ghoti = fish

“We went in search of the hardest language” (from The Economist on Medium)

It’s not English, where you can argue that “ghoti” can be pronounced “fish”.

(Think about the pronunciation of “enough” + “women” + “action”. You can read about the origins of this idea here.)

It’s not Japanese, Chinese, or Arabic.

Of the languages this article says are the hardest to learn/speak, one (Tuyuca, a language spoken in the eastern Amazon) has a single word that means “I don’t know how to write.”

And one of the languages spoken in New Guinea has verb endings so specific that you can say “(he) drank in the evening” and “(he) gives three large objects to a man in the sunlight” with just one conjugated verb each.

Some languages have no words for left or right. Instead, they use north, south, east and west. It would be hard to get used to saying things like, “You have a curry stain on the south-southwest corner of your tie.”

This was a little surprising to me:

I’d have thought China would be higher and Canada lower on the list. I wonder if students are aware that there are actually 15 indigenous languages spoken in Japan. Do you know what they might be? According to (the same source that was used in the visual above) this is what they are.

Anyway, it’s interesting to think about which aspects of your first language — and your second or third languages — you think are the hardest to learn or teach


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