Most Difficult language to learn: Amazing Facts

One of the graffitis read “a new language is a new life” inspired me to acknowledge the beauty of communication medium. Each language is build by the condensed spirits of mankind over the years. 


The best part about any language is that “it has no government, no legislator, no historic creator. It comes into the limelight by the public approval.” Several factors like the number of alphabets, the similarity with the other languages, simpler grammatical framing decide the acceptance of a language. They are also responsible for creating a challenging environment in learning a new language.


In the given piece, we will unveil 15 most difficult languages to put into our lingual-arsenal along with the total study hour required to excel them (report by FSI). So, without a further ado, let’s go through the list:


1. Tagalog


Briefing: A pluricentric language, spoken by the 28 million native speakers of the Philippines.


Total alphabets/phonemes: 33 letters (19 consonants, 14 vowels)


Class hours: 1100 hours




  • It is difficult to pick as it has a different format than prevalent languages like English.Example: Unlike English, in a sentence like “I am going for tennis,” Tagalog uses the verb “going” first and then the personal pronoun “I.” Basically, the order of framing is completely different.


  • To emphasize the effect, Tagalog repeats the words.
    Example: “halo-halo” has two different meanings. “Assorted” and “very well-mixed”


  • It uses Verb-subject-object structure. It is not a five-finger job for foreign speakers.


  • Its verbs can be conjugated in multiple ways.


  • It is a polysyllabic language whose most of the syllables are of the same size. It requires hard-toiling to learn such type of pronunciation.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Like any other language, “who= sino” and “whom= kanino” are wrongly interchanged by the learners. Who is a personal noun whereas whom is a relative noun.


  • “Between= sa pagitan ng” and “Among= sa gitna ng” are intermediate words and are often interchanged. 


2. Albanian


Briefing: A member of the Indo-European language, primarily used by 7 million Balkans worldwide and 5 million Albanians.


Total alphabets/phonemes: 36 letters (29 consonants, 7 vowels)


Class hours: 1100 hours




  • The language has developed its own branch in the Indo-European tree. When you check the language tree, it sits differently from the cluster of other languages. This makes it difficult to learn.


  • Noun pluralization can be frustrating.
    Example: një kalë (a horse) — disa kuaj (multiple horses)


  • It is phonemic yet hard to pronounce. Consonants like q and gj represent [c] and [ɟ] respectively.


  • The pronunciation of letters like D and H changes when they are converted into diphthong as DH.


  • It has complex verb tenses.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • The letter q sounds like “Tue.” So, it gets difficult to soak in the semantics leading to more mistakes.


  • Every verb except “to be” have active, passive, and continuous form. Beginners often miss this and use “to be” in continuous form.


3. Xhosa


Briefing: A Nguni Bantu language appointed as one of the official languages of South Africa and Zimbabwe, is a mother tongue to 8.2 million people. 


Total alphabets: 52 pronouncing alphabets and 18 click consonants


Class Hours: 1100 hours




  • It has difficult grammatical structure.


  • It has click consonants which require precision and practice in order to pronounce correctly. It is very challenging for a non-native speaker to learn.


  • It has complicated and alien vocabulary words.


  • It has an intricate proposition system.


  • Words like “From” is translated as “Suka” but “Far From” uses “Kude ne” as its literal translation.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Novices start language learning with noun groups. This only makes sense when they have a lot of time to learn. If time doesn’t permit, start learning from verb-based grammatical understanding.


  • Not focusing on the quality but quantity. Learning a massive quantity of words is good, but try to learn basic quality structures and sentences.


4. Estonian


Briefing: Like Hungarian, it’s a Finno-Uralic language spoken by 1.1 million native speakers of Estonia.


Total alphabets: 27 consonants9 different sounding vowels, and 36 diphthongs


Class Hours: 1100 hours




  • It is seen as the sixth hardest language considering its unique grammatical formation.


  • In English, we keep the words separate while we stack words together in Estonian.Example: Grocery Store is written as TOIDUPOOD. Toidu and Pood are different words but are stacked together while using.<


  • From the same example, a foreign speaker would face a hard time in separating the two different words.


  • Like other Finno languages, it has multiple-cases (14 case endings) which can be really hard to master.


  • For each verb, one has to learn 7 variations.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • On being asked “how are you?” learners use the word “normaalne” rather than “normaalselt.” To sound like a real Estonian, they should stick to the word “normaalselt” which means “things are normal.”


  • Ära põe meaning “don’t worry” is falsely used in a formal way. It should only be used in an informal sentence.


5. Finnish


Briefing: A Finnic language, an official communicative mode for the Finland people and its diaspora. As much as 5.4 million people use it as a major medium of conversation. 


Total alphabets: 29 alphabets 


Class Hours: 1100 hours




  • It uses distinctly weird aspects which is hard for a foreigner to learn.


  • Like Estonian, you can keep combining the words to form a gigantic chunk of a compound noun.


  • The standard and spoken language are very different from each other. This again gives a pain in the neck.


  • It has complicated conjugation of Verb.


  • The vocabulary has no relation to the Indo-European roots. The word “origin” is spelled as “alkuperä.”


Common mistakes while learning:


  • The pronunciation of ö and ä can cause confusion.


  • The most common mistake is to learn 16 different cases. House (Talo has 16 different cases). Taloa, Talon, etc.


6. Hungarian


Briefing: An odd language in Europe as most of the languages have Indo-European roots but it has Finno-Ugric origins.


Total alphabets/phonemes: 44 letters


Class Hours: 1100+ hours


Our translation services in Mumbai, India also include Hungarian translation services.




  • It has a lot of alien vocabulary which has no association with English. Example: Finger is ujj


  • It gives a grammatical headache. The complex directory of suffix and prefix pose an intellectual threat to many learners.


  • It has six verb tenses.


  • The syntax of the language can overtax your time.


  • The words have multiple-cases, unlike English. 

    Example: The word dog is represented by dogentendgket or dogsnaketed.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • The English language doen’t use the accusative case. Going by the habits, learners fail to use the accusative case in Hungarian.


  • The wrong use of pluralized nouns before the numbers.          For example: 


          alma = apple

almak = apples

öt alma = five apples and not öt almak 


7. Georgian


Briefing: A Kartvelian language used as an official language by 3.7 million Georgians of Georgia.


Total alphabets: The modern 33 letters


Class Hours: 1100+ hours




  • The fact that it has no Latin root intimidates all the foreign speakers.


  • A large set of Georgian words contain no vowels or their sounds. Thus, it produces the choking-awkwardness.


  • It relies on tone, rhythm, and stress. Alter any of these to change the meaning entirely.


  • It is really difficult to pronounce consonants clusters.


  • Its case system is extremely extensive.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Similar looking letters like პ, ჰ, ფ are often misused in the word formation.


  • Since it is a rare language, there are fewer sources of learning. In that case, learners might go through outdated understandings of linguistic textbooks.


8. Mongolian


Briefing: An official language for 5-6 million Mongols of Mongolia. Of all the Mongolic language family, Mongolian is the most widely-spoken language. 


Total alphabets: 26 letters (7 vowels, 2 diphthongs, and 17 consonants)


Class Hours: 1100+ hours




  • It is vowel laden language which may sound musical to English ears.


  • It sometimes uses Chinese ideas and words to toughen the difficulty level.


  • It has hard guttural sounds like -kh, -qh which demand the use of mouth smartly. 


  • Words are easy to distinguish, but speaking a bunch of words (sentences) changes the pronunciation.


  • The language can be harsh and breathy. This could create a challenging environment for the foreign learners.




Common mistakes while learning:


  • sæːn bæːn ʊː? means “are you well” in Mongolian. But the term has no “ta (you)” in it. New learners try to fit “ta” in the sentence. It is not necessary at all.


  • Interchanging the words “tɑːnə̌r” and “tɑːnæː” which mean you and your respectively.


9. Vietnamese


Briefing: An Austroasiatic language officially used by Vietnamese and Kinh people as their native identity. As much as 75 million Vietnamese-friendly people reside in the world.


Total alphabets: 29 letters 


Class Hours: 1100+ hours




  • Vietnamese also has 6 different tones which can be applied to any word and completely alter the meanings.


  • A sentence like “Ban ban ban ban ban” sounds like a repetitive framing but means “Friend ban sells dirty table.”


  • Different dialect has different sounds. This challenges the uniformity.


  • Every syllable is written independently. So, a word with two syllables would have two different strings of characters.


  • It has got a rank system depending on the social status or age. Learners will have to be careful while speaking to avoid the misunderstanding.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • English speakers use “head” + “tail” concept in Vietnamese which is false. Compound words like “Hot water” is written as “Water hot” in it.


  • The improper switching of words like rat and qua (both used as very/so in English). Rat is used when you are giving the opinion while qua is used when you are describing the moment.


10. Cantonese


Briefing: A Chinese variant, prevalent in the major subgroups of Chinese, i.e., Yue Chinese. There are 50 million native speakers in the Guangzhou city.


Total ideograms: 3000 for daily interaction


Class Hours: 2200 hours




  • The language has 7 different tones. Each tone depicts a different meaning.


  • It uses ideograms and not alphabets for the graphical representation. A pool of symbols might demand years of practice for the usage.


  • The sound of the characters is from the throat, unlike Americans who use tongue.


  • The varied pronunciation at the beginning or the end can change the meaning enormously.


  • Multiple-characters have exact sound and tone.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • The obvious mistake is to pick up the tone in a wrong manner. “Baa” can be expressed in three different tones meaning “Bus,” “cease,” and handle.


  • Mixing of the Y sounding consonant which is actually written as J. For an English speaker, “Jyutping” would sound “jee-yut-ping” but in Cantonese, it should sound like “Yut-ping.”


11. Arabic


Briefing: A Central Semitic language, now the lingua franca of the Arab world first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia.


Total alphabets: 28 letters 


Class Hours: 2200+ hours




  • It has 12 form of personal pronouns. It could well-frustrate a new learner.


  • The structure of the language belongs to the different family in comparison to other languages like English.


  • In Arabic, often verbs are placed before nouns.


  • The same letter can be written differently, depending on the position it is used in the word.


  • Arabic has a lot of broken plurals. Most of the English words can be pluralized using “s” and “es.”


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Beginners pronounce L sounding letter in Arabic as English L. That’s is not right and natives would immediately get to know that Arabic is not your first language. In Arabic, the tongue is slightly flatter and straighter.


  • Inconsistency due to several dialects. What “Game” sounds in Egyptian dialect would turn into “Jam” into standard Arabic dialect.


12. Korean


Briefing: An East Asian language widely popular among 80 million Koreans mainly living in both the Koreas: North and South Korea. Its modern name is Hangul.


Total alphabets: 24 letters (14 consonants, 10 vowels)


Class Hours: 2200+ hours


You can also contact us for any translation services in Mumbai, India including of Korean.




  • It would look alien characters to the English speaker. The syllable block of Korean has multiple letters in it.


  • Word order in Korean is another tough task to accomplish. Usually, the verb is placed in the last.


  • As much as 15 different grammatical semantics for a word like “because.” The difference between the usage is very narrow and needs the expertise to use them at the particular situation.


  • A lot of similar sounding letters create massive confusion.


  • They have a rank system in the society. You should be able to distinguish when to use formal and when to use informal language.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Neophytes use the high pitch for the Korean pronunciation. In reality, the last syllable of the words should be spoken in the lower pitch.


  • Using English pronunciation to speak imported Korean words like “computer.” Koreans wouldn’t understand computer unless you spell like “cum-phu-tha.” 


13. Japanese


Briefing: Like Korean, it’s an East Asian language extensively used by 128 million people, mainly in Japan.


Total alphabets: 1900+ Kanji letters in daily use


Class Hours: 2200+ hours




  • Japanese writing system comprises 5 writing systems.


  • The nature of the Japanese vocabulary is very complex.


  • One has to learn the nuances and the register of the (used by different people in different circumstances).


  • It is a context-sensitive language.


  • A single Kanji character can mean a bunch of different things.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • “San” in Japanese corresponds to Mr. and Mrs. in English. New learners often use san against their own names. Use it for others.


  • They also use “Sayonara” for goodbyes. If you are expecting to see the person on the same day, don’t use Sayonara. Reserve it for the next day.


14. Navajo 


Briefing: A Southern Athabaskan language is spoken by paltry .2 million speakers in the Southwestern United States.


Total alphabets/phonemes: 32 consonants, 16 vowel & diphthongs




  • It is contextually different from English. Just as English uses tenses to refer the time of the event, Navajo uses aspect.        


  • The affixes in the language are joined in overlapping and unpredictable ways.


  • It doesn’t use adjectives and relies on verbs big time.


  • It doesn’t have any link to Latin. Hence, it gets tough to break down the words and conceptualize the meaning.


  • The subject-object-verb framing of the sentences can be irregular.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Navajo treats glottal stop as an actual letter in the alphabet. Its pronunciation is done from the glottis which is really difficult to learn. Hence, beginners tend to make pronounce this.


  • K’ and k sound completely different. But it takes practice to make them sound distinct. 


15. Greenlandic


Briefing: An Eskimo–Aleut language, deployed as a native language by about 56,000 Greenlandic in Greenland.


Total alphabets: 24 alphabets (20 consonants, 4 vowels)




  • Very strange grammatical rules.


  • Not related to any Eastern or Western languages. Hence, there is no familiarity with any other language.


  • Other languages have a different subject, object, and verb whereas, in Greenlandic, the verb has all the information of object and subject.


  • Verbs are inflected for 8 different moods.


  • Words are made up of many morphemes.


Common mistakes while learning:


  • Since a very few people speak Greenlandic, there is lesser access to language resources. This increases the chance of mistakes as the sources lack authenticity.


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