All Women's Talk

8 Most Difficult Languages to Learn ...

By Alison

It’s true that languages that share a common root with your own native tongue are easier to learn. Being a native English speaker (obviously), I’ve found Spanish and French quite easy to pick up. However, others might prove a bit of a challenge. Here are some that I hope I never have the need to learn …

1 Russian

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If you ever found German difficult, with its four cases, then you might not want to try Russian. Not only does it have a different alphabet (with 33 letters), but six cases. Plus three genders.

2 Finnish

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Given that there are only six million people in Finland, it’s not too likely that you’ll ever need to speak it. Just as well. There are two versions – standard and spoken – the standard version being particularly difficult. To complicate things, the use of suffixes added to a root word to make other words is common. This might make sense, although it is probably extremely difficult to remember what all the consequent words mean.


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3 Hungarian

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Did I complain about Russian having six cases? That’s child’s play compared to Hungarian, which has up to eighteen. Plus they like to use both prefixes and suffixes. Then verbs have both a definite and indefinite conjugation. I give up already.

4 Basque

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I’ve seen written Basque, and every other word seems to end in –ak. The difficulties of learning Basque (should you want to) stem from the fact that it has no relation to any other current language. There are an awful lot of grammatical peculiarities and Basque is widely considered extremely difficult to learn.

5 Japanese

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I have a friend who has lived in Japan for several years, but has still not managed to learn any of the language. I’m not surprised. Not only does the grammar look fiendishly complicated, but you also have to master the alphabet. I don’t think I’ll bother.

6 Slovakian

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Even native speakers of Slovakian say that they found it hard to master the grammar. Mind you, given the way some English speakers mangle their own language, the Slovaks aren’t the only ones struggling to learn their native tongue!

7 Danish

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I always thought Danish was similar to German or Dutch, so would be easy to learn, but I may be very wrong on that. It turns out that the written and spoken languages are very different, so that’s not a helpful start.

8 Malayam

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This is one of the lesser known Indian languages, and is supposed to be difficult even for the natives to learn. What is the point of that – a language that even the locals can’t speak?

Of course, there are many factors that influence how difficult a language is to learn – where you come from, what languages share a common root, and your own proficiency in learning, to name a few. What languages do you consider hard to learn? Have you ever achieved fluency in another tongue?

Top Photo Credit: Dave in Tejas

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