We had so many interesting responses to this article that we decided to create a poll to see what people think the hardest languages to learn overall are. We also wanted to find out what people think the hardest language to learn to pronounce correctly and the hardest language to learn to write correctly are. The hundreds of votes have now been counted! Take a look at the results of the hardest languages to learn poll, to find out what languages people voted for.
There are some controversial questions which to some extent may never be satisfactorily answered. For instance, why is the train always late when we are on time and on time when we arrive too late? One important question, which falls under this category, is the following: What is the hardest language to learn? When I went to school we had to choose between French and Latin. All the students who decided in favor of Latin were absolutely sure that there was no trickier language on earth to learn. However, the other group, which devoted itself to the French language, was of the opinion that when it came to difficulty no language could come close even to the difficulty rating and kudos of learning French. Is it at all possible to prove either one of them wrong?
As so often is the case, the answer to this question lies partly in the eye of the beholder. For somebody from Spain learning Portuguese doesn’t present too many difficulties and lots of learners from the Netherlands find it quite easy to master the English language. As a matter of fact, different language families as well as cultural issues lead to a different approach of learners towards different languages. Due to the similar or identical characters of Japanese and Chinese, the Japanese can easily understand written Chinese. Interestingly, grasping the Chinese pronunciation has turned out to be more of a challenge for Japanese learners. All this shows, that there are many different aspects that need to be taken into account in order to pass a reasonable judgment on the matter. As English is the nearest thing to a world language there are lots of tools and textbooks that facilitate acquisition of the language, by contrast, this is not true for minor languages spoken by a smaller group of people.
While the common consensus tends to describe Chinese and Russian to be among the most challenging languages, a survey conducted by the British government has shown that this is not necessarily true. According to their results, which are based on interviews with diplomatic staff around the world, they found that on the list of the most difficult languages Basque is the top dog, followed by Hungarian with dozens of word cases. Surprisingly, among the interviewees Chinese was not considered to be hard to learn.
*Top List based on forum discussions in 23 countries