I read somewhere that my native language, Polish, is considered by some people to be one of the hardest languages to learn in the world. There are seven cases in Polish and there are more exceptions than rules. I, as a native Polish speaker, don’t recognize these rules and exceptions. I learned them as a child without learning any grammar. I’ve corrected Polish language learners many times on Lang-8 and I’ve seen how they make many mistakes using incorrect forms of words.
I decided to explore some websites to find out what the “Internet” thinks the hardest language to learn is. I have found several articles and rankings about it. I decided not to use one of them, but to summarize information instead. I have found which languages appeared most frequently in the rankings. I even made table in spreadsheet to collect more objective results. Of course, results are very subjective, especially since they depend on the learner’s native language. My research is based on English articles, so we can say that my ranking considered English native speakers, and probably other European native speakers. So, the five hardest languages in the world are:
It is interesting that on the list are two languages which are among the most widespread languages in the world. Mandarin is spoken by about 1 billion people and Arabic by 280 million people. So the difficulty of these languages wasn’t a problem to spread them.
What about the leader of the ranking? The first challenge in learning Arabic is a script which is completely unfamiliar for European learners. Many of the letters in Arabic have 4 different forms, and vowels are not included in writing. There are problems with finding similarities between European words and Arabic words in pronunciation. Present-tense verbs have thirteen forms. So Arabic deserves to be a leader in the ranking.
And what about Polish? This language appeared in several rankings, sometimes even in the lead, but seven Polish cases cannot compare to 35 cases in Hungarian.