Most difficult aspect of your native language for foreigners

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Simmalti
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Most difficult aspect of your native language for foreigners

Post by Simmalti »

What is, according to you, the one (or many?) aspect(s?) of your native language that is hardest for foreigners to learn? (and by aspect, I don't mean the grammatical aspect. I just couldn't think of a better word to use).

I think that if I were a foreigner trying to learn Maltese, the hardest thing to learn would be the plurals. Even though some words use a regular suffix (-i, -iet, -ijiet, -at), some words (like all Semitic language, but even some words that are derived from Italian and English) have broken plurals, while others have their last vowel dropped or have an added "-s" suffix (English borrowing). You just have to memorise which plural is used for the particular word.

Granted, some English words also make use of irregular plurals, but their frequency is not as high as it is in most Semitic languages.

Of course that's a personal opinion, but I think it's a big hurdle for anyone crazy enough to want to learn the language.

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Post by Guitarplayer II »

Word order, especially when verbs are involved in subordinate clauses. Also, it seems that adjective declension seems somewhat difficult. I imagine [ç] and [χ] and [ʁ] are somewhat difficult as well until you've figured them out. German-learning people I've talked to have also complained about front-rounded vowels. Also, consonant pile-ups like Herkunftswörterbuch or Herbstpflanze might be problematic.
Last edited by Guitarplayer II on Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
giˈtaɹ.plɛɪ̯ɚ‿n dɪs.ˈgaɪz • [b][url=http://sanstitre.nfshost.com/sbk]Der Sprachbaukasten[/url][/b]
[size=84]And! [url=http://bit.ly/9dSyTI]Ayeri Reference Grammar[/url] (upd. 28 Sep 2010)[/size]

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Io
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Post by Io »

I think I got a hold of the word order after two semesters but Christ the annoying derdiedas crap is just soooo frustrating.
<King> Ivo, you phrase things in the most comedic manner

[quote="Jal"][quote="jme"]Thats just rude and unneeded.[/quote]That sums up Io, basically. Yet, we all love him.[/quote]

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Post by Kaenif »

Modal particles or anything of that kind.

Clusters of 3 sentence-final particles are extremely common.
It is like 我食咗飯 and 我食咗飯架啦喎 are both grammatical for "I have had a meal", but the particles are here to intensify the "alreadyness", or to add a tone of answering, or even to add an underlying meaning of "I don't need to eat anymore".

We can use them with ease, but it is very difficult to explain the meaning of each. If anyone can master Cantonese without immersion, congratulations, you are now my idol. *worships*
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Post by Koffiegast »

Dutch, I think pronunciation. Why? Because most languages don't have that many different vowel qualities.
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Post by Thomas Winwood »

Going by Guy Deutscher's recollections of learning English in The Unfolding of Language the big stumbling block in English is the horrible mess of verb conjugation.

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Post by Declan »

XinuX wrote:Going by Guy Deutscher's recollections of learning English in The Unfolding of Language the big stumbling block in English is the horrible mess of verb conjugation.
Agreed, in particular the difference between I am going and I go.

For Irish (not native language, but the closest I am to proficiency), probably declining nouns. Not as bad as Old Irish, but it's still quite messy at times.
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Post by finlay »

I've heard complaints about English word order and the prepositional verbs, or something like that.

Koffiegast wrote:Dutch

Dutch is also difficult because of the ‹g› sound, which is never [g] – annoyingly! Your word-order is also notoriously difficult; although some of it was familiar to me having studied German, some was just like 'huh?'

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Post by Guitarplayer II »

XinuX wrote:Going by Guy Deutscher's recollections of learning English in The Unfolding of Language the big stumbling block in English is the horrible mess of verb conjugation.

English verbs have horrible semantics, French verbs have horrible morphology.
giˈtaɹ.plɛɪ̯ɚ‿n dɪs.ˈgaɪz • [b][url=http://sanstitre.nfshost.com/sbk]Der Sprachbaukasten[/url][/b]
[size=84]And! [url=http://bit.ly/9dSyTI]Ayeri Reference Grammar[/url] (upd. 28 Sep 2010)[/size]

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Post by 캉탁 »

finlay wrote:I've heard complaints about English word order and the prepositional verbs, or something like that.


Auxiliary verbs too...
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Post by Viktor77 »

English: Past and perfect distinction.
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Post by Gaxa »

Palatalization, for Russian.

Either they overdo it, or underdo it.

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Post by jal »

For Dutch: word order (like German, but even weirder) and modal particles. Especially the latter. Anyone being able to explain the difference between "maar" in "dat zou ik maar laten" and "dat heb ik maar vast gedaan" or between "wel" in "ik zal het hem wel zeggen" and "dat zie ik er wel van komen" gets bonus points. There is even an entire forum for this, appearently.


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Post by Koffiegast »

finlay wrote:I've heard complaints about English word order and the prepositional verbs, or something like that.

Koffiegast wrote:Dutch

Dutch is also difficult because of the ‹g› sound, which is never [g] – annoyingly! Your word-order is also notoriously difficult; although some of it was familiar to me having studied German, some was just like 'huh?'


goal uses /g/. We retain most of the original pronunciation if its a borrowed word.
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comment of a reader: WSquater, "U hebt als mens rechten en taken. 1 van die taken is om niet dood te gaan en geld voor ons te verzamelen, dit doet u via het abonnement Belastingdienst."

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Post by BettyCross »

In my experience, the most difficult thing for foreigners is the consonants. Certain consonants, esp. /T/ and /D/ are very hard to master. Consonant clusters too, esp. the ones involving final /s/ and /d/, are diffiuclt for foreign born speakers, and even for some American English dialect speakers, AAVE for instance.

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Post by Io »

For English, aside from the pronunciation ofc, it's the phrasal verbs. Them motherfuckers, also the immense amount of vocab and slang. I wonder if it's similar with Spanish being spoken in so many countries.
<King> Ivo, you phrase things in the most comedic manner

[quote="Jal"][quote="jme"]Thats just rude and unneeded.[/quote]That sums up Io, basically. Yet, we all love him.[/quote]

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Post by Rui »

I agree with GP about German- definitely word order and adjectives. Certain combos of sounds can be tricky (such as any permutation of /C/, /s/, and /S/)

Mandarin: I would probably say the verb complements (potential complements, directional complements, etc. etc.), and all the syntactic fun that comes along with it. Pronunciation can be tricky, but with a little work, it's not too hard to not sound completely stupid. Some grammatical structures can be difficult to wrap your head around, as well...it took me about 1.5 years to finally understand the 把 construction, and there are more where that came from (是。。。的, f.e.)

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Post by Viktor77 »

Io wrote:For English, aside from the pronunciation ofc, it's the phrasal verbs. Them motherfuckers, also the immense amount of vocab and slang. I wonder if it's similar with Spanish being spoken in so many countries.


However phrasal verbs are a piece of cake when paired next to the Bulgarian verb system.
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Post by Io »

Yeah but nobody learns Bulgarian, soo... so we can have whatever verb system we like.
<King> Ivo, you phrase things in the most comedic manner

[quote="Jal"][quote="jme"]Thats just rude and unneeded.[/quote]That sums up Io, basically. Yet, we all love him.[/quote]

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Post by Ulrike Meinhof »

For Swedish, I would imagine the word order isn't that easy. There are a lot of topic/focus/some other terminology I don't know of things going on, so for example "I didn't know that" can be translated as any of

det visste jag inte
det visste inte jag
jag visste inte det
jag visste det inte
inte visste jag det

depending on context.

And also the three-way deixis contrast between "den", "den här" and "den där".
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Post by rickardspaghetti »

Pronounciation and spelling would probably be difficult too. All these vowel qualities, pitch accent and the numerous ways to spell the /x\/ sound and how the /x\/ is really pronounced. Ugh! I'm glad I'm native.
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Post by neonlights »

A bunch of exceptions.
And a set of different written grammars and orthographies.
:D

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Post by Etherman »

English's piss poor spelling.

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Post by Silk »

A lot of Russians have trouble with the use of articles in English and will either leave out "the" when it is necessary, or insert it when it is not needed.

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Post by Viktor77 »

Silk wrote:A lot of Russians have trouble with the use of articles in English and will either leave out "the" when it is necessary, or insert it when it is not needed.


Czechs do this too. They do it all the freaking time haha. They also forget to use contractions and mix up strong verb forms in my experience.
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