What makes one language harder or easier to study than another? Unfortunately, there isn’t any one easy answer. There are some languages which have a number of characteristics that make them relatively tough to learn. However it relies upon a lot more on what languages you already know, particularly your native language, the one (or ones) you grew up speaking.
Your native language The language you were surrounded with as you grew up (or languages, for these lucky enough to grow up speaking more than one language) is the most influential factor on how you study other languages. Languages that share among the qualities and characteristics of your native English will likely be easier to learn. Languages which have very little in widespread with your native English might be much harder. Most languages will fall somewhere in the middle.
This goes both ways. Though it is a stretch to say that English is harder than Chinese, it is safe to say the native Chinese speaker probably has nearly as hard a time to learn English because the native English speaker has when learning Chinese. In case you are learning Chinese proper now, that is probably little comfort to you.
Related languages Learning a language intently related to your native language, or one other that you already speak, is much easier than learning a totally alien one. Associated languages share many traits and this tends to make them simpler to learn as there are less new concepts to deal with.
Since English is a Germanic language, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) are all closely related and thus, simpler to study than an unrelated tongue. Another languages associated in some way to English are Spanish, Italian and French, the more distant Irish and Welsh and even Russian, Greek, Hindi and Urdu, Farsi (of Iran) and Pashto (of Afghanistan).
English shares no ancestry with languages like Arabic, Korean, Japanese and Chinese, all languages considered hard by English standards.
Similar grammar One of those characteristics which can be often shared between associated languages. In Swedish, word order and verb conjugation is mercifully much like English which makes learning it a lot easier than say German, which has a notoriously more complicated word order and verb conjugation. Although both languages are related to English, German kept it’s more complex grammar, the place English and Swedish have largely dropped it.
The Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and a number of different languages) are well-known for sharing many characteristics. It’s not stunning since they all evolved from Latin. It is vitally widespread for someone who learns one of these languages to go on and study one or others. They’re so comparable at occasions that it seems which you could learn the others at a reduced value in effort.
Commonalities in grammar do not just occur in related languages. Very totally different ones can share related qualities as well. English and Chinese even have similarities of their grammar, which partly makes up for a few of the other difficulties with Chinese.
Cognates and borrowed vocabulary. This is one of those traits that make the Romance languages so similar. And in this, additionally they share with English. The Romance languages all have the vast majority of their vocabulary from Latin. English has borrowed much of its vocabulary directly from Latin and what it didn’t get there, it just borrowed from French. There is a gigantic quantity of French vocabulary in English. One other reason that Spanish, French and Italian are
considered simpler than other languages.
There are always borrowings of vocabulary between languages, and never always between related languages. There’s a surprising amount of English vocabulary in Japanese. It’s a little disguised by Japanese pronunciation, but it’s to discover it.
Sounds Clearly, languages sound different. Although all humans use basically the identical sounds, there always appears to be some sounds in different languages that we just do not have in our native language. Some are strange or difficult to articulate. Some could be quite subtle. A Spanish ‘o’ isn’t precisely the same as an English ‘o.’ And then there are some vowel sounds in French, for example, that just do not exist in English. While a French ‘r’ may be very completely different from English, a Chinese ‘r’ is
really very similar.
It could possibly take a while to get comfortable with these new sounds, though I think that faking it is settle forable until you will get a greater deal with on them. Many individuals don’t put enough effort into this side of learning and this makes some languages seem harder to be taught than they need to be.
Tones Just a few languages use tones, a rising or falling pitch when a word is pronounced. This may be very subtle and difficult for someone who has by no means used tones before. This is one of the important reasons Chinese is hard for native English speakers.
Chinese is not the only language to make use of tones, and not all of them are from unique far-off lands. Swedish makes use of tones, though it is just not practically as complex or tough as Chinese tones. This is the kind of thing that can only really be learned by listening to native speakers.
By the way, there are examples of tone use in English but they’re only a few, usually used only in particular situations, and aren’t part of the pronunciation of individual words. For example, in American English it’s frequent to boost the tone of our voice on the finish of a question. It is not quite the same thing, however if you happen to think about it that way, it would possibly make a tone language a little less intimidating.
The writing system Some languages use a different script or writing system and this can have a major impact on whether or not a language is hard to be taught or not. Many European languages use the identical script as English but also embrace a few different symbols not in English to symbolize sounds specific to that language (think of the ‘o’ with a line by it in Norwegian, or the ‘n’ with a little squiggly over it in Spanish). These are generally not troublesome to learn.
But some languages go farther and have a unique alphabet altogether. Greek, Hindi, Russian and most of the different Slavic languages of Eastern Europe all use a distinct script. This adds to the complicatedity when learning a language. Some languages, like Hebrew and Arabic, are additionally written from proper to left, additional adding difficulty.
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