Are Other Languages As Tricky As English?

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  1. I've never learned any others. I'm curious though, do other languages have these kind of similar words with completely different meanings?

    Just a few examples:

    Reed, read, red

    Except, expect, excerpt, accept, aspect

    Of course, there are hundreds of others,.
  2. Oh, yes.

    One immediately springing to mind is Mandarin.
    Phonetic similarities become enjoyable puns, especially in Chinese art.
    Example: words for "bat" & "good fortune" sound alike--so, art with bats wishes recipient good fortune.
    Some puns depended upon dialect pronunciation, so pictures became popular. This art can be exquisite, imo.

    Hope this helps.
  3. I don't know if this is quantifiable. I'd say instead that English is beastly difficult, and it's because of weak rules. The rules are weak because the parent languages of English are very different. How to form a plural, pronunciation, letter order--it's rather chaotic.
    Other languages are difficult in different ways.

    Toughest of all is getting idiom correct, in any language.
    bellebellebelle19 likes this.
  4. I think English is the most difficult of the *Western* languages, due to the lack of consistency in rules, spelling, etc. My granddaughter is just learning to read and spell and the craziness of English is really tough for her. She tends to spell phonetically but English doesn't follow any rules, so she gets it wrong.
  5. Definitely Cantonese. It has up to twelve phonetic tones (I believe out of all tonal languages Cantonese has the most tones) and Mandarin has about four I think. Words like bad, fork, tea and erase sound like one word to a non-native speaker but the tonal change is very subtle and difficult to pick up on. Whereas in English or Japanese there is much fewer tonal changes.
  6. I think part of the problem with American English is that's it's a melding of so many other languages. European, Asian, Hispanic, Native American Tribal are among the contributors of every day words.

    It's not what could be considered a base language like Latin or some of the Asian languages that have been in use for centuries.
  7. You're conflating vocabulary with structure. It's the structure that makes a language hard, typically, not vocabulary, and for English, the structure comes primarily from Germanic/Old English roots. ("Asian" is a little bit correct in the sense that the Sanskrit of India is related, but not Far East languages.)
  8. I believe vocabulary can be a problem, also.
    Echoes' point is valid about homophones--Spanish speakers have asked me about English "sun" vs. "son," because same sound/different meanings was confusing.
  9. Yes, vocabulary and homophones are tough to learn. But I don't think they're fundamentally what makes English so difficult.

  10. I know :sad: We had and continue to have such a hard time teaching DS to read. Only thing what helped was when we followed the book "Teach your child to read in 100 lessons". It brings it back to the sounds.

    I have heard that my native language is difficult. It has 14 cases and nouns and adjectives are changed accordingly. There are few words which are written exactly the same but the difference comes from pronunciation, like palk - salary or log.
  11. sort of off-topic, but I've read that people whose native language is in the Asian group are more likely to have absolute pitch (perfect pitch) because their languages depend so much on the tones.
  12. No that's incorrect unfortunately
    More than half of my westernized Asian friends have discernable Asian accents that will never go away whenever they speak English. Yes their tone might be pitch perfect when they speak their native language but it's somewhat difficult to adopt an American accent. The same goes for my European friends as well.

    I found Europeans to be more adept in picking up the American accent better than Asians. And I'm referring to those who never step one foot in the US and learn from watching and mimicking tv
  13. ^Boxermom is talking about perfect pitch in the musical sense, i.e., the ability to reproduce musical notes to pitch without assistance.

  14. I have perfect pitch and it's so annoying sometimes
  15. when you hear music or singing that is even slightly off-key, it probably hurts your ears!

    Again, sorry to be off-topic, but I find it fascinating that some people can so precisely identify a note or sing it.

    More on topic, I admire those who can learn other languages well. I've tried to learn French and German and didn't do well at all. If I'd lived where I heard it and could use it a lot, maybe I'd have accomplished it.
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