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  #21  
Old September 01, 2008, 12:10 AM
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I don't think the grammar of languages is the hardest to learn, as it simply requires lots of practice. What I think is hard is idioms and sayings, and alike, and to learn how real natives speak the language. I'm from Finland myself, so I know a lot of Finnish, and on some points it's very different from Danish, English or other languages. A funny thing, in my humble opinion, is that you say you're going into the toilet, and not on the toilet, when you're going for a pee (minä menen vessassa).

But it's true of course, the grammar is a factor. I have only briefly looked at Hungarian once, and I can't say if it's harder than Finnish or not. Personally do I think that some of the hardest languages to learn are Native American languages, or some other languages by indians (Mayan, etc.) They have a complex grammar-system, and many sentences have a bit of supernatural things in them, caused by their old religions, etc. Also, most of them are agglutinative languages, which can be quite confusing sometimes.

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and Finnish (8)
15.
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  #22  
Old September 01, 2008, 03:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElDanés View Post
I don't think the grammar of languages is the hardest to learn, as it simply requires lots of practice. What I think is hard is idioms and sayings, and alike, and to learn how real natives speak the language. I'm from Finland myself, so I know a lot of Finnish, and on some points it's very different from Danish, English or other languages. A funny thing, in my humble opinion, is that you say you're going into the toilet, and not on the toilet, when you're going for a pee (minä menen vessassa).

But it's true of course, the grammar is a factor. I have only briefly looked at Hungarian once, and I can't say if it's harder than Finnish or not. Personally do I think that some of the hardest languages to learn are Native American languages, or some other languages by indians (Mayan, etc.) They have a complex grammar-system, and many sentences have a bit of supernatural things in them, caused by their old religions, etc. Also, most of them are agglutinative languages, which can be quite confusing sometimes.


15.
You made me think that even though the grammar of English is quite simple, my students (most of them are Spanish, but not all) have lots of problems with idioms and prepositions and with the fact that, in their opinion, English is not logical at all.
They also have great trouble understanding. We use films, soaps, documentaries... quite often, and most of them (and they are advanced students - C1 more or less in the European Framework) feel lost without the subtitles, even the ones who have lived in England or the States for a year or more still have problems understanding 100 %, mainly because of the pronunciation and intonation .
You also mentioned culture and religion, and that is true of modern languages too. When we watch comedies there are many jokes I have to explain or that they try to guess together, unless I've given some explanations beforehand, because most of them lack the cultural background or don't know the pronunciation of a brand, who a famous person is...
P.S. Just an afterthought: here in Spain most films both on telly and at the cinema are still dubbed.Most of my Latin American students are quicker at listening because in their countries they watch O.V.s with subtitles.
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Last edited by María José; September 01, 2008 at 03:12 AM.
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  #23  
Old September 01, 2008, 05:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by María José
with idioms and prepositions and with the fact that, in their opinion, English is not logical at all.
I can only agree with that. I'm still facing lots of problems with idioms and prepositions. But reading a forum such as this one helps you learning it. Slowly you figure out where you use "on," "at," etc.
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  #24  
Old September 01, 2008, 10:44 AM
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I heard once that there were 8 Finnish noun cases, and I believed what I heard. With your help, and looking on-line, I now know that there are 15. Thanks, ElDanés!
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Old September 01, 2008, 11:27 AM
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You're welcome.
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  #26  
Old September 01, 2008, 01:52 PM
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I'm learning lots of things here too. And not only related to languages... I'm a tiny bit less scared of my computer now and I also have a lot of fun. Thanks, everybody.
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Old March 07, 2009, 06:56 AM
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I am 30 years old and wanted to learn chinese. Can you tell me what is the best way to learn it?
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Old March 07, 2009, 08:45 AM
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I am 30 years old and wanted to learn chinese. Can you tell me what is the best way to learn it?
Please start your own thread in the other languages forum.
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  #29  
Old March 07, 2009, 11:20 AM
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Old March 30, 2009, 08:00 PM
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Well, there are 'only' 4 tones to master, and it's not THAT hard. Yes, learning the Hanzi can be a challenge, but it's also great fun when you get the hang of it. And yes, the vocab is totally different, but the grammar is just so straight-forward and at times easy, so that makes a lot better.


Depends on the languages. For example; French and Spanish. At the same time it'll confuse you. But for example Spanish and Turkish (like I do at the moment)? I think it's perfectly possible because the two languages are so completely different.
It depends on the teacher and student; Some are taught 4 (like in Mainland China), while others are taught 5 (like in Taiwan). Where 5 tones is taught, they consider words like ma, and ba, and the end of questions and sentences (In other words, particles), to have a "dot" tone. Also, when a word is repeated twice it also has a "dot" tone.

Oh, and if you think Mandarin is hard because of tones, trying learning Cantonese. 6.

Grammar of Mandarin is actually relatively easy; relatively little conjugation compared to Indo-European languages, no cases, and very easy to modify words, making them adjectives, nouns, adverbs, etc. The hardest would probably be the writing system, which requires the memorization of every single character. Chinese is also slightly phonetic though. For more complex characters, there is the part called the "radical", which gives the basic idea or meaning. Then the other part can help with pronounciation.

For example, 铃. The left side is the "metal" radical, while the right side itself (令) would be pronounced "ling". This character is also pronounced the same way ("ling"), but it means "bell", as a bell is made out of metal.
There are also "top" radicals, like in the word 宇 (yu). The top is the "protect" radical (宀, it is not a radical by itself, but is derived from the word 保 [bao]). The bottom (于) is pronounced "yu". This word together is also pronounced in the same way, but together with 宙,it means universe. (宇宙)
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