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Most difficult aspect of your native language for foreigners
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Author:  Simmalti [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:15 am ]
Post subject:  Most difficult aspect of your native language for foreigners

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.

Author:  Guitarplayer II [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:22 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Io [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:29 am ]
Post subject: 

I think I got a hold of the word order after two semesters but Christ the annoying derdiedas crap is just soooo frustrating.

Author:  Kaenif [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 5:58 am ]
Post subject: 

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*

Author:  Koffiegast [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:15 am ]
Post subject: 

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

Author:  Thomas Winwood [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:54 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Declan [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:06 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  finlay [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:23 am ]
Post subject: 

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?'

Author:  Guitarplayer II [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:25 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  캉탁 [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:25 am ]
Post subject: 

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


Auxiliary verbs too...

Author:  Viktor77 [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:29 am ]
Post subject: 

English: Past and perfect distinction.

Author:  Gaxa [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:04 am ]
Post subject: 

Palatalization, for Russian.

Either they overdo it, or underdo it.

Author:  jal [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:19 am ]
Post subject: 

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.


JAL

Author:  Koffiegast [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:54 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  BettyCross [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:59 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Betty Cross

Author:  Io [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:08 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Rui [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:15 am ]
Post subject: 

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.)

Author:  Viktor77 [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:18 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Io [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:33 am ]
Post subject: 

Yeah but nobody learns Bulgarian, soo... so we can have whatever verb system we like.

Author:  Ulrike Meinhof [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:04 am ]
Post subject: 

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".

Author:  rickardspaghetti [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:17 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  neonlights [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:19 am ]
Post subject: 

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

Author:  Etherman [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:41 am ]
Post subject: 

English's piss poor spelling.

Author:  Silk [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:46 am ]
Post subject: 

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.

Author:  Viktor77 [ Fri Aug 13, 2010 10:47 am ]
Post subject: 

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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