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The World Hardest Languages to Learn

admin September 22, 2009 52




body language The World Hardest Languages to LearnLearning another language gives the learner the ability to step inside the mind and context of that other culture. Without the ability to communicate and understand a culture on its own terms, true access to that culture is barred. In a world where nations and peoples are ever more dependent upon on another to supply goods and services, solve political disputes, and ensure international security, understanding other cultures is paramount. Lack of intercultural sensitivity can lead to mistrust and misunderstandings, to an inability to cooperate, negotiate, and compromise, and perhaps even to military confrontation.

Extremely Hard: The hardest language to learn is: Polish

Polish

Polish is a West Slavic language and the official language of Poland. Its written standard is the Polish alphabet which corresponds basically to the Latin alphabet with a few additions. Polish-speakers use the language in a uniform manner through most of Poland. It is also used as a second language in some parts of Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. This phenomenon is caused by migrations. There are only a few dialects that differ from the standard Polish language, however the differences among them are not significant and mostly based on regional pronunciation and vocabulary changes. The most distinguishable are the dialects of Silesia and Podhale (highlander’s dialect). Worth mentioning is Kashubian – a separate language used by the inhabitants living west of Gdansk near the Baltic Sea. The number of its users is estimated at somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000. Although it is gradually becoming extinct, a lot of effort is being put into saving it and it recently begun to be taught at local schools as a minority language. Polish, like other Indo-European languages, shares some Latin grammar and vocabulary. There are 3 tenses (past, present, future), 2 numbers (singular and plural), and 3 genders (masculine, feminine, neuter). There are no articles but Polish, like Latin, and is an inflectional language that distinguishes 7 cases, defining the noun usage in a sentence. This feature makes our mother tongue difficult to master and presents a lot of trouble to foreigners. The average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16.

Very Hard: Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian-These languages are hard because of the countless noun cases. However, the cases are more like English prepositions added to the end of the root.

Finnish

Finnish is one of the official languages of Finland and an official minority language in Sweden. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a Finnish dialect, are spoken. The Kven language, which is closely related to Finnish, is an official minority language in Norway. Finnish belongs to the Baltic-Finnic branch of the Finno-Ugric languages, being most closely related to Estonian, Livonian, Votic, Karelian, Veps, and Ingrian. Characteristic phonological features include vowel harmony, in which vowels are divided into two contrasting classes such that vowels from opposing classes may not occur together in a word; and consonant gradation, in which stop consonants (such as p, t, k) are altered before closed syllables (e.g., p is replaced by v, pp by p). There are also two lengths distinguished in vowels and in consonants. Many words have been borrowed from Indo-European languages, particularly from the Baltic languages, German, and Russian. Finnish dialects are divided into two distinct groups, the Western dialects and the Eastern dialects.

Hungarian

Hungarian is a Finno-Ugric language, distantly related to Finnish and Estonian. It is the largest member of the Finno-Ugric family of languages, spoken by about 10 million people in Hungary and 4.5 million in countries adjacent to Hungary and around the world. It is an “agglutinating” language, i.e., a language that uses large numbers of suffixes and post-positions. It belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family, which includes Finnish and Estonian, but its closest relatives are several obscure languages spoken in Siberia. Hungarian is not at all related to the Indo-European languages which surround it, and is very different both in vocabulary and in grammar. Hungarian is an agglutinative language, meaning that it relies heavily on suffixes and prefixes. The grammar is seemingly complex, yet there is no gender, a feature that most English speakers grapple with when learning other European languages. Hungarian is a highly inflected language in which nouns can have up to 238 possible forms. It is related to Mansi, an Ob-Ugric language with about 4,000 speakers who live in the eastern Urals, and Khanty or Ostyak, the other Ob-Ugric language which is spoken by about 15,000 people in the Ob valley of western Siberia.

Estonian

Estonian is the official language of Estonia, spoken by about 1.1 million people in Estonia and tens of thousands in various émigré communities. It is an Uralic language and is closely related to Finnish. Even the most ordinary everyday Estonian language contains numerous ancient expressions, possibly going back as far as the Ice Age. The language occurs in two major dialectal forms, northern and southern; the northern dialect, Tallinn, is used in most of the country and forms the basis of the modern literary language. The southern dialect is found from Tartu southward. Typologically, Estonian represents a transitional form from an agglutinating language to an inflected language. In Estonian nouns and pronouns do not have grammatical gender, but nouns and adjectives are declined in fourteen cases: nominative, genitive, partitive, illative, inessive, elative, allative, adessive, ablative, translative, terminative, essive, abessive, and comitative, with the case and number of the adjective(s) always agreeing with that of the noun. Thus the illative for “a yellow house” (kollane maja) – “into a yellow house” is (kollasesse majasse). The verbal system is characterized by the absence of the future tense (the present tense is used) and by the existence of special forms to express an action performed by an undetermined subject (the “impersonal”).

Pretty Hard: Ukrainian and Russian complex grammar and different alphabet but easier pronunciation. Serbian-Also similar to other Slavic languages with a complex case and gender system, but it also has many tenses. alphabet

Ukrainian

Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses the Cyrillic alphabet. The alphabet comprises thirty-three letters, representing thirty-eight phonemes (meaningful units of sound), and an additional sign—the apostrophe. Ukrainian orthography is based on the phonemic principle, with one letter generally corresponding to one phoneme, although there are a number of exceptions. The orthography also has cases where the semantic, historical, and morphological principles are applied. The letter ? represents two consonants [?t?]. The combination of [j] with some of the vowels is also represented by a single letter ([ja]=?, [je]=?, [ji]=?, [ju]=?), while [jo]=?? and the rare regional [j?]=?? are written using two letters. These iotated vowel letters and a special soft sign change a preceding consonant from hard to soft. An apostrophe is used to indicate the hardness of the sound in the cases when normally the vowel would change the consonant to soft; in other words, it functions like the yer in the Russian alphabet. A consonant letter is doubled to indicate that the sound is doubled, or long. The phonemes [dz] and [d?] do not have dedicated letters in the alphabet and are rendered with the digraphs ?? and ??, respectively. [dz] is pronounced close to English dz in adze, [d?] is close to g in huge.

Russian

Russian is the most geographically widespread language of Eurasia, the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, and the largest native language in Europe. Russian belongs to the family of Indo-European languages and is one of three living members of the East Slavic languages, the others being Belarusian and Ukrainian (and possibly Rusyn, normally considered a dialect of Ukrainian). Russian is written using a modified version of the Cyrillic (?????????) alphabet, consisting of 33 letters. Russian spelling is reasonably phonetic in practice. It is in fact a balance among phonetics, morphology, etymology, and grammar, and, like that of most living languages, has its share of inconsistencies and controversial points.  The Russian language possesses five vowels, which are written with different letters depending on whether or not the preceding consonant is palatalized. The consonants typically come in plain vs. palatalized pairs, which are traditionally called hard and soft. (The ‘hard’ consonants are often velarized, some dialects only velarize /l/ in such positions). The standard language, based on the Moscow dialect, possesses heavy stress and moderate variation in pitch. Stressed vowels are somewhat lengthened, while unstressed vowels (except /u/) tend to be reduced to an unclear schwa. Russian is notable for its distinction based on palatalization of most of the consonants. The spoken language has been influenced by the literary, but continues to preserve characteristic forms. The dialects show various non-standard grammatical features, some of which are archaisms or descendants of old forms since discarded by the literary language. The total number of words in Russian is difficult to reckon because of the ability to agglutinate and create manifold compounds, diminutives, etc.

Serbian

Serbian is a South Slavic language, spoken chiefly in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Croatia, and in the Serbian diaspora. Standard Serbian is based on the Shtokavian dialect, like the modern Croatian and Bosnian, with which it is mutually intelligible, and was previously unified with under the standard known as Serbo-Croatian. Uses primarily Cyrillic, but also the Latin alphabet as well. Serbian verbs are one of the most complicated parts of Serbian grammar (with noun cases, probably, being the hardest). They are inflected for person, number and sometimes gender. Serbian verbs are conjugated in 4 past tenses – perfect, aorist, imperfect, and pluperfect, of which the last two have a very limited use (imperfect is still used in some dialects, but majority of native Serbian speakers consider it archaic); 1 future tense (aka 1st future tense – as opposed to the 2nd future tense or the future exact, which is considered a tense of the conditional mood by some contemporary linguists), and 1 present tense. These are the tenses of the indicative mood. Apart from the indicative mood, there is also the imperative mood. The conditional mood has two more tenses, the 1st conditional (commonly used in conditional clauses, both for possible and impossible conditional clauses), and the 2nd conditional (without use in spoken language – it should be used for impossible conditional clauses). Serbian language has active and passive voice. As for the non-finite verb forms, Serbian language has 1 infinitive, 2 adjectival participles (the active and the passive), and 2 adverbial participles (the present and the past).

Fairly Hard: Chinese and Japanese-No cases, no genders, no tenses, no verb changes, short words, very easy grammar, however, writing is hard. But to speak it is very easy. Also intonations make it harder but certainly not harder than Polish pronunciation. I know a Chinese language teacher that says people pick up Chinese very easy, but he speaks several languages and could not learn Polish. I am learning some Chinese, it is not the hardest language maybe even the easiest language to learn. Not the hardest language by any measure. Try to learn some Chinese and Polish your self and you will see which is the hardest language.

Chinese

Chinese languages – also called Sinitic languages – are a principal language group of eastern Asia which belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family. All varieties of modern Chinese are analytic languages, in that they depend on syntax (word order and sentence structure) rather than morphology—i.e., changes in form of a word—to indicate the word’s function in a sentence. In other words, Chinese has few grammatical inflections—it possesses no tenses, no voices, no numbers (singular, plural; though there are plural markers, for example for personal pronouns), and only a few articles (i.e., equivalents to “the, a, an” in English). There is, however, a gender difference in the written language (? as “he” and ? as “she”), but it should be noted that this is a relatively new introduction to the Chinese language in the twentieth century. They make heavy use of grammatical particles to indicate aspect and mood. In Mandarin Chinese, this involves the use of particles like le ?, hai ?, yijing ??, etc. Other notable grammatical features common to all the spoken varieties of Chinese include the use of serial verb construction, pronoun dropping and the related subject dropping.

Japanese

Japanese is believed to be linked to the Altaic language family, which includes Turkish, Mongolian and other languages, but also shows similarities to Austronesian languages like Polynesian. The Japanese writing system consists of three different character sets: Kanji (several thousands of Chinese characters) and Hiragana and Katakana (two syllabaries of 46 characters each; together called Kana). Japanese texts can be written in two ways: In Western style, i.e. in horizontal rows from the top to the bottom of the page, or in traditional Japanese style, i.e. in vertical columns from the right to the left side of the page. Both writing styles exist side by side today. Basic Japanese grammar is relatively simple. Complicating factors such as gender articles and distinctions between plural and singular are missing almost completely. Conjugation rules for verbs and adjectives are simple and almost free of exceptions. Nouns are not declinated at all, but appear always in the same form. The biggest difficulty are accents, which do exist, but to a much lower extent than in the Chinese language. In addition, there are relatively many homonyms, i.e. words that are pronounced the same way, but have different meanings.

Average: French-lots of tenses but not used and moderate grammar.

French

French is a Romance language globally spoken by about 77 million people as a first language (mother tongue), by 50 million as a second language, and by about another 200 million people as an acquired foreign language, with significant speakers in 57 countries. French is a moderately inflected language. Nouns and most pronouns are inflected for number (singular or plural); adjectives, for the number and gender (masculine or feminine) of their nouns; personal pronouns, for person, number, gender, and case; and verbs, for mood, tense, and the person and number of their subjects. French has a grammar similar to that of the other Romance languages. The French grammar provides definitions and links to further information about each of the French verb tenses, pronouns, and other grammatical structures.

Basic to hard: English, no cases or gender, you hear it everywhere, spelling can be hard and British tenses you can use the simple and continues tense instead of the perfect tenses and you will speak American English. English at the basic level is easy but to speak it like a native it’s hard because of the dynamic idiomatic nature.

English

English is a West Germanic language that developed in England during the Anglo-Saxon era. English grammar has minimal inflection compared with most other Indo-European languages. For example, Modern English, unlike Modern German or Dutch and the Romance languages, lacks grammatical gender and adjectival agreement. Case marking has almost disappeared from the language and mainly survives in pronouns. At the same time, the language has become more analytic, and has developed features such as modal verbs and word order as resources for conveying meaning. Auxiliary verbs mark constructions such as questions, negative polarity, the passive voice and progressive aspect.




52 Comments »

  1. Brian Barker September 22, 2009 at 11:59 pm -

    I think that the global language Esperanto, which is supposed to be the easiest language in the World, is much more difficult that most people believe.

    Your readers may wish to check this claim at the following video http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8837438938991452670

    A glimpse of the Esperanto language can be seen at http://www.lernu.net :)

  2. Min Min (Learn Chinese Everyday) September 23, 2009 at 8:13 am -

    Hi,
    Great article. I am a Chinese native speaker. Personally I think Chinese is not very hard to learn. Great to know that you rank Chinese as “Fairly Hard” to learn.
    If you are keen to learn to write Chinese character, check out my site, learn a Chinese character a day.

  3. Kendall Rice September 23, 2009 at 7:49 pm -

    For anyone who grew up outside of Asia (or perhaps Turkey), Japanese is much harder than “fairly” to learn. Conjugation rules are consistent, but multiple readings for each character and the sheer effort of learning them all bump up the difficulty considerably.

    Harder still is Korean. Grammar’s identical to Japanese, and Hangul’s learnable in an afternoon, but the pronunciations will eat non-Koreans (or -Chinese, maybe) alive. Their consonants are at least as brutal as Russia’s. And compared to Japanese and most of the Western languages I’ve heard, Korean is far less forgiving of pronunciation errors. Taint a vowel by the slightest shade, fail to load a consonant with just the right tension, and you’ll go completely understood. Not just the word, but the sentence and likely the paragraph that contain it.

  4. Kendall Rice September 23, 2009 at 7:50 pm -

    *MISunderstood, that is.

  5. mansko September 24, 2009 at 3:34 pm -

    You might be interested in this article, which gives the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) ratings for language-learning difficulty for English-speakers:
    http://clta-gny.org/article/how_long_does_it_take_to_learn.htm

    I think you underestimate how hard English is. For example, your title is grammatically impossible – you have 2 mistakes in 7 words. This is just ‘pidgin English’. Lack of grammatical endings does not make for ease of learning. The deeper you get into this language, the more subtleties you become aware of. Esperanto is obviously the easiest language to learn, since it has no (or extremely few) irregularities, so few grammatical endings, a perfect ‘fit’ between pronunciation and spelling, and a regular word-building system.

    In which group would you class Irish Gaelic? I think I would have to place it in FSI Category 3. It is the two processes of ‘lenition’ and ‘eclipsis’ constantly at work in the morphophonology which make it so difficult. The 2 genders and 3 cases are manageble, but the correct phonology (with a full set of both palatalised and non-palatalised consonants) is hard for the average English-speaker, plus a very large number of idiomatic expressions for very basic things.

  6. Polish native speaker October 1, 2009 at 3:32 pm -

    Polish is the world’s hardest language? I am from Poland! Especially for you, I can write a translation and pronunciation of first paragraph (Learning another language gives the learner the ability to step inside the mind and context of that other culture. Without the ability to communicate and understand a culture on its own terms, true access to that culture is barred):

    Translation:
    Nauka obcego j?zyka daje uczniowi mo?liwo?? zrozumienia obcego sposobu my?lenia i otoczenia tej?e kultury. Bez umiej?tno?ci komunikacji oraz zrozumienia kultury z jej zasadami, prawdziwy dost?p do niej jest niemo?liwy.

    It’s analogous text in polish. How to pronounce it? It’s unwriteable in english! Go on page ivona.com and in box under bolded text “Testuj g?osy Ivona” paste my translation, than click Czytaj. You can choose multiple voices: Ewa (Eve), Jacek (Jack), Maja (Maya).

    Short english-polish dictionary (krootkee swoovneek ahngeelskoh-powlskee)
    I – Ja (ee – ah)
    You – Ty (Tea)
    Hello – Cze?? (cheshch) or Siema – (Sheemah)
    Good morning – Dzie? dobry – (dsheen dowbhree)
    I’m from USA – Jestem z USA (Yeah stem s USA)
    It’s impressive – Robi wra?enie (Rhobee vra-sh-a (like in apple) nee-eh)
    Beer – Piwo (peevo)
    Kiss – Ca?us (tsa-woos)
    Cinema – Kino (kee-now)
    I love you – Kocham Ci?! (koh-am tshee-eh)
    Bee – Pszczo?a (p-sh-ch-owah)
    Beatle – ?uk (shook) or CHRZ?SZCZ

    Try to read it with site I gave you. You see your language is really poor :P

    Our language is really flexible. Polska by?a mocarstwem w XVI wieku and By?a mocarstwem Polska w XVI wieku Mocarstwem by?a Polska w XVI wieku and W wieku XVI Polska mocarstwem by?a and… means the same! (Poland was an empire in XVI century)

    Sorry for my poor english!
    Greetings from Poland!
    Pozdrowienia z Polski (Poss-thro-vee-nee-ah s P-oh-l-skee)

  7. Hekko October 1, 2009 at 3:50 pm -

    Polski jest bardzo ?atwym j?zykiem do nauczenia si?, nie wiem co za bzdury w tym arcie wypisujecie ;-) Najtrudniejszy jest Fi?ski.

  8. krisol October 1, 2009 at 7:11 pm -

    what is it “Jebac Wykop”?

  9. sti October 1, 2009 at 7:22 pm -

    This is absolutely not true:

    “The average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16.”

    I am Pole and can say that children in age 6-7 use the language properly (of course the spectrum of vocabulary grows gradually).

    There are 3 genders in singular, but only 2 in plural called masculine-personal and non-masculine-personal.

    In Latin there is 6 cases, and in Polish – 7.

    Rest of the description of Polish language is really fairly done.

    Polish is really difficult but I met some foreigners that could learn it quite well. What do you need is good will and you will manage:)

  10. another polish native speaker October 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm -

    Just to give you an idea of how difficult polish can be, here’s a full list of forms of number 2 (in uses as for english two and second) we must know:
    dwa, dwaj, dwie, dwoje, dwóch, dwóm, dwom, dwu, dwojgu, dwoma, dwiema, dwojgiem, drugi, druga, drugie, drugiemu, drugiej, drugiego
    But fortunately, other numbers have slightly less forms to learn:)

  11. polish native speaker October 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm -

    Well, that’s bullshit! I’m from Poland and I’m working in Chinese corporation. My colegues are Chinese and after few years with them I can’t say even a single word in their language. I think that Chinese not Polish is the hardest language to learn in the world.

  12. teaver October 1, 2009 at 9:39 pm -

    I see it a bit different, since I’m a Polish native.

    I think Asian languages are the most difficult for cultural reasons. You can learn Chinese and still be misunderstood, or not understood at all by a Chinese speaker, because what you say doesn’t make any sense to him, or he gets insulted.

    When it comes to phonetics – Polish is fairly difficult, but nothing beats the 20 vowels of English! :D

    I also don’t agree with the statement, that it takes 16 years to master Polish if you’re a native speaker. It takes about 12 – 14 ages, depending on how hard you work on it, how much do you read, your family background, etc. Secondary school students are usually quite proficient in teir language and can produce elaborate essays.

    There used to be a tradition of learning two foreign languages at school, but now it’s sadly disappearing. Everybody wants to learn English only, not many people speak good German. I won’t even mention Russian, beacuse most people just try to speak Polish with a Russian accent, and that is just embarassing. :P

  13. Zika October 1, 2009 at 10:18 pm -

    I am Polish and think that Polish is very complex and expressive – comparing to English. It is not true that Polish is simple to master.

    Every “same flexible” sentence in Polish has “shadow meaning” – sentences is not ordered in one way like in English.

    Example (word in English sequence in Polish):
    Poland was power in IV age – it mean like in English or strong confirmation
    Was Poland power in IV age – is not question like in English but could be or it could strong accent on “Was” meaning that it past or that was “True” – it depend on intonation an breaks
    Power Poland was in IV – is like 1st but could be the strong accent of power depend on stops and breaks

    The best is that almost all words in Polish are spelled like it was written but it not fully true that it will be written like was spelled (harder is write than read).

    Speaken Polish is hard to master since intonation is never written and you could learned it only by practise. It mean that many people could speak Polish but it is not full version of Polish but rather written Polish since it is so flat comparing to rich meaning of speaken version.

    Some word order changes in sentence not changing meaning of sentences but stress some things first than others what makes context.

    Question need to written with question marks since some of the is not visible in written language.

    If you are Polish you will use falixible gramar not strict contruction to express something – it many time is acceptable to ommit full structure and short sentence to some word and keep the meaning as ful version. For me it was hard to understand that English need to know full version of sentence in many situation to understand – in Polish making something short in natural.

  14. Szop October 1, 2009 at 10:32 pm -

    “It is also used as a second language in some parts of Russia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. This phenomenon is caused by migrations.”

    It’s not so simple. In Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine Polish is used by aborigines – some parts of those countries were Polish before II W.W. In Russia and Kazakhstan – by exiles (Stalin’s attempts of destructing Polish elites).

  15. Tómas October 1, 2009 at 10:34 pm -

    And what about Icelandic?

  16. ttrkwcz October 1, 2009 at 10:48 pm -

    Polish has three numbers, because it has multiplural form of many nouns: one, two to four and five or over. Example:

    1 ko? (horse)
    2 konie (horses)
    5 koni (horses)

    Makes translation of any program or OS complicated.

  17. pio October 2, 2009 at 1:52 am -

    Siema Wszystkim
    Ich strona z komentarzami nawet nie obsluguje poprawnie formatow, proponuje administratorowi ustawic kodowanie UTF-8 w bazie danych.
    Nawet jak by to bylo dobrze zrobione to i tak wiekszosc odwiedzajacych nie ma polskiej czciaki z ogonkami :)

    Ale mi?o z ich strony ze w ko?cu kto? to zauwa?y?, jeste?my jedynym narodem na ?wiecie który szyfruje swój j?zyk :)
    Najwi?kszy ubaw mam jak google translate t?umaczy, kali je?? kali pi?, nawet tak nie potrafi.

    Pozdrowienia dla wszystkich Polaków w kraju i zagranic?.

    wykop rulezz

  18. Asia October 2, 2009 at 5:43 am -

    And where is German?

  19. reenee October 2, 2009 at 6:53 am -

    Im from Poland hihi :)
    Oczywiscie, ?e polski jest najtrudniejszym j?zykiem na ?wiecie :)
    ale my?l?, ?e od angielskiego ?atwiejszy jest rosyjski.. przyjamniej dla polaków :D

    HEKKO
    moze dla ukraincow polski jest ?atwy, ale jak do nas przyjedzie japonczyk albo amerykanin to maj? powazne problemy :P

  20. Me October 2, 2009 at 7:40 am -

    Polski jest przejebany… mówi? wam…

  21. Kris October 2, 2009 at 8:46 am -

    I would like to amend my colleague “Polish native speaker” who made a mistake in his short dictionary. He wrote beatle instead of beetle.Or maybe he was thinking in the same time about one of the Beatles member??…LOL :)))

  22. cziter October 2, 2009 at 9:22 am -

    Polski to trudny kezyk. bzdury to ty piszesz bo jestes polakiem

  23. BigDaddy October 2, 2009 at 9:48 am -

    sss

  24. Deathek October 2, 2009 at 9:48 am -

    Hi ya! It’s great to know, that I’ve learned the hardest language in the whole world ;) Yup – I’m Polish. This article suprised me at first, but it’s true – Polish is very hard to learn. Especially the plural form (countless endings depending on the word and case) and cases themselves. But imo even if you think you can speak or write in foreign language, you need to visit that country and give it a shot. I’ve learned English for about 10 years now (mainly as a foreign language at school/uni, but it’s obvious that English is a language of computer science and internet, so I just pick it daily by using computer) and when I went to England to see what’s so great about it, that “half” of my country escaped there and have no reasons to come back, I was confused. I got out of the plane, crossed the border, picked up mu luggage and went to grab a cup of coffe. When I’ve walked in to the Nero (coffe shop) I was like “where the hell did I land?” and “what language are they speaking here?!”. I couldn’t understand a single word. It took me over a week to get used to the British accent and the way they speak. It’s totaly different than they teach us here.

  25. Sunflower October 2, 2009 at 10:58 am -

    Disagree with the above statements.
    Polish is far easier to learn than finnish or greek. English is pretty much hard to learn due to its numerous tenses, 16 if I’m right, crazy spelling and even worse pronunciation, e.g. Woicestershire.
    And also, why do they use stuff like ‘the’, ‘a’. an’? Completely pointless.

    There is no mention of Spanish or Italian languages which are fairly the easiest ones to learn because of their same spelling and pronunciation.

  26. Rzast (from Poland - not Holland ;) ) October 2, 2009 at 11:11 am -

    cziter: po twojej wypowiedzi wida?, ?e to trudny j?zyk (in english: in your post is creary see, that polish is hardest language, even for you) – sorry for my english, i can read, but writing…

  27. jak tak October 2, 2009 at 11:53 am -

    welcome to poland and then you can check it
    http://www.smellthegrave.pl/?20,pl_apathy-in-the-pl

  28. ucze? October 2, 2009 at 1:14 pm -

    ja pierdole ty pierdolisz on, ona, ono pierdoli
    ale Wy na pewno PIERDOLICIE:P

  29. Pole October 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm -

    “The average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16.”
    What a lie! Maybe you’re talking about some kind of retards??? Normal people speak Polish fluently much earlier

  30. Pole October 2, 2009 at 3:00 pm -

    BTW you missed few points… E.g Polish pronunciation is fairly easy, but English one is fairly hard… especially if your mother tongue is consonant-based (e.g. Polish) – English is vowel based and if your primary language isn’t you will have great problems with learning to listen & pronounce properly… (e.g. in Poland they don’t teach you English pronunciation almost at all in classes – you know how to write and read, but when it comes to listening and speaking you are fckuped up)

  31. proper_ganja October 2, 2009 at 3:08 pm -

    to deathek: i’m sorry to say but you’re wrong. i’m polish, i studied english and german, however such circumstance doesn’t mean that after such courses one will be a perfect user of english. in my opinion, the greater part of the language learning process depends on us – the learners. there were many people studying as i was, even they had better notes, i really don’t think they would perform better than me in british reality. the most crucial elements of using the language is the accent, so as not to be misunderstood and sound ear-friendly for the natives, and the way of thinking. doesn’t matter whether i know 50.000 words or 100.000 if i am not able to create a situation to use them. i believe that developing intrests in private, like i did, studying different dialects, degrees of formality may provide a set of re-inforcements to language skills. this is mainly what the article is about and i support the author’s opinions:..

  32. Writer October 2, 2009 at 5:58 pm -

    “The average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16.”
    Should be:
    “The average Polish WRITER is fluent in their language not until age 18.”
    Sad but true

  33. Zika October 2, 2009 at 9:07 pm -

    Whatever you will write Polish is harder than English – we could say that English has 16 tense but who is using all of these tenses few of tens, we could say why English is uses a/an and the but it still is not like mutating word in Polish se simple wor work in only some variations – very regular:

    pracuj?cy – working (male or all), other: pracuj?cego, pracuj?cym, pracuj?cemu – same meaning and different context
    pracuj?ce – working (female), other: pracuj?ce, pracuj?cej, pracuj?c?, pracuj?co – same meaning context
    pracuje – works/working (male or female or neutral)
    popracowa? – was working (done)
    pracowa? – worked/was working (male)
    pracowa?a – worked/was working (female)
    pracowa?y – worked/working (females)
    praca – work
    pracownik – worker (male)
    pracownica – worker (female)
    pracownicy – workers (males or all)
    pracownice – workers (females)

    Polish basic flexion singular/male/female/neutral or plular/male/female+neutral:
    1. who, what (It is)-> pracownik, pracownica, dziecko (pracownicy!, pracownice!, dzieci!)
    2. whom, what (I see) -> pracownika, pracownice, dziecko, (pracowników, pracownice, dzieci)
    3. whom, what (I am watching)-> pracowników, pracownice, dziecko (pracowników, pracownicom!, dzieciom!)
    4. whom, what (Is not exists, …) -> ….
    5. with who, with what …
    6. …
    7. …

    Here is all – the most complex ido-european declination (5 types!)
    http://pl.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aneks:J%C4%99zyk_polski_-_deklinacja

  34. Zika October 2, 2009 at 9:12 pm -

    Short explanation why we make Polish complex -> http://grzegorj.w.interia.pl/gram/gram00.html.

  35. bare bra October 4, 2009 at 8:56 am -

    polish is not hardest they just pushing their language everywhere but it is worthless language and for slavic language group is very easy to learn but there is no point this language is so terrible

  36. PeJotPe October 4, 2009 at 7:05 pm -

    First: Polish is hard, but I am unable to say if it is the most difficult language to learn.
    Second: There are not many Polish people who can say, that they master their language (many of them just think so but, unfortunately, it is not true). If you have PhD (polish philology) then it might be true. There are more exceptions then rules (and grammar is really difficult, pronunciation is not so difficult, unless you are German).
    Third: I have spent six months in South Korea, and I have learnt only few words and Hangul (it is pretty easy, at least for reading) – because I did not need to use Korean at all.
    Forth: I am 31 yo, and I can say that I use more or less proper grammar and do not make spelling mistakes, but I cannot say I am master in Polish (and unfortunately 90% of teenagers do not use correct Polish – course if majority uses an incorrect grammar form it will become the correct form in time).

  37. Budding Linguist October 4, 2009 at 8:15 pm -

    It seems as if the author’s pride in his native tongue has completely steered this article. This has no bearing on reality whatsoever.

    Objectively, no language is “hard” or “easy” to learn. All children raised in monolingual households are fluent in their mother tongue by around the time they start school; thus we can tell that all languages are equally ‘challenging’. However, after puberty, the human ability to internalize new grammatical concepts begins to erode. For this reason, languages become easier or more difficult /relative to the individual/ based on the target language’s difference from any fully internalized languages spoken by the learner.

    Evidence for this can be found in this very article: ignoring the fact that a great deal of the information here is plagiarized verbatim from other internet sources, the sentences genuinely written by the author are immediately recognizable by their awkward and imperfect English.

    Putting English at the bottom of the list was undeniably a vain effort by the author to boast about their exaggerated linguistic capabilities. Notably from the languages cited for their difficulty–only nearby ‘white’ languages and the only two Asian languages known to the Western world–the author has no insight into Native American, African, Middle-Eastern, or the bulk of Asian languages, which–considering that the commonly known European languages are very few in number–indicates that over 99% (literally, not exaggeratedly) of the world’s languages have been ignored for this survey.

  38. proper_ganja October 4, 2009 at 11:41 pm -

    bare bra, are you polish? can you speak it? actually it is one of the hardest if not the hardest. even for users of slavic languages it’s hard to learn due to the uncountable grammar excepetions, because i assume that we are ‘talking’ about using a language properly, with full grammatical correctness. and i still claim that english is also not easy as many think. ofcourse in terms of being understandable it’s not that difficult, but still, when i say knowing a language i mean it in full sense of the word.

  39. Przemek October 7, 2009 at 8:12 am -

    > another polish native speaker says:
    > October 1, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    > Just to give you an idea of how difficult polish can be, here’s a .full list of forms of number 2 (in uses as for english two and second) we must know:
    dwa, dwaj, dwie, dwoje, dwóch, dwóm, dwom, dwu, dwojgu, dwoma, dwiema, dwojgiem, drugi, druga, drugie, drugiemu, drugiej, drugiego
    But fortunately, other numbers have slightly less forms to learn:)

    In English: two, twain, twice, second, secondary, double, both, pair, binary, latter, … What else?

  40. proper_ganja October 10, 2009 at 9:53 am -

    Przemek I love your example:D

  41. Batman October 10, 2009 at 2:26 pm -

    I’m from Poland and I can’t agree with that sentence:
    “The average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16.”
    That’s not true, 6-8 years old children can speak fluently Polish. Of course, they make some mistakes and don’t use sophisticated vocabulary, because those people learn longer, but it doesn’t mean, that they don’t speak fluently.
    Written Polish is more difficult and people make more mistatakes in it, it takes more time to learn in.

  42. amie 137 October 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm -

    There about 28 forms of the word for number “two” in polish:

    dwa, dwaj, dwie, dwoje, dwóch, dwóm, dwom, dwu, dwoma, dwiema, dwojga, dwojgu, dwojg?, dwójka, dwójk?, dwójki, dwójce, dwójkiem, dwójko, dwójgo dwojgiem, drugi, druga, drugie, drugiemu, drugiej, drugiego, drugim, drug?

    no other country in the world has more it it must be the hardest!!

  43. Z Warszawy October 27, 2009 at 7:25 pm -

    “In English: two, twain, twice, second, secondary, double, both, pair, binary, latter”

    All the 28 words Przemek gave should be translated into “two” or “second”. “Twain” could be compared to “dual number” (apart from singular and plurar). The rest would (at least could) be translated to Polish differently (dwukrotnie, drugorz?dny, podwójny, obaj, para, binarny, ostatni – just the basic forms).

    I agree that English is full of idioms or grammatical tricks. Imagine Polish has even more.

    In one thing English is hrder than Polish: people use different dialects, which are often not easy to understand.

  44. Jorge October 28, 2009 at 4:15 am -

    Spanish correctly spoken or written can be hard too. We also have 3 genders and many verb conjugations plus regular and irregular ones. ex. what in english would be:

    I play, you play, he plays, we play, you play they play we say yo juego, tu juegas, el juega, nosotros juagamos, vosotros jugais, ellos juegan (all different).

  45. Zyx November 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm -

    A suggestion for the administrator: you can safely delete most of the comments written only in Polish (especially those written with capital letters), because they are quite primitive and rude “jokes” of some kids.

    Anyway, the language difficulty depends on who is telling it. Czech and Slovak people can find Polish language easier to learn than English because of many similarities between them. The number of endings is not a big problem, because they are relatively simple to learn, if someone tries to speak and read the foreign text. The hardest part is always a different grammar structure semantics: if you are familiar with Slavic cases, you will probably have no problems with mastering Polish ones. If you are Japanese and Polish is your first indoeuropean language, well…

  46. lolcatz November 8, 2009 at 2:35 am -

    hey, let`s at least try to be cool headed. IMO this article somehow misses one point – our latin roots.
    i always thought – it`s much easier to learn european languages, because we are europeans.
    grammar basics and some vocabulary are common for all of our languages.
    for example – cases. polish has 7 cases, AFAIR latin had 6, german has 4 – and that makes some difficulties.
    however – i found german pronouns much more difficult than anything else. noun+pronoun, declined by person, case, number, defined-undefined, strong-weak declination…and great number of exemptions to the rules.

    all in all – it`s a piece of cake to learn any new latin based language, after one mastered 3
    as for the eastern ones – it`s just another cup of tea.
    general idea of language use is different. graphic signs instead of uniform alphabet. utter importance of tones while speaking, etc..
    i find chineese a very beautiful language to speak, very melodic, like russian. but mastering it seems just pain in the …back =)

  47. Otto December 23, 2009 at 10:51 pm -

    i’m dutch, polish is very hard to learn

  48. Tom December 24, 2009 at 3:52 am -

    I’m a pole and if goes on the Polish language the last sentence is a rubbish. When I was 7 I was very talkative and I see now how talkative is my nephew who has got 10 and he has a very large realm of words. Children who have got 5 talk normal. In description of language they forgot one more thing – we have also a cases of adjectives in respect of the nouns :) I agree, compare with english is a very very very complicated …

  49. Yalbo December 24, 2009 at 8:45 pm -

    There is no “Chinese” language. There are various dialects among which 2 are the most popular, that being Cantonese and Mandarin. Geez, learn your basics before you start talking things people…