Hardest language to learn

Hardest language to learn might not be what you think. Polish is the hardest language to learn. Why is this not common language uncommonly hard to learn? Read on.

Hardest language to learn in the world

What is the hardest language to learn?

  1. Extremely Hard: The hardest language to learn is: Polish – Seven cases, Seven genders and very difficult pronunciation. The average English speaker is fluent in their language at the age of 12, in contrast, the average Polish speaker is fluent in their language after age of 16.
  2. Very Hard: Finnish, Hungarian, and Estonian – The Ugric languages are hard because of the countless noun cases. However, the cases are more like English prepositions added to the end of the root word. However, anyone arguing Asian languages like Korean trump Uralic languages in complexity, really needs to hit the books and do more research.
  3. Simply Arduous: Ukrainian and Russian – Second language learners wrongly assume because these languages use a different script (Cyrillic) that it out ranks Polish. This is not objective, as an alphabet is only lets say 26 letters. It is really the pronunciation and how societies use the language that influences ranking. Ukrainian and Russian complex grammar and different alphabet, but easier pronunciation. (the Poles use a modified Latin alphabet which does not have a neat orthography fit to the sounds of their language). Slavic languages have sophisticated case and gender systems, also something that approximates a complex tense system with aspects of time-verb relationships.
  4. Challenging contender jockey for position:  Arabic – Three baby cases which are like a walk in the park compared to the above, but the unusual pronunciation and flow of the language makes study laborious and requires cognitive diligence if you want to speak it.
  5. Fairly Hard: Chinese and Japanese – No cases, no genders, no tenses, no verb changes, short words, very easy grammar, however, writing is hard. But to speak it is very easy. Also intonations make it harder, but certainly not harder than Polish pronunciation. I know a Chinese language teacher in NYC that has even authored an the authoritative book on modern Mandarin says people meet Chinese very easy. This same teacher,  if multilingual yet could not learn Polish. I am learning some Chinese, it is not the hardest language maybe even one of the easiest language to learn.  Despite prideful proclamations of armchair linguists, to verbalizes Asian languages in general are not top ranked by any measure. Try to learn some Chinese and Polish your self and you will see which is the hardest language.
  6. Average: French – lots of tenses, but not used and moderate grammar. German-only four cases and like five exceptions, everything is logical, of course.
  7. Easy: Spanish and Italian – People I know pick these up no problem, even accountants and technical people rather than humanistic language people.
  8. Basic to hard: English, no cases or gender, you hear it everywhere, spelling can be hard and British tenses you can use the simple and continues tense instead of the perfect tenses and you will speak American English. English at the basic level is easy but to speak it like a native it’s hard because of the dynamic idiomatic nature.
The most challenging language only for the strong and the brave is Polish. Most others are easy in comparison.
  • Some people cocooned in innocence, go around parroting linguistic relative difficulty ranks by looking at a list created in the ivory towers. This list might be based on the number of hours required to achieve a degree of fluency, or intermediate conversation in a language, in an academic environment of teaching, in contrast to most people in the real world.  This simplistic one variable model is simply wrong. I suggest a more robust model.
If you learn Polish your third language will be easy to learn. It is like training and conditioning for a sport.

The following is support for my argument.

The way you approach this is a simple equation that illustrates hypothetical rankings of variables importance.

Formula for difficulty in a language = O*(G+V+(w*.1)+(A*2.0)+S+V(1.5))

O= Openness of the society to communicate in their own language to a foreigner as opposed to English.

G = Grammar, specifically the number of exceptions in each cases

V= Verbs Conjugation complexity

P= Pronunciation and Phonology.

W=Complexity of the written language, including script and alphabet variation.

A=Average number of syllables in each word. Do not underestimate this as the working memory for the brain to hold bits of information in your brain is manifold more if you are considering a language with a long orthographical constructions.

S=Speed of the language.

V=Vocalness of the people speaking.

If you can assign an O factor as the major determinant variable then you have your answer. The openness of a society to transmit their language on a person to person, on the street level day-to-day experiences is what really makes communication hard to easy to absorb. I can attest to this after living in Europe for about a decade.

Ordinal ranking on how hard a student has it to for second language acquisition.

Are you a citizen of Stratos or trying to speak to you boyfriend or girlfriend?

What good is a theoretical understanding of a language, if in reality you can not practice it to fluency beyond the classroom. Lets separate the academics from real people, when trying to analysis the question.

This is not just a ranking of the hardest language to learn mind you, rather a ranking for realistic, practical people who are in the trenches of life and want to learn a new language for communication purposes. Not a ranking for  academics who are living on Stratos, the city of clouds or lost in the labyrinth of the stacks in their university library.

I have not considered languages that have under one million native speakers. Even through humanistically important on equal par with all other languages, they are too remote or inaccessible for any real life learning. Patois dialects are excluded. These are important languages, just not for the average person. I also have not considered extinct or ancient languages which have even a more alien grammatical structure.

People write me and say hey Mark here is a language that has a hundred cases and sounds mostly like whistlers, and people often talk backwards, certainly this must be the most difficult. My reply how many people speak it? Similarly,  you might say well there is a language spoken by some children on my block, they made it up. For me unless there are a million speakers does not pass the cut.

Map of difficulty with green being a breeze and red being, well more arduous foreign languages.

My reply to the FSI’s rank of the number of hours needed to learn a language -Anti-glottology at its best

There is an annoying mythology of language difficulty, that is perpetuated by Foreign Service institute. How many hours it takes to achieve various levels in a language after academic study. This is no valid. Unless you are 18-21 and a full-time student at a university and giving equal or greater weight to written language as compared to spoken, then that is bunk.

Who has the time to study in the ivory towers a language university or prepare like a diplomat except someone in some cushy government job? It is not the real world. Speaking is much more important than writing and reading.

Written language for the masses only came into significance in the last 100 years, in contrast to the 7 millions years of Homininae communication when there was first a divergence in our evolutionary tree and changes in our heterochrony gave us the capacity for prolonged language acquisition.  Further the written language is in the process of a strange de-evolution with rise of texting messages and ADD. Lets be honest here, few people can study like an egghead, rather they want to just communicate.

Example of how people learn in Africa and the Middle East

When I was in North Africa (several times) I was amazed people could talk in the open market in several languages with little effort. They never opened a book or wrote in a foreign language. Language is about speaking. It is about communication not something you learn in a book. How long was it like that? The first one million years of human evolution from Primates until about 1950 when world illiteracy went from less than 1% to over 50%. So for tens of thousands of years for most humans, language was about the speaking, that is it. For a few thousand the landed elite and first estate class has some form of written language but this was not most people. Lets be real language has nothing to do with a book, only the tongue and ear. Therefore when FSI or any other person assets Chinese or Asian languages are hard, they are not if you strip away the crazy characters to a non-Asian person.

The worst thing about the modern communication

It irritates me that one person will state something on the web and it is recycled by every content mill blogger ad infinitum. People take ideas for fact without looking at them objectively. I call this the flat earth syndrome of language learning. Just because an expert says it does not mean it is true.

Aristotle believed the heart was the center of human cognition and the brain was an organ of minor importance. For centuries people took this as fact.

That does not mean the academics are wrong, and Asian languages are not more difficult for an English native speaker to achieve a level of mastery, but look at this objectively.

Modern linguistic snake oil salesman

Also when someone says on the web, you can learn a language in three hours or even three months, and they are trying to sell you something, I would say, ‘I have some swap land in Florida to sell you that will appreciate in value any day now’.  I would like to personally like to call them up and test their fluency in Polish. My point is the web is a great place but discern sensation seekers and academics from someone like myself who is linguistically challenged, yet has dedicated his life abroad to learning foreign languages.

How linguistic science is different from physical science

Despite my quantification above, there is no way you can objectively measure linguistic ranking or difficulty like the hard sciences like physics or chemistry measure a phenomenon in a vacuum. Even in physics things are tested, regression are run and retested. There is debate and paradigms are challenged every few decades.

So are you telling me, that in not a social science but a humanities like Language that because some government organization for a very specific program makes a statement fifty years ago, everyone including people on the Internet take it as fact and recycle it ad nauseam?

Evolution of phraseology and variance from linguistic universals as a measure of difficulty.

Departure from universal grammar and linguistic universals and structures is that are natural constructs of the human brain could be a measure of difficulty with some objectivity, however, how you measure it I have no idea how you would do this. Typological universals and other measures are left for future research.

Why Asian languages are not hard – Palaver about Asian foreign language acquisition

No grammar to speak of, no cases, not complex plurals, short words. People argue they have tones but these are subtle pronunciation differences and in my experience I am understood when I speak Mandarin for example with poor pronunciation easier in comparison with Polish. I know author and teacher of Chinese in NYC and he says most of the people who walk in off he street learn Chinese pretty fast. He has a book called Easy Mandarin. It is only the written language that is hard.

Errors and omissions statement

Yes I know in the image I typed Finish and Hinidi, need to fix this, when I get my computer back from Amishland. I am writing an Amish language program.  Also the scope of this article can not be comprehensive because the proliferation of languages, for example, I need a follow up to cover, Turkish, Greek, Armenia, Georgian etc. When writing you have to make choices to make a point rather than cover ever detail, however, these are worthy for discussion in the comment area.

Back to Polish – the trophy winner

When you speak of Phonology, sound approximation from the native language to the target Polish ranks near the top as the tongue twisting, multi-syllabic mixing of consonants and vowels are unmatched by any shorter Asian word, even with tones. I stated at the top that the average Polish learner is not fluent until the age of sixteen. It sounds like a bold statement but read on.

Yes Poles can communicate before that, but subjectively, for such an intelligent population of people (and Poles are highly intelligent and educated) proportionally I have seen an inordinate amount of Polish youngsters struggle with their own orthography, pronunciation, grammar at disproportionate levels compared to say English speakers.

Factor out any genetic differences by comparing Polish Americans who are identical genetically to Poles in Poland, yet learn English as their native language at a different rate than Polish as a native language. My daughter who is bilingual finds English much easier than Polish. There are differences in the rates humans learn languages based on the complexity of the language, and this is seen in native speaker language acquisition.

Examples and references that back up my theory of modern of linguistics that give a better understanding of how people acquire a second language:

  • In social linguistic acculturation Model or SLA, was proposed by John Schumann and focused on how an individual interacts with the society. Some societies more easily transmit culture.
  • Gardner’s socio-educational model – Similar to above and deals with the inter-group model of “ethnolinguistic vitality”.
  • Lev Semyonovich Vygotsky developed a theory of zone of proximal development.

I want to know your feedback and research so they may benefit second language learners.

Author: Mark Biernat

I live in with family between two worlds, US and Europe where I create tools for language learning. If you found my site you probability share my passion to be a life long learner. Please explore my site and comment.

1,422 thoughts on “Hardest language to learn”

  1. I think if you want to add Thai just you can just put it at the same level as Japanese and Chinese. Speaking is fairly easy apart from the five tones to master. Writing is a quite difficult although we have an alphabet, it is composed of around 90 characters and many combinations.

    I would also think speaking Japanese is easier than Chinese or Thai as they do not have tones.

    For Chinese you may also want to differentiate Mandarin (Simplified Chinese, 4 tones) with Cantonese (Traditional Chinese, 9 tones).

  2. Icelandic. Incredibly hard. Even the locals can’t speak it properly! Seriously, Check it out.

  3. I’m not going to sit here and argue the differences between languages and what makes them more difficult. Your entire premise is flawed. The difficulty of learning a [second] language depends entirely upon your native language and the similarities between the two. For example, Japanese is one of the hardest languages for native English speakers to learn, but it is much easier for a native Korean speaker to learn than English. If you did some real research into this subject you’d discover that the Defense Language Institute already has the following categories, defined by difficulty for native English speakers to learn:

    Category I: French, Italian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Portuguese (European), and Spanish
    Category II: German, Romanian
    Category III: Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Persian-Farsi, Polish, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Tagalog, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese
    Category IV: Arabic, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean

  4. i am american. i know french on a basic level. it is a beautiful language. i have been trying to learn welsh. i’d be suprised if polish is harder than welsh. i am also trying to learn icelandic. to me, it is really difficult. just to say basic greetings is difficult, worse than welsh. welsh is still nasty, though. sometimes it is incomprehensible. any guttural sounds are tough on an english speaker. i don’t feel comfortable spitting when i speak.

    1. I disagree with some of the commenters and would say that Welsh is not really very difficult.
      I found it easy to make progress, but I had learnt Cornish beforehand which is very similar in grammar and vocabulary. The much feared ‘mutations’ are not really a big deal, just things like cath = cat. y gath = the cat because cath is a singular feminine noun. The mutations are just there in some grammatical situations, just the beginning of the word changes rather than the ending. It also affects the adjectives that follow, e.g. y gath fawr = the big cat.
      I first started learning Welsh from the podcasts at bbc.co.uk/wales/catchphrase/ and saysomethingin.com/welsh/course1 is also worth looking at.

      The spelling system is regular, the pronunciation is predictable, the stress is almost always on the penultimate syllable, and the phonology isn’t really that complex once you have mastered the ll sound in Llanelli. The dialectal difference between the different parts of Wales is in my opinion overstated, though there are some common words and ways of phrasing that differ.
      In a way the most difficulty thing is that there aren’t any monoglot speakers left since the 1970s so people have a tendency to switch to English if they don’t think you’re a native speaker when using it in the real world.
      Cornish actually died out in about 1800 and has been reconstructed from written records, though there is an active movement of people who have learnt it some fluently. Actually there were some people speaking Cornish in a pub one time according to a friend of mine other people who didn’t know the language thought they were speaking Polish.

      I haven’t tried learning Irish or Scottish Gaelic, but my impression is they are more phonetically complex than Welsh or Cornish.

      I’ve not tried learning Polish though I did go to a basic Russian course, I didn’t find the Cyrillic alphabet too difficult to learn, in a way a Polish word with the various digraphs looks harder to scan, but I’m sure this improves as you gain experience with the language. Is it always clear where letters belong to a digraph or where they are interpreted as separate syllables? For example the equivalent of dishcloth and dishearten in English?

  5. I would also say that English (which is now the fifth language I have learned–after Hungarian [my native tongue], Japanese, Portugese, and Swahili) is possibly the most difficult to be fluent in because of the highly dynamic nature of the cultures which use it, and its global nature.

    I have had the most difficulty in speaking ‘properly’ when living in Australia, Ireland, and the United States.

  6. I’m polish native speaker. It’s true that many polish people make errors while they speaking – but it’s hard to believe that any language is spoken perfectly (especially when something which is spoken by everyone is consider as an error).
    As we talk abount h/ch and rz/ż (This page is served as utf-8 so I hope you have proper fonts installed) you may in 99% cases read the word correctly (the only exception are words which have been got from other languages such as yeti – I’d write, if I hadn’t knewn the world, jeti).
    PS. Wyindywidualizowaliśmy się z rozentuzjazmowanego tłumu sounds like newspeach (anybody knows how to translate this into English properly – to make it sound like newspeach?).

  7. Hi from poland 🙂
    I thinks that if a person born in poland, then he’s/she’s brain is “designed” to polish since he/she heard first words 😉
    I’m 16 and i think polish very well, I can speak english, ut I’ve got my own grammar system 😉
    I think that the easiest languages are those langs, that have the same root like your native.
    As a polish man I can understand Czech (Ceska Republika ;)), A Bit of Slowak, Russian, Ukrainian etc.
    A few weeks ago i’ve started to learn german. What makes it easier? I’ve found some words that are almost the same in english, org have root in latin. some latin words is in poland so I can guess the original meaning. That same is with other words, I can found root in some french words, I’ve learned french for two years, but effect is miserable 😉

    I think that the hardest languages are: hungarian (I can’t find roots of words in any other known me language), Finnish, and others north-europe languages…

    Mam nadzieję, że zrozumieliście mój angielski pomimo mojej niezbyt dobrej gramatyki 😉

  8. baniol: Japanese? You mean writing? Japanese in speaking is very simple, You just have to learn words and some grammar. But of course if You want to write or read japanese text… well, You have to know at leat 1945 kanji characters + 2 syllabaries, and that’s truly difficult… at the beginning. 😉

  9. Wlasnie sie dowiedzialem, ze wladam najtrudniejszym do nauczenia sie jezykiem na swiecie, a mam problem z nauczeniem sie angielskiego. Troche frustrujace 😉
    Zycze powodzenia w nauce polskiego.

    ps: Nie uzylem polskich znakow, bo zapewne i tak bys ich nie zobaczyl. Do you understand, what i wrote?

  10. No naprawdę, polski to trudny język?
    A jak mamy się uczyć chińskiego ?
    Polish is simple 😉

  11. im 20 and i live in Poland. what can i say about my language? it is hard, there are lots of people i know, who cant remember how to write (sometimes even basic) words correctly, no matter what age are they- 5, 15, 50. even my polish teachers had problems with pronunciation or grammar. in Poland there are even national tests from writting for adults and usually there is no one who can write all the words without a mistake! but i dont think this is the hardest language to learn.
    extra information- the longest word in polsih is ‘Konstantynopolitańczykowianeczka’ and this is a girl from Konstantynopol ;P

  12. for me (I’m from Poland, I speak also English, German, and a bit of Latin)
    the most difficult are: Chinese/Japanese/Korean, Arabic, Hungarian, Finnish, Estonian, Welsh. They just don’t seem as a language I could ever learn 🙂

  13. “Average English speaker is fluent at about the age 12; the average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16”
    This is not true. 12 years old kids can speak Polish fluently.

    In fact. You can’t say with one is hardest to learn becouse it’s depend on person.
    For me, languages like German, Dutch etc are the hardest. Pronunciation even simple sentence is nightmare.
    We have only 3 tenses so it’s a lot easier to talk about anything without worring about right tense.

    Of course Polish is not easiest one. But not the hardest either.


  14. here is the
    “W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie”
    I’m native Polish but this sentence is always quite a problem to pronounce, in primary school I wasn’t able to say it.

  15. A ja potrafię bardzo dobrze mówić po Polsku 😀 / I can very well speak Polish 😀

  16. Who can speak in Polish that:

    – Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami
    – W Chrzebrzeszczynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie 😀
    – Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz

    PS: For Polish very hard is Japanese

    1. Hi

      I do not want to debate which language is more difficult. All of them have some difficulties. Anyway, I am replaying that in above post there is a mistake in Polish:

      The below is not correct:
      “Chrzebrzeszczynie chrz………..”
      or even above version: “Szczebrzeszynie …….”
      Such words do not exist in Polish !!!! The proper word is:
      “W Trzebrzeszynie chrz……….” it is from the name of city in south of Poland: “Trzebrzeszyń”
      The mistake happened as all these 3 versions of the words sound so close in Polish that even as you see native Polish adult folks do the mistake 🙂

      1. , @Zbigniew?

        Sure that @baniol made a mistake writing “Chrzczebrzeszyn”, but that should clearly be corrected as “Szczebrzeszyn” and not “Trzebrzeszyń”. The tongue-twister with a beetle buzzing in the reeds comes from Jan Brzechwa’s poem “Chrząszcz” (Beetle) beginning with the words “W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie / I Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie”.

        I couldn’t find any information whatsoever about city Trzebrzeszyń you’re referring to. And it is rather strange considering both that polish Wikipedia has got a disturbingly high percentage of articles about cities, villages or settlements, and that it’s highly unlikely for a real city to be undetectable by Google Maps…

        On the contrary one can easily find a huge amount of information about Szczebrzeszyn, e.g. its Wikipedia page ( in one of 18 languages, aphotoof the beetle monument in front of Szczebrzeszyn’s town hall , city’s web page and a portal dedicated for its history .

  17. Whole article is …boloney

    ” English speaker is fluent at about the age 12; the average Polish speaker is fluent in their language not until age 16.”

    WTF? I’m from Poland I can assure you that’s not true. You are fluent in language much earlier… 12 for English? So the same for Polish. But I think it’s more like from 8 to 12 for both.

  18. I aggree, polish is hard to learn
    Zgadzam się, polski jest trudny do nauczenia się.

  19. taa…sami Polacy tutaj hehe, posstraffiam fszysskich Polakufff!

  20. “Who can speak in Polish that:

    – Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami
    – W Chrzebrzeszczynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie 😀
    – Grzegorz Brzęczyszczykiewicz”

    jeszcze dodalbym: (i’d add to this list)
    – wyindywidualizowalismy sie z rozentuzjazmowanego tlumu
    – krol karol kupil krolowej karolinie korale koloru koralowego
    – szedl sasza sucha szosa

  21. I laugh at statistics like that, because learning a foreign language is a very individual thing. Something, that may be hard for one man, can be very clear and simple to another. English language is easy IMO. It is one of the simpliest, so one of the most commong languages.
    I consider Baltic languages a bit harder than Slavic, though they have much in common. But the pronounciation is a way tuffer case, believe me.

  22. polish language: w szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie.
    grzegorz brzęczyszczykiewicz, chrząszczydewoszyce powiat łękołody 🙂

  23. Hi there. I’ve always thought, the chinese was the hardest language (of course writing), the second were the ugro-finishe languages, and the polish on third place. Good for me, I’m a genius:-) And when it goes to sentences in polish like “Stół z powyłamywanymi nogami” the difficulty is to speak it out. Even most polish people have troubles with it. But when a foreigner says “I speak polish”, I have always one sentence for him to understand that he doesn’t:
    “- Z miastaście a dupaście.
    – Dupam?
    – Dupaś.”
    It is polish, belive me.

  24. A few sentences in Polish language:

    wyrewolwerowany rewolwerowiec

    rozrewolweryzowany rewolwer

    Szły pchły koło wody,
    Pchła pchłę pchła do wody
    I ta pchła płakała,
    Że ją tamta pchła popchała.

    Cesarz czesał cesarzowej włosy na styl cesarski

    “W Trzebiszewie trzmiel trze trzciny,
    trzeszczą w Tczewie trzy trzmieliny,
    a trzy byczki znad Trzebyczki
    z trzaskiem trzepią trzy trzewiczki.”

    -Polish is very hard to learn, but i think Hungarian is more difficult!! Is almost impossible to learn i think…

  25. What’s so hard about gender in Polish?! Don’t you have it in German, French or Italian? All these der, die, das, ein, eine, le, la, les… I think that gender makes language richer, more beautiful, help us to describe the world perfectly.

  26. Chcesz, żeby Cię Twoja dziewczyna zabiła? Katarzyna, a nie Katażyna 🙂 (Pages\About Me)

  27. The most important thing in learning any language is motivation. If you are motivated, there is virtually nothing to discourage you from acquiring the language you chose. That’s why I would like to praise somebody I know who made enormous progress in learning English. I am eally proud of you:)
    I agree that Polish is difficlut to learn, but the greater challenge, the greater satisfaction:)

  28. Najlepsze jest:
    “Ckliwy prestidigitator Todoregalllo Verdadero do knajpki mknie po buteleczkę spirytusinku najwydestylowaniuchniejszego dla reżysera Mendozy.” :))
    Pozdrawiam wszystkich, którzy się uczą polskiego. 🙂

    And I would like to add that Polish is very easy. ;))
    And we’ve got very simple spelling (you read a word almost just like it is written down).

  29. Suprising… too suprising to be true, I suppose. Arabic seems much more complicated (I am polish and learning standard Arabic). The important questions to ask are:
    1. Difficult for who? English native-speakers? Indians?
    2. What are the criteria to state that something is either hard or not?

  30. I agree (though I am Polish) that Polish is one of the most diffuclt languages in the world. However, why haven’t you mentioned Icelandic? Try it, it is even more complex than Polish.
    And to Finnish I have to disagree a bit – its main “tough ” is the vocabulary, which is different (its Finno-Ungaric language, not Indo-European). Everything else more or less strictly follows the rules.
    Anyways, nice summary. 🙂

  31. Język polski wcale nie jest trudny 😉 Ale patrząc po poziomie wpisów na blogach młodych polaków dochodzę do wniosku, że się po prostu nie uczą 🙂

    “Morze to jest dla nih za tródnę?”

    Hello from Poland 😉

  32. There is a page about Polish grammar: http://free.of.pl/g/grzegorj/gram/gram00.html (written in Polish and English) which can be interesting to read.

    Does Polish is hardest I can not say as I am Polish native. I had some years of Russian which I mostly forgot but at least can read Cyrilic, then some years of English which I can read/write much better then speak/understand.

    But when I was in Slovakia for few days I had no problem to read their texts with understanding – of course there was some problems with dictionary.

  33. Well.
    The whole article should be titled ‘what is the hardest language to learn _for me_.
    Learning languages is a fairly individual thing and depends highly on the language you speak as your first language.
    For example, people speaking natively polish have often problems with languages like english or german because they in polish we “simply” switch endings of the word whereas in those languages you use many different prepositions.
    And take all those tenses in english. Polish has only three tenses (ok, it also has past perfect but it’s very rarely used nowadays; pitty, because it’s a nice and logical form to use).
    Also, people say that Japanese is hard to learn for polish people (english too, I heard). Well, maybe. I’m learning Japanese and I don’t seem to have any problems with it.
    About fluency – sorry, no banana. In any given language most people use their language very carelessly and it’s not a “proper” language. It’s full of mistakes. It all depends on whether the person in question really wants to speak the language strictly acording to the rules or he/she cares not about the correctnes of his/her speaking. Believe me, I’ve seen/heard so many english speaking people speaking their “fluent” English, that I was wondering what language they speak since it couldn’t be English…
    So, it’s all not that easy.

  34. Oh, and don’t forget, as someone already pointed out – Polish has mostly 1-1 relation between what’s written to what is spoken (give or take the h/ch, u/ó, and rz/ż cases). English can have as much as 6 or 7 cases of different pronounciation of the same letters and up to 6 or 7 different writings for the same sound. So even those “monstrous” examples of polish words are quite “easy” to read in terms of being able to translate from written form to spoken form when you only know the basic rules of pronounciation (ok, speaking them is a different case even for polish people ;->) whereas you seem to have to learn every single word in English because you never know why it’s spoken/written that way.

  35. Dla wszystkich co tak kochają szczebrzeszyn:

    She sells see shells by the see shore

  36. Actually the Polish language is missing one thing, the articles (a/the), which makes it hard for Polish people to speak grammatically correct in languages like English and German. Polish people will tend to drop them out in sentences, because they don’t have a natural feeling of when to use them. If only we had them, it would be much easier to learn and speak Germanic languages grammatically correct.

  37. There are more tricky points in polish pronunciation …
    For example:
    “h” and “ch”
    “hak” means “hook”.
    “chór” means “choir”.
    Basically, “h” and “ch” are pronounced the same (like in the word “hook” in english). But some polish people can speak in such way that you can actually hear the difference between words written with “h” and “ch”. It is not a very common skill, usually older people (born before the second world war) can pronounce like that. I cannot even describe the difference..

    I agree that even without this very specific problems, polish pronunciation some times is tricky. For professionals, watching tv can be traumatic, presenters make so many mistakes…

    But, if English is so easy, can somebody tell my why there is the difference in the “core” of the words:
    Why the hell there is an “o” in the second one???

  38. What did you mean by saying Polish has 7 Genders? Masculine/Feminine/Neuter and…

  39. So, God thank you – I’m fluent in Polish & Hungarian 🙂 My motherlanguage is Polish and I had the big occasion to learn also Hungarian. Hungarian IS hard, even very hard, but I do not believe that it’s easier to learn Chinese / Japanese or any of Arabian languages.

    PL-pozdro / HUN-udv

  40. I’m Polish and i don’t speak and write well English but I know it and understand. I know a littlebit German and Russian and i think that people who know’s polish can easy learn any other langangue. Thanks to knowing polish and littlebit russian i can understand Czech, Sloviak, Ukrainian, Bulgarian and more of the East Europe countrys. Even i do understamd a littlebit of balkanian langangues. Thanks to knowing German i do understand to a littlebit of Swedisch, Norway or Netherland and Danmark langangues. And finally english that speak olmost everyone on the world. If enybody know Polish know a lot of langangues i he can very easy learn other langangues. No other country heave langangue so hard and streange as we do. I can read serbian letters and i do repeat serbian words, but no one can read a littlebit in polish

  41. EE tam myślę, że chiński jest trudniejszy ;p
    I think that Chineese is more difficult to learn ;P

  42. I couldn’t agree more. Arabic is one of the hardest. Comparing this to learning Japanese is like candy from a baby.

  43. mkb:
    A dialog
    “- Z miastaście a dupaście.
    – Dupam?
    – Dupaś.”
    It is polish, belive me.
    contains may old and rather non used forms – connection beetwen word “Dupa” and “Miasto” (nouns which mean “rear” and city) and shortened verb “jesteście, jestem, jesteś” (“to be”) and it may cause problems to modern Poles.
    Polish is also hard to learn because of its irregularities – I’m educated person and sometimes even I have troubles with proper inflection.

    I can only say that english pronounciation (especually of vowels) is really hard for Poles . Polish language lost long and short vowels. Also connected vowels like “something between “a” and “e” are horrible.
    Also english idea of “Perfects” and “Continuous” times is taken from hell 🙂

  44. Hi. My name is David and I’m Polish. I know English, Latin and a bit of Russian and Arabic. I’ve always had this general feeling, that grammar makes Polish far more complicated than other languages. It was already mentioned here several times that the cases in Polish are really hard to comprehend, espetially for someone who is an English native speaker. There are also many other things.

    For example the pronounciation is quite difficult (even though 99% of time – unlike in English – you pronounce word the way you spell it). Some people have given examples of realy har sentences in Polish – well, that’s not really a proof, I mean there are a lot of hard to pronounce (even for a native speaker) sentences in English as well. The thing is that even when you have basic words that include sounds like “sz” or “ż” pronouncing them is going to be a hell of a problem for an English-speaking person.

    But nothing is impossible. My uncle is Syrian and came to Poland in the 80. to study medicine. He always says, that he managed to learn Polish because he fell in love with my aunt who studied pharmacy at the same university. So the bottom line is – everything is easy if you have the right motivation 🙂

    By the way my uncle and my aunt moved to States about 20 years ago. Their kids speak English, Polish, Arabic and a bit of Spanish. So it’s also a good idea to start learning foreign languages as soon as it’s possible. The results can be extraordinary.

    Trzymam kciuki za wszystkich uczących się polskiego. Uszy do góry 😉

  45. The sad thing is that polish people ruin every serious discussion. To be honest, most of polish fellows who state that they speak perfectly, they just don’t. That is because of typical level of the native speaker is pretty low, compared to the language standards. Definitely when it comes to writings, the eastern languages are too weird, for us. It’s the totally opposite to the i.e. french where things had come very different, but I would never try to guess the ‘difficulty’ by the number of characters in alphabet, I would rather focus on the information you need to extract from sounds, and the way you do emit those – that’s the language you need to learn. Eastern ones are just “dull”, and compared to them our, European languages, seem to have no limits, when it comes to describing anything. It’s way more harder to learn, than remembering funny patterns on paper, which require almost no skill, but the memory. I see no point in presenting hard to pronounce phrases, which are not applied in common chat – You’ll probably find tons of these in any language. As I speak native polish, I’ve talked with few people, who really do speak perfect polish. You don’t need to know whole grammar, and apply it to be known as fluent speaking, but You don’t, as most of my pre-posters probably, my friends, nor do I.

  46. Deszcz pluszcze w bluszczach puszczy
    w bluszczach puszczy pluszcze deszcz
    chłoszcze śmiele w trzcinach trzmiele
    dźga dżdżownice w prężny grzbiet
    Dżdża wypluszcze się pojutrze
    a nazajutrz tęczy sztuk trzy
    sztukmistrz z Tczewa strząśnie z nieb
    sztukmistrz z Tczewa strząśnie z nieb

    W wysuszonych sczerniałych trzcinowych szuwarach sześcionogi szczwany
    trzmiel bezczelnie szeleścił w szczawiu trzymając w szczękach strzęp
    szczypiorku i często trzepocąc skrzydłami.

    Spadł bąk na strąk, a strąk na pąk. Pękł pąk, pękł strąk, a bąk się zląkł.

    Mała muszka spod Łopuszki
    Chciała mieć różowe nóżki
    Różdżką nóżki czarowała
    Lecz wciąż nóżki czarne miała
    Po cóż czary moja muszko?
    Rusz że móżdżkiem a nie różdżką
    Wyrzuć wreszcie różdżkę w różki
    I unużaj w różu nózki.

    Szczepan Szczygieł z GRZMIĄCYCH BYSTRZYC
    Przed chrzcinami chciał się przystrzyc.
    Sam się strzyc nie przywykł wszakże
    Więc do szwagra wskoczył – Szwagrze,
    Szwagrze, ostrzyż mnie choć krztynę,
    Gdyż mam chrzciny za godzinę.
    Nic prostszego szwagier na to:
    Żono, brzytwę daj szczerbatą
    W rżysko będzie strzechę Szczygła
    Ta szczerbata brzytwa strzygła !!!
    Usłyszawszy straszną wieść
    Szczepan Szczygieł wrzasnął: Cześć !
    I przez grządki poprzez proso
    Niestrzyżony czmychnął w proso
    Wróbelek Walerek miał mały werbelek, werbelek Walerka miał mały felerek, felerek werbelka naprawił Walerek, wróbelek Walerek na werbelku gra

    Stąpa Sasza suchą szosą,
    z trudem stopy Saszę niosą.
    Słońce szczodrze żarem bucha,
    podczas suszy szosa sucha.

    Od upału strzechy trzeszczą,
    suchą słomą wciąż szeleszczą.
    Słońce szczodrze żarem bucha,
    podczas suszy szosa sucha.

    Jesion liśćmi schładza cień,
    tam na Saszę czeka sen.
    Słońce szczodrze żarem bucha,
    podczas suszy szosa sucha.

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