Top 5 Hardest Languages to Learn

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If you are looking for an easy learning experience, we already provided you with a list of foreign languages to learn. But if you are looking for a bigger challenge, here is my personal list of languages which are tough to master. It depends of course on your language background but if you are studying or have mastered one of these following languages, I will be eager to know your secrets…

Arabic:

The first challenge for this language is of course the writing system. The Arabic script includes 28 symbols. Many letters change their shapes depending on the position in the word. One of the most difficult parts will be to write from right to left. The sounds are also really difficult to pronounce, and to not make life easier, Arabic is characterized by a wide number of linguistic varieties! Indeed, Arabic in Tunisia is totally different from Arabic in Egypt!

Takhallus/Wikimedia Commons

Takhallus/Wikimedia Commons

Chinese language:

The tone system is very tough to learn, the meaning will change as you change the tone of a word, for example Mandarin uses 4 tones (and Cantonese has 8!) to define the meanings of words. The writing system is also a pain as each word is a different symbol and it is not phonetic so you cannot guess how it is pronounced. So you must know and remember the name of each character.

Finnish:

Some people say it is one of the most complicated in Europe, if not in the entire world. The grammar cases are also really hard as there are 15 cases. An example of the twisting of words in Finnish: when you use the word “pen” in English, the word stays the same in the sentence. On the other hand the word will change in Finnish, depending on how you use it in the sentence: if you write with a pen, you throw it, you put in on a table…

But don’t get discouraged! Finnish is written as it sounds, so there is almost one-to-one correspondence between letters and sounds!

Hungarian:

Although Hungarian uses the Roman alphabet, it has about 7 different verb conjugations. Verbs are conjugated in one of two ways for definite and indefinite objects. Because of its unique vowel sounds (á,é,ó,ö,ő,ú,ü,ű,í) and consonant sets (ty, gy, ny, sz, zs, dzs, dz, ly, cs) it is not easy to speak as well.

Basque:

Geographically surrounded by Indo-European Romance languages, Basque is classified as a language isolate. It is an agglutinative language, which means words are formed by using prefixes, infixes and suffixes. So words are often modified to create new ones.

If you are a linguistic nerd like me and you want to learn more about languages, we just unveiled the results of the annual Top 100 Language Lovers competition, and all the websites are highly recommended sources of information about languages. Have fun!

[Français]

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