WHILE THE EASIEST LANGUAGES for English speakers to learn have some syntactic common ground with English, the toughest ones are quite alien.
Learners tackle writing systems, tonality, and grammatical systems so different, they can make an English-speaking head spin.
This means that if you pick up conversational Arabic in Tunisia, it might still be tough to be understood in Kuwait.
For all dialects of Arabic, pronunciation is difficult for English speakers, as many consonants are formed at the back of the mouth.
Arabic script is a phonetic, 28-symbol alphabet descending from Phonecian.
Most letters change shape depending on their position in the word, and letters may or may not be joined.
The most basic challenge in tackling written Arabic is in reading from right to left, working against an English speaker’s deeply embedded instinct.
Arabic grammar has very few parallels with English and Indo-European languages.The plural is expressed by changing the vowel structure of the word: kitab (book) becomes kutub (books).The bulk of verbs are irregular and can be formed 25 ways.It’s a logical grammar system, but a complicated one too.In a study conducted by the British Foreign Office, Basque was ranked as the hardest language to learn.Geographically surrounded by Romance languages, it is one of the only language isolates of Europe, with no syntactic parallels to English.