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Which is the most difficult?

  Tags: Difficulty
 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
11 messages over 2 pages: 1
Camundonguinho
Triglot
Senior Member
Brazil
Joined 3657 days ago

273 posts - 500 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese*, English, Spanish
Studies: Swedish

 
 Message 9 of 11
10 January 2013 at 11:43am | IP Logged 
Foreigners here in Brazil say Brazilian Portuguese is on pair with Spanish, easier than Italian and French. Definitely in the 1st class of of the least difficult languages, especially standard colloquial Brazilian Portuguese, which is a simplified version of Portuguese anyway. Continental Portuguese is more difficult, on pair with Italian.
Italian has a crazy spelling system of double consonants (which corresponds to some idealized accent that no one outside RAI Tv newscasters respects, so, in Italian North people pronounce double consonants as single ''bella'' [be:la], and in Center and in South of Italy, is the opposite, every consonant is pronounced double: ''ragno'' [rañño], ''bene'' [bbene]). And Italian prepositions are like nightmare (as in English, you have to learn a noun along with preposition; in Brazilian Portuguese prepositions are more general(ized)).: eu vou para a praia, para o cinema, para Cuba...(In Italian:
vado a, in, su, da...depending on the noun used).

In (Brazilian) Portuguese, you can know how to conjugate the verb just by looking at the infinitive, not so in Spanish, since 40% of verbs are affected by from-infinitive-not-predictable diphthongs (depender--->dependo VS defender---> defiendo).

Edited by Camundonguinho on 10 January 2013 at 11:53am

4 persons have voted this message useful



Aquila123
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Norway
mydeltapi.com
Joined 4214 days ago

201 posts - 262 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Italian, Spanish
Studies: Finnish, Russian

 
 Message 10 of 11
06 March 2013 at 10:55am | IP Logged 
I would think the answer is Duch, then Norwegian if you search for the easiest ones. But in Norwegian tune and vowel length is a must to master, and so also with Swedish. And it can be a challenge to understand daily speach because it is full of contractions and sandhi fenomenons.

The Romance languages have the advantage that you can learn them in a rudimentory way and speak them like that, but to learn all the constructions used even in daily speach in these languages is far from easy.

For example hypothetical constructions and causative constructions in Italian are intricate like hell.

I am not so sure that Vietnamese is so difficult, except thet the vocabolary is foreigh and you must master a variety of tunes.

Edited by Aquila123 on 06 March 2013 at 8:59pm

1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 5611 days ago

9078 posts - 16472 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 11 of 11
06 March 2013 at 6:07pm | IP Logged 
I'm not a native monolingual Anglophone, but it should be evident that the first group must be the hardest one because of the tones (which have no equivalent in English), the four different alphabets, the fundamental differences in syntax and idiomatics and the scarcity of shared vocabulary between English and each of those four languages.

Between the remaining two groups the Nordic/Dutch most be the easiest because it only spans one family against three families for the other group. And those who find Danish pronunciation difficult will probably also have problems with that of Portuguese - for similar reasons (we are notorious mumblers). The three Nordic languaegs obviously share a lot of words, but even Dutch isn´t far off, and all four languages in this group are smack full of English loanwords. In the other group the 'problem' is Greek whose vocabulary is fairly idiosyncratic. And to boot it has its totally own alphabet. The two Romance languages have a simple nominal morphology, but a rich verbal one with lots of intricacies, and on any scale the German morphology is at least twice as complicated as that of any language in the Nordic/Dutch group. The Greek morphology is luckily not nearly as complicated as it was in the old days, but it is still more complicated that for instance the Danish or Dutch one. Actually Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish all have a reduced morphology at the level of English, which should make it easier to get started.

So all in all it seems obvious to me that the languages in Nordic/Dutch group on purely linguistic criteria must easier to learn for that proverbial monolingual Anglophone. The only thing that could be problematic with this group is the moderate amount of study materials. In contrast German and French are big languages with busloads of learning materials of all kinds. But the group also includes Greek and Portuguese, and in spite of the large population of Brazil these languages aren't nearly as popular among language learners so there much of the advantage of the last group in this respect is lost again.

And then one last observation: there is absolut no reason for anybody to learn the languages in any single group. The groups don't represent any logical division lines. If you really wanted to explore the concept of language learning by family then Greek, German, French and Portuguese would never have been lumped together.

Edited by Iversen on 06 March 2013 at 6:17pm



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