We know that learning a new language is not an easy task, but some languages are more difficult to learn than others. Why is that? An important factor in the facility or difficulty to learn is the languages’ genealogic tree, that is, the origin of languages. Portuguese, for instance, is part of the Indo-European linguistic family. Other languages that are also part of this family – and for this reason are easier for a Brazilian speaker- are Spanish, French and Italian. The farther a language is in the linguistic tree, more difficult it is to learn. Other influent factors are the alphabet and the pronunciation; with that in mind, we set up a list of languages that are quite difficult for us Portuguese speakers.
Russian is part of the Slavic language family and uses the Cyrillic alphabet, while Portuguese uses the Latin alphabet.
Vietnamese belongs to the Mon-Khmer linguistic family and uses the Latin alphabet; the main difficulty in learning it lies on the fact that it is a tonal language, that is, has words that change their meaning according to the way we pronounce them.
Like Vietnamese, Thai is also a tonal language; but unlike Vietnamese, it is part of the Kradai family. Besides, it uses the Khmer alphabet which further increases the level of difficulty.
Mandarin is part of the Sino-Tibetan language family and uses the logogram alphabet, that is, we must memorize thousands of ideograms; it is another tonal language in our list. Despite its difficulties, one of the greatest attractions to learn it is the number of native speakers: 885 million people.
Japanese is another tonal language belonging to the Japonic family and uses the logogram alphabet also full of ideograms. There are two syllable system and five writing systems.
Korean is an isolated language, that is, has no relatives in the genealogic language tree; its alphabet is Hangul.
Arabic is part of the Semitic Family and has its own alphabet – Arabic alphabet.
This is a Khoisan family language with 2,5 thousand native speakers in Botswana, Africa. In order to speak the language, we must master tongue-clicking sounds – five basic and 17 additional ones!
Tuyuca belongs to the Eastern Tukano family with less than a thousand native speakers in the Amazon; it is a language with simple consonants, nasal vowels and a large vocabulary.
Sources: https://super.abril.com.br/cultura/quais-as-linguas-mais-dificeis-de-aprender/, https://www.gqportugal.pt/afinal-quais-sao-as-linguas-dificeis-do-mundo-aprender, https://www.fatosdesconhecidos.com.br/quais-sao-as-linguas-mais-dificeis-do-mundo/