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What scared/intimidated you the most about the language(s) you're studying?

Hello fellow language learners!

I remember reading a funny post where someone joked that he/she stopped learning French because of the word "quatre" (which is the number four in English) because it was difficult to pronounce.

This got me wondering... what scared or intimidated you the most about the language(s) you're learning? Here are some of mine:

French: It was hard enough remembering how to spell the parts of the words you don't pronounce. Then I got to the phrase "Qu'est-ce que c'est" which is pronounced as "kes-kuh-say." LOL, that scared me! How is it that all those letters form only 3 syllables?!? Granted, it's easy for me now.

Spanish: Anything with the rolling "r" sound intimidates me, as I can do it about 20% of the time, and it's usually by accident, LOL. I remember freaking out when I saw the word for refrigerator, which is "refrigerador." Looks easy huh? Nope! I had to have someone teach me this, and I still mess up on it! The rolling r combined with a g that sounds like an h. Ugh.

Polish: Pretty much every word that is not the word for woman (which is "kobieta" by the way). There are just so many consonants crammed together that it makes the language my hardest one by far. For example, hello in Polish is "cześć." Granted, I'm better now, but still, many words intimidate me.

German: The sheer size of the words intimidate me. I was getting good at it till the word "entschuldigung" came up (it means sorry). Ack! Granted, you can also say "es tut mir Leid," but even then you have to memorize a couple of words.

Japanese: Kanji. Nuff said. The thought of memorizing so many symbols intimidates me, which is why it's good to do this slowly.

English: Well, I'm a native English speaker, but I know from other English-language learners that it's tough with its irregularities, especially since English takes in a lot of words from different languages.

Italian: Nothing at all! I study Italian to relieve stress from the other languages because I feel it is pretty easy and just beautiful sounding.

And there you have it! Please note that I'm not trying to make fun of the languages mentioned. This is just a fun post where we can talk about our struggles and laugh together. :-) So, what intimidated you most about the language you're studying? Did one scare you so much you quit learning a specific language?

May 20, 2017



What intimidates me the most about Russian is just how difficult some of the vocabulary is to memorize. Words can get so long and the consonant clusters can get so strange. I remember on Memrise, some of the first words they gave me were "отвратительный" and "потрясающий" and I was just like, that's it I'm done.

[deactivated user]

    Keep going :)


    One of the great language learning mysteries to me is what "отвратительный" is doing among the top 200 words of the 5000 word Memrise Russian deck! That and "покачиваться."


    Oh my gosh. I can't read Russian, but I can see how intimidating those two words are! I do want to learn it someday as it is one of the most beautiful sounding languages in my opinion. Thanks for sharing The_Alison! :-)


    The tones were, and still are intimidating for me, also remembering the correct diacritics for words.

    me (tamarind)
    (to cut off)
    mẻ (fermented)
    mẽ (appearance)
    mẹ (mother)

    The same 'base' word, but different meanings.

    But, i still enjoy the language and i'm not giving up on it! :)


    Thanks for sharing Espiraden! It must be hard not only to speak with all those tones, but differentiate between them (I guess context helps a lot). I'm glad you're not giving up on the language and I wish you the best!


    French: I don't understand the audio, even the slow audio, I only understand that sometimes. But in the summer I want to take it up again.


    Exactly the same language, and exactly the same problem. Being able to speak French to a decent level seems somewhat imaginable... however, understanding when others speak, it's been a nightmare so far... it has been my biggest fear since the first day, and still is today. I really want to have a second language, and the thought of failing and wasting all those hours learning terrifies me, and has done from the start to today.

    As for other fears, I was very scared on my first call on Skype... I froze and forgot all words, but I've got over that one now, and I'm relaxed there.


    Hey Kavics6 and Midnightwards666. I agree that the audio isn't the best with the French lessons. Either the words are mispronounced, the entire word is accidently pronounced when it shouldn't be, or a liaison is wrong. I came into the French lessons with a basic understanding of the pronunciation, which is what helped me.

    I'm having issues with the German pronunciation, and luckily I know someone that corrects my pronunciation. What I do is use the Memrise app. They have lessons for French that pronounce the words correctly. I recommend practicing with that over and over till you have a feel for the sounds (also, check out YouTube videos), then your time on Duolingo will improve. This is what I'm doing for German.

    Bonne chance (good luck) on your French! :-)


    Thanks, I will look at memrise.


    Let's see....

    • Dutch, my mother tongue: Grammar. It's hard, even for native speakers and I was never taught the 'ezelsbruggetjes' for remembering somee of the trickier stuff.

    • Frisian (not actively learning it at the moment): Something about the 'o'. Apparently what Dutch speakers perceive as one sound, Frisians perceive as two. I'm fuzzy on the details.

    • German: Cases. It is a quite common complaint here. AKA: "German isn't that terribly hard, but those cases.. Horrifying, I still can't get them right."

    • Danish: Mostly social stuff. It's seen as weird here and Dutch culture is one of those cultures that frowns upon any kind of perceived 'weirdness'. (Amsterdam is an exception to this as it's already weird.) Personally, adjectives still intimidate me.

    • Norwegian: I'm not far enough in the tree to judge. But the sheer amount of accents sounds intimidating.

    • Swedish: It just feels so different from other North Germanic languages and the orthography is still unclear to me. I guess that will solve itself if I start really actively learning it.

    • Icelandic: The 'll' sound. Especially at the end of a word like as in: 'Eyjafjallajökull' in the middle of words it's not a problem. Also: cases and how almost everything gets inflected.

    • French: I don't know, French just never really grabbed my interest. I think it's the perceived 'fanciness' that intimidates me.

    • Italian: Verbs and speaking speed. Not that I'm actively learning it at the moment though.

    • Hungarian: Grammar and the words just don't seem to stick.


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all these languages! As I'm slowly going through my German lessons, I'm starting to really see the cases. That's the reason why I'm not far in the lessons as I have to keep repeating them. As for French, haha... there is a "fanciness" to it, as it does have a lot of history. But it's an interesting language that is really spread out throughout the world so I don't mind studying it.


    If nothing about Italian intimidates you, just wait until you get to the subjunctive. :)


    Haha, the subjunctive imperfect made me so irrationally angry that I put off doing it for like a month.


    Or clitics :D


    I'm bracing myself for clitics. Gulp!


    No! Don't scare me too early Mr_Eyl! Yeah, when I get to the subjunctive, I may have to make a follow up post on how the subjunctive is the reason I can't sleep at night. :-D I wish you the best on all those languages you are studying!

    • Spanish: Accent marks. I'm Portuguese, but the accent marks don't work the same way as in my language. I never know when to put them and a misplaced accent makes the whole word count as wrong on my tests :c

    • German: Cases D:

    • Japanese: kanji

    • Norwegian: Dialects. Other than that this language is a breeze.

    • English: Meh. Nothing really.

    • Russian: Russian.


    I still can't reliably figure out where the stress falls in English (my native language), but I've largely learned to in Spanish. If you're trying to memorize the accents in the written form, I'd say you'd be better off listening to the words spoken (on Forvo for example) and imitating them. If you can say them right, you'll know where the accents go based on the simple rules.


    Your comment on Spanish is one of the reasons why it's hard for me to study "similar" languages at the same time (Spanish, French, and Italian) as I always mix them up and put random accents all over the place! That's why I'm putting aside Spanish and Italian for now.

    I wish you the best on your studies Lea.1717!


    Polish: even basic words are very long.


    I always hear Polish is very phonetic, but I don't see that. Maybe Duolingo says the words too fast (or wrong), or maybe I get frustrated and not notice it. But I hope you stick with your Polish and good luck!


    I was intimidated by Latvian cases, but I think it's a pretty cool idea now.


    I'm glad cases are much easier for you. Good luck with your Latvian and congrats on your 800+ day streak! :-)


    polish is just czech on crazy pills. i finished the tree, but man. that language is gonna take a LOT of practice to make stick.


    Haha, I love that description. I just saw a video on the Czech language to see how it's like and I came upon "strc prst skrz krk (putting your finger through your neck)." Yeah, that is a bizarre sentence I saw from the video, but that freaked me out as there are no vowels at all!

    Powodzenia Mathcore!


    it's not as scary as it looks if you're an american, because they use 'r' as vowels just like we do. sure, we might write them in words like 'heard' and 'burn', but we don't pronounce them ('hrd' 'brn').

    the real kicker is the ř sound. ooh boy.

    dziękuję, ale myślę, że trzeba więcej niż szczęścia !!!
    (děkuji, ale myslím že, potřebuju víc než štěstí - pretty close, eh?)


    Mostly, I was too ignorant of what Russian held in store to be intimidated.

    For Georgian: ejective consonants; they're not pronounced with air from the lungs; to make them you sort of have to close off the back of your throat and then pronounce the letter at the same time. Georgian being a very phonetic language, you're confronted with the reality of the wholly unfamiliar sounds from the very beginning since the letters for them are sitting right there in the alphabet.


    Thanks for sharing Piguy3! I didn't know what ejectives were, so I looked it up and it looks pretty complex! Thankfully it's phonetic so that's a something nice. Good luck with Georgian and Russian!


    Three writing systems in Japanese -_- lol


    Haha, I always wondered why the Japanese didn't just add symbols to Hiragana instead of making an entire new alphabet. Ah well, it makes for much more of an achievement if you manage to learn all three.

    Good luck on your Japanese, Swingbeatnik7! :-)


    Thanks! Yeah haha... the first two are pretty easy but kanji (Chinese characters the 3rd system) I just have no reference point lol.


    I still can't say '9' in Georgian; perhaps one in ten times it comes out properly.


    I had to look up the number 9 after your post. First of all, the Georgian alphabet is beautiful! Second, I was already fearful with the number 8, LOL. I wish you the best on your Georgian and congrats on your 600+ day streak!


    I remember when I first came face-to-face with the list of irregular verbs in English class (a few life times ago). I was certain that was the end of me. But I survived somehow.

    Nowadays, hmm... there's not much to be honest. The r-sound in French used to horrify me, as did different writing systems, but now I'd call them interesting rather than intimidating. I guess the only truly daunting thing in languages in general are tones, but I don't actually study any tonal languages.


    Did you find English relatively easy to learn?


    Yes, but I was pretty intense with school work back then. I just treated it like any other subject. It also helped that I had been engulfed by English-language media (TV shows, games and the like) before English studies even began. IIRC, I already had the pronunciation nailed down pretty decently, at least considering that I didn't understand the words yet.

    In general, I'd say that English is relatively difficult (especially coming from a totally different language family) but the abundance of it everywhere makes learning much easier.


    Thank you for your thoughts on the English language, SeptimusBones! It is really inspiring how irregular verbs was almost the "end of the line" for you, but your survived! I'm trying to do what you do and engulf myself in everything French. Hopefully I'll be as good in French as you are in English!

    Also, this video always makes me smile on how crazy the English language is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXa8cO9mXFk


    A question about the R sound: will French people understand me if I say it with an English sound? I've watched loads of videos, I've tried, and I really just cannot do that sound.


    I can't say for certain as my level of French is very low (so natives please correct me), but since there's not many similar sounds to confuse it with, I'd guess it's possible to be understood (also somewhat depending on the other person's knowledge of different r-sounds). But be advised that you will most likely sound ridiculous to a native. At least that's the case in Finnish (my native tongue) that uses the so-called "rolling r". An English r in a Finnish word would sound hilarious.


    Hopefully some day I'll get it then...


    Actually, sudden possible plot twist: despite watching all those videos, I now read that it's pronounced with the back of the throat, and I think I might have just mastered it... but I will check with my French skype friend tomorrow to make sure.


    Ancient Greek: The dative case. For some reason, I absolutely suck at understanding when to use the dative.

    Modern Greek: I haven't got very far along (and I obviously already know a little ancient Greek, which makes everything a bit less intimidating), but the idea of actually having to communicate with another human being at some point is scary...

    Sumerian: The verbs. Dear God, save me from the verbs!

    At some point I'd like to learn Arabic, too, and I just know that right-to-left word order is going to catch me out...!


    Haha, thanks for your thoughts on the languages! I always thought about doing Greek because of all the symbols used in mathematics and science. I wish you the best with your Greek and especially the Sumerian verbs! :-)


    I may not be fluent at Swedish but I'm too used to it and English to think about something intimidating about them.

    Spanish: I'm going to go with verbs. When I was in junior high, we had a half-Spanish classmate who was studying Spanish. He once showed us his textbook and I still somewhat remember that verb conjugation chart, it looked pretty intimidating. I realize it's not that different from a Finnish chart but Finnish being my native language I had never had to study its verb conjugation and the only languages I had studied were English and Swedish, two languages with some of the most boring conjugation charts out there.

    French: Listening. As lovely as the sound of French is, it's also a complete mess. I am fine when/if I'm talking, I can do a reasonably convincing French accent but in that case I know what I'm saying (or trying to say). When it's others doing the talking, I need a transcript.

    Slovak: I don't know. I hadn't studied a language with cases before but Finnish has way more of them (although Slovak kind of has more since the ending has to also match the gender). Maybe the honour should go to the verbs of motion. Mixing prepositions which usually are painful all by themselves with aspect doesn't sound like a good idea.

    Greek: The alphabet. I know it's similar to Latin and many of the letters are already familiar from maths but it was my first foreign alphabet. By now I can read Greek out loud without too much hesitation (without knowing what any of it means, of course) but it was intimidating at first.


    Thanks for posting your thoughts! I agree with what you said with French. It has so many vowel sounds, and because the entire word is not pronounced much of the time, some of the words sound alike. Plus, with the liasons, some words sound like new words. It takes a lot of practice, which I had to do, to finally get it right. Anyways, I wish you the best with your language learning Scarcerer and congrats on your huge 269 streak! :-)


    Arabic: Dialect diversity

    Know how there are some slight differences between European Spanish and American Spanish? Different conjugation for ustedes and vosotros, some words are different like jugo/zumo, different pronunciation in sounds like anything with "ce", differences in word preferences even when both words exist in both dialects. It really isn't that big of a deal.

    Now imagine if in every country a quarter of the sounds are drastically different (ق، ث، ظ، ز، ج، ض) and over half of the verb conjugations are completely different, and about 50% of the vocabulary is completely different words or completely different word preferences, and sometimes a word even means the opposite from one dialect to another (غير). Every time you listen to a different song or movie or source form a different country it's like a brand new language. And then you realize that as a Spanish speaker you understand Italian better than you can understand a new Arabic dialect after learning another, and if Spanish and Italian are closer than different dialects of Arabic, than why are Spanish and Italian considered different languages and Arabic dialects are not (it's because the romance languages are written as different languages but when Arabic is written formally it's in MSA and not in that region's Arabic, but that's besides the point)?


    Thanks for the insight on Arabic KoleBowman! I remember watching a video on the language and wondering just the same thing! Also, Tagalog (Filipino) has 4 different dialects different enough that I was told people may not understand each other even though it's just a different dialect. I remember hearing one dialect of Tagalog, and I was surprised how much Spanish is in there, which is nice as I can understand a few basic greetings.

    I wish you the best in Arabic!


    What intimidated me to learn Korean was the irregular and almost alien like grammar (for native english speakers) at first I was really worried about the honorifics as well as all the rules can be hard to grasp. Even though I almost gave up because I didn't think I could learn it, I really just love learning Korean so much and I am very determined to be to the point I can hold a very large conversation at the very least.


    You got the right mindset DDDDDEEEEEDDDDEE! That's like me with the current languages I'm studying. I removed a few languages because it started to feel like a chore learning them, but my current ones I love so much I just keep going back to it!

    I wish you the best in Korean!


    Spanish- grammar + remembering verbs and adverbs intimidate me, especially irregular ones. They're no fun but they help keep the structure of a language together. Also paying attention the accents!!! for example i saw this meme: "Mi papá tiene 47 años" meaning "my father is forty-seven years old", versus: "mi papa tiene 47 anos" which means "my potato has 47 ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤."

    French- people speak p fast ahaha and the pronunciation can be different to when it's written which scares me. ironic English is also that type of language.

    Italian- vocab flies out of head, same with russian below. haven't gone too far with it.

    Russian- gosh the Cyrillic alphabet. and nothing is latin based. a completely unfamiliar language and i tend to move slowly with it. i've quit learning it for a while until i tackle the rest (including jap) AHAHA

    Japanese- kanji is relatively easy to remember since I already understand Chinese fluently although some characters aren't mutually intelligible. the hiragana alphabet system just flies out of my head lol. apparently katakana ain't easier either. just started today on IOS.

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