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Finnish: most difficult language?

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Martien
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 Message 1 of 22
27 June 2005 at 1:03pm | IP Logged 
Somewhere in this forum (unfortunately I cannot find back the exact message) I saw a statement that Finnish could be considered as the most difficult language in Europe. Personally I think that the regularity of Finnish should not be overlooked because although there are a lot of cases they often replace prepositions and are built much more regularly then in Latin or Russian. Especially when comparing Finnish and Russian I would say that the latter could be considered more difficult as stress is irregular, pronunciation can be deduced from spelling but only when you know which syllable is stressed and of course there are several declension groups for nouns. Although Finnish textbooks usually give four noun stems and four verb stems for each new word, I still have the impression that these stems are somewhat predictable for most words. I am just curious about other member's opinion about the difficulty of Finnish. :) I must add that I speak Turkish fairly well so Finnish could be less overwhelming for me then for others who don't know any of these agglutinative languages.

Edited by Martien on 27 June 2005 at 1:04pm



Raistlin Majere
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 Message 2 of 22
27 June 2005 at 1:49pm | IP Logged 
I don't know if it's really the most difficult language in Europe; it is difficult, but probably Euskera would be a big challenge for the prize. Apart from having two more cases than Finnish (motivative and prolative), each word has more than the four different stems for Suomi. I began studying Finnish 23 days ago; while it is hard, it is also a gratifying language, those natives with whom I speak appreciate very much my effort in learning their language (which, by the way, isn't very popular in the language learning world).



Martien
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 Message 3 of 22
27 June 2005 at 2:14pm | IP Logged 
Raistlin Majere,
I just looked some things up in "Colloquial Basque" but I could not find any info about the different stems you are referring to. However case endings seem to depend on the kind of noun (proper name, noun with/without article). Verb forms seem to be a little bit more complicated, however as far as I saw most verb tenses etc. are made with the help of an auxiliary verb but the several forms of that verb are a little bit curious, e.g. for I am, you are, he is etc I saw six words that don't seem to be related to eachother ( naiz zara da gara zarete dira). In this sense Finnish *is* more logical with very few irregularities in the verb "to be".
I am glad to hear that Fins appreciate your effort, I saw somewhat ambivalent reactions to my attempts, some of them are really enthousiastic, others seems to think "why should you learn our language as we all speak English very well". However, most Fins where a little bit surprised (but also interested) when I told them that I saw some similarities between their language and Turkish (only in grammar not in vocabulary). Great to here that you are interested in this fascinating language. :)



sapedro
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 Message 4 of 22
14 July 2005 at 9:03am | IP Logged 
Maybe Maltese ?



Raistlin Majere
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 Message 5 of 22
14 July 2005 at 10:52am | IP Logged 
What are the features of Maltese that make it so difficult?



Raistlin Majere
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 Message 6 of 22
14 July 2005 at 11:11am | IP Logged 
Just remembered, isn't Maltese very similar to Arabic but written with the Roman alphabet? Then it would be as difficult as Arabic.

By the way, Martien, you mean the most difficult language in Europe or in all the world? If it is the latter, then look at the Navajo thread.



sumabeast
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 Message 7 of 22
23 January 2006 at 5:52pm | IP Logged 
Maltese besides being written in the Roman alphabet , it is a much simplified and almost creolized offshoot of Arabic.
and because the Maltese people are universally non-Muslim they have not felt at all the cultural pressure to preserve the language along the lines of classical arabic. So that makes Maltese grammar far simpler than Arabic.





Hencke
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 Message 8 of 22
25 January 2006 at 2:02pm | IP Logged 
Martien wrote:
Somewhere in this forum (unfortunately I cannot find back the exact message) I saw a statement that Finnish could be considered as the most difficult language in Europe. Personally I think that the regularity of Finnish should not be overlooked because although there are a lot of cases they often replace prepositions and are built much more regularly then in Latin or Russian.


I think you must have seen that in the "Finnish" language description page, not in a thread in the forum.

Personally I can't really understand that comment about the cases replacing prepositions (you got that from that intro page, I suppose).

It seems to imply that some of the cases are somehow easier to learn because semantically they convey meanings that other languages handle with prepositions. I don't think that is exactly the same as "replacing" prepositions, and I can't understand how it would make them any easier to learn or reduce the complications in any way.

Finnish has its sixteen cases (or was it fifteen, I forget now), and you have a fair amount of studying ahead of you if you want to master them all.

I can't say whether your Turkish would help you at all really, except for having a basic familiarity with the concept of not mixing certain vowel groups.

As I learned Finnish by the "native" route myself (as a 2nd language but picked up from early on), I can't really say how difficult it would be to learn as a foreigner.

And the predictable aspect, of course being very familiar with it I agree - it is all very predictable to me :O) But the predictability sort of comes in many shapes and forms and it is hard for me to tell how predictable it would seem to someone struggling to learn it as a foreign language.

I must say it is great to see someone interested in Finnish though. I consider myself very lucky to have known it from early on. Sometimes it feels like a different dimension in which to express yourself.

Good luck and success to you if you decide to go for it !


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