https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Is German Hard

Germans like to say "Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache", and yes, German is hard. But I think English, for example, is much, much harder. Very many people talk, write, and read English, but a tiny few can actually get it consistently right. If you look at the English used in the German Lessons, for example, you will know what I mean. ;-()

March 14, 2014

32 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OldSpiceGuy

English, which has much simpler conjugation, almost no case system, practically no gender, and much more consistent plurals, is harder? Maybe from Afrikaans (since it and German are very close), but from most languages, English is much easier.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Well, it is precisely my point. It is nonsense to say that one language is tougher than another language; it all depends where you are coming from. French pronunciation and spelling seem impossibly convoluted to me. English has a huge vocabulary, and subtle differences between words. English prepositions seem to be very tough for German speakers. English plurals can also be tricky. Then there is the differences between American and British (and of course South African, Australian, New Zealand, etc.) English. English has a huge number of rules, but then many, many more exceptions to the rules. English tenses is much more complicated than German, Dutch, Afrikaans tenses.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OldSpiceGuy

I agree that French pronunciation is a mess. That's certainly the language's greatest challenge. English's main challenge is its spelling, since it borrows more than most others. Plurals aren't 100% standard in English, but you're right 90+% of the time with -s or -es, and there's a rule that tells you which one to use (many of the exceptions actually come from English's German roots). German has 10 standard plural groups. Prepositions are difficult in any language, as there is generally little rhyme or reason to them - they're all idiomatic. Yes, there are differences between American and British English, but there are also differences between Swiss and Austrian German. Ich laufe. How fast am I going? Depending on where in the German speaking world you are, I may be running or walking. English has a few more tenses than German, but fewer than Spanish. Almost all of them are phrasal, with single conjugations. There are fewer conjugations among ALL the English tenses than in German present tense alone. Take a standard word - cook. The only conjugations are cook, cooked, cooks, and cooking. German has 12, even if we ignore the conjugations required to make up the phrasal tenses. Spanish has 20+.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Well, I couldn't have said that any better. As I have said right in the beginning all languages is hard to learn. When I read something like, Become Proficient in Speaking and Writing - Good English by Archana Mathur, I can but only sigh and realize how much English I still have to master!

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Sorry, ...are hard to learn! ;-( Well, it shows you!

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/johaquila

If you are an Afrikaans speaker learning Dutch or German, you are not really learning a foreign language. With a bit of good will, speakers of these three languages can understand each other. Under different political circumstances they would all be considered dialects of a single language in the same way that West Frisian is often considered a dialect of Dutch.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Well, in a way you are correct, but not completely so. Afrikaans, Dutch, and German are much nearer to each other than for example English. And the vocabulary is much, much easier as is the sentence structure and many prepositions. Numbers and time work the same way, etc. However, there are also differences. Afrikaans is a modern "souped" up version of German and is much simpler and still English speaking people struggle to master it.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OzrenIlic

Differences between German dialects are even bigger. Plattdeutsch and Hochdeutsch are sometimes considered separate languages.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/captobie

If the difficulty of a language correlates to the length of time to learn, than this could be a good guide between the difficulty of various languages:

http://www.dliflc.edu/languagesatdli.html

At the end of the day, learning a new language is hard, no matter what language you are trying to learn.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Resonance2001

I like the latin derived languages. I wanted to learn German as so many words are like English with some consonant changes but my brain stopped working with three gendered nouns, putting verbs at the end of clauses and irregular noun plurals. Pity really. I might try again sometime.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/johaquila

Try learning Dutch instead, once it's out of the incubator. It branched off German relatively recently and is much simpler. It still has almost exactly the same word order as German, with which it shares lots of words. But it has a more regular orthography, only two genders, only two methods for forming plurals, etc., and shares more words with English or French than German does.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Yes, I am waiting for the Dutch course. I did two years of Dutch in high school as part of Afrikaans. I read Dutch books, magazines, and newspapers all the time.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

As a native Afrikaans speaker German and Dutch (West Germanic Languages) is much easier for me.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hckoenig

I agree with you, but isn't that true for native speakers of English as well? How many of them get it right consistently, according to your definition of "right"?

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OldSpiceGuy

I know Spanish well enough to know that they don't get it right consistently either. Check out the Spanish forum. I'm guessing that this is true of most languages.

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Yes, that is my point precisely. Very, very few people (native speakers included) get is completely right!

March 14, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/arunjohal

yes....

March 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EriktheSwede

level 25 whooo, good luck friend, yes german is hard, but english comes from german, so we have an advantage ex: milch = milk katzen - cats

March 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/willeddey

both these two languages are germanic languages the differences are : german grammar is very hard but almost all its words are compound the thing that make its vocabulary very easy / even if words seem very long/ its pronounciation is very hard for a native english speaker - well it won't be that hard if you speak french and arabic since you were born "like me"- english grammar is not easy and not hard furthermore english has the largest vocabulary in the whole world because it was influenced by latin and oil languages which give it an oppotunity of a double vocabulary like freedom and liberty it has also some wired pronounciation * for some people my advice for u * if u want to study german you should get a teacher

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nerdator

Actually the claim about 'the largest vocabulary' is dubious, because it's usually based on the sizes that dictionaries claim, so it says much more about the lexicographic tradition of a language, rather than about its vocabulary.

And double vocabulary is an empty argument. While Anglo-Saxon words are the majority among the most common 100 and even 1000 English words, most of the original Anglo-Saxon vocabulary —about 85%— is completely lost*, and what has persevered is in an absolute minority in the modern language. And while this means that there are a few pairs, their number is insignificant.

*This is the main reason, actually, why English looks almost nothing like German, and that learning vocabulary is a much more serious obstacle than grammar.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sabisteb

In my french book they state that German has much more describing adjectives and verbs for sensory input than French, which might cause problems in translation as there are subtle meaning to the german verbs oder adjectives which can't be so easily translated due to missing words.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kultarr

I've also had it explained that in German the focus is more on the how whereas English focuses on the what. This can also make translating subtly difficult.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sabisteb

It's interesting how you can to draw conclusions about a culture from the language. The language is a mirror of what is important to this people.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/johaquila

I agree that one can't easily compare vocabulary size. I am sure one can find scientifically rigorous methods to do that, but I don't know if they are in use yet.

But it is not true that English "looks almost nothing like German" because most of the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary is lost - at least not the way I would interpret your statement. There are some famous sentences that are written in Afrikaans in precisely the same way as in English. These can give a good indication of how similar English and German are, with Dutch in the middle, when you consider only the most common words.

  • "My hand is in warm water." (English)
  • "My hand is in warm water." (Afrikaans)
  • "Mijn hand is in warm water." (Dutch)
  • "Meine Hand ist in warmem Wasser." (German)

It is perhaps worth noting that German is even more similar to English if you consider the dialects, which are often more progressive. In many German dialects meine is pronounced exactly like English my, and ist is pronounced exactly like English is. So for this sentence the differences are mostly in spelling.

The four languages above are the major modern representatives of the West Germanic languages. The others - Yiddish, Scots and (East and West) Frisian - have unfortunately become pretty insignificant.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Nerdator

This this is why I said 'almost nothing like': sure, there are some cases where you can achieve similarity, but these examples are rare and biased: you need to deliberately think of one. Try translating your entire comment into German and see how similar it is then.

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Too simplistic. What about:

"Hy wou alreeds gister huistoe gegaan het" (Afrikaans) "He already wanted to go home yesterday" (English).

"Ek sê, maak 'n beëdigde verklaring wanneer jou oë herstel het." (Afrikaans) I say, make a sworn affidavit when your eyes have healed." (English)

"Dit proe baie, baie goor!" (Afrikaans) "It tastes very, very bad!" (English)

"Maak nou wragtig klaar, het julle darem alreeds geëet?" (Afrikaans) "Come, come, finish now. Have you already eaten?" (English)

In Afrikaans we also have "jy" (du), "julle" (ihr), and "U" (Ihr). These are all you in English.

There are also very many special words which cannot really be translated in any other language: banggat, goorgat, bakgat, ghnarrabos, gorê, gor-gor, haarnaasvoor, tokkelos, tonka, noemsaan, tjokka, gatkruiper, toktokkie, koega, norring, ghangtang, gheip, gharra, parra, etc.

March 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

To see the differences between Afrikaans words and Nederlands see: http://www.roepstem.net/snaaks.html

March 16, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Long Afrikaans names: Tweebuffelsmeteenskootmorsdoodgeskietfontein (an actual place name) and Tweedehandsemotorverkoopsmannevakbondstakingsvergaderingsameroeperstoespraakskrywerspersverklaringuitreikingsmediakonferensieaankondiging (a name of an actual organisation - 136 letters).

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sakasiru

You have the same in German as well, mostly a word with Germanic roots and a word with Latin, Greek, French and nowadays English roots: Gift - Toxin, Abart - Variante, Darbietung - Show... There are even words which have a South German and a north German variant (Gestade - Ufer).

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LySaO76

As a French I would say that English is much easier than German because of the similarity of a lot of words. Besides the fact that you have to put the verb at the end of the sentence in German if very tricky for us. But in a way, the German language is very logical. Words are brought together to create others and even if you see a word for the first time you can guess the meaning. Pronunciation is also quite hard because German often requires several "sch" sounds in the same sentence...which makes French crazy when trying to speak fast !

March 15, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Aulky393

English is so easy to learn

September 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/sessisie

Afrikaans is even easier.

September 22, 2015
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