When people say English is easy just because they're a native speaker of it... -.-
As a native speaker even I must admit it is grammatically the most absurd language imaginable and the spelling is even worse
You'd be surprised. Even English has been simplified immensly through the years. Old English was just downright hellish in terms of grammar.
Yeah because even one word would have a bunch of ways to say depending on where you're from.
There were no real interactions between people from far away, and anyway, it would have been a bit the same as today between American, British, Australian, etc. English.
They were rather talking about declensions, conjugation and stuff.
I think possibly the only language which seems more absurd to me is Romanes, because it has Indic and European grammar depending on the source of a given word, which seems just like the most confusing thing imaginable if you were trying to learn it.
But in general, English is ridiculous and I'm so glad I never had to consciously learn it from scratch 8-o
If it wasn't for English, I would never had been able to read all those wonderful books on economics written by great German liberal economists before the advent of Nazism.
As a chinese native speaker i have to say that we even do not lrean grammer in school, only when learning ancient chinese do we remember grammer , words and extremely difficult and complex character. In my opinion ,even german is easier than chinese.
can you explain? are you talking about obsolete grammar rules and vocabulary?
But Parents in the State of Goa, India prefer schools to teach their children English rather than Portuguese.
I agree with Atueerd2. But Portuguese grammar is complex as hell. Even native speakers don't know very much about it.
@Christo Keller In fact, Overall, english is ease than Portuguese. I'm a native speaker and even I make mistakes... Portuguese have gender and a lot of annoying things to learn. So I rather english.
What makes english complicated to learn is the fact that everything is irregular. The grammar construction itself is rather one of the simplest i know (simple conjugations, no noun declination, no changes in adjectives and so on...).
Like the pronunciation of "laughter" vs "slaughter" or "signage" vs "signature"
Some may think it is easy because it is EVERYWHERE. They get doses of english radiation daily even if they don't learn or speak it. But one thing for sure is easy - no genders. Other than that, the irregular pronunciation of words is just plain awful.
The pronunciation isn't the problem, it's the spelling.
English is a mixed bag. It's biggest issues when it comes to spelling a a combination of the great vowel shift in Early Modern English, which happened just after spelling became more or less standardised, which pretty much ruined the correlation between spelling and pronunciation. That, and English has about three or four sometimes contradictory orthographies, which further complicates spelling, but if you can recognise the origin of a particular word, then it gets a lot easier.
Still, at least it has a straightforward tense and mood system, its pronouns don't behave in a weird way (unlike Romance languages), it's light on inflections, and while strong verbs can be a problem, even those are mostly relatively straightforward once you get the vowel changes and there aren't that many truly irregular verbs.
On the other hand, it has complex phonotactics, so you have monstrosities like 'strengths', which must be a pain for non-native speakers to learn how to pronounce properly, and it has a ludicrously large vowel inventory. If you were going to choose a world language, English definitely wouldn't be in the top ten choices.
Can you elaborate on this? I've been saying smooth over and over and just can't see how you can mess it up.
Like Rae said, largely the "th" sound, partly s-m, and just putting the whole thing together. They could basically all manage the separate parts to some extent ("th" caused the most issues), but putting it all together to say "smooth" was difficult for the majority of them.
Not hard for you, no - you appear to be a native speaker? Most people don't have those issues with their native tongue unless they have a speech defect :) People learning a language as adults have to deal with both perceiving the differences which may not exist in their native language, and with physically producing the sound.
Like I say, smooth seems pretty simple and forgiving to a native speaker, but even something we wouldn't register as hard can trip up a learner.
A lot of languages don't have the θ or ð sound (th or TH). Also, some languages don't allow two consonants in a row (s + m).
Just curious because you seem to know a lot about this subject. Do you have a potential list of ten "ideal" world languages? (Excluding Esperanto of course!)
Natural language? Not really. I could list a whole bunch of features that an 'ideal' IAL would have, but there are no natural languages that fulfil all of those criteria: natural languages tend to preserve overall complexity.
As far as auxlangs go, I've a soft spot for Toki Pona and Peano’s 'Latino sine flexione', because they attack the problem from interesting directions. Personally, I have no real interest in auxlangs per se. My interest lies in constructed languages in general.
A good article that explores how you might design an IAL is Justin B. Rye's "How not to Learn Esperanto": http://www.xibalba.demon.co.uk/jbr/ranto/ - while I think he's overly harsh on Esperanto, he does point out a things you ideally want in an IAL and explains where Esperanto falls down.
His logic seems... weird... He says the Eurocentrism in Esperanto is a huge design flaw for an auxlang. Yet a paragraph later he rants about how the pre/suffixes create words that are false friends with words in European languages. Or how there is only one past tense, hence no distinction between "I was" and "I have been" which to my knowledge only really exists in English (I'm talking about distinction in meaning not that those two tenses exist instead of just one past tense).
Then he goes on to talk about how prepositions are foreign to Hungarians and adjective/adverb distinction to Germans. By this logic, we'd also have to leave out tenses (no tenses in Chinese) for example. And probably quite some other stuff, too. Probably enough to reduce the language to a single word...
Mmmmmh...not entirely convinced... For one thing, there are many, many verb tenses in Esperanto - it's just commonly accepted to stick with the simplest in most situations and contexts, and the others are only really literary. And many languages have literary tenses or words/structures only really used in literature. (French, for instance, which has done away with the passé simple in everyday speech - "il parla" vs "il a parlé" ("he spoke" vs "he has spoken") but preserves it for that nuanced difference in literature.) In fact, I'd go as far as to say that a language /needs/ to have nuances and variable sentence structure and the ability to make up or infer words, and probably many of the things this article criticizes, to be able to produce creative writing that's anything other than bland. So maybe this blogger just hasn't delved far enough into it. And maybe I'm mostly put off by anyone trying to talk about linguistics who uses the phrase "random adverby particles and things".
However, I am amused by the title: "Ranto".
An interesting read - thank ye!
I read the first two paragraphs of that link and I already hate that guy. I don't like when people assume everyone speaks english.
Tagalog? Bisaya? Chavacano? Spanish? Latin? Sanskrit? Dovahzhul? Please not Chinese. Too many characters and every word has a tone.
spanish is easy cuz it has applied, easy rules
i am in venting a language at this moment and made a new alphabet with all the sounds i know well (spanish, english, french) and new symbols. you should try out it's quite fun :) ad that way you might invent the ideaal language and replace esperanto (it's great but not nearly what it was before)
When you start learning a foreign language, you realize how terrible of a language English is.
What makes a language "terrible"? English is in the top 5 languages of the world in terms of native speakers (340 million). Many good books and great films are in English.
On the contrary. I agree with alantrousers that it's utter nonsense to call English a terrible language. I am answering your question.
Regardless, alright; I see what you mean. However, that doesn't really render the original statement "utter nonsense". Calling an opinion, especially one rooted in observations of reality, "nonsense" is quite a stretch as well.
Well, if you mean it's difficult to learn other languages if you come from english, that's not totally wrong Grammar construction is simple and it makes it difficult when you have to learn a lot of things english doesn't have (complex conjugation, declination of nouns, pronouns, adjectives, articles, grammatical genders and so on..)
Quite the contrary. Eaperanto has made me appreciate English like never before.
I, as a native English speaker, don't think that it's a very easy language. It's the other way around from me -- I've heard from non-natives that it's quite easy.
That's a good point. I often meet native speakers who say that English is difficult... And people who learned English as their second language (like me) just shrug their shoulders and say "It's quite easy."
I think that English is a language that is easy to acquire to an intermediate level. The grammar is pretty straight forward (no grammatical genders, no cases, almost no verb conjugations) and you can express yourself on a basic level without making severe mistakes pretty fast. Maybe not in an elegant manner, maybe with an awful accent... But understandable.
Mastering English is not that easy and the pronunciation sure can be tricky, especially if you try to approach it with logic. But really, how many language learners are going to master the language and achieve perfect pronunciation? Most are fine with being able to express themselves in an understandable manner.
And that's where English shines! It's easy to get at that level compared to other languages that make you learn genders, cases and conjugations before you can even phrase something like "I eat an apple".
I think this is a pretty good summary. I have come across very few second-language speakers of English who genuinely speak/write it really well, but for getting to a goal of "making oneself understood", it's fairly user friendly.
I think it also helps that anglophones (and I speak as one myself) are terribly lazy about learning other languages, and also that because English is so widespread, we hear a wide variety of skill levels, accents (both terrible and simply different), manglings, and we are fairly used to translating what someone says into what they meant to say. (And just being grateful that we don't have to learn another language sigh)
English is also pretty robust when it comes to playing with the language. It may not be 'correct' but we verb things (another incorrect but instantly recognisable usage) all the time, we tend to be big on wordplay, yadda yadda. All that, I think (personal theory rather than doctoral research topic ;)), means we are primed to understand even fairly poor English.
Exactly why I love English. I really like to play with words and make them work in ways and combinations that aren't grammatically correct, yet can still be understood perfectly fine.
Yup - like verbing nouns, for example (and yeah, I did that on purpose ;p)
I think that's one of the fun parts of EO, too. The flexibility is a different kind of flexibility, but it's there. I like, for example, being able to say la ĉielo bluas as well as la ĉielo estas blua. I mean, you could do that in English, but I don't think we verb colours that often, and in Esperanto the word play is available even as a beginner, which is very fun ;D
Any language will be a piece of cake for one who had been educated in it from a very tender age. For example, Akal Academy in India is a private Sikh missionary school but it's children are better in English compared to many British or American children, even those in nursery school. Because in all the prestigious schools of India, English is taught before one's native language, especially catholic schools and the parents like this system.
The best language lesson I ever got was not even an actual language lesson, but a phrase from a Georgian friend (the Caucasus Georgia, not the U.S. state): you cannot rank a language difficulty, if you put the time, attention and effort, you will learn it. This coming from a household where they speak Georgian, Russian, German, English, and picked up Spanish to a surprising high level while I was there. I was embarrassed of being a mere bilingual person.
As a native speaker of English, I had to learn Latin before I could fully understand how English worked (it was so hard for me being dyslexic DX.) But Latin helped me grasp the English language once I had a more logical language to think in. I still ramble in Latin in my head, because thinking in English is too grammatically crazy.
Yeah, that seems to me where English especially falls down—it is a nightmare for dyslexic folks, especially with the spelling.
I always say, if I didn't grow up speaking it, there's no way I could have learned it.
If you're going to correct someone, at least be consistent about it and correct the whole thing.
I know that there is more about that sentence that was incorrect, but no; I don't think that it "needs" to be corrected.
Most native speakers think English is difficult. On the other hand, I've heard from many Europeans (who often speak it, or rather type it, quite well) that it is very easy. Certainly there is no grammar or case system to learn, and verb conjugations are very straightforward (for regular verbs, anyway). Compare this to, as an example, Russian, where you have three genders, six cases, no fixed word order, and, just in the present tense, six verb forms...
Unfortunately they trade off memorising genders of words with memorising how things are spelled.
This is true, but most languages only have 2 to 3 genders to memorise (Latin has 3... huh, I wonder if there is a language with more than three genders...)
Yeah, but many people find the cases and conjugations logical and freeing. English relies on word order which can be very nuanced and equally confusing.
As a native English speaker (and author)... it really isn't... So many words mean other things, and even if you say the right words, sometimes people still get confused. I have a long history of saying the right thing the wrong way...
I have a great respect for anyone who takes the time to learn English.
But on the plus side, at least it's not Old English. Beautiful it may be, but gosh that can be difficult to learn... unless your best friend is a Shakespeare enthusiast. XD
i am a native speaker but i do really think its a hard language. if i had to learn it i would have the same mindset as u XD
Not necessarily! I'm not a English native speaker and I find English pretty easy. I find my native language, Portuguese, harder than English even!
It's not easy in general, it's just that we are surrounded by it. Grammar isn't the easiest compared to other languages, pronunciation is terrible (you pronounce latters differently depending on the word and you dont pronounce it the same way you write it), and there's a lot of exceptions. People often think it's easy because its the only, or one of the 2 languages they know, they dont know how much easier and more logical other languages are.
I learned English as a second language, and I can tell you that it is quite easy to learn in comparison to other languages ;)
So we can take it as a not unanimous agreement
Or as two opinions
Or as two points of view
I don't say that English is easy, or that it is hard, I actually try to say that it was easy to learn for me
I agree. I am a native English speaker and I think that Esperanto would be much better for international communication.
The problem with English is that if you want to speak it perfectly, there are a lot irregularities to keep in mind. I had little trouble learning the basics; you can learn to communicate with basic sentences pretty fast. But as always with languages, the devil's in the details :)
I've never seen so many comments on a question.
It doesn't feel right to me to badmouth English so much. Every language poses challenges to anyone who tries to acquire one, and this discussion looks like everyone is debating which is the shiniest of the turds. Give English the respect that you would give to any other language, because if you're learning here on Duolingo, then you're demonstrating appreciation for languages.
People love to claim this language or language, and especially their own native language, is the hardest to learn. It's a source of pride I think, for people to believe they speak the most difficult language in the world. You see these kinds of arguments everywhere on the internet where languages are being compared, especially on forums like this one where people are learning a second language for the first time and are eager to flaunt their knowledge.
I can't agree with that, my first language is Portuguese and I didn't find English a very difficult language.
But don't forget that crazy spelling that is English's main problem! Daughter=Dotter, but laugh=laf. Especially the "ough":Cough-Coff, though=thoe, through=throo, plough=plou. And of course, there's the French words that we use in English a lot: hors d'oeuvres=or dervs, coup d'etat=coo day tah. All of it adds up to English not being that fun to learn spelling for. The spoken language is pretty easy though.
Agreed. With such horrible spelling, I joke that English is like a logographic language. Tell me, how many ways can you pronounce "-ough"?
Also, another confusing thing in English: Monkey-eating eagles are eagles that eat monkeys Monkey eating eagles is when a monkey eats an eagle
:) Sometimes I wonder if it would be possible to create a logographic system for English to use instead, Chinese style.
A matter of opinion, obviously. Being a native English speaker, I'd say it's probably one of the more difficult languages, but I think it depends what languages you already know. We steal a lot from other languages! :)
I think English is what happened when one person each who spoke a different language were trapped in a room together and forced to make another language or they'd be tortured. Or maybe I need to not imagine these things so much.
Oh yeah, Duo? Well you can just keep believing that in your stuck up Esperanto head.
I think English is relatively grammatically uniform, compared with Chinese. (even as a native Chinese speaker)
Why does english not end in an "o"? Shouldnt it be a noun if it is used to represent the language?
I think because it's actually an adjective and short for "la angla lingvo"
Yes, that's right. It explains that in the notes. Only dead and "artificial" languages (like Latin or Esperanto) end in -o.
Why "poor people"? I learned English as a second and I find it easier than French, it's the second (third when I become fluent in Esperanto) easiest language for me, Portuguese is the easiest one just because it's my native language.
I saw mention of how one might say "The English" and I imagine that it has not been needed in noun form for most contexts but, what about pool/billiards/etc. in which we (Maybe just Americans) use "English" to imply certain ways of striking the balls?
An example: "The english was too weak on that shot." Another: "I tried to apply some english to the cue ball but missed it all together!"
Granted, I am by no means a billiards enthusiast and my exact usage here may be slightly incorrect, but in rare instances would we not need noun forms for some languages that are not "Dead" or "Constructed/Artificial" even if just by coincidence?
Would these contexts be approached differently in Esperanto?
I'm guessing the simplest answer is that you would translate the meaning, rather than the word. I don't know what 'english' signifies in this context, but I'm guessing it's either force or spin or something? Translate it as force or spin. It's an idiomatic usage, so translate the meaning, not the idiom.
I'm guessing, but that seems the logical way to approach it.
As a Brazilian, Portuguese speaker, it is very easy, there are no conjugation of verbs, most of the words came from the old Norman language, which has originated by Latin. Portuguese and English have a lot of common words. English is closer to Portuguese than German (which I think it is very difficult).
Not if it is being taught to you before your native language from a very tender age, like in the prestigious catholic, elite and royal schools of India. :-)
My dictionary gives me 'the Englishmen' for that but then Esperanto's gender-specificity is a bit skew-whiff.
La angla popolo? :3 I don't know.
That's the general interpretation of it here, but then this is Wales. To avoid confusion we'd probably just say saes 'ffernol . :Þ
English is an easy to hard language depending on the people on the people that are learning it.
Þat is a cool smiley face :Þ I þink I'll start using þat one. (and if you don't know, Þ/þ make þe "th" sound)
That's the thorn. It only represents the voiceless "th" (thing, think, thimble. IPA: /θ/). The voiced "th" is eth and is written "ð" (this, that, the. IPA: /ð/).
I knew that Þ was a 'th' sound but I think you are misusing it as, as I understand it, it's not voiced in Icelandic at least. I don't know why your message was deleted. Old English usage is actually more interesting than Icelandic. The censors on here need to put a !!!! in their !!!! until it bleeds all over their !!!!. -- How drunk was I last night?
I deleted it. If you want to know what I said, it was referring to the fact that I know how they work, but that I was just using them because the :Þ had one & I was just messing around.
"That" uses the voiced /ð/ and "think" uses the unvoiced /θ/. So they would correspond to "dat" and "tink" when converting from fricatives to stops.
I have to admit that I mixed up fecila/easy and felica/happy- So I translated it as 'English is not a happy language'... With English as my native, I can affirm that both sentences are true, even if it wasn't the right translation.
facila — related to “facilitate” (make easier) and the Spanish “fácil” (easy).
feliĉa — related to “felicity” (the state of being happy) and the Spanish “feliz” (happy).
It does seem true though. There are too many irregularities and the spelling is insane, but other than that, for normal verbs - no conjugation. And English has a HUUUGE vocab so by knowing English you already know a little from every other language because English, to me, is a mix of a lot of languages, even Latin.
Plenty of natural languages have irregular verbs. Show me a language with no irregularities and I'll show you an invented language (like Esperanto).
Relatively few, compared to romance languages with hundreds if not thousands of irregular verbs and tens of irregular tenses in every of those verbs
Because that's not how we say it in English.
In Esperanto, "la angla" is short for "la angla lingvo".
In English, we can say either "the English language" or just "English". But we don't say "the English" unless we're referring to the people who come from England, and then we would use the plural. "The English are", not "the English is".
Damn, thats some throwing shade right there. The nice thing about English is that it's so common that you can easily subject yourself to English-language content, which as a non-native speakers of English, I can say has brrn vrry helpful nin learning English. Esperanto on the other hand doesn't really have any natural content, due to it being an artificial language, and although the translation excersises here on duolingo are relatively easy due to its similarity to other languages, attempting to speak/write it as its own language isu h more of a challenge.
Shouldn't "facila" and "lingvo" have an "n" after them for the accusative case?
No. "estas" or "is" is a stative verb/copula, and not a transitive verb. There is no object here.
Why does "la" have to be there? Couldn't I say "Angla ne estas facila lingvo?"
In Esperanto, (most, living) languages are referred to that way, it is short for "the English language", la angla lingvo. Similarly, you refer to la rusa, la franca, la germana ktp. Esperanto, Latin (Latino), Ido are the odd ones out, being referred to by a language name.
I think (disclaimer: not fluent or an expert or anything) if you said it without the la, you would probably be understood (from context, also I can't offhand think of what else the adjective would mean on its own, anyone?), but you would be wrong in terms of the way the language works.
"Angla ne estas facila lingvo" could mean "An easy language is not English".
Do you mean a/an the English indefinite article, or do you mean -a and -an, the Esperanto word endings?
I guess your native language doesn't have indefinite articles? There are some ESL resources that might help you, such as
It is a little complicated to explain.
Isn't it that, if the word starts with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u) that's when you would use 'an' as an indefinite article?
No. It has nothing to do with how it's spelled and everything to do with how it's pronounced.
Also, the person I was replying to doesn't seem to be a native speaker and was wondering when to use the article at all. That's a more complex issue.
I like to think of it as a replacement for saying "one." A dog vs One dog. The difference here is when using the word "one", we are counting the number of dogs.
I like to think the reason why we have "a" and "an" for the exact same purpose is because "an" is used to roll off the word better. A orange vs An orange. When going from one vowel to the next, if you pronounce "a orange" there is a cut in your voice when going from one word to the next but if you pronounce "an orange" you do not need to cut off your voice.
Of course, this is just how I view the language so this is probably not the real reason how we use these articles.
Fun fact! That "cut" in your voice is called a glottal stop, and in some languages it's a regular sound just like "k" or "t".
Because that's not how we say it in English. It's just "English is not an easy language" or "The English language is not easy." But the second one would be "La angla lingvo ne estas facila".
Why "English is not easy language" is wrong, and "English is no easy language" is correct?
Because with "not" negating the verb, you need an article: "English is not an easy language." I think Duo is matching your response with the closest valid option it has in its database, which is only one letter off. In "English is no easy language," the "no" can be thought of as a negative article that goes with the noun phrase "easy language".
I'm English so I speak fluently and rarely make mistakes but I can see how people say it's difficult. It's one of the most illogical languages I know of and I don't know why it's the main lingua-franca of the world. Esperanto ftw haha
English is my native language. My knowledge of English and Spanish is making Esperanto really easy.
No it would not. "Angla" is an adjective and "la angla" is short for "la angla lingvo".