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Easy to learn non-romance and non-germanic language

I am fluent in both French (native speaker) and English, I have been studying Spanish for a while and recently started learning German. I really enjoy these languages but I was thinking of trying something new and different from the same language families I have already been studying without having to commit to a more complex and time consuming language like Chinese, Japanese or something like that.

I am considering either Swahili or Indonesian but I am completely open to anything else as I really haven't decided on anything yet. Do you people have any suggestions?

Thank you all very much in advance!

May 24, 2017



Farsi. I sort of found it being on the easy side and it seems some people agree with me.


If the OP doesn't mind learning how to read and write the Arabic alphabet, Farsi might be easier since it shares many common words with French and is Indo-European, but is neither Romance nor Germanic.


RIght. For some reason I thought he wanted to go outside Romance or Germanic. I guess I was projecting :D


No you were correct with your assumption. I want a language that while being easy, doesn't have too many cognates and shared vocabulary so I can really immerse myself in a completely different way of sharing information. I am also, maybe strangely, looking for something that not too many people around where I live (in Canada) speak. Farsi definitely seems like an interesting language and an interesting option. Thank you very much!


Cool! I studied it a bit some years ago. My plan now is learn German and then forget about European languages. Farsi will be my next target.


Swahili is different but not complicated. That's the only one I can think of inside of Duolingo that uses a Latin alphabet and is for the most part phonetic and systematic.

I've heard from a lot of people that Indonesian has simple grammar. That language also uses the Latin alphebet.

Those are the only two major languages I can think of that are not Germanic or Romance, use the Latin alphabet and have been repeatedly reported to be easier to learn.


Thank you very much, this is really helping me narrow my choice! Have a good day!


You should try Russian.


I definitely want to learn Russian at some point. As a physicist and engineer, there are too many interesting papers published in that language not to at least learn to read it. However, as I understand it, and correct me if I am wrong, I believe Russian as quite a bit of vocabulary that was influenced by or borrowed from Latin, French and English, especially from the 18th century onward. I might be looking for something that, while being more different in terms of vocabulary, is closer in terms of alphabet.


I doubt you would find Russian's French and English borrowings to be so significant as to inhibit an overriding sense of "differentness." Persian I believe has quite its share of French borrowings as well, incidentally, so if you're really, really averse to those I guess that could affect your decision.

As you already seem quite interested in it, it might be of less import that it would be hard to consider Russian "easy," but, indeed, it would be hard to consider Russian easy.


I would recommend browsing through the courses list and choosing whatever sounds interesting to you. If you don't like it, you can always remove the course from your profile. There is nothing to be lost and a whole new language experience to be gained!


How about Greek? The alphabet is not too hard, even if it takes some getting used to. And it's interesting see where some of the words we use come from, but it's not too similar either.


I’m doing Greek and would recommend it! I agree with the person above on the fact that Greek and English are similar (due to many derivations) but equally they aren’t too similar.


Norwegian or Swahili. Both are fun, and relatively easy. Norwegian is simple, hardly any exceptions to the rules, I find that makes it a fast language to learn: Swahili is, to me, a bit of a puzzle - with a hundred pieces, but every bit worth it when you find out where a piece goes.


Honestly, Japanese is not too hard (in my opinion at least). It's just... different, I guess. Really the only thing I truly consider "difficult" about it is writing, particularly kanji (kana can be a pain at the beginning but they're not too bad and pretty straightforward). Pronouncing words is very simple, you'll never see a one-syllable word with like whole bunch of consonants in clusters (like the English "scratched"). The only thing you have to get used to pronouncing is the "r" which is actually a mix between r and l. Grammer is very different than English and takes some getting used too, but is fairly straightforward. Especially verb conjugations. God, I love Japanese verb conjugations. They're just so formulaic and intuitive.

Don't let the reputation of Japanese being monstrously hard intimidate you, it's not as hard as people make it seem and it's really a great language. 頑張ってください!


As no-one has mentioned it yet (that I can see) here's some info on Turkish:

  • Has a mostly Latin alphabet, with about 6 extra easy-to-learn characters.
  • Seems very regular.
  • No grammatical gender.
  • Has cases, but - without grammatical gender and with adjectives being uninflected - these are much easier than, for example, German.
  • A few loanwords, mainly from Arabic or French (Word origin pie chart: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a1/TurkishVocabulary.png)
  • Available on Duolingo.


Swahili! It is so unique and really fun to figure out the little quirks of it! So many people don't even think about learning Swahili without realizing how amazing of a language it is!

Here's a lingot too!


Thank you for the suggestion and the Lingot, it's really appreciated. I see you are level 19 in Swahili, how has it been treating you so far? It really seems like a fun language!


I love how different yet similar it is to English. You'll find many similar words like kamera (camera), nutroni (neutron), sayansi (science), and a lot more. The pronunciation is simple yet so many words are fun to pronounce. Like how snail is "konokono" and avocado is "maparachichi". A lot of words have meaning that are many words in English. "Utanitembelea" seems long but can easily be simplified. The U refers to you. Ta means it will be in the future. Ni refers to myself. Tembelea means visit. So, utanitembelea means "You will visit me"! It seems complicated but ease yourself into it and it's like a (not boring) puzzle!

And I hear Tanzania (and Kenya) are amazing places with amazing people!


Esperanto is not Romance. How about that? Swahili has been mentioned.


Esperanto is a mix of Romance, Germanic and Slavic with pinches for everything else for the most part. It may be easy to learn but it's also basically everything European with a heavy Polish influence.

There are also so many ways to build a sentence and invent words in Esperanto I'd argue it's actually more complicated to use.


It might feel like but linguistically it is neither Germanic nor Romance. Swahili is a good answer but not very easy because of the number of noun classes and unfamiliar vocabulary. Easy enough though.

I didn't learn much Vietnamese (but I used it and didn't only learn/practice on Duolingo) and it wasn't difficult compared to other languages I've learned. So you might try that. In case it should be a language on Duolingo.


Yes, but the reason I didn't mention Esperanto despite it's classification as an auxiliary language is because it feels very similar to Spanish and French. It's not a natural language, but that doesn't mean it's dissimilar to non-conlangs. It also has a very negative stigma that you'd have to be willing to put up with simply because it's a conlang.

You do have a point about the classes, however they behave similarly to gender in other languages, the only difference being the change happens before the noun stem and not after. There are many more Swahili noun classes to learn than there are genders in German, but if you know how gender works in one language it's easier to learn something similar.


I agree with you completely on both.


Maybe Turkish? Not very easy, but it uses Latin alphabet, the pronunciation is easy and it has many loanwords from French. And a fascinating grammar, so different from Indo-European languages. https://www.duolingo.com/comment/12248196


If you're okay with never learning to read, spoken Mandarin isn't very difficult.


I find spoken Mandarin difficult. I'm just terrible with tonal languages in general.


Listen more and practice your tones. It will be fine, you will see it is not difficult. Make sure you hear the tones in context of speech instead of only separate words and artificial examples. Real spoken Chinese is the best. Try italki or HelloTalk to speak with people and practice your tones.


Well, tones are just one reason that I'm not really planning on learning Chinese. Another big reason is that I don't want to have to learn several thousand characters, especially when I'm already invested in Japanese. I don't want to have to learn the 2,136 jōyō kanji only to have to learn a few thousand more characters for Chinese. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a really interesting language, I just don't really plan on learning it.


I found it to be easy because I focused most on being glad about Mandarin not having a lot of things that I dislike that are present in other languages. With not having complicated conjugation, genders, etc. it makes the tones feel small to me and I love the word order. I think the writing system is... Okay. I would choose it over the Japanese one, though.


Tones are pretty hard at first. I still have trouble distinguishing the falling and dipping tones in Mandarin and I made a point to learn the tones before I started learning words. Tonal languages are pretty to listen to, though.

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