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What Makes One Language Harder or Easier Than Another?
What makes one language harder or simpler to be taught than another? Sadly, there is no one simple answer. There are some languages which have a number of traits that make them comparatively difficult to learn. But it relies upon much more on what languages you already know, particularly your native language, the one (or ones) you grew up speaking.
Your native language The language you have been surrounded with as you grew up (or languages, for those lucky sufficient to grow up speaking more than one language) is essentially the most influential factor on the way you study other languages. Languages that share among the qualities and characteristics of your native English will likely be easier to learn. Languages that have very little in common with your native English will be much harder. Most languages will fall someplace in the middle.
This goes each ways. Although it is a stretch to say that English is harder than Chinese, it is safe to say the native Chinese speaker probably has nearly as hard a time to learn English because the native English speaker has when learning Chinese. In case you are finding out Chinese proper now, that's probably little consolation to you.
Associated languages Learning a language intently related to your native language, or one other that you just already speak, is far easier than learning a totally alien one. Associated languages share many characteristics and this tends to make them easier to study as there are less new ideas to deal with.
Since English is a Germanic language, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) are all closely related and thus, easier to study than an unrelated tongue. Another languages related in some way to English are Spanish, Italian and French, the more distant Irish and Welsh and even Russian, Greek, Hindi and Urdu, Farsi (of Iran) and Pashto (of Afghanistan).
English shares no ancestry with languages like Arabic, Korean, Japanese and Chinese, all languages considered hard by English standards.
Related grammar A type of characteristics which can be typically shared between associated languages. In Swedish, word order and verb conjugation is mercifully similar to English which makes learning it a lot easier than say German, which has a notoriously more complicated word order and verb conjugation. Although each languages are related to English, German kept it's more complicated grammar, where English and Swedish have largely dropped it.
The Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and a number of different languages) are famous for sharing many characteristics. It is not surprising since all of them evolved from Latin. It is very widespread for someone who learns considered one of these languages to go on and study one or others. They're so comparable at occasions that it seems that you can study the others at a discounted cost in effort.
Commonalities in grammar don't just happen in related languages. Very totally different ones can share similar qualities as well. English and Chinese actually have comparableities in their grammar, which partly makes up for a few of the different difficulties with Chinese.
Cognates and borrowed vocabulary. This is a type of traits that make the Romance languages so similar. And in this, they also share with English. The Romance languages all have the vast majority of their vocabulary from Latin. English has borrowed much of its vocabulary directly from Latin and what it didn't get there, it just borrowed from French. There is an enormous amount of French vocabulary in English. One other reason that Spanish, French and Italian are
considered simpler than different languages.
There are always borrowings of vocabulary between languages, and never always between related languages. There is a shocking amount of English vocabulary in Japanese. It is a little disguised by Japanese pronunciation, however it's to discover it.
Sounds Clearly, languages sound different. Though all people use basically the same sounds, there always seems to be some sounds in other languages that we just do not have in our native language. Some are strange or troublesome to articulate. Some will be quite subtle. A Spanish 'o' is just not exactly the same as an English 'o.' After which there are some vowel sounds in French, for instance, that just do not exist in English. While a French 'r' may be very different from English, a Chinese 'r' is
actually very similar.
It will probably take a while to get comfortable with these new sounds, although I think that faking it is acceptable until you will get a better deal with on them. Many individuals do not put sufficient effort into this side of learning and this makes some languages seem harder to study than they need to be.
Tones A couple of languages use tones, a rising or falling pitch when a word is pronounced. This might be very subtle and troublesome for somebody who has never used tones before. This is one of the major reasons Chinese is hard for native English speakers.
Chinese isn't the only language to make use of tones, and not all of them are from unique far-off lands. Swedish makes use of tones, though it will not be almost as complex or troublesome as Chinese tones. This is the kind of thing that may only really be realized by listening to native speakers.
By the way, there are examples of tone use in English however they are only a few, normally used only in particular situations, and are not part of the pronunciation of individual words. For instance, in American English it's frequent to lift the tone of our voice at the end of a question. It is not quite the identical thing, however for those who think about it that way, it would possibly make a tone language a little less intimidating.
The writing system Some languages use a distinct script or writing system and this can have a serious impact on whether a language is hard to be taught or not. Many European languages use the same script as English but also embrace just a few other symbols not in English to symbolize sounds particular to that language (think of the 'o' with a line via it in Norwegian, or the 'n' with a little squiggly over it in Spanish). These are usually not troublesome to learn.
However some languages go farther and have a distinct alphabet altogether. Greek, Hindi, Russian and many of the other Slavic languages of Eastern Europe all use a special script. This adds to the advancedity when learning a language. Some languages, like Hebrew and Arabic, are also written from proper to left, further adding difficulty.
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