which languages are the most difficult ?

Bryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 20:04 GMT
Which languages,in your opinion,are the most difficult ? and why do you think so?
My types :
1.Mandarinian, because of alphabet and sound.(When they talk,it sounds like a song ;) I think so )
2.Arabic, because of alphabet.(Probably I could never learn it.It's very difficult to me)
3.Polish, because of hard grammatic and strange sound.(they have 7 causes,can you imagine it?? besides they whistle when they're talking)
.   Monday, July 21, 2003, 20:46 GMT
Arabic is too damn hard, I guess!
Hi, Bryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 20:52 GMT
It's really hard to compare languages in terms of difficulty : what consitutes a difficult language?
If it's the number of cases, then it's probably Tabassaran (a caucasian language) which is said to have 48 (not just 7) cases or Hungarian which has about 35 and Finnish with "still" 15 cases.
Is it punctuation? Then it's definitely German - even Germans often don't know the rules why they had to reform them which didn't help much - the same is true for their orthography.
Is it conjugation? Hungarian for example has two conjugations for each transitive verb
Is it syntax? In German, the usual order SPO changes in subordinate clauses from SPO to SOP, and some verbs are split up, others not : übernehmen : ich übernahm es; but aufgeben : ich gab es auf
Chinese and Japanese use a very difficult writing system - the Japanese is even more complex as it does not only include the Chinese characters but also two syllabic alphabets and all three are used at the same time and characters can be read differently. Inuit is said to have 250 forms for the verb inflexion, English and the Romance languages have a very tough tense system, The bushman language has these strange click-sounds and Chinese and Vietnamese an incredibly hard pronunciation.
But, how difficult you judge a language always depends on the language you speak. I'm a native speaker of German- my mother tongue has a complex case system and also a tough conjugation and three genders. Therefore, I compare languages with regard to aspects like these. Japanese, however, must seem very, very easy given that it does not have this complexity. On the other hand, Japanese uses a polite language consisting of honorific, humble and general politeness which does not even exist as such in the European languages. In Japanese, you do not count like in English or German : one dog, ein Hund but first, you need a category word where to "put" the dog (middle-sized animal, hence : number+counterword: hiki) : three dogs in Japanese : San (3)+ hiki (counter for dogs) + no (attributive)+inu (dog) >> Sanbiki (assimilation) no inu.
As regards the languages you mentioned : For me personally, Chinese does not seem that hard because apart from the writing system (which isn't really difficult, it just takes time to learn the characters and they are built in a logical way) and the pronunciation, Chinese doesn't even seem to have a grammar, the other difficulties are only cultural matters.
The Arab language is said to be very difficult not because of the writing system (which is quite easy in fact except for calligraphy), but because of it's grammar.
Polish is quite tough but the case system they use is very regular as well as the gender system.
There are lots of different researches focussing on the difficulties of certain languages like language typology etc. These reseach works vary from time to time: One time, German was considered to be the most difficult one because it is complex in lots of different ways : it doesn't have these huge obstacles like 48 or 35 cases, nor 10,000 characters but it has a complex tense system, a difficult orthography and punctuation, a hard case system and three genders which you simply cannot guess : das Mädchen (the girl) should be feminine but is neutrum - well, German girls aren't neuters, though. German syntax and phonology (especially ä,ü,ö and the r, the ch) are also quite difficult. Besides, there is a huge difference between ordinary language and official language which is like a foreign language to most Germans. Well, at least German can be called the language least mastered by the people who should be able to speak it. I don't know whether this is only due to its difficulty as such...
From my experience with foreign languages I would say that German is the most difficult one followed by Japanese and English. Most people forget how difficult English is in fact!
Bye, hope to get a reaction
Bryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 22:11 GMT
wow,that what you wrote is like an essey ;) You've got a really big knowledge about languages.I don't know so many things as you.My mother is polish,so I will tell something about this language.
Polish has got 7 causes (As I said),3 genders,3 tenses + 1 tense which is not used now.Polish ortography is quite complicated because there is many exception to the rules, e.g. żółw (turtle). Why isn't that written rzułf but żółw ? rzułf and żółw is read the same,so?There is no syntax rules.You can make sentences as you preffer e.g. "A teacher teachs a children in a classroom"
1.Nauczyciel uczy dzieci w klasie
(A teacher teachs a children in a classroom)
2.Nauczyciel uczy w klasie dzieci
(A teacher teachs in a classroom a children)
3.Nauczyciel w klasie uczy dzieci
(A teacher in a classroom teachs a children)
4.Dzieci w klasie uczy nauczyciel
(A children in a classroom teachs a teacher)
5.W klasie nauczyciel uczy dzieci
(In a classroom a teacher teachs a children)
6.Uczy dzieci nauczyciel w klasie
(Teachs a children a teacher in a classroom)
7.W klasie dzieci nauczyciel uczy
(In a classroom a children a teacher teachs)

As you can see,you haven't worried about syntax.It's one thing in the language which is easy. Pronunciation is very hard 'cos there are:
"ś" (it's like a whistle),
"ć" (I have absolutely no idea how to write a pronunciation of that),
"ż" (like french "j"),
"ź" (it's pretty strange),
"dź","dż" (to hell with that :P )
"ą" (like french "ant" in the end of sentence)
"ę" (like french "ent" in the end of sentence)
"ó" (like german "u")
"ł" (like english "w")
"dz" (like "ts")
"cz" (like germant "tsch")
"sz" (like english "sh")

To me it's difficul to read and ,as I think, not only to me.
There are 3 kinds of genders.Feminimum,maskulinum and neutrum.All nouns which ends "a" are feminimum,"o" are neutrum and the rest nouns are maskulinum.Easy ? maybe.I think,polish is difficult because of grammatic and sound.If you are not born in Poland,you will never speak so clearly as you should.This is why polish is hard to learn.

Bryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 22:14 GMT
Oh,on this forum shown a polish signs isn't possibly.I've forgotten that.Sorry.Forgive me :)
Bryan   Monday, July 21, 2003, 22:16 GMT
And it's me again.There should be "possible" not "possibly".
Clark   Monday, July 21, 2003, 23:14 GMT
Bryan, you think Polish is hard with 7 declensions, try 15 in Finnish! However, there is no gender in Finnish, which makes it somewhat easier. But it is still a very hard language.

And what we all must remember; a French person might say that Russian is the hardest language, and Spanish is the easiest language. Whereas a Russian might say the hardest language to learn is French, and Belorussian is the easiest.
Ryan   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 00:39 GMT
I remember Latin being a mess to learn, and I didn't even have to speak that language. Ancient Greek is supposedly even harder.

To Bryan   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 06:50 GMT
Hi, first of all excuse me for my long statement :-) I wanted to split it a bit but, well wasn't able to do so.
You are right with Polish, it is very difficut to pronounce, especially those words which at least for me seem to contain no vowels. There is a form (genitive perhaps) of "blood" krwi or in Czech there is the word prd (fart) and a word hrcn (??). But the genders are easy to remember as there are no exceptions. What I think is quite difficult about English are all these hidden genders like the car being feminine ("Fill her up" and not "Fill it up"). You don't learn articles because English is said to have none, but that's wrong.
And I don't think that one will ever be able to speak a language as fluently as a native speaker - this would be very embarrassing for the native speaker, after all. Bye
beria   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 11:29 GMT
A keresés során a kis és nagybetűket nem különböztetjük meg, viszont az ékezetek számítanak. Ha több szót ad meg, akkor azokat így együtt, kifejezésként kezeli a kereső. Egyik szó sem lehet négy betűnél rövidebb.
British Maria   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 16:23 GMT
I think it depends on how many languages you already know and how old you are. In school, French, as our second language seemed easy, but when German came along as a third language it seemed a fair bit harder, but we got used to it after a few years!
Hi beria   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 18:10 GMT
I really have to tell you that I love the Hungarian language but I'm a bit afraid of learning it as I do not know if I can possibly ever master it - at least to some degree. Well, you are probably a native speaker so it's difficult for you to understand my point , but do you think it's possible to speak the language as a foreigner and how long will it take?
mike   Tuesday, July 22, 2003, 18:42 GMT
Polish is easy. I've been speaking the language since my birthday(:

And we don't whistle(:

Our words do contain vowels and are quite easy to pronounce - You'd get the hang after some tongue twisting.
beria   Thursday, July 24, 2003, 10:02 GMT
I don't know how long you would take to learn Hungarian, but anyway if you know English or German, it is enough to carry out almost everything in Hungary.

Szia ( See you)
Jacob   Thursday, July 24, 2003, 12:38 GMT
Hey, Hungarian isn't as hard as some people would have you believe. It's a very systematic language and once you learn a rule, you can trust that there won't be very many exceptions. And Hungarians are among the most gracious people I've ever met, in their appreciation of foreigners learning their language. There are good texts and recordings available and you'll eventually have access to some wonderful, underappreciated prose and poetry. The "number of cases" concern is silly; it's very easy to learn the to use and recognize the endings and each one has a reasonably narrow, specific range of meanings, so there's rarely any confusion about which one you want.

Start a new thread about it if you want to ask more!

As to the original question of the thread, I nominate the Georgian language as one of the hardest for the foreigner to acquire. Difficult sounds (the voiced/unvoiced/stopped trichotomy and the phenomenal consonant clusters), unique alphabet, a really unintuitive "tense" system for verbs; one linguist has described the verb system as "not having ANY regular verbs."