Off topic: Which is the easiest language to learn?
Thread poster: chopra_2002

chopra_2002  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:27
Member (2008)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Dec 14, 2003

First of all, let me express my sincere thanks to the founder, staff and moderators of this wonderful website, which is playing a very important role for the translators to seek the help from fellow translators and experts of a particular register, in respect of some complicated and ambiguous expressions which they encounter during the course of translation.

I am very curious to know which is the easiest language to learn for a person whose mother tongue is Hindi and who has studied English upto a higher level as a second language. I have made use of "Search" option in order to ascertain whether this topic has already been discussed but the search did not return any result and that is why I am trying to seek opinions of all. Could you please inform me which language is almost similar to English and hence easy to learn so that one can be able to provide translation service in the same after attaining some sort of mastery and command over the same? I have another apprehension. Could you inform me whether age poses some sort of hinderance in learning altogether a new language? Is it possible for a person who has crossed 36 years of age to learn a new language and understand its different expressions, usage grammar and other complexities? Will he be having enough grasping power at this stage of age to understand a new language or will it be a sheer wastage of time and efforts?! Or is it a subjective concept and depends upon the wisdom and IQ of every person?

In view of the facts mentioned above, I'll be thankful if you could make suggestions in respect of the easiest language to learn, which would prove to be lucrative and which organisations (whose degree or diploma is treated as recognized) provide the facility of learning it online.

Thanks in anticipation.

Best wishes


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Andre de Vries  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:57
Member (2003)
Dutch to English
+ ...
it's all relative Dec 14, 2003

The language that is easiest for you to learn is the one that is most closely related to your language. For you those are north Indian languages such as Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, etc.
The determining factors regarding similarity are:
Phonetics
Grammar
Vocabulary
The less similarity there is the more difficult the language becomes for you.
It is true that people learn new languages best up to the age of 25, probably because of genetic programming. However, the determining factors are still the ability to monitor one's one learning process, psychological attitude towards the other language (and its speakers), opportunities for contact with the speakers of the language, prior training in linguistics, etc.
At the end of the day anybody can learn any language.


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:57
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Maybe French or German? Dec 14, 2003

In relation to your knowledge of English rather than Indian languages, there are similarities between English and French in vocabulary and grammar (both have definite and indefinite articles, neither has noun declensions with different endings), traceable to Latin; and between English and German (though German does have case endings) going back to the Anglo-Saxon tribes, dating from the Dark Ages.

The words most commonly used in everyday speech are more likely to be similar to German and the more erudite, sophisticated words more similar to French. This is said to be a result of the Norman Conquest, after which the aristocracy spoke Norman-French and the lower classes Anglo-Saxon, till the two merged to become a single English language.

This point is sometimes illustrated by the words for animals (reared by the peasantry) and the meat from them (eaten by the aristocracy). E.g. cow (like German Kuh); calf (like German Kalb); sheep (like German Schaf); pig or swine (the latter like German Schwein); but for the meat, the English word for the meat corresponds to the French word for the animal: beef (French boeuf); veal (French veau); mutton (French mouton); and pork (French porc).

There are also similarities between English and other Latin-based languages such as Spanish and Italian.

As for age, I learned Spanish (admittedly not to professional standard) at the age of 55. I found it took a lot longer to memorise words than it had done for me to memorise Russian words (I learned Russian at the age of 21). So I would say it can be done, but it's harder.

[Edited at 2003-12-14 19:12]


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Harinder Dhillon
Local time: 06:57
English to Hindi
+ ...
I think you should learn Gujarati and let me know if there are any good websites for it. I also want Dec 16, 2003

langclinic wrote:

First of all, let me express my sincere thanks to the founder, staff and moderators of this wonderful website, which is playing a very important role for the translators to seek the help from fellow translators and experts of a particular register, in respect of some complicated and ambiguous expressions which they encounter during the course of translation.

I am very curious to know which is the easiest language to learn for a person whose mother tongue is Hindi and who has studied English upto a higher level as a second language. I have made use of "Search" option in order to ascertain whether this topic has already been discussed but the search did not return any result and that is why I am trying to seek opinions of all. Could you please inform me which language is almost similar to English and hence easy to learn so that one can be able to provide translation service in the same after attaining some sort of mastery and command over the same? I have another apprehension. Could you inform me whether age poses some sort of hinderance in learning altogether a new language? Is it possible for a person who has crossed 36 years of age to learn a new language and understand its different expressions, usage grammar and other complexities? Will he be having enough grasping power at this stage of age to understand a new language or will it be a sheer wastage of time and efforts?! Or is it a subjective concept and depends upon the wisdom and IQ of every person?

In view of the facts mentioned above, I'll be thankful if you could make suggestions in respect of the easiest language to learn, which would prove to be lucrative and which organisations (whose degree or diploma is treated as recognized) provide the facility of learning it online.

Thanks in anticipation.

Best wishes


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:27
English to Tamil
+ ...
Yiddish is the easiest language in the World Dec 16, 2003

So said the Nobel Laureate Shalom Alleichem, as according to him, he understood each and very word in that language. For the unitiated, let me add that it is also his mother tongue.

I am reminded of a joke in the Tamil Weekly "Ananda Vikatan". Two boys are talking:
1st boy: "I am glad that I was not born in Germany."
2nd boy: "How come?"
1st boy: "Because I don't know German!"

Jokes apart, I would like to say that learning a language similar to the mother tongue is the next easiest thing. And I, whose mother tongue is Tamil had no difficulty in learning German and French.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:57
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Dutch ... Dec 19, 2003

must be the easiest language in the world, because it’s the only language I master. Direct and solid evidence.

I think your question is made up of more parts:
Which language is at the same time:
- easiest to learn
- most lucrative
- has online learning facilities provided by recognized organisations

I think your age doesn’t have to be a problem, but it might be better to choose the new language as a B (source) language and English or Hindi as an A (target) language, since B’s needs less skills than A’s, and it takes time to master a language fully (if you’d reach that point anyway). English as an A language has the advantage of being akin to Germanic & Romanic languages, whereas Hindi has the advantage you master it fully.
Here’s an overview of affinity to English of, number of speakers (millions) and lucrativity (scale 1-10) (all an estimation of me, please take care!!!!). Unfortunately I can’t find (online) resources that depict all those details.

Affinity...................................speakers...lucrativity
.............West Germanic:
01..Frisian.......................................0.5....1...(wow, like to see Frisian on top of the world)
02..Dutch/Flemish........................22.......3
03..Afrikaans................................30.......1
04..German.................................100.....10
.............North Germanic:
05..Swedish/Danish/Norwegian...20.......3
06..Icelandic/Faroese.....................0.5.....1
.............Romanic:
07..French..................................220......10
08..Spanish................................280......10
09..Portuguese...........................160........6
10..Italian.....................................60.......5
11..Occitan/Sardinian....................2........1
12..Romanian...............................25.......2

When you go east or south in Western Europe, languages show more flection. I think that’s due to the fact that the two “maternal languages” (Latin an Proto-Germanic) could be situated there. Latin had 8 case endings and very flexible verbs, and I guess we could “assign” at least 4 case endings to Proto-Germanic. Quite logically, Italian and German look most like Latin respectivelly Proto-Germanic, whereas the “outlying districts” paid little attention to the “trifling affairs” and the “armchair learning” of the people from the political and scientific centres. The nowadays Germanic world didn’t really have one, a long time ago ( http://www.euratlas.com/big/big0400.htm ), it came for a great part into being by migration. Compare the verb "will" in different languages (you see the number of verb forms between brackets).

Swedish (1)...English (2)....Dutch (3).......German (4)......Spanish (6)
jag vill...........I will..............ik wil..............ich will............(yo)............deseo
du vill............you will.........jij wilt............du willst...........(tú).............deseas
han vill..........he wills.........hij wil..............er will..............(él).............desea
vi vill.......….we will..........wij willen...…..wir wollen…...(nosotros)..deseamos
ni vill.......….you will.........jullie willen.....ihr wollt………(vosotros).deseáis
de vill......…..they will........zij willen....….sie wollen…….(ellos)……desean

In Spanish, Portuguese and Italian you can leave out the personal pronoun, because the verb tells which pronoun is mentioned. In classic Latin, auxillary verbs were hardly used, due to the flexibility of the verb. On the other side, English has three different moods to say the same (I walk, I am walking, I do walk), whereas the other languages don’t. In Dutch you say “ik wandel” (I walk), you may say “ik ben aan het wandelen”, you very rarely say “ik ben wandelende” (both “I am walking”), and only preschool children use to say “ik doe wandelen” (I do walk). The do-form seems also to have been in use some 5000 years ago, when language was developing. Is English perhaps an outdated language for preschool children??? The sometimes quite excessive use of words relating to the anal-erotic phase/level endorse this hypothesis. Please note that I did only dare to formulate this hypothesis after found one of them probably having been going beyond the above-mentioned level and having been able to launch a counter attack: some Mark Twain http://www.geocities.com/famousstories/twain/awful_german_language.htm.

English is the only language in the Germanic / Romanic group with one definite article, all others have two or three ones. (Slavonic languages, quite related to this group have often more definite articles and show a way greater degree of flection. I believe Czech has 24 definite articles) Germanic languages place adjectives before the noun, Romanic languages show more possibilities. In Romanic languages adverbs sometimes tend to be interpreted somewhere between adverbs and adjectives: “Greeting friendly” in Germanic languages can just mean that the person greets friendly, In Spanish it means at that very moment (or maybe ever) the person is friendly as well.
This difference might indicate
a) Spanish-speaking people pay more attention to contacts and the real motivation of someone’s actions, or
b) Germanic people are always and everywhere 1) friendly 2) unfriendly, so it doesn’t make sense to dig deeper, you already know they’re trustworthy.
(I opt for hypothesis b1, of course!!)

English has a difficult pronouncation (much sounds for the same letter / word group and vice versa) and they seem to try to mask their monolinguallity by attempting to build their own tower of Babel by endlessly piling up nouns. German has quite difficult case endings, and encompasses strong tools to form revealing but long sentences, which urged Mark Twain to sigh “Germans, writing a sentence, submerge into a sea of grammatical constructions, not breaking the surface after having written some lines”. Spanish has a lot of flexibility as well, but a very univocal pronouncation.

So, I’d like to say: forget the money and learn Frisian (spoken in the Dutch province of Friesland and the German regions East and Northern Friesland). It has a lot of picturesque, cultural meaning. Unfortunately no economical one. If you , however, want to soul your sell for making a living, learn Dutch and / or German. Dutch has nearly case endings, not so much “haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein” and you’re allowed to put the verbs more in the first part of the sentence and the auxillary verbs before the mean verb, implying you don’t have to be curious to the end of the sentence which is the subject and which the (in)direct object and what is the actual effect of the main verb: putting the auxillary verbs before them makes that the verb phrase is more easyly “adsorbed by your mind”.
You might know: curiosity kills the cat. I guess a CAT tool would crash after stumbling into “haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein” and give up the ghost.

I think German ranks highest as to the “combination of affinity to ENGLISH and lucrativity”. Unfortunately, I don’t know an online study institute. Besides the number of to be translated text, the number of already active translators is also an important factor while determining the lucrativity. Maybe Spanish, French and Dutch are more or less competing for the second place. But I don’t really know.


Compare also the Christmas and New Year greetings:

Shubh Naya Baras (Hindi)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! (English)
Noflike Krystdagen en (in) protte Lok en Seine yn it Nije Jier! (Frisian)
Vrolijk Kerstfeest en (een) Gelukkig Nieuwjaar! (Dutch)
Zalig Kerstfeest en Gelukkig nieuw jaar (Flemish)
Geseende Kerfees en ('n) gelukkige nuwe jaar (Afrikaans)
Fröhliche Weihnachten und (ein) glückliches Neues Jahr! (German)
En frehlicher Grischtdaag unen hallich Nei Yaahr! (Pennsylvanian German/Dutch)

God Jul och Gott Nytt År (Swedish)
Glædelig Jul og godt nytår (Danish)
(Eg ynskjer hermed Dykk alle ein )God Jul og Godt Nyttår (Norwegian)
Gleðileg Jól og Farsaelt Komandi ár! (Icelandic)
Gledhilig jól og eydnurikt nýggjár! (Faroese)

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année! (French)
Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo (Spanish)
Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo (Portuguese)
Polit nadal e bona annada (Occitan)
Bonu nadale e prosperu annu nou (Sardinian)
Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo (Italian)
Bella Festas daz Nadal ed in Ventiravel Onn Nov (Rheto-Romanic)
Craciun fericit si un An Nou fericit! (Romanian)



[Edited at 2003-12-19 19:49]

[Edited at 2003-12-19 20:11]


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RHELLER
United States
Local time: 05:57
French to English
+ ...
Thank you, Henk! Dec 19, 2003

Wow! Very interesting forum. Everyone has made valid points.

One of my colleagues in the French section said something wise: "language skills need to be maintained". Learning a language is one thing but retaining that level requires hard work!

Henk, I really feel like I've learned something from your instructive post.

Een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!
and let's have Peace on this planet in 2004!


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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:57
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Thanks, Rita Dec 19, 2003

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

I just found out you can say this another way ( http://www.proz.com/?sp=h&id=598741 ), so a
V-riem and a Merry Christmas
everybody


[Edited at 2003-12-22 12:05]


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:57
German to Italian
+ ...
thanks Dec 20, 2003

"You might know: curiosity kills the cat. I guess a CAT tool would crash after stumbling into “haben sind gewesen gehabt haben geworden sein” and give up the ghost."

LOL!

Thanks a lot for your explanation, Henk! I also think German and Dutch are quite profitable languages if you learn them properly, at the least on the Italian market. My friends/colleagues that studied Dutch are never short of work. As usual, it's a matter of demand and supply.


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