What is the hardest language to learn?

Some languages require more than one year of study to learn the basics while others take only a few weeks. But which one is the most difficult of all? A ranking by UNESCO proposes the top 10 of the most difficult languages in the world.

1: Chinese

Chinese is a particularly difficult language especially its written form.
Chinese characters give no clue about the pronunciation and tone system that can give a whole new meaning to the words.

2: Greek

A language that is especially difficult because of its complex rules of accentuation. Yet accentuation is very important, because it causes many inflections than can change the meaning of the word.

3: Arabic

An alphabet of 28 letters, a right-to-left reading, a few vowels, the Arabic language is very difficult to understand. It has a complex construction of words starting from a base root. The guttural letters will be the first obstacles for English and French learners.

4: Icelandic

Its archaic vocabulary and complex grammar make it very difficult to master. The main difficulty of the Icelandic lies in the fact that some vowels are affected by their surroundings with declensions and conjugations. Also, the same word can take up to 70 different "forms".

5: Japanese

Influenced by the Chinese, the Japanese language also borrows many words in English since World War II. The big difficulty of the language comes from the difference between the written word and the spoken one. The grammar allow to express a wide range of linguistic politeness and formality.

6: Finnish

This Nordic language has an extremely complex grammar with 15 cases. Finnish suffixes are often used where other languages use pronouns and prepositions. The Finnish language will also modify verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives and numbers according to their role in the sentence.

7: German

This is an inflected language where all the words are not invariable) with conjugations and declensions with no less than three grammatical genders masculine, feminine and neuter. Many words have also the same root, not to mention the regular use of dialect.

8: Norwegian

Oral Norwegian has only few official "standards" and local dialects are still very important.

9: Danish

With its unusual sound system, the spoken language has little or nothing to do with writing which greatly complicates learning.

10: French

French Language is a language of Latin origin. It is not difficult to learn for natives who come from a country with a language from the same family as Italian, Portuguese or Spanish. It is quite different to others who think French has a stric and sometimes obscure pronunciation.
  • FAQ Author: patpat profile pictureJanuary 2015

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babu0it profile picture babu0itFebruary 2016
Thanks for this post.