Four Hardest Major Languages in the World to Learn

Want to learn a new language? Don't settle for just any language - why not challenge yourself and pick the hardest ones out of 6,909 living languages to learn!

Weird Worm has the list of the 4 Most Bizarrely Difficult (Major) Languages to Learn. Take, for example, Arabic:

So if you’re good at simple visual memorization, you’ll probably do fine at Chinese. Not so much for the other languages on this list, which all involve horrible, horrible conjugations. Conjugations refer to the alterations of a verb according to number, tense, gender and a whole lot of other stuff, and are hated by anyone who has ever tried studying a foreign language in order to impress an attractive exchange student.

For a good introduction to conjugations, this is an Arabic verb chart:

Once you stop shaking in fear, note the focus on masculine and feminine. Arabic, like many European languages, has two genders for its nouns, even the non-human ones. For example, ‘sun’ in Arabic is a feminine word, and so the verb connected to it must be feminine. Also, any adjectives relating to gendered words (like the ‘bright’ in ‘bright sun’) must change to a feminine form. On top of all this, Arabic also has the extremely rare dual form, which means that you have to learn a new plural based on whether you have one falafel, two falafels, or a whole damn bunch of falafels.

But learning plurals is easy, right? After all, in English we usually just stick an ‘s’ on the end of words. In Arabic, not so much. Like many Semitic languages, Arabic has issues with vowels. It seems to think they’re not real, and can be changed around whenever you feel like it.

So Arabic has something called a ‘broken plural’, where the ‘real’ part of the word (the consonants) remains the same while vowels are shuffled around, pretty much at random:

Walad (boy) – Awlad (boys); Kitaab (book) – Kutub (books)

On top of all this, there are two forms of Arabic, classic and modern. The former being what you’ll see in books, the latter what you’ll have to use if you ever wake up from a hangover and find yourself in central Baghdad. So the Arabic you learn at school? Probably won’t sound anything like what you hear on the street when you’re desperately trying to find your way to the Green Zone.


Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

I speak 5 languages, english, urdu, punjabi, french spanish.

My persian is at a 6th grade level. I've got a thing for languages. I started arabic it was too hard so I started japanese as well which by comparison is really not bad at all!

Can I just add, that grammatical arabic is a beast unlike any other, that I have seen.

The base form of any word has a total of 14 conjugations. Then, there are 14 forms, for each, past, present, future, negative, command... and the list goes on. anything you want to say, has 14 conjugations.

Then to add to it, the rules have variety depending on the letters you use. So the size and scale of the rules exponentially increases! Then, as the article mentions is the passive tone which has a completely different set of rules.

What's worse is that conversationally mispronunciation can completely change the gist of what you want to say. Oh and dialects between countries, are so extreme that they can be incomprehensible.

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Well I vote for Irish - Gaeilge as it's now here.
It's impossible! By law, all Irish children spend a massive 12 years learning this impossible language and a bare handfull can speak it fluently when they leave school.

What to know some of its'f madness? Ok, in Irish, we add letters called séimhiú and urú . Basically these are added to words to make them easier to say, so if I wanted to say, pen I would say "peann". If I wanted to say my pen, I would say "mo pheann" and if I wanted to say your en it would be "bhur bpeann".

Hard enough yet? Well the letter you put it changes according to personal pronouns and other things, but it also changes according to the first letter of the word. So we had "bpeann" for pen, but what about horse or "capall"? Well in that instance it's still "mo chapall" for my horse, but now it's "bhur gcapall" for their horse.

And if you wonder why some Irish people can't just say yes or no to a question, that's because Irish has no yes and no words! We just use the negative & positive of the verb in question, so if someone askes "An bhfuil sé ag cur baiste? is it raining? you say Sea, or Ni shea (it is or it isn't)

And that's before we get into the weird tenses, the exceptions to the rules (more exceptions than rules to be frank)the regional dialects, the pronunciation, the bonkers spelling, etc etc etc! Still, it's a great language!^_^ Anyway, here's a pretty old irish langauge film - I picked it because it'd give you a fairly accurate version of Irish:
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I'm a Chinese and Arabic language major, took Japanese in middle and high school and speak conversational French. Japanese was by far the easiest to learn; besides Kanji, it's alphabetical with a simple grammar system. I still remember it and it's easy to figure out.

Chinese and Arabic are equally difficult but in different ways. Chinese isn't terribly hard to pick up but it gets a lot harder as you progress.

Arabic is difficult in the beginning but afterward you start to get a feel for things--it's a consistent system unlike English.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Well the above is all very clever. I am impressed. I would like to add that I have woken up in Baghdad with a hangover and the locals are quite educated and spoke English....well enough. Although I must admit when I asked the cabbie for the embassy he took me to the Embassy nightclub. I showed him my passport, he slapped his head and drove two more doors and there was MY embassy.

Nice people but their politics are a little confused.

ps: they make nice beer.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I vote for Japanese.
Aside from its well-known difficulties (e.g., 3 scripts), Japanese often omits the subject of a sentence, and has different levels of speech depending on one's social status relative to one's interlocutor.
Also, the 6,900+ figure is for languages AND dialetcts.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Four Hardest Major Languages in the World to Learn"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More