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Thread: Hardest language to pronounce?

  1. #161
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Istriano View Post
    I don't think your approach is good, because by avoiding contrasting Portuguese and Spanish you will mix them, eventually. The key to success is confronting differences and not fleeing from them.
    I've been through that a long time ago, Istriano. If I had been fleeing from differences I would still mix genders as you say, but if I really know the word I don't.
    There is however one statement I can agree with in your post - it is universally valid, anyway: The key to success is confronting differences and not fleeing from them. What I meant is that 1) a great number of Portuguese speakers think Spanish is extremely easy, that 2) a great number of Spanish speakers expect to know everything about Portuguese and that 3) both points of view are gross misperceptions.
    Com as palavras todo cuidado é pouco, mudam de opinião como as pessoas. (José Saramago)

  2. #162
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Languages that are "relatives" (spanish, portuguese, italian for ex: all coming from latin) have the big problem of the "false friends" (words, sounds and meaning you suppose exactly alike and instead very different...

  3. #163
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    This is true, Spanish ñ and Italian gn are nothing like Brazilian nh (although they are similar to Portuguese nh, but not quite the same).

  4. #164
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Worse: Spanish ll in its most common realization and Italian gl:
    I've heard a Hispanoamerican singer pronounce a word "voio" instead of "voglio" with a clear "l"

  5. #165
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelo di fuoco View Post
    Worse: Spanish ll in its most common realization and Italian gl:
    I've heard a Hispanoamerican singer pronounce a word "voio" instead of "voglio" with a clear "l"
    In my area (and I think in Rome also) it is very common to drop the palatal /ʎ/ altogether and pronounce it as the approximant consonant /j/.

  6. #166
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Hi,
    My mother tongue has no tones: for me, languages with tones are difficult to pronounce (Vietnamese, Cantonese… are a challenge to me!!).
    My mother tongue is not intensively stressed: for me, languages with intensive stress are difficult to pronounce (English, Russian, Italian… are a challenge to me!!).
    My mother tongue has no h, th (þ), dh (ð), r, rr, χ… sounds: for me, languages with such sounds are difficult to pronounce, they make my tongue twisting (English, Arabic (with two h !!), Icelandic, Spanish… are a challenge to me !!).
    When I’m speaking my mother tongue, there are almost as many vowel sounds as consonant sounds: for me, languages with too much consonants are difficult to pronounce (German, Arabic, English… are a challenge to me!!).
    My mother tongue has no diphthongs: for me, languages with diphthongs are difficult to pronounce (English and most of the IE languages… are a challenge to me!!).

    My mother tongue is the only language I perfectly speak! For me, it is the easiest one, though many people say it is difficult to learn it (too many vowels, strange “r” or nasal vowels…)
    Besides, the most spoken language is mandarin Chinese (Hanyu): it may be the easiest to speak, right? Or perhaps is it Arabic ?

    Conclusion: the hardest language to pronounce depends on who you are and even your neighbors’ language can be the most difficult. The criteria should be described to possibly choose the hardest language to pronounce.

    Anecdote: some languages are so difficult that the dialects suppress the difficulties: no th, dh, q in Lebanese, diphthongs or th that disappear in English…
    TitTornade, aka Lil'Tornado !

  7. #167
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by TitTornade View Post
    My mother tongue has no diphthongs
    What is "ie" in "je viens" or "ui" in "puis?

  8. #168
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by fitter.happier View Post
    In my area (and I think in Rome also) it is very common to drop the palatal /ʎ/ altogether and pronounce it as the approximant consonant /j/.
    Didn't know that. I speak only standard Italian, and the first and only time I was in Italy when I barely could manage to construct a phrase in spoken Italian (as a child)...

  9. #169
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Angelo di fuoco View Post
    What is "ie" in "je viens" or "ui" in "puis?
    According to the majority of French grammar specialists, these are not diphthongs but semivowel+vowel

    But your are right, diphthongs exist in regional French or in Quebec French
    Last edited by TitTornade; 9th February 2011 at 12:31 AM.
    TitTornade, aka Lil'Tornado !

  10. #170
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    A little bit late, and I have read the 9 pages, so I will give my two cents.

    I have learned English since I was like 3 years old (and now I'm 20). I'm pretty good in pronunciation (but not the same for writting, as you could see xD), I think because of music, movies, t.v, etc., etc.... Americans and Canadians that I know told me that i don't have 'That' Mexican accent and some people could think that I'm native... I don't think so but anyway...

    Most people say that the vowels in English are difficult, I think they aren't, but well, is just my apreciation. Neither Portuguese or French seems difficult to me, but other spanish-speakers couldn't say the same. Between Indo-European Languages, I find it difficult the Slavic languages and Welsh and Irish and Danish, maybe due to my lack of experience with them.

    Like is mentioned above, tonal languages (Chinese, Vietnamese, Oto-Mangue languages in Mexico) are really difficult for people with lack of experience (personally, I never learned any of these), and also languages with complicated consonants clusters (Caucasians and some Native Americans Languages)... but my opinion is that everything depends on each one's mother tongue and personal hability with languages.

    Here some of phonetic features that realle makes me suffer (haha):

    -Ejective consonants in Mayan languages (k', t', p' in Yucateco, a q' in Mam Language and sometimes combined with χ... it's almost impossible to pronounce without making laugh to mam people).
    -Pronounce the single ɬ without t. (Spaniards and other South Americans couldn't even say tɬ).
    -The pharyngeal consonants in Semitic Languages.
    -The voiceless r in Welsh.
    -Voiceless vowels in some American Languages (They are pretty weird but... well, they exist).

    Saludos!

  11. #171
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    I'd consider Faroese for that title. Every vowel there is pronounced in two (wierd, wierder than in English) ways, has some glides and the overall orthography falls just short of the most extreme Celtic ones. It also has the four Old Norse cases and other nice things.
    Last edited by Sobakus; 27th February 2011 at 12:14 AM. Reason: i hate that "than"

  12. #172
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    I have read the 9 pages, and really this is an interesting topic, anyway my oinion.

    I have had a look at many languages to see their differences, grammar and so on.

    When I tried to learn Mandarin I found it quite difficult to distinguish between tones upon hearing not using them; to me, tonal languages are difficult.

    I find German, Russian, Icelandic and Norwegian really easy to pronounce, their sound are not that hard, of course, with them I discoverred new sounds such as ð in Icelandic which to my ear is the same sound as the letter ''delta'' in Greek.

    Thanks to French, Russian and German I discovered so many r's, it's quite funny for me The German's r sometimes is strong like in betreten and sometimes a guttural sound.

    I think the vowel sounds of French and tonal languages are the hardest thing I have acrossed so far, but to me they are not that hard, but they are hard!

    As regard to English, to me English has always been easy to pronounce, but I am aware of the difficulty it can be for some people, like a Japanese person, Japanese is almost a syllabical language, so to pronounce English is a hell for them (not to mention French and Polish) as they have consonants put together, but still there are sounds for me which I am not able to distinguish very well yet in English, like: still vs steal vs steel.

    There is a curious sound for me in one word, ''illusion'' that word is not pronounced as is written, it sounds like iluzhon (like a mix between a French J and SH sound) like that I heard it.

    But we have to take into account that British English and American are pretty different in pronunciation, I think it counts for some people, for instance, normally to Asian people are taught to learn british so they find it quite easy, but american English is a little harder as they have to pronounce the final sounds which are often omitted in British specially the letter /r/. So I think those kind of characteristics count too, don't they?

    When people hear me talking in English they say I talk with an interesting mix between British accent and Russian, I don't know why ( I don't even know Russian, thou)

    But as many here have said, it depends on your mother tongue and what sounds you are get used to, and of course your linguistic abillities

    To end this big ''scroll'' of mine, I find quite hard to pronounce Polish, tonal languages and Georgian.

    ほなな~
    Last edited by 涼宮; 12th March 2011 at 12:32 AM.
    Username: Suzumiya. 所詮この世は弱肉強食。強ければ生き、弱ければ死ぬ。-志々雄真実

  13. #173
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by 涼宮 View Post

    When people hear me talking in English they say I talk with an interesting mix between British accent and Russian, I don't know why ( I don't even know Russian, thou)
    Maybe because you pronounce the STRUT vowel as [ä] (low central vowel) which is common in Australian English, and Russian or Spanish accented English.

    The vowel is much higher (more closed) in most English accents,
    but, love are not pronounced like [bät, läv] but as [bət, ləv].


    When a Spanish/Russian/Australian speaker says you [säk], I understand it as you sock.
    I'm not a sock.

    Dance/dunce merger is common in many Australian accents (where both are [däns]), but it should not be imitated by foreign learners.
    Last edited by Istriano; 8th April 2011 at 5:26 AM.

  14. #174
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Differet people would think different.
    They often consider the totally different languages as the most difficult ones. For me, the hardest one is arabic.

  15. #175
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Ok, after this long debate, we've learnt it's all relative.... There's no absolute answer to our first question (hardest language to pronounce?). Everyone has his own answer, his own "enemy" language... but - I beg your pardon - what about chinese or japanese.....?

  16. #176
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Egisto View Post
    Ok, after this long debate, we've learnt it's all relative.... There's no absolute answer to our first question (hardest language to pronounce?). Everyone has his own answer, his own "enemy" language... but - I beg your pardon - what about chinese or japanese.....?
    Unless your language does not use vowels Japanese would be hard, but to the mayority of people Japanese is dead easy to pronounce, I think the only sounds that could be hard are the R, Z and TS if your language does not have them in they way Japanase does, but as I see your native language is Italian, so for you Japanease would be extremely easy to pronounce, besides you have the TS sound, but in Italian it is the Z. I think the only sound you do not have is the Z which is made by your throat. That sound is used a lot in English, French, German, Russian and many more.

    Chinese is one of the hardest for many people as it uses tones, but if you know already vietnamese or thai, then it is not that hard.

    In short, Japanaese= dead easy, Chinese= damn hard

    What makes Japanaese so easy to pronounce is that it is read as written, try to say a sentence, get google translator, write any thing and then hear it, you will notice it is easy, then try Chinese you will kinda suffer

    ほなな~
    Last edited by 涼宮; 17th April 2011 at 2:44 PM.
    Username: Suzumiya. 所詮この世は弱肉強食。強ければ生き、弱ければ死ぬ。-志々雄真実

  17. #177
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Quote Originally Posted by Egisto View Post
    Ok, after this long debate, we've learnt it's all relative.... There's no absolute answer to our first question (hardest language to pronounce?). Everyone has his own answer, his own "enemy" language... but - I beg your pardon - what about chinese or japanese.....?
    Chinese has no language enemy. They get easy to learn other languages, though some are not good at them.

  18. #178
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    So, I can study... japanese... It's a good news... And, considering the tragedy of the last weeks, it could be right. ... Arigato!

  19. #179
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    I've never heard a non-native speaker say more than a couple of words of Malayalam in a row with anything resembling an accurate pronunciation. Other Dravidian speakers probably should do reasonably well, but there are always tell-tale signs that give them away (like Tamils not being able to distinguish the two Malayalam "r"s, even though that distinction still theoretically exists in their own language).

    Then again, hardly anyone actually bothers to learn it as a foreign language, so mispronunciation would sound a lot more jarring to a native speaker of Malayalam than to one of English (because English speakers are used to hearing learners).

  20. #180
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    Re: Hardest language to pronounce?

    Korean is difficult to pronounce,
    so is Thai

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