Are some languages easier to learn?
|From:||Arek Bellagio <zadar@...>|
|Date:||Friday, October 16, 1998, 23:10|
At 22:04 16/10/1998 +0200, you wrote:
>I tend to believe that some natlangs are easier to learn as foreign
>languages for adult persons.
>Does anyone agree on this?
Oh, of course do I ever agree! Some languages (Spanish being one of the more
simple of languages) are easy to learn whereas some of the more difficult
(more complicated?) languages (Russian and English being the higher of that
level) take longer to learn. The fact that some languages are more difficult
to learn has been proven: There is a college in the Monterrey Bay area (I
forget it's name, but it's a military school that deals primarily on
teaching languages) has you take a language aptitude test, and puts you in
the best area for learning languages. Spanish was one of the most simple,
whereas English, Chinese, and some Slovak languages were on a harder scale.
>Does anyone think that there are absolute criteria on what kind of L2
>linguistic structures are easier to learn for adults (irrespective of their
>L1, that is)?
Yes, I believe there are criteria that determines the difficultness of a
>If yes, which are these criteria?
Well, obviously would be cognates. Spanish and English share quite a few
cognates, and I believe (I may be wrong) French and English share many more.
Cognates (hopefully you know this term!) make languages that much more easy
to learn; the more cognates, 1: The more familiar you feel with a language,
2: The more confident you feel, and 3: The faster you'll learn. Other
aspects would be rules that cause different usages of grammar and affixes in
a language: Does word order matter? If not, then the language will probably
have a series of markers or affixes that show the relationship of one word
to another as of course their placement does not matter (i.e. Esperanto).
Verbs also can show the complexity or incomplexity of a language: Spanish is
thought to be simpler because (although there are quite a few tenses) the
verb conjugation patterns are similar. Finally (and in my opinion, the most
important criterium) the type of language; is the language isolative, like
Chinese (and to a certain extent, English)? Is the language agglutinative,
like Turkish (and my conlang, Zadri)? Is the language Inflective, like Latin
and Italian (and English to an extent: Man, but men, not mans)? Or finally;
is the language polysynthetic, like many Native American languages? If I
remember correctly, most polysynthetic languages are the most difficult to
learn, followed by Isolative, Inflective, and Agglutinative. I think that
Ergative is also a type of language (scholars use the 4 main groups.. I
think), but Ergative is commonly for conlangs and fewer natlangs, right? Or
am I wrong?
In conjunction to B.Philip. Jonsson's questions, how does everyone else feel
about the order of simpleness in the groups of languages? I need to leave
out Ergative in mine since I'm not familiar with it, but I'd say
polysynthetical (a single word which translates to a phrase) is hardest,
followed by isolative (as single words that tend to have few patters (as in
English) are more difficult to learn when no pattern exists), then by
inflective (as to the rules of when and where to inflect, and how) and
agglutinative (which is simple a root noun with affixes to alter its
meaning).. but do others feel different? In what way?
Questions, questions, questions! :P
~Arek - firstname.lastname@example.org
"The pessimist stomps and curses the wind. The optimist whines, but keeps
saying how everything can be better. The realist adjusts the sails and
- Kyle Voiles
....Zephyr in the sky at night, I wonder: do my tears of mourning sink
beneath the sun?....