Which is harder, Finnish or Arabic?

General discussion about learning languages
94000d
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Which is harder, Finnish or Arabic?

Postby 94000d » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:06 am

Which language is harder for a native English speaker, Finnish or Modern Standard Arabic?
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leosmith
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Re: Which is harder, Finnish or Arabic?

Postby leosmith » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:59 am

Assuming a level playing field (equal amounts of exposure, motivation, resources, etc), I'll go with Arabic mainly because FSI does. I'd be curious to see a point by point comparison from someone who knows the languages well.
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Henkkles
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Re: Which is harder, Finnish or Arabic?

Postby Henkkles » Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:04 am

Finnish has had around two thousand years of Germanic contact in its history, which has given Finnish at least three distinct layers of Germanic vocabulary comprising several thousand lexemes, and affected the syntax quite heavily. We even have Germanic derivational morphemes, which attests to the intensity of the contact.

By this virtue I'd expect learning Arabic properly would take 2-4 times as much time as learning Finnish.
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Urdr
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Re: Which is harder, Finnish or Arabic?

Postby Urdr » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:29 pm

I've done about a year of each and I definitely found Arabic harder but Finnish more frustrating, though that doesn't have much to do with the languages themselves really and more my reaction to them.

For me the hardest thing about Arabic as a beginner was learning another script before I even started learning a language. Then I found my motivation dropped a bit as I didn't know when I would be in an Arabic speaking country to use it. I'd only started Arabic for "academic" reasons, and it was never a language I felt motivated to learn by myself or do non-assigned work on, so it was inevitable that progress was going to be slow and I eventually put it to one side.

With Finnish I can write sentences and feel more confident that I can dive in and give it a go, even if the grammar won't be 100% right, so it's more enjoyable and I'm more motivated. But because I feel like I've made much more progress and can actually express myself in small ways in Finnish, I do get frustrated by how little I understand. I've mainly learned Romance languages before (aside from German and Irish at school) so made quicker progress in those, due to carryover and similarities. Very much not the case for me with Finnish and I have to make much more of an active effort to learn vocabulary and accept low levels of comprehension for a while yet. I could definitely do more to help myself there though.

I do find the difference between spoken and written language an interesting parallel between the two languages.
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