There are over 6,500 languages known to exist as of 2020 in the world. Some languages are much more common than others. Some feel that English is one of the hardest languages to learn because of all the cliques that are commonly used, an odd grammatical structure, and multiple meanings for the same word, yet English is quite common the language of business. The truth is, English is not even in the top five when it comes to difficult languages to learn.
Many countries consider being bilingual the norm, though this is not necessarily true in America. When people are bilingual, they have a choice of reading or speaking in different languages, still, many want to pick up another language for work or for the simple ability that they can communicate with more people in the world. If you feel that picking up a second language like French or Spanish, two common languages, is difficult, then the top five hardest languages to learn will be a huge challenge.
Though rankings vary, Finnish is considered the hardest or one of the hardest languages to learn. The Finnish language has a well-known reputation for being tricky. This comes honestly as nouns come in 15 different cases. By comparison, English ahs three cases, subjective, possessive, and objective. In addition, the Finnish language comes from the Finno-Ugric language family. This has no influence from Latin or German to help speakers guess at what something means. For example, and airplane in English is an avion in French, avion in Spanish, and lentokone in Finnish. The redeeming quality of Finnish is that it is written in the way it sounds, following the English alphabet. Though long vowel and consonant sounds may trip up a learner, it can be read as it looks.
Also on the list is Vietnamese. Though some may think this would be a simple language to learn, expect to spend around 1,100 hours in class to speak fluently in the language when starting from English. The unusual grammar, six different tones, and difficult pronunciation make Vietnamese a struggle for even a dedicated learner. If considering traveling in Vietnam or native speaking areas, it is beneficial to know at least the basics.
Related in part to Finnish, Mongolian is also on the list of the top five hardest languages to learn. While the trickiest aspect of speaking Mongolian is definitely pronunciation, the grammar is not horrible, if you are well versed in Finnish. The alphabet is also not a real challenge if you know Russian. If you are fluent in these two difficult languages, then this third may be a breeze. Otherwise, a true challenge exists. For example, a dog in English is a perro/perra in Spanish, a собака in Russian, a koira in Finnish, and a нохой, pronounced nokhoi, in Mongolian. This demonstrates the difficulty of this particular language.
Coming in at number four as far as a difficult language to learn, is Russian. It may not be the most challenging language, but roadblocks to learning definitely exist. The biggest issue is the spelling which is rarely straightforward and full of vowels that are typically unfamiliar to native English speakers. If you wish to tackle Russian, you must master an entirely new alphabet.
Finally, we come to Thai which many consider in the top three when it comes to the toughest languages to learn. It is not the grammar that is problematic in Thai, but the writing and pronunciation. Thai contains five different tones, long, and short vowel sounds. In addition, the Thai alphabet has 44 consonants and 32 vowels that will need memorization to learn to read and speak properly.
As far as ranking for difficulty goes, some would say languages such as Mandarin, Arabic, and Japanese should be included. Still, others would add in Korean, Navajo, and Arabic. Many languages are extremely difficult to grasp without being immersed in the culture. This is due to unique sounds, grammatical structures, and even unique letters. The variety and difficulty of languages in the world are why professional translators are necessary. Professional translators have already done the hard work of becoming fluent in the target language you need. These are likely bilingual speakers, though some speak several languages proficiently. It is important to have a professional translator when your work is being translated, not only so grammatical structure and wording is correct, but so the message carries into the target language. If you are looking for a professional translation company, especially in the Christian arena, consider Christian Lingua for professionals that work in multiple languages and dialects.