There are several thousand languages in the world. Some of them are quite similar, some are strikingly different. Often people wonder which language in the world is the most complex? In this article, we will look at the most popular answers to this question.
Which languages are called the most difficult?
If you have already asked this question, you have probably noticed that almost every article gives a different answer. Why is this happening, we will explain at the end of the article. First, we will pay attention to the most popular and interesting answers.
The mysterious language of the Basques, a people inhabiting the north of Spain and the south of France. The Basque language is called the most difficult because it has no “living” relatives, that is, no language of the world is similar to it. It does not belong to any of the known language families (what is a language family we will discuss in the next article). This language is spoken by less than a million people living not only in Europe but also on other continents.
Why is it so difficult to learn? The fact is that when learning a language, we are often helped by similarities, the ability to find something familiar in a new language, for example, the same logic of word change, a similar system of verbal time, etc. Basque is not like any other Indo-European language: there is no grammatical gender, the verbal inflection is much more difficult than, for example, in English or Spanish. Therefore, a student will have to get used to the new system, and studying Basque is likely to take you more time than to learn, for example, Italian.
Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and other Asian languages
The main difficulties in learning these languages are the unusual for most other languages writing and the use of semantic tones when talking. If many speakers of European languages know about hieroglyphic writing, then the tones may be a surprise for some. What is it? Unknowingly, you can decide that tone is a type of intonation, but this is not entirely true. The tone is a short change in the pitch of the voice, which helps to understand the meaning of a word or expression. In tone languages, the same word spoken in different tones will have different meanings. It turns out that students need not only to get used to different writing and pronunciation but also to learn to fully control their voice, especially its height.
Arabic is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, now it is spoken as a native language by more than three hundred million people. The difficulty lies not only in writing in Arabic script but also in the fact that the Arabic language has many dialects that differ greatly among themselves. Some researchers say that these dialects are different languages. There is a so-called “classical Arabic”, that is, a literary language used mainly in sacred texts and in worship. Another feature is that in the Arabic alphabet of 28 letters only three are vowels, students will be tedious to get used to new consonants, for example, laryngeal.
Many beginner learners of Russian say that the language is very difficult. The main difficulty lies not even in writing or pronunciation but in grammar. Foreigners are frightened by Russian cases and verbs of movement. It takes diligence and many hours of the language school to learn it to an advanced level. For example, it takes more than a thousand hours for native English speakers to learn Russian on average.
How is the most difficult language defined?
We come to the next question – why do different authors have different ideas about the “most complex language”? First of all, this is because each author of the article is guided by their experience and intuition. If you want to understand which language will be more difficult to learn, you can turn to typology – the science of comparing languages. The closer the language is to the one you already speak, the easier it will be for you to learn it. For example, if you speak Spanish, it will be easier for you to learn Italian than German, because Spanish and Italian are close relatives, very similar to each other.
To get more accurate information, you can look at the ratings compiled by scientists for certain languages. English-speaking students can be helped by a list compiled in the United States – where languages were compared with English and then the average number of hours to learn a particular language was counted. According to this rating, Russian belongs to the group of “difficult languages”, it takes at least 1100 hours to learn it, and the most difficult languages for English speakers are Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Students will need as much as 2200 hours to study them.
How to learn the most difficult language? 6 tips
So how do you learn a difficult language? We have compiled for you a list of 6 simple tips:
- Don’t be afraid! Even the most difficult and at the beginning incomprehensible language can be learned.
- Make a study schedule and follow it. Remember that frequency is one of the most important rules when learning any language.
- Don’t demand the impossible. Focus on proven training programs, do not require yourself to perfect pronunciation or knowledge of all the grammar a month after the start.
- Mistakes are your friends. They help you learn and develop your skills, don’t be afraid to make them.
- Surround yourself with a new language – watch videos, listen to songs, read news or comics. The more often you encounter a new language, the faster it will become familiar to you.
- Alternate between intense activities and rest. Do not forget that it is important to rest even from studying to prevent burnout.