Poll: Non-native speakers tell me my native language is...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 14:59
Aug 17, 2009

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Non-native speakers tell me my native language is...".

View the poll here

A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


Catherine Winzer  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:59
German to English
+ ...
I've heard both Aug 17, 2009

I voted "other" since I've heard both opinions. People who have learnt more than one foreign language have sometimes told me they find English comparatively easy. But, after many years of teaching, I have often heard my students grown over the English grammar, especially the tenses! It appears to be particularly difficult for someone who has had little exposure to foreign languages in the past, but that has more to do with the learner's background than with the language in itself.


Eleni Makantani
Local time: 00:59
English to Greek
+ ...
Actually, Aug 17, 2009

they say it's all Greek to them!icon_biggrin.gif


Christina Bergmann
Local time: 23:59
English to German
+ ...
difficult German Aug 17, 2009

I always hear that German is soooo hard to learn.
At least if want to do it right.

Well, most German natives say that about German as well.


Chun Un  Identity Verified
Member (2007)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Easy language, difficult to learn Aug 17, 2009

Chinese, my native language, has a very easy grammatical system, which, ironically, makes it difficult to master. And the characters are difficult even for Chinese children, let alone foreigners.


[Edited at 2009-08-17 09:39 GMT]


Sanna van Leeuwen  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Dutch to Finnish
+ ...
Finnish is difficult, too... Aug 17, 2009

Many people think Finnish is extremely difficult. Well, yes, the grammar is quite difficult, but if you work hard, you can learn it. I know many foreigners who speak almost perfect Finnish, but I also know people who have been married to a Finn for 10 years but still don't speak or understand Finnish at all. Well, they are just lazy!

Let me tell you an anecdote! This is what an Australian colleague said to my Dutch husband a while ago:

- So, you are in Finland now? The Finns are very silent, aren't they? Yes, that's because the Finnish language is so difficult, they have to think for five minutes before they can say anything!


Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:59
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
I've heard both about French Aug 17, 2009

I think you can hear anything from different people. In particular, it depends on their own native language.

In response to Qualitylanguage, I must say German is one of the easiest languages I learnt, along with Italian. I'm not sure Italian is easy in itself, but it is very similar to French, so easy for French natives. I think that German is easy in itself.
But I know that I hardly ever get any support in this opinion of mine!icon_wink.gif


Yasutomo Kanazawa  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:59
English to Japanese
+ ...
IMHO, languages using alphabets are easier Aug 17, 2009

I believe we had a similar topic a few weeks or months ago in the forums voting for which is the most difficult language to master.

In that forum, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Arabic, etc., languages which don't use the alphabets are much difficult to master than languages which use alphabets. There was a source which supported that theory, and a poll was done in the US, if I'm not mistaken.

Let me just say that learning a foreign language with a different script is much difficult to learn than the same script, since you have to get used to recognizing each characters used in the language you have to learn, whereas if you are an English native speaker and trying to learn French or Spanish or German, you just have to learn the specific alphabets used in the target languages.


Local time: 00:59
Polish to English
+ ...
languages Aug 17, 2009

Arabic has an alphabet. So does Korean, afaik.

Polish is quite hard to learn to foreigners, both due to grammatical structures and not easy pronunciation. I learned Hebrew, German and English. German is most complicated of them all. But IMO once you get the basics, the rest is not that hard to accomplish. It depends on your attitude.

IMO English is a very easy language to learn - we use lots of words borrowed from English in everyday life, being unaware of it. Once you make the connection - the grammar is not that hard to learn.

Hebrew - one might say it's a hard language because the alphabet is different. But once you learn the alphabet - the rest is just easy. Same for Arabic - I know no alphabet, but I can easily recognize words which are similar to Hebrew ones.

Knowing Polish helps you a lot in learning all Slavic and Latin-based languages - there are so many words in common! I know none of them, but I know my way around even in places nobody speaks English or any language I know.icon_wink.gif


Ekaterina Yakushcheva  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 00:59
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Russian Aug 17, 2009

I voted "Difficult to learn".

I have heard Russian to be easy only once. My former employee's guest from the US said: "Russian is very easy. When I come to Russia, I see little kids, and they all speak Russian very well". He was kiddingicon_smile.gif, of course.


Dagmara Kuliś  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:59
English to Polish
+ ...
Difficult Aug 17, 2009

My Belgian almost-husbandicon_wink.gif gave up on the idea of learning Polish while not living in Poland. He thought he would learn it quickly basing on all the languages he knows - but it did not happenicon_wink.gif. Grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary - apparently it's all difficulticon_wink.gif. Yet, I know some foreigners who speak very good Polish - and we always appreciate when people try to say something in our "language without vowels" (as my Canadian friend used to call it).


jccantrell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:59
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
English Aug 17, 2009

OK, I have heard that English is easy to learn (even the little kids speak it here!), but difficult to learn well, so I voted "Other."

You don't need a large vocabulary to function OK here, but my wife, from the former Yugoslavia, and I have lived back here for 30 years. Her English is excellent, but when she writes a paper she always has me proof it for her. Her stumbling block is the word 'the.' She never knows when to use it and when to leave it off. And I cannot give her a rule for it, it just has to "feel right."

As a result, if you read a paper of hers that I have not proofed, you get the feeling that it is not quite native English, but it is usually something that you cannot put your finger on unless you are pressed to say what is wrong.

This is my main reason for 'Other.' English is easy to learn, difficult to learn well.


Phillippa May Bennett
Local time: 22:59
Portuguese to English
I hear it's easy... but.. Aug 17, 2009

I'd have to agree with jccantrell... from my experience as an English teacher I'd say it's easy to get by, learn the odd phrase, the present tense, but to really master English, the nuances and the idiomatic phrases is NOT an easy task.

jccantrell wrote:
English is easy to learn, difficult to learn well.

I'm usually told here by students and friends alike how "easy" English is compared to Portuguese.

It really begs the question: is any language actually easy to learn?


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:59
Member (2007)
+ ...
With Phillippa and jccantrell Aug 17, 2009

Phillippa Bennett wrote:

I'd have to agree with jccantrell... from my experience as an English teacher I'd say it's easy to get by, learn the odd phrase, the present tense, but to really master English, the nuances and the idiomatic phrases is NOT an easy task.

jccantrell wrote:
English is easy to learn, difficult to learn well.

As another English teacher, I can second these views. All the verb tenses are very easy to learn (whereas most French native speakers own a book of French verbs!) - it's knowing which tense to use when that's a bit more tricky. At elementary level, learners can quickly learn to communicate on a fairly basic level, then make steady progress towards more fluent communication.

Often, students start thinking that they have mastered the language, only to discover the hundreds and hundreds of phrasal verbs and idioms. To take just one example, an advanced student must understand and be able to use "to get on with" as in "I must get on with this letter" and "I don't get on with my boss".

That's when students realise that they still have a lot to learn.


Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:59
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
on English: Aug 18, 2009

It's impossible to spell.
The grammar is inconsistent (exception *proves* the rule? tell that to Pythagoras)
Too many homonyms.


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