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Thread: Hardest language to pronounce?

  1. #101
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hakro View Post
    I've had one friend who studied Dutch and another who studied Danish. Neither of them complained too much about pronunciation difficulties. They said that there are phonemes that are difficult or even impossible to pronounce correctly, but they also claimed that incorrect pronouncing of these phonemes doesn't make the Danish/Dutch word incomprehensible, as the situation often is for English words.
    I can hardly think of any examples of this in English. I guess, it is so much more of a problem in Chinese and the Indo-Chinese languages!
    It takes great courage to speak out loud about things which on the quiet are known to everybody.

  2. #102
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Setwale_Charm View Post
    I can hardly think of any examples of this in English. I guess, it is so much more of a problem in Chinese and the Indo-Chinese languages!
    Maybe you haven't heard how the Finns can pronounce English!

    Besides, I mentioned Japanese but otherwise, as I said, I was speaking only about European languages.

  3. #103
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    I have tried to speak relatively few languages but have found that in the main European languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian) it is relatively easy to be understood without much practice (within the time frame of a short holiday for example). However on a trip to Vietnam my wife and I tried desperately to utter some few basic words (after all, how difficult can a monosilabic language be?).... totally impossible. Even after asking natives to demonstrate the subtle differences in pronunciation due to the mind numbing quantity of accents used we were left unable to perceive any differences whatsoever. Vietnamese must be one of the most difficult for Europeans to pronounce, especially if you factor in its apparent "easyness" due to the familiarity of the letters.

  4. #104
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Well. This is the first time I write something in this forum (Cultural Discussions) and since my english is not that good I prefer to apologize before keep writing: Sorry for my english...

    I just wanted to share a bit of my experience learning languages. I have lived two years already in Russia (Moscow) because I am studying here and when I just arrived I realized that I was never gonna be able to speak nor understand any Russian and I wanted to take the next flight to Mexico right in the airport (hahaha). Russian is very hard to pronounce since they have 10 vowels and 23 consonants and two signs that make every consonant hard or soft depending in the vowel after or before... it's a mix of sounds that seems hard when you are not enrrolled with them, but even though my accent it's pretty obvious I may speak and understand almost everything about conversational language.

    Nevertheless, I guess English has a harder way to pronounce the vowels. In Mexico we say that Americans use to twist the words, so in some way I found out that Russian may be harder in grammar than english, but not in pronunciation at least for a Spanish-speaking. For Russians, English pronunciation is extremely and absolutely hard, especialy the "TH" sound and the "W". Actually they find easier the British accent or pronunciation than the American one since Americans use to soft (or how do you say this?) the "T" letter in the middle of some words: better, center, little... Not even mention about some other words like: dirty, burden, button, and so on. Americans pronounce them in such a way that me and Russians have found quite difficult imitating them.

    Sorry again for my mistakes and have a nice day you all.
    Linea

    Linea
    Last edited by lineaadicional; 16th February 2008 at 8:49 AM.

  5. #105
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hakro View Post
    Maybe you haven't heard how the Finns can pronounce English!
    Well, I have.
    It doesn't sound much worse than some Austrian 'accents' of English, really. But then, many Austrians also have a hard time learning correct English pronunciation (it gets better with English pop culture dominating our everyday lifes).
    There even are many English teachers here in Austria still teaching in class who even can't pronounce the English 'th' properly (they indifferently pronounce it /s/) - mine was (and retired only recently).

    Yes, English isn't too easy to pronounce even for many Europeans, but then much easier than so many other languages.
    Main problems always occur if the foreign language has phonemes the mother tongue doesn't have - but foreign phonemes you can learn, to a degree.
    What is extremely hard to learn however is prosodic features not known in the mother tongue, and if they are important for both producing and understanding the foreign language this causes serious problems with language learning.
    Such would be for example the tonal accent of Serbian/Croatian (but you will be understood if you don't manage to learn pronouncing it correctly, so this is no big problem) but even more for the tones of many South-East Asian languages (which don't exist in European languages as tonal accents aren't really quite the same).
    But equally it is for me, with mother tongue of Austrian German, extremely difficult even to pronounce long vowels in unstressed positions (which you don't have in German, and even more in many Austrian dialects there's no such thing as an opposition of short/long vowel but a combined quality of short vowel/long consonant and half-long vowel/short consonant or open syllable half-long vowel). Thus Czech pronunciation (with accent on first syllable and long vowels possible in unstressed position) is extremely difficult to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by lineaadicional View Post
    Russian is very hard to pronounce since they have 10 vowels and 23 consonants and two signs that make every consonant hard or soft depending in the vowel after or before...
    Strangely enough, I am more satisfied with my approximation of Russian pronunciation than the one of Czech pronunciation. Both of course still being only very rough approximations, of course ...


    But as already stated several times, what's hardest to pronounce always will depend on your mother tongue(s) and the phonetical differencies to the language you'd try to learn.

  6. #106
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Moderator note: Although the initial post in this thread calls for personal opinions and thoughts, these are outside the parameters of this forum. Please restrict your posts to specifics, not speculations, about pronunciation issues.

    Thank you for your understanding.
    "The trouble with normal is it always gets worse." Bruce Cockburn

  7. #107
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    The hardest language to pronounce is the one that has less phonetic similarities with the language(s) you already master.
    hablo castellano, falo português, I speak English, 日本語がわかる
    vir sum ergo centum domina cupido (no sé latín, seguro está mal )

  8. #108
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiceMan View Post
    The hardest language to pronounce is the one that has less phonetic similarities with the language(s) you already master.
    I beg to differ. Sometimes you find phonemes totally strange to the articulation system in your own language to be surprisingly easy... Looks like different mouths are naturally better adapted to learning different things.
    It takes great courage to speak out loud about things which on the quiet are known to everybody.

  9. #109
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Still people always has problems with the most distinct sounds in a given language, ie: the ones rarely present in other languages like the r in Spanish, the broad range of vowels in English, the tones in Chinese, the pitch accent in Japanese, etc...
    hablo castellano, falo português, I speak English, 日本語がわかる
    vir sum ergo centum domina cupido (no sé latín, seguro está mal )

  10. #110
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by SpiceMan View Post
    Still people always has problems with the most distinct sounds in a given language, ie: the ones rarely present in other languages like the r in Spanish [...]
    The Spanish r is very common cross-linguistically.
    Deuparth gwaith yw ei ddechrau.

  11. #111
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Outsider View Post
    The Spanish r is very common cross-linguistically.
    Now I'm confused: so Argentian Spanish does not have the alveolar Spanish 'r'?!
    Apart from that, alveolar 'r' is very hard to pronounce for any speaker who does not know it from his or her mother tongue, and substitutions with velar (trilled or fricative) 'r' are very common: this is the case for many speakers of German even though many German speakers indeed use an alveolar 'r' themselves - so even many people (me included) who do not use alveolar 'r' in their mother tongue but know it from other speakers of their mother tongue nevertheless (hearing a sound being the beginning of pronouncing it correctly) may have great troubles learning to produce that sound.

    Apart from that, yes, alveolar 'r' is rather common in many languages of the world, probably even more common than velar 'r'.
    Despite this alveolar 'r' is very hard to learn if you have to learn it (as an adult).

  12. #112
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    There is no difference between Argentine 'r' and Spanish 'r' that I'm aware of (or 'rr' for that matter). Anyway the sound of two 'r' together in Spanish -like in the word ferrocarril (railroad)- is hard even for natives, there are lots of people that don't achieve a correct pronunciation of that phoneme (pronouncing 'r' instead) until they are 7 or 8 years old. There are even some kids that have to get professional help to get that 'rr' sound right. I know a Bulgarian guy that moved to Argentina when he was 4 or so years old but despite having lived here for 15 years now, he still can't get (or can but with a lot of effort) the pronunciation of 'rr' right.
    Last edited by mgwls; 19th February 2008 at 12:48 AM.
    (Please correct my mistakes. Thank you!)

  13. #113
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    The rr's that some Bolivians and Argentinians pronounce sound like ž or closer to Czech ř. I can't give any link, but this is what my ears tell me.
    Jazyk

  14. #114
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Oh my door!! I had never noticed that the rr thing is that hard... It seems so natural to me even in the ferrocarril word.

    In Russian they have four letters that at first glance sound similar:
    ж, ш, щ, ч I don't even know how to write the pronunciation but all of them sound fairly like "sh" (especially to me). They are harder than the rr stuff!!!

  15. #115
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by lineaadicional View Post
    In Russian they have four letters that at first glance sound similar:
    ж, ш, щ, ч I don't even know how to write the pronunciation but all of them sound fairly like "sh" (especially to me). They are harder than the rr stuff!!!
    But they are not, they're dead easy!

    (Here you've got an example on how much such things depend on the language(s) you grew up with.)

    However, another feature of Russian, the palatalization of consonants, is something which is not too easy to learn for people not having these sounds in their mother tongue.

  16. #116
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by sokol View Post
    But they are not, they're dead easy!
    It's easy to say them one by one and even if you say a bunch of words with some of those weird letters, yes. But when they are speaking you NEVER notice what of those four letters they are using!

  17. #117
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by lineaadicional View Post
    It's easy to say them one by one and even if you say a bunch of words with some of those weird letters, yes. But when they are speaking you NEVER notice what of those four letters they are using!
    Because your native Spanish language doesn't have these sounds (except ч).
    ж, ш like sounds are common in many languages, for example in French,in Portuguese,in English.
    Last edited by FYV; 20th February 2008 at 11:01 AM.

  18. #118
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    FYV, can you give an example of the ж sound in english? I'v never heard it...

  19. #119
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by lineaadicional View Post
    FYV, can you give an example of the ж sound in english? I'v never heard it...
    visual, pleasure, usual, azure - at the place of "s","z" letters


    In English it sounds slitely softer.
    Last edited by FYV; 20th February 2008 at 11:49 AM.

  20. #120
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by FYV View Post
    visual, pleasure, usual, azure - at the place of "s","z" letters


    In English it sounds slitely softer.
    I don't know if this is the correct space to discuss this point but I disagree with you, FYV, since the ж in Russian (and you better than me know it) is far beyond the sounds for the words visual, pleasure, usual, etc. To me (and I could bet for the most of english speaking people) those are closer to the ш or щ but nothing close to the ж one...

    Any ways, my native language is Spanish so I may be mistaken.

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