Easiest Language to Learn?

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Discus: College Confidential Café: 2004 Archive: Easiest Language to Learn?
By Calidan (Calidan) on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 06:37 pm: Edit

Hey, everybody! Here's an interesting question: what is the easiest language to learn (in your opinion)? I want to teach myself a language (just for "fun," hehehe...), but I don't want it to be hard. Any suggestions? Thanks!
PS- I already speak French and Spanish.

By Asianalto (Asianalto) on Wednesday, July 14, 2004 - 06:38 pm: Edit

If you already speak french and spanish, Italian might be pretty easy, being another romance language.

By Socalnick (Socalnick) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 01:18 am: Edit

Basic :) (its a computer programming joke)

By Jblackboy05 (Jblackboy05) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 02:09 am: Edit

Even though my native tongue is English I think the romance languages are pretty much easy to grasp. Its like once u learn one, the rest all follow the same patern in like verbs, structure, etc.

By Rono_G (Rono_G) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 07:44 am: Edit

learn bahasa indonesia... honestly, no grammar, its really easy.. hahahaha

By Noodleman (Noodleman) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 09:14 am: Edit


By Noodleman (Noodleman) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 09:14 am: Edit

oh, crap. i didn't see BASIC. :(

By Voodoochile (Voodoochile) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 09:54 am: Edit

I second Indonesian, or Malay... they're basically the same thing.
Though you won't use them much outside South East Asia.

By M87 (M87) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 11:08 am: Edit

If you are already fluent in English, French, as well as spanish I'd imagine all the other languages from latin root will be quite easy for you. For something new you might want to try German, Russian...

By Noodleman (Noodleman) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 12:05 pm: Edit

Nota bene: English is derived from German, not Latin.

By Somecanadianguy (Somecanadianguy) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 12:24 pm: Edit

English actually is derived from multiple languages, leading to some very strange spelling and grammar rules. Especially North American English which has further spread from the British English.

By Waffle (Waffle) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 12:31 pm: Edit

I take Latin and that's easy for me, though many people think it's hard because of all the endings, both verb principal parts and declensions.

English is mostly derived from German and Latin, German making up most of the common words and conjunctions, while Latin makes up the words that you're likely to find on an SAT vocabulary list. Many other languages make up English, including Greek and French.

By Smhop (Smhop) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 12:46 pm: Edit

Sinhalese... from sri lanka.. Just vocabulary, really. And ridiculously simple grammar like

"my name SMHOP"
"My country USA"

Would be my name is smhop and I live in the usa.

ITS FUN and easy.... but not terribly useful.

By Philntex (Philntex) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 02:06 pm: Edit

Italian, for sure. Knowing Spanish and French before starting Italian has made the language a breeze. Between cognates and especially grammatical structures, there's about an 85-90% chance that you'll recognize something in Italian from Spanish or French. Besides, it's beautiful. Really.

Another option is Portuguese. If you're really strong in Spanish vocab and French pronunciation, you can master this language. The hardest thing about Portuguese is getting the pronunciation down, but after that, it's really not all that difficult. It's another beautiful language, especially in music (I have a great CD from Bebel. Rock.)

By Aspirer42 (Aspirer42) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 02:18 pm: Edit

Esperanto, hands down.

But if you're looking for the easiest *useful* language to learn, I'd probably agree on Portugese if you're already acquainted with Spanish.

By Iamqueena (Iamqueena) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 05:58 pm: Edit

if you already speak those languages, learn other romance languages (italian or romanian, believe or not). they have latin roots. german has germanic roots but since english is a germanic language you can learn german pretty easily. portuguese too.

By Calidan (Calidan) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 07:20 pm: Edit

Thanks, guys! I was pretty much debating between Italian and Portuguese. However, I kind of want to learn a more unusual one. So does anyone have suggestions that aren't romance languages? Also, I don't really want to learn another alphabet, so no Russian or anything like that. Thanks, everyone!

By Chapter322 (Chapter322) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 09:39 pm: Edit

But, the Russian alphabet is really easy to learn. You'll be surprised at quickly you memorize it. I tought myself how to translit cyrillic w/o much effort.

By Magoo (Magoo) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 09:42 pm: Edit

Spanish...especially if you speak english and u live in california.

By Calidan (Calidan) on Thursday, July 15, 2004 - 10:05 pm: Edit

Thanks, Magoo, but I already speak Spanish! And even if Cyrillic is easy to learn, I still don't really want to. Any other suggestions?

By Calidan (Calidan) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 10:45 pm: Edit


By Magoo (Magoo) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 10:55 pm: Edit

oops...definately didn't read ur post the whole way through...do what i did for lunch...go italian.

my sister found cantonese to be pretty easy to learn...wish i took the classes with her she insults me in this tongue. :)

By Goodchocolate (Goodchocolate) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 10:57 pm: Edit

Black English

By Crazylicious (Crazylicious) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:27 pm: Edit

goodchocoate: ummm... ebonics?

By Princess_Banana (Princess_Banana) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:28 pm: Edit


"The forgotten romance language"

By Zantedeschia (Zantedeschia) on Monday, July 19, 2004 - 11:30 pm: Edit


By Ledzeppelin1000 (Ledzeppelin1000) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 02:28 am: Edit

yeah, english being a germanic language, german is incredibly easy, except for pronunciation, believe it or not japanese is one of the easiest to learn to speak, look into it and youlle understand why, i know latin so any romance language i learn is pretty easy, right now i speak french german and english, so its all good

By Mrbesch (Mrbesch) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 10:44 am: Edit

princess bnana, i actually laughed out loud at that.


By Princess_Banana (Princess_Banana) on Tuesday, July 20, 2004 - 02:13 pm: Edit

cool, i will put that under 'Major Accomplishments'

By Boogzaiyo (Boogzaiyo) on Sunday, August 01, 2004 - 06:31 pm: Edit

how about sign language? :P

By Bebere87 (Bebere87) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 03:16 pm: Edit

I would second the "Romance language" suggestion, and I´ll put in a vote for Italian over Portuguese. Italian is the language that I´ve been taking in high school--It´s beautiful, the pronunciation isn´t difficult, and I´m absoutely in love with it. Much of the Italian vocabulary differs from the French and Spanish, but the structure is the same, and that makes it easy to learn. I´m currently traveling in Brazil, so I´ve picked up a bit of Portuguese, and it´s very difficult. Of all the romance languages, it most resembles Spanish, but the pronunciation is what makes it so hard. It is a very nasal language, and most vowel sounds are pronounced in the back part of your nasal area. It´s hard to explain..."Bom" (which means "good" sounds most like "Bong." In addition, certain D´s sound like G´s, certain G´s sound like J´s, certain T´s sound like Ch´s, certain Ch´s sound like Sh´s, certain R´s sound like H´s...It´s very confusing!

Good luck with whatever you choose!
Buona fortunata!
Boa sorte!

By Poison_Ivy (Poison_Ivy) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 03:23 pm: Edit

I'm in love with Italian... oh I wish I could learn.... I will...

By Tlaktan (Tlaktan) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 04:10 pm: Edit

Korean or Japanese.

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 05:54 pm: Edit

a'ight = the first true modern English language dipthong

English is not derived at all from Latin. It's a Germanic language that has had major French influences during its development. While French is rooted in the Italic language family, very little of the grammar and the characteristics which truly differentiate languages were transferred to middle English. Vocabulary was exchanged instead.

By Elizabeth22 (Elizabeth22) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 06:33 pm: Edit

"English is not derived at all from Latin."

What are you talking about? That's totally wrong.

By Paulhomework (Paulhomework) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 07:04 pm: Edit

English is a GERMANIC language. It's influenced by Latin, but not derived from it. As someone said before, a lot of the romance vocabulary is included in English, but almost all of the structure, grammatical rules, prepositions, etc. have german origins.

By Plot93 (Plot93) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 08:12 pm: Edit

A question to ask yourself might be: Which language do you want to learn that you think you'll have a chance to use? Is there a country you want to visit or live in eventually?

I've asked myself such questions. I enjoy languages and wanted to learn another. Even with supposedly easy languages, a lot of time and effort still goes into really learning them, and it should be worthwhile.

By Quasarqueen (Quasarqueen) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 08:39 pm: Edit

Even though English is considered a "Germanic" language, 70% of English vocabulary is derived from Latin. It's more of a grammar issue.

By Purgeofdoors (Purgeofdoors) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 09:55 pm: Edit

Any linguist you'll ever talk to (especially in the anthropological aspects of the subject) will consider English a purely Germanic language. That is, the elements which differentiate languages are directly related between German and English and indirectly related in the Italic/Romance family and English. Thus, you have to go back several millenia to the indo-European roots of the language family to find the common ancestor of English and Latin.

Vocabulary means little to comparative linguists, and using it for an evolutionary comparison of languages will make you wrong surprisingly often.

By Genova (Genova) on Saturday, August 21, 2004 - 10:08 pm: Edit

I've been learning Spanish for about four years now, and I'm constantly forgetting vocabulary. But with German, I surprisingly haven't forgotten a thing. Spanish is pretty boring, though, so that could be why.

By Paulhomework (Paulhomework) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 12:12 am: Edit

Spanish is my least favorite subject, and not surprisingly my lowest grade. I was very good in spanish 1 and 2, but after that, I was turned off by how complicated they make it. For example consider the nuance between ser and estar, or saber and conocer. The whole subjective mood. The billion different past tenses that they have. IMO it's just unnecessary and extraneous.

Even the sound of this language is not that great when you compare it to the beauty of Italian.

By Glowingamy (Glowingamy) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 09:26 pm: Edit

...But paul, all moods are subjective! HAHAHA

By Paulhomework (Paulhomework) on Sunday, August 22, 2004 - 11:42 pm: Edit

LOL i meant subjunctive, as in junk and stuff! I hate it so much i can't even spell it right.

By Wrathofgod64 (Wrathofgod64) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 01:56 pm: Edit

becuz of spanish, i learned more about grammar than i did in english.

By Elizabeth22 (Elizabeth22) on Monday, August 23, 2004 - 02:09 pm: Edit

I'll concede that the grammar isn't similar to English, but you can't pretend that none of the English language is derived from Latin. Traces of Latin grammar rules do remain- post positive rule, among others.

By Neo (Neo) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 06:34 pm: Edit

Wrathofgod -- Ditto.

Liz -- of course similarities remain between both languages, but if you had to pick one or the other as the twin sister of a language, I'd hope you'd choose German, because it's way closer to English than Latin is.

It's like comparing dogs, wolves, and prehistoric bears. Indeed, both dogs and wolves descended from ancient bearlike mammals, but dogs are undoubtedly more akin to wolves than they are to bears -- modern or antiquated.

By Ctrain890 (Ctrain890) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:04 pm: Edit

The distinction is debatable, but modern English vocabulary is actually derived more from French than Latin. I think I read somewhere that something like 40% of English words have close French origins.

And grammatically speaking, Dutch (Friesian to be precise), not German, is the closest relative to English.

By Neo (Neo) on Thursday, August 26, 2004 - 11:52 pm: Edit


By Physicskid123 (Physicskid123) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 06:57 pm: Edit

I agree, learn bahasa indonesia or malay. Its easy stuff... then again I may be biased since its my native language.

By Usunkmyb_Ship (Usunkmyb_Ship) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 07:34 pm: Edit

I thought French was okay, I forgot a lot though. I'm always better at speaking it than listening and comprehending it.

I want to take Mandarin next year.

By Encomium (Encomium) on Friday, August 27, 2004 - 11:29 pm: Edit

English and all Indo-European Languages are derived from Sanskrit. Sanskrit branched off into many different categories:

Balto-Slavic (Russan, Lithuanian)
Celtic (Irish, Welsh)
Germanic (Scandinavian, Dutch, German)

Then From German broke off into an Anglo-Saxon group, from which English is derived, but ALSO, the Latin group broke into French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian. With English being in a sort of Anglo-Saxon/Latin crossover with HEAVY ties to French. (This is because of middle-age history). So in reality English is an a hidden in-between abyss between Germanic and Latin, with French rather than German its closest relative.

Indo-Iranian-to Indic (modern hindi) and Iranian (persian)

So it's COMPLETELy wrong to say English is a PURELY Germanic language, and it's COMPLETELY wrong to say it's derived from Latin. But it has more words directly from Latin and Greek than German.

By Freija (Freija) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 09:18 am: Edit

Let me tell you (for those talking about how easy Cyrillic is to learn, which it is), Russian is easy for the first six lessons, when they give you words like taksi, tennis, futbol and metro.

Then they hit you with words like dostoprimechatelnosti ("sights").

Then they start you on verb aspects.

Then you get onto verbs of motion.

Five years on, I'm almost fluent... but it's totally rewired my brain.


By Irchik13 (Irchik13) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 02:46 pm: Edit

Freija, hehe, I'm Russian and I can tell you, even Russian people have trouble with it. I would never want to learn Russian as a second language.
As for the easiest language to learn, it's hands down English. Hawaiian is also pretty easy, as I've discovered after visiting Oahu for the first time last month.

By Limon (Limon) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 03:19 pm: Edit

Ack. English is horrible to learn as a second language, absolutely ridiculous. Spanish is very easy, it's so standard, and being able to spell anything you hear and pronounce anything you see is useful. That was my problem with French, I couldn't tell the tenses or person it was in without reading the ending.

Spanish is my favorite language, so far. It has a natural rhythm, and the Chilean accent is naturally melodic. It doesn't matter what you say, you can be cursing, and it will sound elegant. My dream language to learn would be Russian, or Gaelic. Behind that, Greek and Latin (which I know a little of).

If you want a useful language, try German or Italian.

By Freija (Freija) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 03:22 pm: Edit

Ekh, Irchik, a ya ne hotela by vyuchit' angliiskogo yazyka...! Pishetsya "Liverpool", govoritsya "Manchester".

Limon, LEARN RUSSIAN. You have no idea of the literary and cultural riches that await. If you think Tolstoy and Dostoevskii are good in English, wait until you read Pushkin and Lermontov in Russian... ooh, I've come over all faint.

By Limon (Limon) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 03:43 pm: Edit

Tell me about it. =)

I've had a Russia obsession since I was young, I always wanted to go to St. Petersburg 'cause of the architecture and I was in love with the culture. A year ago I moved on to Russian literature. Someday... someday I will learn the language, if I can find a very patient tutor. My English teacher married a Russian woman this summer, actually, during the year he was going insane practicing bits for the wedding and meeting her relatives.

By Freija (Freija) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 05:10 pm: Edit

St Petersburg is okay, but the real urban Russia is in Moscow. I lived there for a year and studied singing when I was an undergrad.

What kind of literature do you read? There are bits of Gogol and Pushkin which translate well into English and I would thoroughly recommend those. (Gogol: Dead Souls and the short stories, Pushkin's short stories and Queen of Spades). These are the founders of Russian literature and besides which, they rock.

I have to warn you the Russian obsession never leaves. Five years ago I took up Russian pretty much on a whim, thinking I would concentrate on my German. Now I'm applying to American grad schools in order to spend six years indulging my Mussorgsky obsession....

By Limon (Limon) on Friday, September 03, 2004 - 06:54 pm: Edit

So far, I've read Dostoevsky (Brothers Karamazov, The Idiot, Crime & Punishment, Notes From Underground and The Double, with The Gambler on the way), Tolstoy (a book of his shorter works and I'm halfway through Anna Karenina), and Gogol ("The Collected Tales").

I've been working on a list of Russian books I want to save up for, but I'm not sure what to start with. I have Dead Souls and The Collected Stories of Pushkin on it for sure, and been told to get The Overcoat. For Nabokov, I'm not sure whether I should go for Lolita, Pale Fire, or Pnin (or stories). Bulgakov's on there somewhere, probably The Master and Margarita. Others are Babel, Bely, Brodsky, Turgenev, and Lermontov, but I'm not sure which books.

My problem with Chekhov has been finding a good edition (something that won't have selected stories and leave out ones that I'll have to get another book for although half of them overlap), and also I have very little to go on for translations. I've been sticking with the Pevear/Volokhonsky translations when I can, haven't liked the Constance Garnett ones.

At some point I'm going to invest in a Really Big Book of Russian history so I can put things into context and pick up on details I blow over now. This year I'll be reading Brothers K in class, I imagine it'll be pretty damn funny to see everything I missed.

What did you study and where? Now that's a good way to spend six years. Have fun. =)

By Freija (Freija) on Saturday, September 04, 2004 - 09:31 am: Edit

I did Russian and German (but mostly Russian) at Cambridge, which allowed me a really good run of modern and medieval literature, history and culture. In Moscow I was unfortunate enough to suffer a semester at MGIMO (the diplomatic institute) before escaping to the opera faculty of the Academy of Theatre Arts. I've just finished an MPhil, also at Cambridge, in History; my thesis was a literary/biographical approach to the childood and youth of Trotsky. But I'm giving up the Soviet History racket because it's probably the most antagonistic field out there; you can take huge amounts of aggro for thinking critically rather than simply pro- or anti-Lenin/Trotsky/USSR, and I'm not ready for that yet.

Russian opera is my great love as a student and performer. My top choice for grad school is the Princeton Music dept, who are very strong on interdisciplinary work (and Princeton has two big Russian opera experts). Berkeley is close or equal in my estimation.

Anything on your list is good except that there is NO good translation of Lermontov. The poetry of course does not translate (ditto Pushkin) and his only prose work - A Hero of Our Time - has suffered a couple of real maulings, not least from Nabokov (who is otherwise an all round excellent scholar and writer, of course). I first read Hero in Russian in my second year, so it's manageable for those with a basic good grasp of Russian and a proper dictionary. Make it your first aim when you take up the language.

I have to admit I have no patience for Tolstoy and not much for Dostoevsky; I guess I like the less moral writers! :D

By Mimi (Mimi) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:42 pm: Edit

I heard that French and Spanish makes Portugese!!

By Carbfreenoodles (Carbfreenoodles) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:45 pm: Edit

Spanish grammar is really really easy. You can still figure out whats wrong with a sentence grammar wise without knowing what the word means. Thats is if you know what the subject of the sentence is. Its really easy.

By Saturdayoracle (Saturdayoracle) on Sunday, September 05, 2004 - 11:58 pm: Edit

I'm not sure whether I want to learn German, Russian, or Japanese. Argh. I'm pseudo-learning Japanese on my own right now; I love the sound of German, and Russian is just fascinating. I'll probably end up at a small liberal arts school with little opportunity for the graphic design and computer animation I want to do, so if I ever study abroad, that's what I'll be doing... if I learn German or Russain, it'll be for the graphic design, and Japanese for computer animation. Choices, choices...

Or I could just learn them all... might take a while, though.

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