A smart language translator device like Jarvisen is amazing for lightning-fast, accurate translations of up to 60 languages!
But let's say you wish to challenge yourself by actually learning a complicated language. Here are the three hardest in the world, according to Babbel and presuming English is your main language. If after reading, you decide you'd prefer something easier, we've also got the three EASIEST languages to learn (also according to Babbel).
Hardest: Mandarin Chinese
Intriguingly, the most popular language in the world -- with nearly 900 million native speakers -- is also the most perplexing for English-speaking outsiders.
For starters, Mandarin Chinese does not use the Latin alphabet that English speakers are used to. In addition, they also require that the speaker memorize anywhere from 2,000 to 100,000 unique characters in place of regular letters!
If that's not enough, speaking the language is insanely tough too. That's because Mandarin employs several different dialects that can give the same word entirely different meanings depending on how you say it. Ma, for example, can mean "rough," scold," "mother," or "horse."
So if your mother just roughly scolded her horse, best get all your ma's down pat, lest your story hopelessly confuse your friend.
Second Hardest: Arabic
Arabic takes it easy on the poor English speaker, compared to Mandarin anyway. While they too employ non-Latin characters, you only need to learn 28 of them. That's only two more than in English, but don't celebrate just yet.
Arabic, quite simply, doesn't like vowels. They tend to omit them outright when writing -- imagine reading this article and sddnly ll th vwls dsppr. That would be challenging to read, right? Welcome to Arabic.
To make Arabic writing even more challenging is how they write everything from right to left, as opposed to our left to right. So now not only do you have to translate new characters and add the vowels back in your head, but you'll have to reverse the sentence so what you're reading actually makes sense.
Adding to all that challenge is how Arabic loves to pronounce words from the back of their throat and employ other sounds that you're not likely to hear in English. It's not enough to learn the words and dialect -- you have to reinvent how you make noise if you want to speak Arabic
Third Hardest: Polish
Here we have the hardest language to employ Latin letters...lots and lots of them.
Polish loves to load up their words with consonants and minimal vowels. This makes many words look like garbled, unpronounceable messes until you can finally decode them.
In addition, Polish grammar puts the English version to shame. English has three cases: the subjective, possessive, and objective forms. Polish, on the other hand, has seven: the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, and vocative forms. If your goal is to not only learn Polish words but use them correctly, you're in for a long, bumpy road.
Time to breathe a sigh of relief: for English speakers, learning Norwegian is borderline child's play!
This language, in many ways, IS English. Each verb only has one form in a tense, the word order is the same, and even the words are similar!
The season we're currently in, summer, is sommer in Norwegian. Tree is treet. "Can you come here" translates to "kan du komme hit." If you know English, you're already partway to learning Norwegian.
Oh, and you know how dialect in languages like Mandarin and Arabic influence a word's meaning? Not so in Norwegian. There are many ways to pronounce a word based on accent, so if you mean to speak Norwegian one way and say it another way, your new friends will likely understand you.
Second Easiest: Swedish
Don't let whatever the Swedish Chef was babbling about scare you: real Swedish is incredibly accessible and easy to learn for English speakers!
Swedish is like Norwegian in that it shares a sentence structure with English, similar grammar rules, and many similar words. “Grass” in Swedish is, well, "gräs." Ball is "boll." And the sentence "The cat is fat" comes out as "katten är fet."
Some of these are pronounced a little differently than in English, but not THAT differently. With just a little practice, you'll be ordering Swedish meatballs with the best of them!
Third Easiest: Spanish
For many English students, their first foreign language is likely Spanish. Even if they didn't get far with it in school, picking it back up as an adult is as easy as pie.
Yes, its grammar is a little complex, but the same can be said for English. Besides, Spanish has many of the same rules as English so if you can nail one you can probably nail the other.
To make Spanish easier, many of their words are pronounced phonetically. So if its spelling suggests that it's pronounced a certain way, then it probably is.
In addition, so many Spanish words are spookily similar to English. Bicycle is bicicleta. Spaghetti is espaguetis. Music is música. You get the point. Not every Spanish word is English with an extra syllable, but enough of them are that you already have a head start on this shockingly easy language!
It's like you are your own translator device. Isn't that correcto?