The World's Most Difficult Languages

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#1
Been a while since we had something truly water-cooler in here.... but I ran across this and found it an interesting read: Difficult languages: Tongue twisters | The Economist

English-speakers appreciate this when they try to learn other languages. A Spanish verb has six present-tense forms, and six each in the preterite, imperfect, future, conditional, subjunctive and two different past subjunctives, for a total of 48 forms. German has three genders, seemingly so random that Mark Twain wondered why “a young lady has no sex, but a turnip has”. (Mädchen is neuter, whereas Steckrübe is feminine.)
....
For sound complexity, one language stands out. !Xóõ, spoken by just a few thousand, mostly in Botswana, has a blistering array of unusual sounds. Its vowels include plain, pharyngealised, strident and breathy, and they carry four tones. It has five basic clicks and 17 accompanying ones. The leading expert on the !Xóõ, Tony Traill, developed a lump on his larynx from learning to make their sounds. Further research showed that adult !Xóõ-speakers had the same lump (children had not developed it yet).
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#2
Mahmoud, I just noticed this post. Very interesting! I am not about to get a lump in my larynx for anyone...OK? I have enough already evrywhere else.

LOL
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#3
lmao... true enough.

Thank God for English :smile:
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going.
Staff member
#4
That sounds strange coming from yuo, but I guess it is sort of a universal language these days.