Hardest Languages to Learn – Top 10 that are Too Difficult to Master

Most difficult languages ​​to learn

Having the ability to speak multiple languages ​​gives you a significant advantage over monolingual speakers. Not only does it allow you to gain a deeper understanding of a country’s culture, but it is also essential for living together and doing business. Multilingual people open themselves to new possibilities and the acquisition of new languages ​​can broaden their view of the world, improve non-verbal communication, improve multitasking skills and help the brain adapt to new circumstances.

If you are just starting to learn a language, it may be beneficial to start with an easier one, such as Spanish, German, or Italian. However, if you are looking for a challenge, here is a list of the 10 most challenging languages ​​to learn.

The 10 most difficult languages ​​to learn

The following languages ​​are the most difficult in the world and are difficult to learn for people around the world.

Yes.No

Languages

1

Mandarin

2

Arabic

3

Japanese

4

Hungarian

5

Korean

6

Finnish

7

Basque

8

Navajo

9

Icelandic

10

Polish

Let’s delve into the difficulties of learning the 10 most difficult languages ​​for English speakers and the challenges they entail.

Mandarin

Mandarin is the most spoken language in the world and is spoken by 70% of the Chinese population. However, mastering Mandarin Chinese can be a challenging task for English speakers. It is a tonal language, which means that each sound in its phonetic transcription system, pinyin, has four different pronunciations and meanings. For example, the word “ma” has four different pronunciations, each with a different meaning, depending on the tone: mother, fiber, horse, or curse. Mandarin is also full of homophones, that is, words with the same pronunciation but different meanings, which can be confusing for English learners. Additionally, Mandarin is rich in idioms and aphorisms developed over centuries of poetry, politics, war, ceremony and religion, adding to the complexity of the language.

Arabic

Arabic is the official language of 22 sovereign states and has more than 25 different dialects, meaning that the Arabic spoken in one country can be very different from that spoken in another. Additionally, Arabic is read from right to left and most Arabic letters are written in four different ways, depending on whether they are placed at the beginning, middle or end of a word, or as a stand-alone letter. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is used for formal writings and speeches in all Arabic-speaking countries, while Arabic dialects are spoken in everyday conversations. Arabic grammar can be challenging and learning it can be a bit complicated. Additionally, there are several homophones and false friends, which can create confusion among English speakers trying to learn the language.

Japanese

Japanese has only two tenses, past and non-past (present and future), which makes grammar a bit complicated. Japanese has three separate writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji, and writing can be challenging as it has a large number of characters that must be mastered before learning to write. Hiragana is the Japanese alphabet and is used for native Japanese words. Katakana is used for loanwords, technical and scientific terms and some names of plants and animals. Kanji is made up of thousands of symbols that represent words, phrases, or complete ideas that cannot always be directly translated into English. There are two forms of expression that English speakers must master to break the language barrier and build confidence: polite and simple. Additionally, Japanese is a phonetic language, which makes it a little easier to pronounce, but it is full of homophones, which leads to a lot of false friends.

Hungarian

Hungarian is spoken by more than 13 million people around the world and has unique grammar rules that can be challenging for English speakers. Instead of relying on word order, Hungarian uses over 18 case suffixes, dictating tense and possession, so mastering the grammar is crucial. However, the Hungarian language has no grammatical genders, making it an excellent language for testing gender bias in AI. Hungarian relies heavily on idioms, which can create a barrier for language learners. The language also has fourteen vowels, differentiated by various accents, which have different meanings, making it difficult for English speakers to speak and understand.

Korean

Korean is a unique language in that it is the most widely spoken isolated language in the world, meaning it has no proven genetic relationship to other languages. When constructing a sentence in Korean, the word order usually follows the pattern of subject + object + action. This can create confusion for English speakers, who are also challenged by levels of language formality, which are determined by factors such as age, seniority, and familiarity with the individual.

The Korean alphabet, Hangul, was created rather than developing naturally like other alphabets. It reads from left to right like English, but flows from top to bottom, and its characters are usually taller than those of the Latin script. This can present difficulties when localizing software applications on different platforms. Hangul’s 24 characters are phonetic, making pronunciation easier, but the language is also full of homonyms, which are words that are spelled and pronounced the same but have different meanings. As a result, Korean learners may encounter many false friends, such as “a bat and a ball” versus “the bat flew at night.”

Finnish

Finnish, with 6 million native speakers worldwide, has a multitude of regional dialects that can vary greatly from the standard language. Despite this, one cultural trait that remains constant is the tendency of Finns to skip small talk, much like the Danes.

While Finnish letters and pronunciation are reminiscent of English, the grammar is very different. For example, Finnish does not have a future tense and instead relies on context and the present tense. Additionally, the language has 15 grammatical cases, with small changes in word endings that drastically alter their meanings. There are also no articles like “a” or “the” in Finnish. Finnish does not share any similarities with Latin or Germanic languages, although Finns incorporate loanwords from other countries such as “Googlata” for “to Google.” Additionally, some Finnish words have become part of the English vernacular, such as “sauna”, “tundra” and “Molotov cocktail”.

Basque

Basque, an isolated language like Korean, has more than a million speakers mainly in the Basque Country, in northern Spain. The written and spoken form of Basque is different from any other language, even among the five Basque dialects. While it borrows vocabulary from Romance languages ​​such as French and Spanish, in the 19th century there was a push to create new Basque words for phrases. The politician and writer Sabino Arana created a collection of new terms called “sabinismos”, among them “Lehendakari” (president) and “argazki” (photo). Unlike Romance languages, Basque does not use gender cases for nouns or adjectives, making it easier for English speakers to learn.

Navajo

Navajo, spoken by 170,000 people in the southwestern United States, is the most widely spoken Native American language in the country. The Navajo alphabet consists of 33 consonants, including several rare ones that can be difficult for English speakers to pronounce. The basic word order in Navajo is subject + object + verb, and descriptions are given using verbs, so most adjectives in English have no direct translation. For example, “love” is expressed in Navajo as “Ayóó ánóshní”, which conveys greater respect for the person. Navajo has few loanwords and instead uses descriptive terms to develop Western words. For example, “military tank” is expressed as “chidí naa’naʼí beeʼeldǫǫhtsoh bikááʼ dah naaznilígíí”, which translates as “a trailing vehicle, by which large explosions are produced, and in which one sits at a height” .

Icelandic

Icelandic, spoken by fewer than 400,000 people on one island, remains largely unchanged since the 9th century. The Icelandic sagas of medieval times are still easily understandable to modern speakers. To express new concepts, Icelanders coin new words called neologisms. For example, “computer” is expressed as “tölva”, which combines “tala” (number), “völva” (seer), “sími” (telephone) and a deprecated word for “thread”. Icelandic has had an impact on English, contributing the “th” sound in words like “three” and “thought.” However, Icelandic grammar is difficult for English speakers to master and fluency requires immersion in the Icelandic language.

Polish

After Russian, Polish is the second most spoken Slavic language; However, it is considered a long-tail language when it comes to translation work. Its alphabet is more familiar, but its gender system is complicated and has a free word order. Unlike English, which has a subject + verb + object sentence structure, Polish does not follow a set rule for sentence structure, making it difficult to identify who is doing what. For example, the phrase “I fed the cat this morning” can be translated in Polish as “I fed the cat this morning” or “This morning I fed the cat.” The last sentence might confuse an English speaker about who fed who.

Furthermore, Polish retains the old Slavic case system, with seven cases for nouns, pronouns and adjectives. Polish words change depending on the context, unlike English. Finally, although Polish words are pronounced as they are written, it is difficult to articulate all the different sounds in Polish pronunciation due to the abundance of consonant clusters.

What is the hardest language to learn?

It’s intriguing that the most spoken native language in the world is also the most difficult to learn. Mandarin Chinese poses several difficulties for students. The most important of these is the writing system, which is considerably more complex than the Latin alphabet familiar to English speakers and others. Those who study Mandarin must memorize thousands of special characters, which are completely different from those used in Latin languages.

In addition to the writing system, there are other challenging aspects of mastering Mandarin. For example, the tonal nature of the language makes speaking it quite difficult. Mandarin is just one of several Chinese dialects, including Cantonese, that are prevalent in southeastern China, Hong Kong, and other parts of Southeast Asia. These dialects have different written characters and pronunciations, and are equally difficult to learn. Mandarin has four tones, so each word can be pronounced four different ways and each pronunciation has a different meaning. For example, the word “ma” can mean “mother,” “horse,” “brute,” or “quarrel,” depending on the tone used.

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Source: pagasa.edu.vn

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