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Connoisseur of languages

Posted by John T. Reed on

I am fascinated by languages, Got A+ in four of them in school. Here are some thoughts on them:
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I have described the written Japanese, Chinese, and Korean languages as idiotic. I have studied Spanish, French, English, Vietnamese, Russian, a little Japanese, Italian, and Chinese, and Esperanto.
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The irregularities of English are stupid. I think English-speaking countries are the only ones with spelling bees—which are contests to see who can survive the irregularities of English. Our oldest son was the champ of his school, then lost at the regional on the word “martyr” which he spelled marter.
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By the way, Teddy Roosevelt tried to fix that when he was president. He was laughed into stopping.
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The continental European languages have their stupid genderization of inanimate objects. The Germans DE-genderize boys and girls treating them as devoid-of-gender objects.
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The Russians run multiple consonants together without a vowel and expect you to pronounce each one.
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The British pronounce an R at the end of a syllable as if it were an h as in a car is a “cah” and when the ending sound IS an H they make it an R as in Americer. WTF!?
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The tonal languages like Chinese and Vietnamese use subtle tones to make entirely different words. For example, we can say “why” as a neutral word, like “That’s why I did it” or as why? In the latter, our pronunciation rises at the end to signify the question. In a tonal language that could make “why” mean biscuit and “why?” mean pedophilia!!
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I remember in Vietnamese the word for church is
nhà thờ and the word for poet is nhà thơ. Nha means house and is pronounced nyah. How do you pronounce thờ and thơ? Basically, it’s toe, but you have to switch the way you say the o in ways so subtle that I can neither do it nor explain it.
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Some language is the easiest to learn. It may be Esperanto, which is artificial. Italian may be the easiest native language. I do not know.
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The US State Department rate Madarin as one of the hardest to learn (they teach languages to their employees) and Spanish is quite easy.
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I am curious as to which language is the hardest and which the easiest. The nations with the hardest should fix that. I read that kids growing up in languages where 11 and 12 are not the equivalent of ten one and ten two (like English and German—eleven and twelve) learn numbers slower than kids in countries where all the teens use the same format like Spanish (once, doce, trece, catorce, etc.)
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I think I read that it takes much longer for Chinese kids to master their written language than it does kids in nations with alphabets. Indeed, those non-alphabet languages had to create an alphabet version of their languages to use Morse Code and to program computers.
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Nations which have those non-alphabet written languages need to learn about three written languages: a simple one for kids, the adult version in the newspapers and magazines and books, and the alphabet version so they can use computers. They are hurting their kids and their countries with such an important part of their culture and economy being so substandard and anachronistic.
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There is precedent. I believe Vietnamese written language used to look like Chinese. They adopted an alphabet-based written language, but they still have all those diacriticial marks indicate maddening tones.
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I just found this.
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Voxy.com put together this nifty infographic (via The Cultureist), broken down into easy, medium and hard language categories.
 
“The easiest languages — including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian — require just 23-24 weeks of study, or 575-600 class hours, to achieve proficiency, and are the easiest because of their closeness to English.
 
“The most difficult languages — Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Japanese — require, on average, 1.69 years (88 weeks), or 2,200 class hours, to reach speaking and reading proficiency.”
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I must add that Japanese speech is not tonal like Chinese, so much easier in that regard, but their written language is as bad as Chinese.
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I know nothing about Arabic.
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Babbel says Mandarin is hardest, but then goes to Arabic, Polish and Russian. Give me a break. Russian is no big deal. I cannot believe Korean and Japanese are easier than Polish and Russian. I have heard the Hungarian is a pain in the ass as European languages go.

One website said the easiest language for Americans to learn is Norwegian. Most also say that Spanish is easier than Italian. One web site says West Frisian is the easiest for English speakers to learn. It is spoken in northern Netherlands. And seems to be very much the same as English.

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