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Ranking the "Medium Hard" Languages

  Tags: Difficulty
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
62 messages over 8 pages: 13 4 5 6 7 8 Next >>
vonPeterhof
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Russian FederationRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2962 days ago

715 posts - 1527 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 9 of 62
11 January 2014 at 9:33am | IP Logged 
doubleUelle wrote:
...Otherwise, it's not a hard language - there's no grammar, among other things...
A nitpick, but from the point of view of linguistics this makes no sense - it's as if you're saying "It's not a hard language - it isn't even a language, among other things". Usually when people say that a language "has no grammar" they mean one of two things - either that it has no conjugations or that it has no prescriptive do's and don't's laid down by a linguistic authority. Since you're contrasting Thai from Russian, I'm assuming that you were implying the former. Conjugations, in languages that have them, are usually the aspect of grammar that gives learners the most trouble, but it is far from being all there is to grammar. Everything that governs how words, phrases and sentences are constructed in the spoken language is grammar - morphology, syntax and even phonology are all included. Pet peeve, sorry.

Edited by vonPeterhof on 11 January 2014 at 9:34am

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Марк
Senior Member
Russian Federation
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2096 posts - 2972 votes 
Speaks: Russian*

 
 Message 10 of 62
11 January 2014 at 10:21am | IP Logged 
All these criteria are not equal. The most important are vocabulary and writing system,
while grammar and phonology are less important.
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Марк
Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 3246 days ago

2096 posts - 2972 votes 
Speaks: Russian*

 
 Message 11 of 62
11 January 2014 at 10:23am | IP Logged 
vonPeterhof wrote:
grammar - morphology, syntax and even phonology are all included.
Pet peeve, sorry.

Phonology is not grammar. Grammar is morphology, syntax and word-formation.
1 person has voted this message useful



Hungringo
Triglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
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168 posts - 329 votes 
Speaks: Hungarian*, English, Spanish
Studies: French

 
 Message 12 of 62
11 January 2014 at 10:30am | IP Logged 
Turkish is much easier for me than Russian, but I say this as a Hungarian speaker whose language has some common features with Turkish. Even so, I don't see why would Turkish suffixes be harder for Anglophones than Russian noun cases. Furthermore in Turkish there are virtually no grammatical exceptions, and it uses a totally phonemic Latin script. Granted, you can learn the Cyrillic alphabet in one day, but Russian still will cause you some headache with its pronunciation altering stress patterns.
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Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
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4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 
 Message 13 of 62
11 January 2014 at 10:58am | IP Logged 
In the real world, the Romance languages are easier to learn than the Scandinavian ones because there are great resources.
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Improbably
Diglot
Newbie
Norway
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34 posts - 87 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English

 
 Message 14 of 62
11 January 2014 at 11:06am | IP Logged 
Do those FSI "difficulty" rankings really rank difficulty, though? I thought they were just a statistic that showed how long it takes, on average, for a native (American) English speaker with limited knowledge of other languages to reach a defined proficiency level, using their methodology. There's a big difference between difficulty, and the time it takes to learn something. For example, one could say Japanese is fairly easy to learn, simple phonology, not very complex grammar. But the unfamiliar vocabulary, combined with what can only be classified as an extremely opaque and irregular writing system, greatly increases the time it takes, even if the work to be done is fairly straightforward (memorize stuff).

When people speak of difficulty, they usually talk about phonology and grammar (specifically complexity and irregularity), and rarely about vocabulary. And yet, phonology and grammar are generally the least time-consuming parts of learning any language, even if they are complex, as they are limited in scope, and can be drilled. Vocabulary and collocations are where the real work lies.

Edited by Improbably on 11 January 2014 at 11:09am

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vonPeterhof
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Russian FederationRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2962 days ago

715 posts - 1527 votes 
Speaks: Russian*, EnglishC2, Japanese, German
Studies: Kazakh, Korean, Norwegian, Turkish

 
 Message 15 of 62
11 January 2014 at 11:39am | IP Logged 
Марк wrote:
vonPeterhof wrote:
grammar - morphology, syntax and even phonology are all included.
Pet peeve, sorry.

Phonology is not grammar. Grammar is morphology, syntax and word-formation.
I recall having read somewhere that phonology (the organization of sounds within a language) is part of grammar, while phonetics (the actual physical production of sounds) isn't. Unfortunately I don't have a handy academic definition of grammar nearby right now, but at least Wikipedia seems to agree (there's also a brief archived discussion about this). Also, is "word-formation" really something outside the scope of "morphology"?
4 persons have voted this message useful



kanewai
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
justpaste.it/kanewai
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1386 posts - 3054 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Marshallese
Studies: Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 16 of 62
11 January 2014 at 12:13pm | IP Logged 
I definitely think there is a difference between "difficult" and "time needed," even
though here I used both terms a bit loosely.

Hindi and Persian were the hardest two to rank on the list, as not all of the agencies
rank both of them. I have no experience in either to judge.

And Turkish vs. Russian was the biggest "wtf" for me. Just based upon friends'
experiences, Russian sounds far more difficult and challenging. I know a surprising
number of people who have learned Turkish, and I know a lot of people who have failed
to learn Russian. And yet so many sites list the Turkic family as 'harder' than the
Slavic family. I'd love to hear from someone who has studied both!

Personally, I also thought Indonesian was much easier than French, though FSI, FCO, and
the DLI all list Indonesian and Malay as taking longer to learn.

@ Serpent - I've actually had Europeans tell me that English is the easiest
language to learn (!) primarily because there is such a variety of resources, and
because so much popular culture is English based.


Edited by kanewai on 11 January 2014 at 12:18pm



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