is it difficult to speak English?

Hopeful   Thu Nov 03, 2005 8:52 am GMT
Do you think it´s difficult to speak English?
This is a question for everybody
I don´t think it´s difficult at all (maybe because I´ve learned English in 13-14 years now)
But I think it´s funny to think about how difficult English seem (the English R, the th-sound etc)
Is it difficult?
David   Thu Nov 03, 2005 10:14 am GMT
Speaking it? Not very (but then again, I'm a native speaker.) Though I could see how some people would find it difficult because of the odd consonant clusters and haphazard pronunciation conventions.
Felix the Cassowary   Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:30 pm GMT
Americans obviously have a hard time doing it, they can never say anything right!

Mark   Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:55 pm GMT
nothin to worry about american R countsdefinitely it differentiates a non native to atleast an understandable one.

Th american its kool takes time but becomes kool within passage of time.

Just practicereading everyday give time and move ur physical component the way americans do then practice and ull master it.
Guest   Thu Nov 03, 2005 3:22 pm GMT
I never understand why the "th" sound, and the "r" are so difficult. Why do foreigners often drop their r's and say "t" or "d" for "th"?
Speaker   Thu Nov 03, 2005 4:45 pm GMT
You have to have two brains. First brain is for your own language, second brain is for english. It's the most dificult experiance. First: you have to listen english (listening is important)... When you start to dream in english or to count money in english that means that you are to much in english. The most dificult moment is when you forget some words from your own language and english words pop up in your mind.
eito(jpn)   Thu Nov 03, 2005 6:37 pm GMT
>>The most dificult moment is when you forget some words from your own language and english words pop up in your mind.<<

That's part of the reason some peeple use English words insted of "domestic" ones. And yunger generation would take it for granted, so many of them could not have an oportunity to lern or use their ...
Sander   Thu Nov 03, 2005 6:54 pm GMT
No it's easy ;)
Adam   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:15 pm GMT
"Speaking it? Not very "

English is the most difficult language to learn to speak.
Adam   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:16 pm GMT
I meant to say that English is the most difficult EUROPEAN language to learn to speak.
Sander   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:20 pm GMT
=>English is the most difficult language to learn to speak. <=

Hahahahaha, Dear boy, Dutch pronounciation is the hardest of all European languages how does English fit into that?
Adam   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:21 pm GMT
By Curtis R. Brautigam

There seems to be a lot of discussion recently of translation issues and Web sites in poorly-written English. We need to realize that there are certain peculiar characteristics of the English language which cause problems for non-native English speakers.

1) The verb-adverb combination is peculiar to English, as illustrated by constructions such as "turn on," "turn off," "mark up," or "mark down". In other languages, single specific verbs are used in place of the English verb-adverb combinations. A construction such as "turn off" is highly problematic because in English, it has numerous meanings. You can turn off a light, or you can use the word "turn off" in the sense of something being repulsive. For example, if you want to translate "turn off" in the sense of turning off a light in other languages, in French, it would be "eteindre"; in Spanish, it would be "apagar"; in Russian, it would be "vyklyuchit'"; in Hebrew, it would be "le-kabot." You would use a different verb in the sense of turning off a computer. This is one peculiar aspect of the English language that non-native speakers have a hard time grasping.

2) Split infinitives seem to have become accepted English usage. In other languages, the verb infinitive has a specific form that identifies it as such. The adverb would be used after the infinitive.

3) English syntax is very inflexible compared to other languages. English goes by a very strict subject-verb-object structure. Other languages are much more flexible. For instance, in Hebrew or Russian, the object can precede the verb for the purpose of emphasis (in Russian, the object is identified as such by means of the cases indicating direct or indirect object). Also, pronouns must be used with the verbs; this is not the case in other languages. For instance, in Spanish, Italian, or even Polish, you do not need to use the pronouns with the verb because the verb endings indicate the person. Then, of course, the syntax of German and Dutch is in a category of its own, with verbs coming at the end of sentences under certain circumstances.

4) Many languages do not use articles. Virtually all Western European languages use articles. The Slavic languages (with the exception of Macedonian and Bulgarian) do not use articles--this causes difficulties for people with Slavic mother tongues learning English. Hebrew and Arabic have definite articles, but not indefinite articles. Some languages do not use the present tense of the verb "to be", such as Hebrew and Russian.

5) Another difficulty for non-native English speakers is the fact that English is not a phonetic language. It is probably one of the most unphonetic languages in the world (French probably comes close to English in its lack of phoneticity).

6) Some English vocabulary is peculiar. Most European languages have two verbs with the sense of "to know," one meaning to know a person in the sense of friendship or acquaintance (French, connaitre; German, kennen; Spanish, conocer, Russian, poznakomit'), and other meaning to know facts (French, savoir; German, wissen; Spanish, saber; Russian, znat'). There are two words for "law" in most European languages, one in the sense of a piece of legislation (French, loi; German, Gesetz; Spanish, ley; Italian: legge; Russian, zakon) and the other in the sense of the discipline of law (French, droit; German, Recht; Spanish, derecho; Italian, diritto; Russian, pravo). These two distinctions are even found in Hebrew, a non-Indo-European language.

7) While English does not have as many grammatical inflections as other languages (thus simplifying the grammar enormously), English verbs can pose problems. The problematic areas are the enormous use of auxiliary verbs to convey modes (subjunctive and conditional) that are indicated in other languages by simple verb endings, and the large number of irregular verbs in English. It seems that English has more irregular verbs than other languages with which I am familiar.
American English especially has a tendency to convert nouns to verbs.

8) This is problematic for speakers of other languages who cannot as easily convert nouns to verbs. Noun combinations such as "light emitter diode", as well as compound nouns, also pose problems for speakers of other languages

9) Another peculiarity of English is the verb "to do." In many languages, the verb "to do" and "to make" have the same meaning (French, faire; Spanish, hacer; Russian, delat'; Hebrew, la-asot). In English, they are separate. In addition, the use of the verb "to do" in such constructions as "Do you speak English?" causes problems for non-native English speakers. This even causes difficulties for speakers of Germanic languages such as German or Dutch, which have separate verbs for "to do" (German, tun; Dutch, doen) and "to make" (German, machen; Dutch, maken), but do not use the verb "to do" in this manner. Instead of the verb "to do," all of these languages simply use the appropriate form of the verb.

10) Much humor has been made of Japanese renderings of the English language. Even though I profess ignorance about Asian languages, it must be stated that the grammatical rules of Asian languages are very different from those of English. The more distinct the grammar is from English, the more difficulty non-native English speakers will have in producing materials in good English. In one job interview, one of my erxercises was to render a paragraph that was written in "Japanese English" into proper English--it wasn't easy. I am sure that native speakers of Chinese or Korean also have a problem with English.

11) All of these peculiarities of English grammar often make it difficult for non-native English speakers to get a full command of the language. It is also difficult when it comes to translating English technical writing into other languages. In fact, the size of the text often increases when one translates from English to many Western European languages (this has implications for text layout and DTP), and it often decreases when one translates from English to Hebrew for instance. These are issues to bear in mind when it comes to the internationalization of technical writing. (I admit ignorance when it comes to Asian and African languages).


Curtis is a frustrated linguist (who happens to be a technical writer) who speaks five languages fluently (English, French, Hebrew, Russian, and Spanish) and is fascinated by differences in languages. His e-mail address is
Sander   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:21 pm GMT
=>English is the most difficult language to learn to speak. <=

Hahahahaha, Dear boy, Dutch pronounciation is the hardest of all European languages how does English fit into that?
Adam   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:23 pm GMT
"Hahahahaha, Dear boy, Dutch pronounciation is the hardest of all European languages how does English fit into that? "

Wrong again, sonny old boy.

English is the most difficult European language to elarn to read. Why do you think there are more dyslexics in English-speaking nations than those in other nations?

Finnish is the easiest European language to learn to read, and Italian is also easy -

English is toughest European language to read

Despite being the world's lingua franca, English is the most difficult European language to learn to read. Children learning other languages master the basic elements of literacy within a year, but British kids take two-and-a-half years to reach the same point.

In the most extensive cross-national study ever, Philip Seymour of Dundee University and his team compared the reading abilities of children in 15 European countries. They found that those learning Romance languages such as Italian and French progressed faster than those learning a Germanic language such as German and English. "Children do seem to find English particularly complex and problematic though," says Seymour.

The team focused on the earliest phase of learning to read. They tested the children's ability to match letters to sounds, their capacity to recognise familiar written words, and their ability to work out new words from combinations of familiar syllables.

Seymour's findings might explain why more people are diagnosed as being dyslexic in English-speaking counties than elsewhere.

In languages where sounds simply match letters, some symptoms just would not show up, says Maggie Snowling, a dyslexia expert at the University of York. The condition would be more difficult to diagnose in children who speak these languages, though subtle symptoms such as impaired verbal short-term memory would remain. "People might be struggling, but no one would notice," she says.

Consonant clusters

The Germanic languages are tricky because many words contain clusters of consonants. The word "sprint", for example, is difficult because the letter p is sandwiched between two other consonants, making the p sound difficult to learn.

Another feature of English that makes it difficult is the complex relationship between letters and their sounds.

In Finnish, which Seymour found to be the easiest European language to learn to read, the relationship between a letter and its sound is fixed. However, in English a letter's sound often depends on its context within the word. For example, the letter c can sound soft (as in receive) or hard (as in cat). Many words like "yacht" don't seem to follow any logic at all.

Historical accident

However, the things that make English difficult to read might have contributed to Britain's rich literary tradition. Words like "sign" and "bomb" are difficult because of their silent letters, but these hint at relationships with other words. The connection with words like "signature" and "bombard" is obvious.

Mark Pagel, an expert on language diversity at the University of Reading, acknowledges the irony that despite being the international lingua franca, English is the most difficult to learn. The dominance of English has more to do with historical accident than any innate superiority of the language, he says.

"People who speak English happen to have been the ones that were economically and politically dominant in recent history. Those forces greatly outweigh any small difficulties in language acquisition." 15:30 04 September 01

By James Randerson

With thanks to the best source of science research - New Scientist (September 4th 2001).
Guest   Thu Nov 03, 2005 7:24 pm GMT
The main problem with English is it's lack of consistency, particular with spelling and pronunciation of letters or combination of letters which differ in the way they are pronounced but that is something that you pretty well overcome with constant practice. As a native speaker it is something you learn this way as a matter of course.....we grow up with it.

The beauty of English is it's comparative easy does not have the daunting inflections of so many other Languages and determining which gender governs which noun and all the rest of it.

As long as you remember which way to pronounce words which look the saem but pronounced quite differently. English in effect reflects the English character to a certain extent.... :-)

Mind you when it comes to pronouncing letter combinations Gaelic takes some beating.....groups of letters which you would think, from an English point of view, should be pronounced as spelt are, in fact, uttered totally differently.

The capital of the Western Isles (Na-Eileannan an Iar) in North West Scotland is, in Gaelic, Steornabhagh.....which is proounced exactly the same way as it's English equivalent - Stornoway.

Stick to's a lot easier in this respect. When you over come it's vicissitudes and eccentricities English is easy peasy. Unless of course you find yourself in Glasgow.......