Understand which languages are considered the most complicated and why this is so
Approximately 6,900 different languages are spoken worldwide, according to the Summer Institute of Linguistics, currently known as SIL International. But do you know which languages are the most difficult to learn?
It is true that most of these languages are spoken only by a small portion of the world’s population. But among the most popular languages, some pose difficulties even to translators and other language experts.
Let’s take a look at some of these languages and what makes them so complicated.
This changes on a case-by-case basis, as learning another language is different depending on each person’s native language and what the person already knows about others languages, but the following are at the top of the list in terms of difficulty.
For curiosity purposes, we have written the world’s most popular sentence, “I love you,” after the name of the language, as it is written in that language.
Belonging to the group of Chinese languages, today it is the most spoken language in the world. For fluent English speakers, learning it is often difficult, since it is a tonal language, i.e. intonation is part of the semantic structure and makes the same word take on different meanings.
In the pinyin phonetic transcription system, each sound has four different pronunciations, besides being a language rich in homophones, i.e., words that have the same sound, but whose spelling and meanings are different.
This combination of factors makes Mandarin undoubtedly one of the most difficult languages to learn, at least for Westerners.
In Arabic, most letters can be written in four different ways, depending on where they appear in the word. In addition, there is an extra dose of complication because vowels are not included in writing.
Another point to be taken into consideration is the fact that Arabic has several dialects, which means that the language spoken in Egypt is not exactly the same as the one in Saudi Arabia, for example, and this can also modify some characteristics of the language.
Arabic is among the most requested languages for document translation, which makes it a relatively common request to translators.
This language is a little less difficult than that of the Asian continent we discussed earlier, Mandarin, but that doesn’t mean Japanese doesn’t have its own difficulties.
You need to learn thousands of characters before you can write something in Japanese, since there are three independent writing systems, hiragana, kanji and katakana , each with its own alphabet.
Therefore, you must work even harder to learn this language, which is one of the most difficult languages to learn, since you have to know vocabulary really well to be able to understand them and use them when needed.
Grammar rules vary according to each language, which is quite natural, and Hungarian is special in this sense because of extremely difficult grammar rules, making it one of the most difficult languages to learn.
Suffixes dictate time and possession in this language rather than the order of words, which is a rather complicated rule. In addition, there are cultural elements that also influence the language and distinguish it from others.
Starting with a curiosity: Korean is the world’s most widely spoken isolated language, meaning it has no proven relationship with any other registered language, which makes it really unique.
This in itself already makes Korean one of the most difficult languages to learn since it is not possible to establish any similarities with other languages. Therefore, you have to learn it from scratch with no basis or previous knowledge that could possibly help.
Moreover, when describing an action in Korean, the subject comes first, then the object, and finally the action. For example, ” 나는 잘 달린다 ” means “I drive well”, but the direct translation would be something like “I well drive”.
As with Korean, Basque is also another isolated language. While vocabulary is borrowed from Romance languages, writing and pronunciation are totally different compared to any other language in the world.
There are even different versions of Basque. Although it is spoken only by approximately 700,000 people, which is a little larger than the population of the city of Osasco, in the State of São Paulo, there are at least five distinct dialects.
Therefore, in addition to being one of the most difficult languages to learn, you need to be careful about the version you are learning so that you can apply it when you speak to another person, as long as that person also speaks the same dialect.
To close the list, Icelandic is not as difficult as Mandarin, but has its own complications, such as the fact that it is spoken by less than 400,000 people on an island geographically isolated from the rest of the world.
In addition to practically not having changed since the 9th and 10th centuries, i.e., since it was established, Icelandic doesn’t usually use foreign words to describe new concepts – instead, it creates new words or gives new meaning to old words.
All this becomes a real challenge, and that is why Icelandic is one of the most difficult languages to learn.
In contrast, some languages are considered relatively easy to learn even for beginners, such as the following examples:
Some may be a little more complicated than others, but compared to the options described earlier, they are far from being considered an option in the list of difficult languages.
This all reflects the importance of choosing a good translation agency for the translation services you need. A renowned translation agency will ensure high-quality translations even when the most difficult languages are involved.