hardest language in the world

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dobermann
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by dobermann » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:10 pm

And I think complex and difficult native language gives a few advantages for people, because it's easier to learn other language. One good example:
In Finland you can find a lot of people with low qualification job, but they know 3 or more languages. Try to find such people in America or UK :))))
If you are native American and know a few languages, in most cases you are proffesor or person with well paid job :D



Re: hardest language in the world

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Salopian
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Salopian » Thu Dec 31, 2009 5:50 pm

You'll find some tough tongues, as it were, in this article from the economist. There's a mention of Estonian (and related languages), but nothing on Finnish IIRC. Yet these are nothing on some the languages discussed later on...

Tongue twisters: In search of the world’s hardest language
Beth? Hä? 什么?

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Pursuivant
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Pursuivant » Sat Jan 02, 2010 12:31 pm

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Something wicked this way comes."




AldenG
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by AldenG » Tue Feb 09, 2010 8:49 pm

I had a German instructor once at a large mid-western University who was the best language teacher I ever had. After one year, his students were already half a year ahead of all the other students (with different instructors) in that year's batch. It's likely he was the best university instructor I ever had in any subject, though I've had and forgotten quite a few and would hate to insult any other especially good ones I'm not recalling offhand. Later he went on to work at the Library of Congress. He was an extremely intelligent guy who was interested in languages, math, and a number of other things.

He had this thesis that there is no such thing as a difficult language. In order to prove it, he decided to learn what everyone he'd ever worked with considered the most difficult language. So he chose Finnish.

We only exchanged a bit of Finnish the time I met him several decades later. I, um, wouldn't say that he spoke it as well as he spoke German. But he DID speak and understand it. To me, since I believe there ARE easy and difficult languages, having gotten that far through self-instruction was an impressive accomplishment.

Heck, for all I know he may actually be reading this. But I told him pretty much the same thing in person.

And Hank -- I'm pretty sure that despite his academic profession, he could field-dress a bear. At least a deer for sure. And I could pretty much build a whole house if I had enough time with nothing else to do. And tuulen is an engineer, which in Finland ought to speak for itself. You should be more discerning about who you want to put onto an ice floe.
As he persisted, I was obliged to tootle him gently at first and then, seeing no improvement, to trumpet him vigorously with my horn.


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filecore
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Sat Feb 20, 2010 11:57 am

AldenG wrote:He had this thesis that there is no such thing as a difficult language. In order to prove it, he decided to learn what everyone he'd ever worked with considered the most difficult language. So he chose Finnish.
To get back to the original question, I'll first echo the sentiment that "hardest" is purely objective. It all depends how good you are with languages, what your background and personality is, and so on. Artsy types might appreciate English more because it's flexible, but it's in many ways "harder" than Finnish because that flexibility it has comes from weak rules and lots of ambiguities.

Finnish, from a "clean slate" point of view, if probably one of the easiest languages to learn (in terms of an average Western language - if you're looking for a genuinely simple language, go and learn Indonesian). I say this because, of all the world's languages, Finnish is among the most structured and logical. I once read a comparative review of languages which concluded that if a bunch of scientists went into a lab and set out a language with a logical structure, comprehensive Lego brick rules, and a strong internal consistency, the closest natural language to the scientists' oucome would be Finnish.

I know there will be a lot of strong reactions to such a statement, but that's only because you're thinking of it from the point of view of your own language and learning it as a foreigner, at a late stage in life. The brilliant thing about Finnish, or so I've found, is that if you abandon your preconceptions of what a language should be (my background being English and some studies in German), and approach it as a blank slate, then it's surprisingly easy to learn. The only real challenge I've had so far is just remembering all the darn rules and conjugations - but that's not a problem of the language itself, it's a problem of my having a terrible memory.

For my money, I still firmly believe that the percieved "difficulty" of Finnish language arises almost entirely from an "oh, but it's so different from what I'm used to and what I've learned to expect". Set aside your own linguistic arrogance and approach Finnish objectively, and perhaps you'll be surprised at how much sense it actually makes!

:beer_yum:


missishot
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by missishot » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:30 pm

The difficulty of the language can arise also from a culture. The Finns are very reserved people who are not willing to engage either in a small talk nor in a conversation with a foreigner. They never ask anything about people life..they are not curious... if you ask them - the answers are so dry ...no or yes..
The talk at a bar in Finland and in the USA, Italy, Spain, Russia are two DIFFERENT THINGS! They (the Finns) are shy and never approach a girl with WANNA A DRINK? I mean it is so frustrating and boring here for cute girls...men are passive and do not want even to make a move to talk to you or to ask your phone number. However, I guess incoming men find Finland an attractive place because of the Finnish women who themselves approach them and bring home :) Finnish women are much more bright then Finnish men. Therefore they import more men here then finnish men import women (notice from Thailand... not from USA or Italy), which it is vice versa in other countries.
When I was at a language course here there were Swedish, Danish, German, English, American men who are married to Finnish women- breadwinners in the family and have also children but men just unemployed and study :) kinda paradise for men hehe


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filecore
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Sun Mar 14, 2010 8:37 pm

The danger of machine translation (and the fact that the word "Finnish" has two meanings in English but is spelled the same way both times); shame on you for your sloppy QA, especially for such a big company, Nero:

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Jukka Aho
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Jukka Aho » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:03 pm

filecore wrote:The danger of machine translation (and the fact that the word "Finnish" has two meanings in English but is spelled the same way both times); shame on you for your sloppy QA, especially for such a big company, Nero:

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In software packages, this often happens even when the translator is a human being. It is rather common that the translator is given a big set of random phrases or words to translate but no convenient way of seeing the context where those translations will actually end up being used.

In some popular translation frameworks (such as the GNU “gettext”) the default mode of operation is re-using the same translated piece of text for each identical instance of the original English phrase. That is, if there are several identical English phrases scattered around in the code, they all “collapse” into a single translation, by default.

Hence, if the word “Finnish” appears two times in the original code – once in a list of languages and again in a list of nationalities – the translator might only get to translate it once.

In such cases, the programmer is expected to mark the different (types of) instances of the “same” word in a special way which yields two separate translatable entries in the translation file. But of course, if the original programmer is a speaker of a language which makes no such distinction, it is hard to anticipate these problems until someone reports them. (Sometimes the problems are buried deep enough in the bowels of the user interface they don’t easily come up in normal testing, sometimes the testing of translations is just insufficient or non-existent.)
znark


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filecore
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:06 pm

Yep. I work in the translation industry (and actually within the QA part of it), so this sort of stuff is what I do all day. That's probably why it jumped out at me! I'm also quite familiar with translation software, translation memories and the pitfalls of phrases of this type - hence why you need an experienced pair of eyes on it. People keep asking me why I still get work when there's computer programs "to do it all for me" - basically, run it through Google Translate and then through Word's spell checker. I laugh.


Upphew
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Upphew » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:48 am

filecore wrote:I laugh.
Then they send their CVs and cover letters and wonder why they don't get replies and come here to bitch and moan.
http://google.com http://translate.google.com http://urbandictionary.com
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filecore
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:51 am

Upphew wrote:Then they send their CVs and cover letters and wonder why they don't get replies and come here to bitch and moan.
A recent job applicant wrote:Hearse my CV for you to reed over, I chequed it in Word and they're is no error's. I am good in English speaking. Please give me job.


Craig in Canada
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Craig in Canada » Wed Aug 24, 2011 10:35 pm

With respect to podzap, I too studied under Marjukka Kenttälä and found her and her instruction books Kieli käyttöön the best resources for learning the language. I learned Finnish at Helsinki University eleven years ago and I am still speaking it and writing it. She, as well as Marketta Huitu, taught me better than any language teacher I have ever had (and I have studied French, German, Romansch and Breton).


cositagatita
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by cositagatita » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:07 pm

... It looks a lot easier to me than Russian, Chinese, Japanese .... not to mention the myriad of languages from India & SE Asia.
Mmmm... Chinese 普通话 (putong hua, what you may call "mandarin") is rather easy. Absolutely everyone can learn its basics everyday conversational phrases (and I mean long phrases) because it has a fool's proof grammar and all new things are translations of English terms. Even if someone is too lazy to want to learn it or pronounce it right (pronunciation may be a turnoff), they can still communicate just fine and impress most Chinese common folks.
About Japanese, it's a whole different story: grammar is HARD and there are several different ways to state the same sort of idea according who is staying and to whom is being said. But it is a beautiful language, and for certain people is quite easy to pronounce with the native accent and intonation and all.
Now Korean is the real deal, tough as hell, very hard to start grasping the pronunciation and writing hangul can prove you not everything is possible on earth.

I have experience with Indonesian and Thai, the intonation is easy (meaning you can 'get it' in a relatively short amount of time), it may be the speed what kills you.
For Spanish speakers, the Rrrrrrrrr is no problem, so these languages don't represent major challenges.

Russian also sounds beautiful, but... maybe next life!
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filecore
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Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:56 pm

cositagatita wrote:
... It looks a lot easier to me than Russian, Chinese, Japanese .... not to mention the myriad of languages from India & SE Asia.
Mmmm... Chinese 普通话 [...] Even if someone is too lazy to want to learn it or pronounce it right (pronunciation may be a turnoff), they can still communicate just fine
Chinese is an amazing language. I don't speak much (learned a little Cantonese once), but its multiplexed nature means that you can convey two sets of information at once - the shape of the word used, and the tone it's used in. It really is the sort of language we should all have. It's terribly efficient. The fact that English is atonal (the tone or even mode of pronunciation is almost irrelevant to the langauge - look at the sheer number of accents and dialects in Scotland or England alone, never mind the UK as a whole or the other English-speaking countries as a whole) is probably what makes something like Chinese so hard for us to pronounce. Finns already come from a phoenetically strict language (hullu/hylly, tuli/tulli/tuuli, etc) so they would probably have a lot easier time sinking into Chinese than English-speakers would.
cositagatita wrote:I have experience with Indonesian
Indonesian is an amazing language. It's written with the Latin alphabet, for starters. It has a very simple and direct grammar, no tenses, and making a plural is just taking the singular form and duplicating it (the plural of "man" would be "man man", for example). Also, bizarrely, it shares a lot of words identically with Finnish, although the meanings aren't the same. When I was there I passed a B&B called "Fifty-one Cottage" because it was number 51 in its street. However, the grammar being so simple, they don't say "fifty-one" for 51, they literally just say "five one". Which in Indonesian, of course, is "lima satu" (which in Finnish would mean "slime fairytale"). Fascinating.


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