Language: What is the easiest Language to learn?

For a native english speaker who doesn’t get much exposure to other languages in his/her daily life, what would hypotehically be the easiest second language to learn? What would be the hardest?

To clarify, only languages that are understood in both written and spoken forms are applicable. Thus, you cannot use Linear A an example for the hardest.

My guess for easiest would be Esperanto. It’s got nice regular conjugations, and IIRC, the syntax is based on English. It’s not an especially useful language, though.

The hardest (for you) would probably be one of the pictographic languages that are word-based rather than alphabetic.

IIRC the United States Defense Language Institute considers Spanish to be the easiest (non artificial) language for native English types. Arabic & Mandarin Chinese among the hardest. This would be based on an assessment of grammatical structure, cognates, vocalizations which may or may not exist or matter in English, etc.

Ultimately it comes down to what will “stick” in your head. Some folks just can’t get Spanish, but French comes easily (maybe because they recognize a lot of the French in their English?).

Well, I speak passable Swedish, Spanish and French…passable when Im not in a place that speaks one of those, but when I am usually within a couple of weeks Im borderline fluent.

As far as ease of learning, I dont think there is objectively one language that is easier or harder to learn, it depends on you and how youre learning. French was the hardest for me, in high school; it was my first experience learning a language. But after 3-odd years of that, and being able to speak it rather decently, Spanish was a lot easier to pick up. Once youve learned one romance language, much of the difficulty is gone from learning others. Swedish was the easiest for me, which many find hard to believe because its supposed to be one of the hardest to learn. I still screw up en and et words, but since there is no rule to go by, I dont sweat it too much. But by and large, a great deal of Swedish is like Old English, or modern english with different pronunciation. And ~that~ is the hardest part of Swedish to me; not the grammer or the words, but the syllable stress in pronunciation. I personally find it very non-intuitive, but thats just me.

Pig Latin.


Just eliminate the first letter of the word, say the new word, and add an ‘A’ at the end.

Owsa hata? :smiley:

When I saw the thread title, I though “BASIC”. I seriously need to get away from computers for a while.

The vocabulary is mostly Romance-based, but the syntax is agglutinative and less word-order-oriented than English.

You do realise that them’s fightin’ words among us Esperanto-speakers, don’t you? :slight_smile:

It’s as useful as you want it to be. There are two million speakers, worldwide. Plenty of them are on the net and available for contact.

There’s a hospitality exchange where you can stay for free at the house of an Esperanto-speaker in another country. I know people who have saved thousands of dollars in travel costs because of this exchange, and gotten impromptu tours and a local’s-eye view of places too. I myself have stayed in Copenhagen for free. And I’m a host as well–I’ve helped of a few people who were in a jam as well.

And… I know from experience that Esperanto is easier than French. :slight_smile:

This bears no resemblance whatsoever to Pig Latin. It there a joke or reference here that I’m not getting?

Same for Sunspace. :wink: I’ve been in dozens, maybe hundreds, of situations in my life during which I wished I spoke another language. But in not even one of those was the language Esperanto.

“Good bread and good cheese is good English and good Fries” - An English and Frisian polyglot sentence.

What about Frisian? It’s the closest living language to modern English. I don’t know of too many people learning it, but I also don’t see Frisians making huge inroads into American culture.

I am terrible at language. I consider even English to be my second language. But I have learned to read quite a bit of Norwegian on my own (family history stuff). The Scandinavian languages must be much closer to English than Spanish in vocabulary. And also closer to English in grammar than German.

This is just a WAG, but I know German is close to English (same family), that would probably be easier than a romance language.

I was chatting with a friend, with an annoying ablity to learn tongues, said that Flemmish (I think) had to be the easiest he had seen, claiming it was like the half step between English and German.

Well, HPL as I see you have only been here 2 years I guess you haven’t had a chance to learn how to use the “search” feature. j/k, but I did see this brought up recently- I’ll put a few links here for both of our future reference:

Learning to speak another language
What language is most useful??
Fluent in another language - Fast!!!
Which language should I learn?
What language should I learn?
What foreign language should I take?

There’s more if you want to search…

Sorry. I know how to use the function, it’s remember to use it that’s the sticking point.

I’ll throw in another vote for Spanish, although I haven’t learned any other languages (except English, which is my native language). The pronunciation is very consistent, the spelling is logical, irregular verbs are easy to remember, and there are plenty of cognates.

There’s no objective answer to this question. Personally I’ve found Spanish the easiest language I’ve ever tried to learn, although that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And personally I found Scottish Gaelic the hardest, but then I’ve never tried to learn a non-Indo European language.

FWIW, languages that I’ve frequently heard said to be extremely difficult for English speakers to learn include Finnish, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, and Polish.

Originally posted by Derleth

hehehe :slight_smile: A whole province of the Netherlands [Friesland - or ‘Fryslan’] learns it every day.
And those Friezen - or Frysians - go everywhere, you know.

From your link:

Is very helpful. One might never know when one might need some green cheese, right? :slight_smile:

gfloyd: Flemmish is a dialect of Dutch. [sorry, Belgians] I don’t think Dutch or German is an easy language to learn. [well, for me it is :)]

I deserved that. I meant that I don’t know too many Americans learning it. I’m not usually this ethnocentric, honest.

Anyway, I always found it interesting that English still has such a close relative on the Continent. It always seemed that my mother tongue was the bastard child of three major language families and the heir to a complicated mess of loadwords and orthographic chaos, and the idea that another language still has any close ties to my own is amazing.

Not meaning to hijack this but aren’t you supposed to take the first letter of the word and move it to the end and then say A?
hows that?
ows-hA at-thA?

an-cA uo-yA peak-sA ig-pA atin-lA
can you speak pig latin?
that is the simplified version of course

Sorry 'bout that HPL I’d say (in response to your OP) it would depend on where you’re from. The Americanized version of English isn’t consistent across the country. For me I’d say that Spanish would be easier and is…it’s my second NON-fluent language.
But for some other folks like my family in New Orleans, French would be easier.
Whereas German would be for friends of mine in Fredericksberg and many other places in the country.
There’s a huge difference in cultures and influences on the dialect spoken so across the US.
So for you it may be different than for somebody else.
Spanish is required here now. In order to graduate highschool you have to take three years of it. Kinda messed up in my opinion.

ruadh I’m no expert ruadh by any means. So I’m just asking…I thought Gaelic was considered an Irish language…or is it as I surmise a language that varies among cultures that have evolved within these populations. Similar to the US version of English.
Are Gaelic speakers Scots…Irish…Mannish…Welsh?

I’ve studied the history of the region and also understand that Gaelic is supposedly very difficult to learn. I have been interested in studying it though. My surname, Galloway, (as you probably know) has some rather extensive history there as well.