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Iris June 08, 2008 03:58 PM

Difficult languages
Do you think some languages are more difficult to learn than others? Or do they all have their "sore areas"?

Rusty June 08, 2008 04:06 PM

Mandarin is very difficult to learn. I quote someone else when I say 'everything is different.' The writing system, the 5 distinct tones you must master, and the vocabulary are all new.

Finnish is very difficult to learn. It has 8 noun cases (two more than Russian, four more than German). Usually, only Finnish babies can learn the language well. Another quote from someone else - 'endless noun cases.' The vocabulary is quite different from the rest of the 'European' languages, too.

I would like to learn more about these languages, still the same.

Iris June 08, 2008 04:10 PM

Want to know something funny? Mandarin has become part of the school curriculum in England. Can you imagine English children learning Chinese when they cannot even be bothered to learn European languages?

Marsopa June 08, 2008 04:28 PM

My daughter is starting Mandarin in the fall for a three year pilot program. She will be in eighth grade. A teacher is coming from China for three years. I told her she has to teach me whatever she is learning.:)


Tomisimo June 08, 2008 05:03 PM

It depends on what your native language is, or your other exposure to languages, but yes, some languages are harder to learn than others. It all depends on language features in your target language (the one you're learning) that don't exist in your L1 (your native language).

The examples of Finnish and Mandarin are valid for English speakers at least. English doesn't have a very extensive case system, while Finnish does, making it hard. English doesn't use tone to distinguish between words, while Mandarin does, making it hard.

Spanish differs from English mainly in three points: verb conjugations, subjunctive mood and gender. However, in general these differences are "easier" for an English speaker to learn than the tone and case of Mandarin and Finnish, among other differences in these languages.

Just my $0.02.

María José June 10, 2008 12:43 PM

I started learning both German and French at the same time and although I'm quite proficient in French, my German is practically non-existent...But I'll learn, probably in the distant future...

Tomisimo June 10, 2008 01:52 PM

Neat. I know a little bit of German, and almost nothing of French.

poli June 11, 2008 08:28 AM

David, you are fluent in Spanish and English. That means, whether you realize it or not, that you know a lot of French. Of course, proper pronounciation can be confounding. You already know the grammar
a big percentage of the vocabulary.:thumbsup:

P.S. I think tonality used in Mandarin is rearing its head in English. Certainly tonality as used in English doesn't effect meaning as much as it does in the Far East The tonal valley-girl accent phenomenon has cought
on among young prosperous American women nationwide, and it appears to be replacing regional accents, but oddly less so among men. It's so sing-song that it practically sounds Mandarin.

Tomisimo June 11, 2008 08:37 AM

That's encouraging Poli. If I learn the basics of pronunciation I could probably communicate at a basic level.

Jane June 11, 2008 08:59 AM

I have some basic knowledge of French. However, when I started a French language course last year, I discovered that I was getting the two languages sort of jumbled up(Spanish and French), possibly because of their many similarities. So I quit the course, at least until I gained a complete command of Spanish...:impatient::impatient::impatient:
In another thread started by Iris,, most of us were of the opinion that it´s a good thing for kids to learn different languages at the same time (at a tender age)...
but what about the adults (well advanced in age...;)), how easy is it for us to learn two or more languages simultanously?

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