What is the hardest language to learn? Albanian among the most difficult, learned in 44 weeks (RANKING)

2023-09-19 19:30:27Fokus SHKRUAR NGA REDAKSIA VOX
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The Economist

The difficulty of learning a foreign language does not lie only in its complexity. Languages ??are complex in different ways (although all are easily learned by babies) and the main reason is that a language can be difficult to learn precisely because it is different from the language people speak.

The US State Department puts the languages ??it teaches diplomats into four categories, with estimates of how long it takes them to learn them ranging from 24 to 88 weeks.

According to "The Economist", the Albanian language can be learned by English speakers in 44 weeks, which is the third category of difficulty, out of 4 categories. While the easiest languages ??to learn are French, Italian, Spanish, etc., while the most difficult languages, which can take up to 88 weeks to learn, are Arabic, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin.

What is the hardest language to learn? Albanian among the most difficult,

What underlies the difficulty of such languages ??for an English speaker?

The first thing that many will think of is the writing system. Indeed, none of the State Department's most difficult languages ??are written in the Latin alphabet used by most European languages. The Chinese language is notable for its difficulty. It is commonly said that a 'learner' needs to memorize about 2000 characters to be able to read a newspaper.

But even this assessment is not accepted by experts who say that even though someone can learn 2000 characters, there will still be difficulties between the lines.

Japanese is (mostly) written with a subset of Chinese characters, but most characters can be given a Japanese or Chinese accent, also making it a difficult language to learn.

The other writing systems in the "difficult" category are all quite learned. Arabic has two complications. The first is that letters change shape depending on where they appear in a word (beginning, middle, end, or only) and that short vowels are not written.

Another reason languages ??can be difficult are sounds and distinctions that do not exist in the language of the person learning it. For an English speaker, the Afrikaans language is difficult as there are sounds produced by a pressure in the ear while uttering the words.

Vocabulary obviously matters too. Most European languages ??have an ancestor and so their words, too, often come in related pairs. If you know that 'water' in Spanish is 'agua', it is easy to understand that 'acqua' in Italian also means 'water'.

And finally there is grammar. Many people associate complicated grammar with long lists of endings that vary according to the use of a word in a sentence. This appears throughout Arabic, in which those changes can also be prefixes, suffixes, or vowels and consonants inserted in the middle of a word. This more than anything else accounts for the difficulty of the language.

If you want to learn a language just for fun, start with Swedish. If you want to learn some languages, stay in Europe. Meanwhile, the Korean language is for people who have an iron patience.