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Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn.

Here is the Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

 

10. Finnish

(Study Time: 1,100 hours plus)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • The fact that Finnish is even around as a national language today is thanks to one guy: Johan Snellman.
  • A philosopher and Finnish nationalist, Snellman was the guy who brought written Finnish out of the shadows of Swedish
  • Snellman’s opening up of written Finnish didn’t make it any easier for the rest of us to learn.
  • While Swedish will take you around 600 hours study time, Finnish will take almost double that.

 

9. Estonian

(Study Time: 1,100 hours plus)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • The script was written in runes.
  • In other words, the sort of thing to have the casual learner quaking in their boots.
  • Estonian still remains a freakishly odd language by European standards.
  • One issue is the dialects.
  • Despite being spoken by fewer than 2 million people, most of whom live in a country significantly smaller than West Virginia, Estonia has two distinct dialects, Northern and Southern.

 

8. Georgian

(Study time: 1,100 hours plus)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • Reading it is daunting.
  • Speaking is no easier.
  • Georgian has a non-Latin alphabet.
  • This makes it immediately intimidating.
  • A whole bunch of Georgian words and phrases contain no vowel sounds whatsoever, so saying them makes you feel like you’re choking on something.
  • Finally, Georgian is a language that’s unusually dependent (for a country that is technically still in Europe) on stress, intonation, and rhythm.
  • Change any of these three and your sentence can take on a new meaning entirely.
  • All of which combines to make Georgian a scary language for an English-speaker to consider learning.

7. Hungarian

(Study time: 1,100 hours plus)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • The First widely-written down in 1000 AD.
  • The language stumbled in the 18th century.
  • The scientific revolution had arrived and Hungarian, a language based around concepts of community, countryside and family, turned out to be woefully inadequate for dealing with science-based concepts.
  • So rather than importing foreign words, a bunch of Hungarian academics got together and made up reams of new words.
  • In doing so, they single-handedly shook up the entire language.
  • They also made Hungarian into a language that is painfully difficult for English speakers to learn, at least if they want to learn it formally.
  • Learning Hungarian properly involves dealing with six verb tenses (in English we only have two, which we combine with other words to create stuff like the ‘future imperfect’ or whatever).

 

6. Mongolian

(Study time: 1,100 hours plus)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • Prior to 1946, the written language of Mongolia was absurdly difficult for non-native speakers to even begin to decipher.
  • Then the Soviets decided their Central Asian republic needed a more Russian outlook and pushed through a Cyrillic alphabet.
  •  Despite having only around 5 million speakers, Mongolian has a vast number of dialects so different that some think they should be classed as separate languages.
  • On top of that, modern Mongolian tends to mix in Chinese words and ideas, which opens up a whole new frontier of difficulty.
  • That means it can sound almost musical to English ears… but freakishly hard to replicate.

 

5. Vietnamese

(Study time: 1,100 hours plus)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • Spoken by 70 million people globally, it has more speakers than every other language on this list so far combined.
  • While its Latin script might mean Vietnamese looks more friendly than, say, Georgian, don’t be fooled.
  • The use of tones in this language is enough to make even language-lovers’ heads explode.
  • Vietnamese has six tones, which can be applied to pretty much any word, and completely alter the meaning.
  • So a sentence like ‘Ban ban bán bàn ban’ may look like pointless repetition, but actually translates as “Friend Ban sells dirty tables.”
  • This is a big deal.
  • Interestingly, Vietnamese is one of the easier languages in the region, in part due to French colonial influence, which gave the language its Latin script.

 

4. Mandarin & Cantonese

(Study time: 2,200 hours)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • Spoken by upwards of a billion people worldwide, they’re as important and as far-reaching as English, Spanish or Arabic.
  • Mandarin, like Vietnamese, is tonal.
  • Saying a word in a slightly different way can alter its meaning wildly.
  • It’s also a language completely devoid of tenses.
  • There’s no past, present or future.
  • Instead, speakers can use a single syllable in a looong sentence to change its entire meaning, by passively suggesting time has passed.
  • As an additional headache, it’s also a super-polite language.
  • Cantonese is problematic, too.
  • Putting a word in the wrong place in a sentence can completely change its meaning to a ridiculous/hilarious degree.
  • Speakers also talk differently about a subject or object as a way of demonstrating how important it is to them.
  • The only real advantage it has over Mandarin is that you pronounce each syllable of equal length, making talking ever so slightly easier.

 

3. Arabic

(Study time: 2,200 hours)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  •  Arabic script is fascinatingly strange, like sinuous lines drawn in sand.
  •  In 2010, a study revealed learning to read Arabic is unusually taxing on the brain.
  • The most-common version of Arabic is Modern Standard Arabic, used across in 26 countries across North Africa and the Middle East by around 300 million people. Only English and French are official languages in more countries.
  • However, Modern Standard Arabic is subdivided into so many different dialects that a non-native who learns one version won’t necessarily be able to understand another.
  • As regards the quirks of the language, Arabic has a flexible word order, which means you can mix up your sentences and still make sense. On the other hand, listening to someone else talk can be confusing as heck.
  • That’s before we even mention the 12 forms of personal pronouns.

 

2. Korean

(Study time: 2,200 hours)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • Difficult enough, but it’s actually even harder.
  • Written Korean is all bunched together into syllable blocks.
  • Getting used to combining them in a legible way is just one of the many challenges facing English learners of Korean.
  • In Korean, the verb usually comes last.
  • The rest of the sentence is pretty fluid, meaning words can shift around in places and leave you feeling massively confused.
  • Even harder is the crazy-level honorifics system.

 

1. Japanese

(Study time: Over 2,200 hours)

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

Top 10 Difficult Languages to Learn

  • According to the FSI, Japanese is the hardest major language for English speakers to learn by a country mile.
  • Forget to use the correct vocab or honorific word forms and watch everyone look at you like you’ve just pooped on their bedroom floor.
  • An additional complication is that Japan is an extremely high-context society.
  • The most important things in a Japanese conversation may well be those left unsaid.
  • It’s not a problem with the language itself, but it’s still a massive pain in the backside.
  • That being said, spoken Japanese is no more difficult to learn than many other Asian languages.

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