hardest language in the world

Learn and discuss the Finnish language with Finn's and foreigners alike
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helgihg
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Post by helgihg » Wed Jan 17, 2007 2:19 pm

When people ask me about the Finnish language I generally say that it's not as complicated as I had expected, but mostly so vastly different from what Germanic/Latin/Slavic speakers are used to that it becomes harder for them. Icelandic is certainly no less complicated than Finnish, but it's Germanic throughout (and shares many characteristics with typical Germanic languages like German, English and the Scandinavian languages).

I mean... most languages have vast complications that natives don't notice because they're used to them, and as an Icelander I can say that I didn't realize Icelandic was so complex until I started trying to explain things about it in English, in which case I had a hard time explaining why certain things were like that when it didn't make any apparent sense.

Another thing is that things that are normally complex in Germanic (and some Latin) languages are absent in Finnish. A good example is gender. In Finnish as we all know, there is no different between "he" and "she" whatsoever. Contrast that with German (and Icelandic) where every single noun can be of three genders, "he", "she" or "it". "A car" in Icelandic for example is male (for no reason, it just is) and a train is female, which means you have two totally different sets of cases to apply. That's certainly much more complicated for a Finn to learn, even if he knows Swedish or some other simple Germanic language.

Another good example is how sensible the case usage is in Finnish in general. In Icelandic we have four cases, two of which almost all natives mix up from time to time because the reason for using case 2 instead of case 3 is virtually never apparent. In Finnish, the cases seem to be used in a much more "computational" (i.e. logical) sense, again simplifying an element of the language that is much harder to comprehend in languages like German and Icelandic (both gender-laden, 4-case Germanic languages) because the context has long since gone while it has for some reason been retained in Finnish. I'm sort of talking out of my ass here, but I'm finding it much easier to understand the cases in Finnish than in German, even though I'm Icelandic. They make sense.

I also think that people tend to get intimidated by cases. Cases in Germanic languages tend to be a bother for natives, even in an outwanked, oversimplified, 3-case Germanic language like English. We thus automatically assume that the level of complication is increased with added cases (can't remember whether they are 12 or 15 or 16 or 3000 or what in Finnish), but maybe we forget that instead they don't have words like "of", "for", "to", "in", "on", "into" and so forth, which all are easy to mix up, even in a simple language like English.

Oops, again I go too far. ;) Hihi. Sorry...
...on second thought, I'm not.



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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:53 pm

helgihg wrote: Contrast that with German (and Icelandic) where every single noun can be of three genders, "he", "she" or "it". "A car" in Icelandic for example is male (for no reason, it just is) and a train is female, which means you have two totally different sets of cases to apply.
And not to mention that after you figure out what sex objects have, then you place it as the object and the perverse Germans change the sex in accusative. :evil:

Swedish is about as bad of finding "logic" with its -en and -ett, English has a clear rule of a and an
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


muhaha
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Post by muhaha » Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:01 pm

tankkarilainen wrote: For example putting the stress on the beginning of the words and sentences are natural for me. Suffixes we also use and mostly in the same cases as Finns do, however, except from some common ones like "i" as the sign of plural form in some cases (sarvillamme=szarvainkon) they are different (-ssa/-ssä=-ban/-ben, -sta/stä=-ból/-ből, etc.).
The majority of people (at least in Helsinki) drop the possessive suffixes in most (non-bookish) situations. Do Hungarians use them always?

Colloquial and book Finnish have much differences.


tankkarilainen
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Post by tankkarilainen » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:35 am

Yes we always use posessive suffixes.


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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:01 am

mun viesti!
et tuu lukeen mun viestiä!

minun viestini
(sinä)et saa tulla lukemaan minun viestiäni


kickelis kockelis ;)
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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Sopheline
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Post by Sopheline » Mon Jan 29, 2007 1:54 pm

Maybe this is really stupid, but does anyone else of the Finnish learners here find themselves doing some kind of happy jig (whether literally or in their imagination) when they suddenly notice they've understood something in the language correctly that they hadn't actually realised they knew? It sounds idiotic really, but that's partly where I get my encouragement from, if I'm listening to something or reading, and suddenly I understand what it means. It's a sort of proof that I've learned a little and that makes me kinda happy :oops:


...does that paragraph even make sense? :?
I have a habit of asking odd questions... Sorry! :oops:
Hank W. wrote:Finland is a state of min... insanity.


Mingi
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Post by Mingi » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:04 pm

I think that website hasn't been mentioned yet : http://www-personal.umich.edu/~wbaxter/howhard.html
The Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, divides the languages they teach into four groups, from easiest to most difficult, as measured by the number of hours of instruction required to bring students to a certain level of proficiency. Here are their figures (from 1973; I doubt if they have changed much ):
- GROUP I : Afrikaans, Danish, DUTCH, FRENCH, Haitian Creole, ITALIAN, Norwegian, PORTUGUESE, Romanian, SPANISH, Swahili, SWEDISH
- GROUP II : Bulgarian, Dari, FARSI (PERSIAN), GERMAN, (Modern) Greek, HINDI-URDU, INDONESIAN, Malay
- GROUP III : Amharic, Bengali, Burmese, CZECH, Finnish, (MODERN) HEBREW, Hungarian, Khmer (Cambodian), Lao, Nepali, PILIPINO (TAGALOG), POLISH, RUSSIAN, SERBO-CROATIAN, Sinhala, THAI, TAMIL, TURKISH, VIETNAMESE
- GROUP IV : ARABIC, CHINESE, JAPANESE, KOREAN
Of course this is from a native English-speaker point of view.
Just a bit depressing... but I won't give up: if their 2 years old children can do it, I can do it :lol:
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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Tue Jan 30, 2007 7:55 pm

Afrikaans is a "paradise" after German, only the pronunciation is from the ar... I mean deep back of the throat... :lol:
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Tue Jan 30, 2007 11:56 pm

And for those who complain about Finnish:

There is no egg in eggplant, nor is there any ham in hamburger; there is neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not just one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? Why does 'hang loose' and 'sit tight' mean the same thing? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

- and why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "quick"?

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to resent the present .
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?


Yeah, complain motherfornicators :twisted: complain!
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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Ravvy
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Post by Ravvy » Thu Feb 01, 2007 5:42 pm

Hank W. wrote:
1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to resent the present .
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
[/i]

Yeah, complain motherfornicators :twisted: complain!
:D :D

The heart surgeon will lead by saying that a lead lead will lead to lead poisoning. :wink:
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Sopheline
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Post by Sopheline » Fri Feb 02, 2007 2:15 am

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. =)

Also, "Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to resent the present "? Resend? *confused*
I have a habit of asking odd questions... Sorry! :oops:
Hank W. wrote:Finland is a state of min... insanity.


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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Fri Feb 02, 2007 10:48 am

resent as in "despise"? :lol:
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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sinikala
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Post by sinikala » Fri Feb 02, 2007 2:20 pm

Hank W. wrote:And for those who complain about Finnish:
SNIP
Yeah, complain motherfornicators :twisted: complain!
Given the time I'm sure we could make similar for Finnish - broken sulfur etc.

Whilst some mad examples are possible in English e.g.

Ann while Bob had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher.

can be punctuated to give

Ann, while Bob had had "had", had had "had had". "Had had" had had a better effect on the teacher.

The following Finnish sentence is without equal.

Kokko, kokoo koko kokko kokoon! Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko. Ok! Kokoon koko kokon kokoon.

I think we have a winner Ladies and Gentlemen.
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Hank W.
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Post by Hank W. » Fri Feb 02, 2007 2:32 pm

Sopheline wrote:"Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to resent the present "? Resend? *confused*
At present, I resent, a present, I had to have resent as I got an address from the receiver that the address on the present did not represent the present address.

:lol:
Cheers, Hank W.
sitting here like a lemon looking for a gin.


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Ravvy
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Post by Ravvy » Fri Feb 02, 2007 3:34 pm

sinikala wrote: The following Finnish sentence is without equal.

Kokko, kokoo koko kokko kokoon! Koko kokkoko? Koko kokko. Ok! Kokoon koko kokon kokoon.
:D :D That is truly a work of art. What does it mean?
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