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"Why is English such a difficult language?"

Translation:Miksi englanti on niin vaikea kieli?

July 8, 2020

30 Comments


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

We English speakers like it that way. It keeps most people outside our tiny countries from learning it. I wouldn't like for it to become a major language, widely used as a lingua franca, or anything like that. :)


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

Actually, I have to say that I don´t find English grammar to be particularly complex, if compared with neo-Latin languages or Finnish, indeed.

I don´t understand if your comment was ironic, but it seems obvious to me that the English language is widely spoken and it´s, of course, the chosen international language. Otherwise, we would not be writing in English here now that there is not even any English-speaking country in the EU.


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

I think that if there's any doubt, your irony meter requires calibration!

Off-topic: English grammar IS, for the most part, simplified with respect to most other Indo-European languages. Linguist John McWhorter believes, with good reason, that this is because it has spread so widely and been taken up in adulthood as a second language alongside their native tongues by hordes of L2 speakers, who due to their inexpert grasp of the language have worn away a lot of the irregularities that typify other related languages. (He uses Persian (Farsi) as another example of a language that was "sanded down" in antiquity due to lots of adult L2 learners.)

Our spelling is difficult, even for native speakers, but in most other respects Modern English is considered a fairly easy language to learn.


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

Sorry, I am really bad with British humor


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

A further irony, of course, is that I am not British, but American. :)


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

You are good at British humor, however. ;-p


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

Responding to RonaldFitc, if the subject is a proper noun like English or Finland, or is preceded by the definite article 'the', then on follows the subject.

If the subject is indefinite, like 'a pony' or 'some milk', then on precedes the subject.


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

This ain't no small country. Heck, Arizona is bigger than any of those...well, you knoww how it is.


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

What is the rule about where on goes when the sentence starts with a question word like missA?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simon486678

Basic communication, yes. Word order no. Humour no, spelling, no. Irregular verbs, no.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saana92_FIN

English grammar is lot easier than Finnish, not just on my opinion. Finnish is considered one of the hardest languages in the world, along with the chinese for example


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SteveA.B.

Chinese is very simple and very easy to learn. Its syntax is plain. There are no conjugations or declensions, no gender -- she, he, it are all the same in the spoken language --and the characters are much easier to learn more, thanks to instant character lookup, not to mention the simplified characters used in the mainland. You don't even need to remember how to write the characters, just recognize them. That leaves the four tones, in Mandarin. But these will come naturally enough, over time, to be understood. A large portion of the population gets the tones wrong because their "dialect" has more and different tones.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simon486678

Maybe you haven't taken a close look at the significance of word order in english? It can be challenging to non-native speakers.

Plus, there is the humour. Some find irony a mysterious road to travel.


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

Too late. It already is.


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

Why is "Miksi on englanti niin vaikea kieli?" wrong? Why can't predicate be before?


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

The most neutral word order is subject followed by predicate. The order doesn't change:

"Englanti on niin vaikea kieli."

"Miksi englanti on niin vaikea kieli?"

"Viro on kaunis kieli."

"Millainen kieli viro on?"

In a yes/no question you can attach the -ko/kö question suffix to the verb, which causes it to move to the front to be the question word.

"Onko englanti niin vaikea kieli?"

"Onko viro kaunis kieli?"

However, you can, absolutely, move the predicate in a sentence, but then you easily end up sounding like a poet since the word order is no longer neutral. "Miksi on englanti niin vaikea kieli?" sounds odd, but also like the asker is being very melodramatic (why, oh why is it so difficult!).


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

Thank you for your thorough answer! It really does sound logical that the word order does not change. I think my confusion was partly caused by the fact that I am a native Estonian speaker and the sentence sounds normal both ways in Estonian [Miks on inglise keel nii keeruline (keel) vs Miks inglise keel on nii keeruline (keel)]. Thank you again for your time to answer!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lassi492061

Sentence structure in Estonian has been influenced by German, and therefore it is natural to put the verb second in Estonian (like in German and Swedish). Finnish, on the contrary, prefers straight word order (subject before the verb), like Chilipalko explains.


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

That makes sense, thank you for your answer!


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

Yoda: "Miksi niin vaikea englanti on kieli?"

(You could put it even that way, but then it sounds even more odd, unless it's Yoda speaking)

"Miksi vaikea niin on englanti kieli" That's a poetical version. :)

Finnish is sometimes fun. You can play with it a lot and sound very odd, but it may still be correct.

Your version isn't very odd. Everyone would understand it easily.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/v.ivanov

We deserve a better one


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

Hey now, English isn't that hard if you're only speaking it. Spelling it, on the other hand...well, I don't know any other language with spelling bees as a competition with an actual award.


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

It´s interesting to know that Otso is also the spirit of the forest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otso


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

Thank you - very interesting!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saana92_FIN

As a Finn, I would not say english is a difficult language. I think it's probably one of the easiest languages in the whole world and for sure the easiest language I've ever studied. For example the asian languages are lot harder cause they have they don't use the same letters as people in the western countries. My son is 10 and he can already speak some english pretty well


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

Indeed English is not the most difficult language in the world. But you should not consider different alphabets when you classify a language as difficult or easy. For someone that does not know the Latin alphabet, English may seem difficult just because it's in another alphabet.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Saana92_FIN

The other languages are still a lot harder cause they have a lot more signs than in latin alphabets. In English there is only 25 alphabets, even in many other European languages there is a lot more alphabets, like in Spanish or France for example. And the English grammar is a lot easier than Finnish for example, which is actually considered one of the hardest languages in the world. Besides English I've also studied Germany, Swedish and Spanish. Swedish was easy to learn, cause the grammar is similar to English, I would say it's even easier than English. But Germany is real hard, they have this really long words with lot of consonants.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/simon486678

... and Finnish has really long words with lots of vowels. German long words are generally compounds, so you can often figure things out. But recent language updates produced some weird stuff here, "for clarification": like Schifffahrt (journey in a ship) lots of f-ing about there.

I can take the complexities of finnish, compared to the genders, articles and word order nightmares of German (at this still easy stage anyhow.)

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