Since I started learning Slovene, many people, Slovenes and non-Slovenes, have been asking me if it is difficult to learn. A couple of Slovene people proudly insisted that it actually is the hardest language because some time ago there was some chart floating all around the internet claiming that Slovene is the top most difficult language in the world. I absolutely know what they mean because I’ve seen a similar chart couple of years ago, showing that Slovak was the hardest language followed by Hungarian on the second place.
Is it Slovene or Slovak?
So which one is it than? Slovene or Slovak? We could now argue and start with some examples but… In my humble opinion, none of these two is the hardest. Sorry 🙂 The correct question would rather be – is it even possible to say which language in the world is the hardest? According to which criteria can we judge which language is the most difficult.
Well, I think that the first criterion to consider when judging the level of difficulty of a foreign language is what is your native language and/or what other languages you speak. To illustrate it on my example – for me, a Slovak native speaker, the Slovene language would hardly be the most difficult to learn, same as, for instance, Croatian or Polish. The reason is that because these language belong to the same language family, same if their features are just natural for you, you understand them without any difficulties. Also, my knowledge of English and German would help me to master Dutch, Norwegian or Danish relatively quick. But, f I tried to learn Hungarian, Finnish or even Arabic or Japanese, I would probably need 3 days to be able to say hi 🙂
By this I didn’t want to say that Slovene is not a difficult language. It, in fact, is, especially due to it’s variable stress (naglas) or strick usage of dual (special form of plural used only for two people or objects). On the other hand, I do not need an explanation why it uses a different ending for a male and female form whereas someone who is, let’s say English or German native speaker, would need to have an extra lesson for this one.
I’ve done some online research and I found a couple of sources claiming that French or German are the most difficult languages (please, let me disagree). So, although we cannot definitely say, which language is the most difficult, I found an interesting table that shows which various languages according to their difficulty to learn for an English language speaker. My research and I agreed that this could be at least a bit close to truth.
And yes, the Londoners must have it quite hard to speak Slovene, therefore I huge respect goes to everyone who did it!
|Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
Languages closely related to English
|Category II: 30 weeks (750 hours)
Languages similar to English
|Category III: 36 weeks (900 hours)
Languages with linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
|Category IV: 44 weeks (1100 hours)
Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English
Persian (Dari, Farsi, Tajik)
|Category V: 88 weeks (2200 hours)
Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers
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