb 21, 2008

I'm from Bulgaria... I can speak perfectly russian, also english and german. I had no problem learning russian and english, but german... :(

However... I can tell you that my native language is not so easy to learn it is very difficult...my mother is from russia and she lived in Bulgaria for 20 years and still can't speak well... 20 years!

I work with many tourists and they say that they can't even pronounce some words and even some letters... so it is imposible that bulgarian is the 3rd easiest language to learn !!! Think about it !!

By anon8582 — On Feb 16, 2008

How on earth could croatian be 4 on the EASIEST list, when it, like the supposedly most difficult language (slovak) has 7 cases singular, and 7 plural..(nominativ, genitiv, etc)

Also... there is the hard and soft ch sound, the hard and soft "j" sound (dz and dj)..the difficult letter lj... words without vowels (krv, krst, etc)...

I do find english to be among the easier of languages... I picked it up fluently within 6 months of moving to canada...within a couple of years, it was safe to say I knew english better than croatian, my native tongue.

Also, for the Russian person who said s/he'd never met a person who could speak English like a native but hadn't lived/travelled abroad... well, here in Bosnia i know of a few such cases... eg. my cousin - you would think he is from england natively, yet he's never set foot outside of bosnia and croatia. and maybe some professors, but i can't vouch that they never visited/stayed abroad.

English was much easier for me to learn than German, and my native tongue is even more similar to German than to English.. Spanish was quite simple too, although I didn't stay at it long enough, so I've pretty much lost what I had...

By anon8522 — On Feb 15, 2008

Hi, I have noticed that people who comes to Spain learn to speak spanish in one month (excepting David Beckham and english native speakers in general). I am not joking I have noticed it in football or basketball players who came to play to Spain and in a Lithuanian and finland friend as well.

By anon8173 — On Feb 09, 2008

I'm an English teacher, and I live in Russia. I've learned to speak Russian in two years, but I still make a number of mistakes with the cases. Nonetheless, few Russians speak their own language flawlessly. I can categorically state that even native English speakers (and teachers) make mistakes constantly.

I'll also add that English has far more words than any other language (the Oxford English Dictionary lists about 500,000 definitions), 12 verb tenses which are very hard for foreigners to grasp, and a lot of articles and prepositions that often don't follow any rules whatsoever. I haven't met a single Russian who hadn't traveled abroad who can speak English like a native speaker.

English is the most bastardized language on the planet and it's quite easy for native speakers to understand foreigners' mistakes because we're so used to hearing them.

By anon7924 — On Feb 05, 2008

Slovak is definitely NOT the ONLY language with cases. I'm from Finland and we have them 15. Compare 7 to 15...

By anon7897 — On Feb 05, 2008

One of the regional languages in India - “Malayalam” - has been titled as the hardest language in the world by the WLRF (World Language Research Foundation).

By anon7859 — On Feb 04, 2008

I'm from Vietnam, my first foreign language is czech. It took almost 3 years to learn and speak like a native speaker. It wasn't that difficult, maybe it's because I learned it almost every day. My second language is english, quite difficult in the beginning. I started also with korean, chinese, french, spanish. Every language has a distinct difficulty. It's not true, that for example a person who can speak chinese can easily learn korean or vietnamese. Many chinese words were being adopted by other asian nations, but the pronunciation is different and sometimes are used in a different way with a different meaning. For example when i told my chinese friends a word that is very unusual in vietnamese originally chinese, but no chinese could understand it, because this word was adopted 3 centuries ago, so it is not used in modern chinese. If you want to know, which language is the most difficult, then try vietnamese...

By anon7321 — On Jan 24, 2008

I'm Bask, and I have to say, it is really difficult. We have 24 cases, so the 7 that has Slovak is nothing comparing with this. Also the verbs are very very complicated.

By anon7033 — On Jan 16, 2008

I am Hungarian. I learn English for about 15 years live in England for 3 and still struggle with English in many cases so who is to say which language is harder?

By anon7022 — On Jan 15, 2008

german is not difficult to learn and english is not easy to learn. for foreigners all the rules and exceptions in english can be very difficult. it depends on what language you are fluent in. german and english are very similar so it is easy for a german or american to learn the opposite language. i have found czech to be especially difficult. some of their words have no vowels and their vowels have so many cases

By anon6943 — On Jan 13, 2008

no way French is the 10th most difficult! it's not t h a t hard. well, i am Hungarian and i can assure you that it is one of the hardest languages. i don't believe that one!

note what city was that linguistic consortium from :)))

By anon6942 — On Jan 13, 2008

Slovak language is the only one with seven grammar cases

Czech has also 7 cases in singular and 7 cases in plural of nouns

I'd add Polish as well(spoken by more people than Czech and Slovakian combined)

By anon6844 — On Jan 10, 2008

a native speaker of any romance language will find any other romance language more easy to learn than a non-romance language, at least in terms of grammar and general pronunciation. the same applies to the anglo-saxon language family, or the slavic language family. i speak two romance languages and english. what i find really interesting is that learning a new language, even if it belongs in the same family as your first language (mother tongue), it will change the way you think and the way you express your thoughts, sometimes in a better way but not always.

By anon6047 — On Dec 14, 2007

I speak Czech and Slovak and it is not true that Slovak is the ONLY language with 7 cases for declination. Czech has also 7 cases in singular and 7 cases in plural of nouns (about 40 different model words for declension + words that swing between model words), 7+7 cases for adjectives and also for pronouns with enough of irregularities that you can imagine. Furthermore "Y" and "I" is more difficult in Czech than in Slovak. By the way, for the verbs in Czech (as difficult as in Slovak) and some other languages, is used "conjugation" and not "declension".

Since modern Slovak has a common dialect ancestor with Czech I can find Czech hard but to say whether it is harder than Slovak?

Speaking also quite good French, German and Russian I would say, as not being a professional, one can judge just from the small amount of languages he can speak and it is hard to imagine the other languages just from what someone is saying about them or what he/she heard speaking during some short-term visit.

By anon5706 — On Dec 04, 2007

I realized that after learning any foreign language it won't be as difficult for you to learn another one ;) heh, and i speak slovak perfectly and know all the grammar rules :o)

By anon5654 — On Dec 03, 2007

no way French is the 10th most difficult! it's not t h a t hard. well, i am Hungarian and i can assure you that it is one of the hardest languages. i don't believe that one!

By anon5582 — On Nov 30, 2007

On September 27th a linguistic consortium in Paris has come up with following results:

the easiest languages to learn:

10. mongolese

09. aramaic

08. greek

07. norwegian

06. italian

05. romanian

04. croatian

03. bulgarian

02. english

01. the easiest language in the world spoken by more than 300 million people is spanish

the most difficult languages: (linguists examined complexity of grammar, syntax, historical development, pronunciation, orthography, letter styles, signs, etc.)

10. german

09. french

08. chinese

07. japanese

06. korean

05. persian

04. arabic

03. finnish

02. hungarian

01. the most difficult language is Slovak

The most difficult is grammar structure. Slovak language is the only one with seven grammar cases (nominativ, genitiv, dativ, accusativ, local, instrumental, vocativ), exquisite words, soft and hard "i", declension of adjectives and verbs, in other words almost each and every word in this language is being declinated. There are many other characteristics which are not found in other world languages. It is said, or estimated, that it takes about 12 years to learn it completely, but the linguists say, that there is no one on this earth who can speak this language perfectly knowing all the grammar rules.

By anon5518 — On Nov 28, 2007

i agree, slovak is really difficult to learn - extremely complicated grammar

By anon5478 — On Nov 27, 2007

try to learn slovak:)

By anon5246 — On Nov 18, 2007

What about Icelandic? The pronunciation is difficult for most words... unless you're a native Dane or Finn.

By anon5089 — On Nov 12, 2007

I speak Russian as a second language and it was extremely difficult at first, but it gets easier after you get the basics down, and start to understand what each case is for and that sort of thing. English is my first language though, and this article says German is hard for the same reasons as Russian, but I also speak German and it is a lot easier than Russian for me. Spanish was also really easy as an English speaker.

By anon4798 — On Nov 01, 2007

strange, I speak Russian as a second language and don't see it as a difficult language, but i guess that really depends on where you come from or how much you have heard it being child ....

they also say Lithuanian is rather complicated language, i can't comment on this because I am Lithuanian, but you can look it up.

By anon4003 — On Sep 28, 2007

I would also add Lithuanian. Try to learn all endings of all genders of nouns. Plus numerals have also fem. and masc. endings in all cases. It is a highly inflexional language in which you can easily express ideas almost without prepositions. If you talk about verb... One verb has 13 participial forms (only in masculine) and add feminine... Moreover, accentuation system is almost impossible to learn. Accents are shifting; thus, those speakers whose languages have constant accent find it very hard to stress words correctly without a dictionary. On the whole, Lithuanian is considered the oldest surviving Indo-European language that preserved many features that other languages have long modernized.

By anon3612 — On Sep 08, 2007

Someone needs to add Danish to the list of difficult languages. The grammar is not extremely difficult, but spoken Danish is a nightmare! Within a country of 5 million people and 40,000 sq. km, people from one region have huge difficulties understanding people from another region. Whole words are swallowed and run together in a continuous stream. Few consonants are ever expressed in the middle or ends of words. While there are only about 68,000 words in the Danish language, most have at least four meanings and can act as a verb, noun, adjective and adverb. Due to the fact that the language sounds nothing like how it is written, Danish children regularly score low on tests designed to show the correlation between language and sound. Children of Danish parents who learn Danish abroad often spend years of study to learn to match the words they know with the spelling. For example, the Danish word for "much"

is "meget." It is pronounced similar to "mal" in one part of the country or "mite" in another region of Denmark.

By anon2714 — On Jul 22, 2007

Did they try to learn Czech? I have heard this is a very hard one as well, because of changing suffixes in nouns and verbs and irregular grammar.

By anon1201 — On May 20, 2007

Basque is difficult because it isn't related to any other language or cultural group. Navajo seems to the be the most challenging language to learn - for anyone, regardless of native tongue. I believe that's why WWII code breakers were unable to crack the US Navajo code.


By anon620 — On Apr 30, 2007

I am a Speech-Language Pathologist, and in my second year of University I had to take a Linguistics course in which we learned that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. Not only do we have homophones and verb tenses, but there are so many double meanings in our language; not only with one word at a time, but with phrases as well. Just something to think about!

By anon134 — On Apr 16, 2007

I was under the impression that Arabic was one of the most difficult languages as well.

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