What are the hardest and toughest languages in the world? Well, learning a new language can be tough but if the language you have chosen is already considered a complex and difficult one, then you are in for a true brain challenge! While Mandarin is considered one of the hardest languages in the world, there are many contenders on the list that are often underrated! In this blog, we have compiled a list of the 10 most difficult languages for language-lovers and polyglots who are constantly hustling to pick a new exciting language!
As mentioned before, Mandarin is unanimously considered the toughest language to master in the world! Spoken by over a billion people in the world, the language can be extremely difficult for people whose native languages use the Latin writing system. What makes Mandarin hard to grasp is the fact that it is a tonal language with thousands of characters and a mysterious writing system. Mandarin is not a phonetic language which means memorising the words and writing can be taxing. Merely looking up Chinese words in the dictionary is considered a skill in China that should tell you how tough the language is!
Script: Arabic script
Official Language: 26 countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen
Speakers: +300 million speakers
Arabic is the queen of poetic languages, the 6th official language of UN and second on our list of toughest languages to learn. It is extremely popular in the Middle-East and Africa with over a million speakers; Learning this language will expose you to some of the best literary works and historical writings. According to the Foreign Services Institute, it can take up to two years to learn Arabic. It is a hard language to wrap your brain around because of its numerous dialects, huge vocabulary (over 200 synonyms for the word camel!), right to left writing style, tough pronunciations and lack of vowels in the language.
Script: Telugu script
Official Language: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India
Speakers: +75 million speakers
One of the most popular Dravidian languages in India; Telugu is native to states like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in India and listed amongst India’s 22 scheduled languages. Dubbed as the ‘Italian of the East’, Telugu is a melodious language yet tedious for non-natives who have no understanding of Sanskrit or any other popular Southern Indian languages. A combination of factors makes the language tough for non-natives such as the script is hard to get used to and the pronunciation factor which can make the language difficult to understand. A fun way to familiarise yourself with the language is to watch movies and listen to Telugu songs!
Script: Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana
Official Language: Japan
Speakers: +120 million
Japanese is another tough language for all those who have grown up learning English, Spanish or French but at the same time might be easy for those who are well-versed in East Asian languages. Japanese is native to the Japanese people who take immense pride in their language and go to lengths to promote it! Japanese is a complex language due to its sentence structure, thousands of kanji characters and dozens of dialects!
Official Language: Poland
Speakers: 50 million
The sixth most popular language in the European Union and recognised as a minority language in countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary, Ukraine and Lithuania. Polish is amongst the hardest languages to pick up in the world. Polish words are confusing and can be hard to pronounce for English speakers. Though the language uses the Latin script, it has some additional letters, a complex grammar freestyle system and relies heavily on consonants. Mastering this language can open up a host of opportunities, from travelling to studying in Poland!
Official Language: Turkey
Speakers: 70 million
Turkish is an extremely popular language with a rich history and culture associated with it. It is native to Turkey and well-established in other countries like Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Greece. For non-native English speakers, this language is strenuous and time-consuming because of its pronunciation, grammar and listening aspect. There are some positives like it uses Latin alphabets and it is a phonetic language.
Official Language: Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
Speakers: +150 million
Russian is one of the most famous European languages with over 150 million speakers across the world. Learning Russian is quite an experience because of the intricate case and gender system, different grammatical rules and novel writing system. It is easy to make errors in pronunciation and spelling when learning this language. Russia is a fun language to learn for all those who want to travel to Russia and learn about its history and culture!
Official Language: Vietnam
Speakers: 95 million speakers
Another difficult language to master; Vietnamese is a popular language in Vietnam and recognised as a minority language in the Czech Republic. Vietnamese is easily the most complex language in this list for English speakers because it bears little similarity to Western languages. Vietnamese is tonal languages and has diverse dialects; its system of consonants, vowels and syllables is also very tricky to decipher.
Finnish is the official language of Scandinavian countries like Finland and Sweden. It is worldly-renowned as one of the hardest languages to speak and learn because of its complex case and vowel systems, hard grammar rules and the fact that the language is very different from its Latin and Germanic counterparts. Learning and mastering this language is extremely taxing yet rewarding.
Official Language: South Korea and North Korea
Speakers: 75 million speakers
Korean is last on our list of most difficult languages because it is not the toughest yet it is the trickiest language with complex grammar rules, its own alphabets, sentence structure and lastly, pronunciation. While learning the Korean language is on every K-Pop lovers’ list these days; it is not a language you can learn on the side. It requires dedication and constant practice to memorise 24 letters and their proper pronunciation.
This is where we end our blog! Hopefully, you enjoyed this list of difficult languages! Leave a comment below and let us what language you are planning to learn next. For more educational content, follow Leverage Edu on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.