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What Makes One Language Harder or Easier Than One other?
What makes one language harder or easier to study than one other? Sadly, there isn't any one easy answer. There are some languages which have a number of characteristics that make them relatively tough to learn. However 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 were surrounded with as you grew up (or languages, for those lucky sufficient to grow up speaking more than one language) is the most influential factor on how you learn different languages. Languages that share a number of the qualities and traits of your native English will probably be easier to learn. Languages that have very little in common with your native English will be a lot 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 almost as hard a time to study English because the native English speaker has when learning Chinese. In case you are studying Chinese right now, that's probably little comfort to you.
Associated languages Learning a language carefully associated to your native language, or another that you just already speak, is way 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 concepts to deal with.
Since English is a Germanic language, Dutch, German and the Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) are all closely associated and thus, simpler to be taught than an unrelated tongue. Some other languages associated 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 One of those traits which might be typically shared between related languages. In Swedish, word order and verb conjugation is mercifully much like English which makes learning it a lot simpler than say German, which has a notoriously more complex word order and verb conjugation. Although each languages are related to English, German kept it's more advanced grammar, the place English and Swedish have largely dropped it.
The Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and a number of other languages) are well-known for sharing many characteristics. It is not shocking since all of them advanced from Latin. It is rather widespread for somebody who learns one in every of these languages to go on and study one or two others. They are so comparable at occasions that it seems that you could learn the others at a reduced cost in effort.
Commonalities in grammar don't just happen in associated languages. Very different ones can share similar qualities as well. English and Chinese actually have similarities in their grammar, which partly makes up for a number of the other difficulties with Chinese.
Cognates and borrowed vocabulary. This is one of those traits that make the Romance languages so similar. And in this, they also share with English. The Romance languages all have the huge mainity of their vocabulary from Latin. English has borrowed a lot 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. Another reason that Spanish, French and Italian are
considered easier than different languages.
There are always borrowings of vocabulary between languages, and never always between associated languages. There's a stunning amount of English vocabulary in Japanese. It is a little disguised by Japanese pronunciation, but it's to discover it.
Sounds Clearly, languages sound different. Although all humans use basically the same sounds, there always appears to be some sounds in other languages that we just don't have in our native language. Some are strange or troublesome to articulate. Some will be quite subtle. A Spanish 'o' isn't exactly the same as an English 'o.' After which there are some vowel sounds in French, for instance, that just don't exist in English. While a French 'r' may be very different from English, a Chinese 'r' is
truly very similar.
It might probably take a while to get comfortable with these new sounds, though I think that faking it is acceptable until you can get a better handle on them. Many people don't put sufficient effort into this side of learning and this makes some languages appear harder to learn than they should be.
Tones A number of languages use tones, a rising or falling pitch when a word is pronounced. This will be very subtle and difficult for someone who has never used tones before. This is without doubt one of the fundamental reasons Chinese is hard for native English speakers.
Chinese is not the only language to make use of tones, and never all of them are from unique far-off lands. Swedish makes use of tones, although it shouldn't be almost as advanced or tough as Chinese tones. This is the kind of thing that can only really be realized by listening to native speakers.
By the way, there are examples of tone use in English but they're only a few, usually used only in specific situations, and aren't part of the pronunciation of particular person words. For instance, in American English it's common to raise the tone of our voice on the finish of a question. It's not quite the same thing, however should you think about it that way, it would possibly make a tone language a little less intimidating.
The writing system Some languages use a unique script or writing system and this can have a major impact on whether a language is hard to be taught or not. Many European languages use the identical script as English but in addition embrace a number of different symbols not in English to signify sounds specific to that language (think of the 'o' with a line through it in Norwegian, or the 'n' with a little squiggly over it in Spanish). These are usually not difficult to learn.
However some languages go farther and have a different alphabet altogether. Greek, Hindi, Russian and lots of the other Slavic languages of Eastern Europe all use a unique script. This adds to the complexity when learning a language. Some languages, like Hebrew and Arabic, are also written from right to left, additional adding difficulty.
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