hardest language in the world

Learn and discuss the Finnish language with Finn's and foreigners alike
Post Reply
Rekkari
Posts: 57
Joined: Fri Aug 02, 2013 5:11 pm

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Rekkari » Fri Sep 20, 2013 12:32 am

filecore wrote:
Finnish, from a "clean slate" point of view, if probably one of the easiest languages to learn (in terms of an average Western language...
I've never heard Finnish described as an easy language to learn. Just the opposite, actually. In fact, the Foreign Service Institute ranks it as a Tier 4 language and notes that it is particularly difficult for native English speakers to learn. Only the Tier 5 languages (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) are considered harder, with Japanese being the most difficult.

Of course, everyone's mileage varies. While some native English speakers will find Finnish to be easier to learn than others do, I seriously doubt any would say it was an easy language. It's on a completely different branch of the linguistic tree (i.e., has significant linguistic and cultural differences) from English. Swedish, on the other hand, should be easy.

Finnish among the easy languages for native English speakers to learn? Probably not.



Re: hardest language in the world

Sponsor:

Finland Forum Ad-O-Matic
 

User avatar
filecore
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:37 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Fri Sep 20, 2013 8:25 am

Rekkari wrote:Finnish among the easy languages for native English speakers to learn? Probably not.
I totally agree with you, it's a very difficult language for native English speakers to learn. However, this isn't what I said in the post you were quoting. I said that from a truly objective point of view (no linguistic background, or at least no background in anything involving the Latin alphabet) that the modularity and Lego brick style robotic grammar of Finnish would make it among the easiest. You inserted the English-native bias into my words; it wasn't present there to begin with.

From the point of view of a Latin-derived language speaker (English, Swedish, German etc etc) it can be hard, but actually those things you mentioned as being difficult (different cultural and linguistic background to it) can be a boon, rather than a drawback. It removes preconceptions and prevents confusion (speaking English and German, I find that it's easy to mix those with Swedish grammar and vocabulary, because there's so much overlap). The only things that become then confusing between languages are things which seem like loan-words but which have varying meanings (konkurssi != concourse, biljardi != billiards, and so on).


Rob A.
Posts: 3964
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:51 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Rob A. » Tue Sep 24, 2013 11:13 pm

filecore wrote:
Rekkari wrote:Finnish among the easy languages for native English speakers to learn? Probably not.
From the point of view of a Latin-derived language speaker (English, Swedish, German etc etc).....

Why are you saying this? English and other Germanic languages are not derived from Latin, but rather have been signficantly influenced by it.... It's easy to get into tetrapyloctomy with this kind of a discussion, so I'll try really hard to avoid that... :)

English and most other European languages share a common ancestor with Latin and Greek, the various Slavic languages, Gaelic... but not as far as the linguists are prepared to conclude, with Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian.... Basque....

From what I can tell, all languages have a rational, building-block kind of grammar to them....but I think the problem is that people don't learn languages by learning the rules of grammar...despite all the efforts in that direction down through the eons. The study of grammar which in the European sense was developed by the ancient Greeks and Romans ....and it still shows.... came after the languages were developed by the hunter-gathers ...early farmers ...cavemen... :wink: Grammar certainly helps with learning languages, but it isn't how people actually learn...and it might also help you get through some "official language test". But people learn languages in a "cause and effect" kind of way ...seeing what works... the same way languages were actually developed in the first place....

Even English has a very rational, "building-block" heart to it....but it is so well masked and buried because of the influences of paticularly French and Latin that this can easily be forgotten.

Is Finnish hard?... Well...from my experience and I'm still pretty much a novice...it's only hard only at the very beginning.... Of course, for an English speaker it's not like learning French were half the vocabulary is already known.....though with some traps...the words aren't always used the same way.

Now if you want something tough...how about Gaelic?!?... I've dabbled with that a bit....and certainly you eventually can see similarities, but, wow, it's tough to work through..... Here's some Scottish Gaelic....

Tha gach uile dhuine air a bhreth saor agus co-ionnan ann an urram 's ann an còirichean. Tha iad air am breth le reusan is le cogais agus mar sin bu chòir dhaibh a bhith beò nam measg fhein ann an spiorad bràthaireil.

This is the preamble to that UN thing about human rights...

Some words can be guessed at ........spiorad bràthaireil. = "spirit of brotherhood"...not too tough to see once you know....

And here's a Gaelic word that flumoxed me for a while.... beatha which depending on its function in a statement, can also be spelt, bheatha.... Once you know how it is pronounced and what it means you can see that it is cognate with the Latin word vita...or French vie.....it is the word, "life"..... Oh yes...and that doesn't mean the word was borrowed....rather it points to a common ancestor....


rauli
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:19 pm

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by rauli » Wed Oct 23, 2013 1:40 pm

Hi Everyone,

I learnt Finnish language when living in Finland from age 10 to 12. I never went to language classes. I learnt from talking to people, watching tv and reading newspapers. I could speak it well in 3 months. I was thrown into school as winter came but coped ok.

Now, having only lived that that long my problem is now have so little opportunity to practice the language, I can understand spoken form of the language pretty well, but cannot speak it like a Finn does and I write it even worse - though I often come across written Finnish text on the internet that confuses me, and after looking at it for a while realise what it says exactly because that skill to reverse engineer the meaning is there for me.

What I will say comparing English to Finnish, the Finnish language passes on meaning by expression much more than english. My cousin in Finland described Finnish as a more 'Human Language' - that is it being suitable for human communication by integrating feeling more into the language. It is also influenced by local culture and I noticed people in different parts of Finland speak the language at different speeds.

Unfortunately there is almost nothing English can offer in terms of carrying on language patterns in learning Finnish when constructing longer sentences - your skills in English probably will not help you learn Finnish.

Now I remember watching a video on youtube of a black somalian man and he sang a song well in Finnish and it made me realise anybody can learn the language and develop the accent the same as any Finn. Its actually a novelty to see people of other races speak Finnish. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J02_HHx2ZVw

I also learn, or re-learn the language by realising the meaning of a word in its context by looking at the next phrase in the sentence that the word I do not know may imply a meaning to, then using google translate to check if my assumption is correct.

I will give an example, from one of my favourite songs about doctors by Rope Rounansuu.

"Mut on tää niin hupaa kun muistutan noitaa"

Which means, "Isn't it funny I resemble a witch".

I do not think "hupaa" is formal word but a variation of "hupia" ("fun") or "huvittaa" ("fun" or "interesting") and it helps to understand how formal words, can by removal of some suffix letters, turn into a shortened word informal lazy speakers of Finnish would use.

Thanks,
Rauli


User avatar
onkko
Posts: 4827
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 1:24 am
Location: kemijärvi

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by onkko » Wed Oct 23, 2013 11:50 pm

rauli wrote:Hi Everyone,

I learnt Finnish language when living in Finland from age 10 to 12. I never went to language classes. I learnt from talking to people, watching tv and reading newspapers. I could speak it well in 3 months. I was thrown into school as winter came but coped ok.
Kids in that age do easily learn new language, mileage may wary but generally way better than older. IIRC general limit when one stop to learn like sponge is 11y old.
rauli wrote: Now I remember watching a video on youtube of a black somalian man and he sang a song well in Finnish and it made me realise anybody can learn the language and develop the accent the same as any Finn. Its actually a novelty to see people of other races speak Finnish. Check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J02_HHx2ZVw
He is Wali Hashi, known by TV, and no he doesnt have finnish accent. He moved here 23 years ago as 17 year old. He speaks fluent finnish but with foreign accent and i think that cannot be helped when one is "too old" when one starts to learn finnish. So no, anybody cant develop finnish accent because your motherlanguage will affect you spoken finnish.
Caesare weold Graecum, ond Caelic Finnum


User avatar
filecore
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:37 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Tue Oct 29, 2013 12:20 am



Jiri
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:22 pm

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Jiri » Mon Nov 25, 2013 2:49 pm

For me, English is one of the hardest languages to speak. I doubt I'll ever learn to pronounce the "th" sound correctly :-(

Minusta suomeakin on haastava kieli, "öljy", "yö", "käyttäytyä" on tosi vaikeaa sanoa sujuvasti. Lisäksi en aina osa erottaa "a" ja "ä" ääni.

But I think, Chinese is way more harder than English or Finnish. Small change in the tone or pitch in Chinese totally changes the meaning of the word...

(my mother tongue is Czech btw...)


Rob A.
Posts: 3964
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 1:51 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by Rob A. » Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:44 am

Jiri wrote:For me, English is one of the hardest languages to speak. I doubt I'll ever learn to pronounce the "th" sound correctly :-(
I was just posting about this sort of thing in another thread....The two "th" sounds are so ubiquitous in English, it would have been great, eons ago, if two separate letters had been developed for them... The difference between the two sounds is simply that in one version the tongue kind of pushes forward; in the other version the tongue pulls back a bit.......

I'm not sure if the distinction is consistent or not, but it seems pronouns use the "tongue-back" version and other parts of speech the "tongue-forward" version....

I'm trying to think of exceptions to this....there probably are some, but I can't think of any.

Here's an example

"this"...tongue-back
"thistle"...tongue-forward..... but it is all very slight......

[EDIT: Oh well I should have posted this link the first time...it's not quite that simple:link:

http://www.soundsofenglish.org/pronunciation/th.html
Jiri wrote:Minusta suomeakin on haastava kieli, "öljy", "yö", "käyttäytyä" on tosi vaikeaa sanoa sujuvasti. Lisäksi en aina osa erottaa "a" ja "ä" ääni.
These words, of course, are among that grouping known as Finnish shibboleths.....

Here's one that makes a person nervous even to look at, let alone pronounce:

höyryjyrä...




User avatar
filecore
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:37 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:11 pm

Image


kalmisto
Posts: 3315
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 9:41 am
Contact:

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by kalmisto » Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:21 pm

The Finnish title of "Batman Returns" ( from 1992 ) was "Batman - Paluu" ( Batman - The Return ) and not "Batman palaa" :wink:


User avatar
filecore
Posts: 365
Joined: Wed Feb 13, 2008 9:37 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by filecore » Sat Nov 30, 2013 3:20 pm

Yes, or a decade more recently, "Taru sormusten herrasta: Kuninkaan paluu" was in cinemas. However, you seem to have missed the fact that the posted graphic was, on the spectrum between grammatically-correct educational material and culturally-aware humour, leaning more towards the humour side.


noxie
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2013 11:41 am
Location: Paris,France

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by noxie » Tue Mar 11, 2014 3:07 pm

Depends how you see it. I see it like a language just like any other. It is learnable.
Yes it is a drag, but it is worth the shot. Still a wonderful language, as difficult as it is.


SGodfrey
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:11 am

Re: hardest language in the world

Post by SGodfrey » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:48 am

we cannot determine which language is hardest to learn, it depends on how hard you learn, or do you really love the language, I love the Japanese culture and want to learn the language, it's really difficult


Post Reply