Here’s an article from this week’s Economist. Though I seldom agree with the writers there (mostly because they are so libertarian) – I love the intelligence and wit of their writers and so usually devour even their articles on the most boring of topics.
This article addresses the question – what is the world’s most difficult language? ( see the comments HERE – very interesting!)
That’s a tall order and the article for the most part is a primer for many beginning linguistics courses. A nice one that would be a great read for many graduate students. Still, they do come up with “the world’s most difficult language” but I think they should have qualified that with “for English speakers”. It all depends on where you are coming from, what your own language is. They don’t mention anything about this nor interference….
Also, I’m a big relativist when it comes to things so broad and “ALL consuming” as language. I believe every language is qualitatively as difficult as any other. It’s all in the nuance. Language is all about nuance….so when you look beyond the official concrete attributes of a language (sound, inflection, grammar, stress, morphology etc…) and get into its “spirit” (which is probably somewhere within the discipline of semiotics) – you see how difficult all language is. How fine and sharp is the result (meaning) and how all languages are a universe , an incomparable universe of their own….
That’s my take.
For the record – the world’s most difficult language according to the Economist was – Tuyuca – a language from the Eastern Amazon.