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Pros and cons of your language

LangAddict
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Hello everyone, I just thought it'd be a great idea to share what you think is the worst and also the best "trait" of your mother tongue (or of a language that you know fluently, like the back of your hand) with the community. This would be a perfect thing to take into consideration especially for newcomers and people who want to learn a language but have doubts on what is harder and what is easier in that language. Sounds interesting?

Ok, then I shall begin with Romanian :

Pros : A very intuitive language. If you know English and some French it would be very easy to pick up the vocabulary. If you know Italian and/or a slavic language it's even better (if you don't, that's fine too).

Also, worth mentioning is that the pronounciation is very clear, smooth, easy to comprehend ; kind of like Italian but with a slice of slavic influence on top.

Con : Genders. I believe genders are the most frustrating for a learner because there's no real rule. Sure, most feminine nouns end in "ă" and most masculine nouns end in a consonant (obviously, there are exceptions) but we also have the neuter gender (which means that the noun is either masculine on singular and feminine on plural, or vice-versa,), so you have to memorize EVERY gender because if a noun is masculine on singular it doesn't mean that the plural should also be masculine. Not to mention the article which is after the noun, for example carte = book, cartea = the book, cărții (the book's), cărți = books, cărțile = the books, cărților = the books'

Not to mention, we have the "conjunctive" which replaces the infinitive that you use after the verb. I won't go into much detail, let's just say that most people are not familiar with this one and will try to figure out when to use one and when to use the other.

So, that's it. Sorry for the long comment but it was necessary to clarify everything. If you feel like I've left something out (like the pronouns, adverbs, what we think of foreigners learning the language) please let me know, provided you know Romanian of course.

Now, I'm really curious to know your mother tongue's (or native language's) pros and cons, so go ahead and tell them.

2 years ago

50 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/XD29
XD29
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My native language is German. This is the first time I am thinking about pros and cons... It is pretty phonetic. It has a rich culture, great authors, die Sprache der Dichter und Denker (the language of poets on philosophers). Nouns are always capitalized, which gives written language a better structure (or so I think).

Uhm... the cons... GENDER. Cases, although there are not as many as in the Slavic languages, there are enough to confuse the English natives trying to learn German.

That's all I can think of for now...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/de-jute-jutta

I am also from Germany and work in my spare time as a German teacher for refugees. I am still getting surprised by the absurditis of my mother tongue. But before getting lost in the details, I would just recommend Mark Twains "The Awful German Language" from 1880. It is brilliant.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

A big hurdle I am having is word placement. Let me explain, let's say that the last half of a sentence is ", aber ich werde es nicht vertsehen." "but I would not understand it". I know the verb gets kicked to the end, that can be remembered no problem. My issue is with the thought process behind it..

I am trying to get inside the mind of a native speaker, so if your friend is speaking to you and says that, how do you process that? As an english speaker I keep having issues accepting that the word order in German makes sense to Germans, because as mentioned I try to get into the mindset of a native because it helps with my learning. But am limited to an english point of view...

So can you enlighten me a little more on this, bitte? Tut mir leid if my question confuses you XD

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Criculann
Criculann
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Hate to tell you this but there's no real mindset to it. It just sounds and feels right. Anything else on the other hand would sound and feel wrong. You'll just have to drill it until it sticks and makes sense to you. That's the way it often is with the weirder concepts of languages. But let me tell you that's what makes learning a language so awesome. The sudden realization that something that seemed so bizarre like German word order, something that makes you want to bang your head against a wall for how absurd it is, becomes second nature. Don't fear the exceptions, the difficult parts, embrace them. They're what make languages so beautiful and unique. I've already reached that stage in English and it seems like I'm also approaching it in Spanish. Some days I even feel like French makes sense.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

That is excatly it, a feeling. Ihave actually had a very hard time wording this question because I couldn't find descriptive word for it.

Idk what your native language is, but it sounds like you've had the same issue.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Criculann
Criculann
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My native language is German ;) I'm a language addict so I constantly have that kind of problem. But I've started trying to see exceptions and weird rules as the unique things they are and that helps a lot. Takes a lot of the frustration away. Just focus on the end goal whenever you encounter something weird that you just can't wrap your head around. I promise, if you keep working at it everything will seem natural to you at some point just as it does in English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/guupi
guupi
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Just bear in mind that the position of the verb tells you more about the phrase's syntactic structure, that is whether you are dealing with a coordinate/independent or a subordinate phrase that depends on another coordinate phrase. Perhaps you've already heard about the V2 word order - Verbzweitstellung in German: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V2_word_order You will see that Old English had this feature as well...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/patbo
patbo
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Let me add some more.

Pros:

  • Especially for beginners it should be nice that it's said that German pronunciation is relatively clear and that you can at least tell where a word starts and ends in the spoken language even if you don't understand what it means.
  • German uses a lot of compound words for everything, so once you know the basic words, you can just infer the meaning of many other words without explicitly learning them.

Cons:

  • I guess it has a rather steep learning curve with all the inflection. German really goes crazy with the declension of adjectives. The good thing there is that a wrong ending doesn't really impede communication - it may sound wrong, but you'll still get your message across.
  • The German word order seems hard to get used to for many learners (especially the fact that it's different between main clauses and subordinate clauses).
2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/scarcerer
scarcerer
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My native language is Finnish. I would say the pros are the lack of gender and articles, both definite and indefinite. Although I've seen on the Russian course how the lack of articles confuses people as much as having them. Anything that's different, I guess. The phonetic spelling and regularity of verbs aren't bad either.

As for cons, most learners will probably say the cases, all 15 of them. However, they are used instead of prepositions (Finnish doesn't have prepositions the same way most European languages do), not with them like in Slavic languages, so that should make it considerably easier. That's not to say it will be easy as anyone who has tried to match one preposition to another knows. Another con might be the noun stems which have a pretty long list of rules to remember. And the vocabulary isn't exactly familiar to a speaker of almost any other language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/chirelchirel
chirelchirel
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I'd add to this list the object cases. Finnish has three different cases that can be used as objects and there are many very subtle rules that govern which one should be used. Generally Finns have no idea what these rules are, but they will spot a mistake right away. I'm pretty sure that this is overall the most frustrating part of Finnish grammar to a learner.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rachael.cr3
rachael.cr3
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English.

Pros: No one ever follows the rules

Cons: No one ever follows the rules

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HeatingUp

no one really noes the rules.. ;)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/YoungSpice94

*knows

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/I_is_a_fanenby

case in point.

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LangAddict
LangAddict
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Short and sweet, I like it :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anebz
anebz
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My native language is Basque.

As a pro the first thing that comes to mind is that it is a unique language and every time I speak it I feel special. Also, when outside of the Basque Country, it is super useful to talk about someone in the room without them having any clue what we are saying.

The con is mainly that it is a very difficult and complex language. There are many dialects in a very small area and sometimes communication is not easy. Besides, the verb conjugations are very complicated and sometimes people disagree with the correct conjugation of a verb and that leads to long discussions until someone looks it up and clarifies :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
mizinamo
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A native speaker of Basque - that's really awesome!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salapls
salapls
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Euskara Duolingon behar da. Euskal Herri kanpokoak diren euskaldun berrientzat (ni bezala) oso baliagarria izango litzateke.

Basque is necessary in Duolingo. It would be very useful for adult learners from outside Basque Country (like me).

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/anebz
anebz
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guztiz ados! Hizkuntza batean lehenengo pausoak emateko orrialde egokiena iruditzen zait Duolingo.

I completely agree! I think Duolingo is the best place to take the first steps in a language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CosmoKaiza
CosmoKaiza
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My native language is French.

Pros :

French is the language of love so it is easy to impress people if you say that you speak French + it is really beautiful and has a great history and literature so I can read a lot of books.

It is close to other languages like Spanish, Italian, Romanian and even English, and it is really useful worldwide

We have a rich vocabulary for emotion so I feel comfortable expressing my emotions clearly when I speak French but not English and German.

CONS:

The grammar, spelling and pronunciation can be really hard (even for me) and I don't even know how to conjugate all the verbs in "passé simple" because it is really hard.

Knowing if a noun has "le" or "la" (Genders)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HeatingUp

French sounds super cool to me. Deff my next language once I finish the German tree

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LiaLeonetta
LiaLeonetta
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My native language is English. Pros: It's one of the most useful languages in the world, you can find learning materials everywhere, it has a rich culture, has no genders, no accents on letters, plurals are pretty easy to form once you learn the exceptions and verb conjugations aren't usually that different I guess. There are also very little cases, only used with personal pronouns.

Cons: Pronunciation is all over the place, many differences in spelling and vocabulary depending on which "type" of English you speak (British, American, etc), lots of small rules when you get to an advanced level and lots of verbs that use different prepositions to convey different meanings.

I can't think of any more :P

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sueefo

There's a reason why the United States has a National Spelling Bee! ;-)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/malloryraymond
malloryraymond
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And the fact that "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo" is a grammatically correct sentence in English ;)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/._.Polyglot._.

My native language is English and Sicilian as I grew up speaking both fluently. So I am just going to do the pros and cons of the Sicilian language. Pros: It is a beautiful language, and I would say it is pretty easy to speak and if you spoke to an Italian in Sicilian they will get a basic understanding of what your saying. (This is from my own personal experience.) Cons: The writing and grammar of Sicilian in my opinion are a lot more difficult than English and Italian. Also GENDER is the most difficult thing when it comes to Sicilian. But still I would suggest it to anyone to learn.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Chilotin
Chilotin
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My native language is Spanish. Pros: 1) Spelling: If you see a word, you'll know how is pronounced. If you hear a word, it is not so easy (b or v? y or ll? s or z? h or nothing?), but easier than languages like English, French or Russian. 2) It has a long tradition of written literature and poetry. 3) It is spoken by 400 million people in two continents, 20 countries and many cultures, from Patagonia to California y from Amazonas to Barcelona. 4) Plurals are quite regular.

Cons: 1) Gender. 2) Mastering prepositions (por or para?) and irregular verbs is too difficult. 3) Some sounds are hard to pronounce for speakers of other Indo-European languages: rolled r, j, b/d/g between vowels. 4) There are a lot of almost-synonyms words with specific uses. To take can be agarrar, tomar or coger, but they aren't exactly the same action and the latter has a sexual meaning in many countries. The list of such words is huge.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/giorgo2
giorgo2
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My native language is greek . Pros : Greek is definitely a language with a very very rich culture . It is also one of the ''oldest'' languages in the world so as a consequence throughout all these centuries the language has been enriched and has influenced and been influenced from other nations and languages . What is more , greek is considered to be one of the most beautiful languages in the world . Cons : The language itself is difficult to be taught due to the fact that it has a lot of grammar and different vocabulary.Another drawback is that greek is not that much widespread and you cannot find easily natives to practise it.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/de-jute-jutta

You mentioned that Greek is one of the oldest languages. My Latin teacher once joked that the Greek stereotype of a German tourist was a guy trying to order ice cream in ancient Greek. I neither know how true nor how funny this is. How big is the difference between ancient and modern greek? Thank you in advance for being a nicer version of Wikipedia. ^^

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/giorgo2
giorgo2
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Actually there are A LOT of differences.Modern Greek has been simplified in some grammar aspects and there are a lot of false friends between the two languages.. For instance, Modern greek does not have a dual number whereas ancient has , modern greek does not use the infinitive whereas ancient greek does etc. Another important fact is that ancient greek uses a polytonic system whereas modern greek does not. An example of a false friend is this ; δαίμονας in ancient greek means god whereas in modern greek means devil .. So the average greek if he has not been taught ancient greek he cannot understand it but he can get some words here and there .. In schools in Greece actually Ancient Greek is a compulsory subject and if someone wants to pursue a career as a lawyer , a psychologist or a teacher must be examined in the following subjects ancient greek , modern greek , latin , history and then he has to choose from mathematics or biology.Basically here in Greece we have the stereotype for german tourists that wear sandals with white socks ! I had never heard of that before . Anyway , I hope that this helped you a bit. :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/de-jute-jutta

THANKS A LOT!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/salapls
salapls
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Pros and cons of catalan.

Pros: It has a very well-defined grammar, it has existed catalan literature for centuries and it is easy to find resources in catalan if you know where to look for. It is spoken in important cities like Barcelona, Valencia, Tarragona or Palma (de Mallorca). Knowing it is very useful to speak french, spanish, italian or portuguese. It has no problems with genders, it has no cases and it is read as it is written.

Cons: As it happens with italian or spanish, verbs and pronouns are not easy.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheHockeyist

English

Pros: Pretty useful in the world, and many people will tend to understand you. It's a global language.

Cons: The spelling! It's so irregular! Even college students don't get it right!

(There's more, but that's the most obvious.)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Stigjohan
Stigjohan
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Norwegian

Pros:

Easy verbs, with few tenses/aspects and no agreement in person or number

Closely related to English (only a pro if you know English of course)

Nine phonemic vowels

Fun sentence melody

Cons:

Adjectives inflect for gender, number and definiteness

Nine phonemic vowels

Prepositions can seem random

v2 word order can take some getting used to

Quite a lot of irregular verbs (but still, few forms to remember for each of them)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaBhojwani

I grew up with English and Indonesian so I will discuss Indonesian. Pros : 1) Many loan words from different languages, mostly from Portuguese (bandiera = bendera = flag, tinta = tinta = ink), Dutch ( kantoor = kantor = office, wortel = wortel = carrot), Arabic (asl = asal = origin, jum'ah = jumat = friday) and Hindi ( achaar = acar = pickles, raj= raja= king). 2) It has more than 200 million speakers 3) Rich in history, culture and diversity 4) No gender!

Cons: 1) Perhaps around 95% of the speakers are to be found in Indonesia and Malaysia only 2) Really hard to use the language for describing something due to the lack of descriptive words

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/guupi
guupi
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What do you mean by a lack of descriptive words? Deixis?

Also, I think a con is the huge repertoire of affixes needed to change the meaning of verbs and nouns, right?

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JoshuaBhojwani

Yeah the language does have lack of description. Example, dia can be he, she or it. Pacar can either be girlfriend or boyfriend. That will confuse first-timers.

Affixes are easy ;) nothing to worry about there, there's a sequence which you can easily follow

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mitchell_MT
Mitchell_MT
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My native language is English.

Pro: English is a language that a lot of people learn for tourists to come visit their country. I can go to almost any country in the world without learning a single word of their language. (However, it's a LOT more fun to learn their language.)

Con: SILENT LETTERS!!!! Silent letters are really dumb. For example: dumb, knot, psychology, sign. I find them really stupid.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LangAddict
LangAddict
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Funny fact, most of the silent letters were not silent at all in the past (I don't know how far in the past though), especially the ones that start with "k" : knot, knight, knife, etc...

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mabinta
Mabinta
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My native language is German. Especially since I learn Spanish I see German from a different angle and understand why mistakes are made by learners. The word order changes often when words are added. For example: Ich ging ins Restaurant (I went to the restaurant), normal word order. But: Gestern ging ich ins Restaurant (yesterday went I). Of course the cases are difficult and small words added require a change of the case. Learning the gender of each noun is difficult because it often is not logical.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/WajeehaTahir
WajeehaTahir
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my native language is Urdu cons: there are a lot of alphabets that sound the same pros: most Urdu sentences are 25% English

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elenieldo
elenieldo
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(Traditional) Mandarin Chinese is my native language.

Pros: No genders. No conjugations or cases. Relatively easier grammar. And it has a long and rich culture, with lots of famous literature to be found. By learning Chinese, it's easier to communicate with over 1.3 billion people. (Of course in some areas, learning Cantonese may help you more.)

Cons: Pronunciations and characters, I think. In the beginning, it's extremely important to learn the tones. And then the learners has to memorize all the "beautiful" characters and pay attention to homophones. Finally, the long history of Chinese people brings many idioms, such as chengyu, which you may encounter in daily life. The cultural difference between the west and the east sometime causes problems for those who want to master Chinese.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/BrettSmith0373

2 questions. 1. Do you like the idea of using characters or an alphabet with letters more? 2. Do you like the idea of using tones? I personally don't know other languages that use tones.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/guupi
guupi
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Good question, I too would like to know if using a 'real' alphabet doesn't appear easier compared to your immense writing system with thousands of characters. I've been told even Chinese natives could never learn or apply all the existing characters... is that true?

@BrettSmith0373 Actually there a quite a few languages using tones to distinguish a word's meaning. In South East Asia there's the Tai-Kadai language family, Sino-Tibetan family (Chinese) and many more languages (Vietnamese, Mon-Khmer...) unrelated to each other that have this feature (keyword Sprachbund). In Africa there's the Bantu language family, the Khoisan languages with the famous click sounds and certainly some more. Some American indigenous languages use tones too.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elenieldo
elenieldo
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Yes, you're right. Even we cannot remember all the characters. Some are too old that aren't used nowadays. Some are so rare or so complicated that we natives often forget how to write it. It happens especially when we type more than write them :P

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/elenieldo
elenieldo
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If you are asking applying to Chinese, I think using characters is much better. As I said above, since Chinese has so many homophones, it will cause serious problems when using only alphabets. However, if you're asking characters/alphabets in general, personally I would say I prefer alphabets. It's much easier for foreigners to learn.

And for your second question: yes, I do like tones. It gives the language a little more sense of "singing". Mandarin has four tones (together with the neutral tone makes them five). Southern Min Chinese, where my home-country Taiwan also speaks, has 8 tones. And Cantonese even has 9 tones.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/borchmore9
borchmore9
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I speak English as a native language. Pros: It is all over the world and very useful as people have mentioned on this thread. Cons: EVERYONE thinks they can speak it. I do not think this is has been stated enough but being in the majority gives you an advantage in speech at the cost of being seen as bland and hearing most accents as wrong. Even I think I sound awful because I am used to actors speaking English.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CalebMorga12

My native language is English.

Pros: It's extremely useful and knowing it opens a gate for knowledge and experience. It contains no gender, word order is relatively easy, and speaking languages such as French, Spanish, Italian, and Norwegian make memorization a bit easier. It has rules, but nobody follows them. Learning it really wouldn't stress people out if they knew just how many rules we (Americans at least) don't follow. I've probably broken a ton already and wouldn't know it.

Cons: Pronunciation is terrible, with far more vowel sounds that require guessing, and word stress. For an example on word stress, "Superfluous" is actually said, "Soo-PER-flew-us". Take out "Soo" and say "Perfluous". Now say "Perfluous" exactly as you said it, but add "Soo" to the beginning. If any of that makes sense, you understand the difficulties in pronunciation! If none of that made sense, carry on. We also kinda just make words up. See what I did there, "Kinda", because it's "Kind of" but I made it up. Ha. Many people don't realize this, but there does exist a difference between American English and British English. They have a much more intriguing accent and spell words such as, "Harbor", "Color", and "Armor", with an added "U". "Harbour", "Colour", and "Armour".

10 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CalebMorga12

I posted this and saw my language status at the top. I'm a little disappointed not seeing my level 13 German anywhere. Checking, it actually doesn't exist anymore. I'm really upset.

10 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Idris385958

Oké my native language is Dutch Oow this is weird to think about this! Pros: Quite phonetic language. Sentence structure is not hard and knowledge of English and German can help you a lot Germanlike vocab Cons: Sounds that are unique to out language like ui, eu, an e that we sometimes pronounce clear or weak which has no rule,... The dt-rule: Even most Dutch make faults to this horrible rule at the end of verbs: So you add a t in second and third singular but we've also got verbs that end with a d in their radical anyway so you get a d and a t. Incredibly easy to forget. HORRIBLE Plurals with 10 different rules And the worst thing is our past tense which has no rule, you juist have to learn all those radicals like usually you add de or te at the end like wandel becomes wandelde. But half of our verbs get another radical in the past. Hope it's useful!

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Desiree682024

My native language is Vietnamese. Pros: +Lack of genders. One sure thing is that when you come across a new word, you don’t have to wonder how it will be in different situations. The word will always be the same, regardless of whatever parts of speech. +Same to tenses. To be more accurate, I would say Vietnamese only have aspects of verbs. There is no present, future or past tense like many other Indo-European languages. Additionally, we use some words to specify when an action happens like “đang” (be doing sth), “đã” (did sth), “sẽ” (will do sth/be going to do sth). +The language itself is very phonetic and logical. Once you have mastered the pronunciation, you may find out that pronouncing variations only appear in the case of different accents. Also, Vietnamese’s grammar structure is S-V-O, quite similar to English. Cons: +Weird pronunciation. Foreigners are not familiar with tones, vowels, diphthongs, tripthongs, and some spelling rules. It is truly a nightmare, but as I mentioned above, you will find it a lot easier after some efforts. +Sino-Vietnamese words and characters. A learner may not point out which word is borrowed from Chinese unless he or she looks for it in a dictionary. It is estimated that in formal situations or scientific contexts, up to 70% or 80% of words used in a sentence can be traced back to some Chinese origin, which makes things sound more academical and polite. +Personal pronouns are freaking complicated! Depending on contexts, relationship, social classes, kinship,etc. with your interlocutor, it makes addressing a person become very indicate. An unwise choice of using pronouns can provoke a bad fight in the name of morality among people, or lead you into a ridiculous situation.

6 months ago