Liraz is an International SEO and Content Expert with over 13 years of experience.
Hungarian may be the most difficult language in the world for an English speaker to learn, for a variety of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation reasons.
Ah, language learning. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of learning a language; I collect them like a hobby. While I’m only fluent in a very small number, I can casually speak quite a few because I enjoy dipping my toes into a language.
I know a lot of people are not so happy about it; many folks struggle with languages, in the same way, I would struggle in math – and just as irritates me when people who are good with numbers tell me how easy Calculus is, I know it’s irritating to people when I tell them how easy it is to learn a language.
So, let’s take a different tack this time around. What’s the hardest language in the world to learn for an English speaker? While some might suggest Arabic or Cantonese, I would suggest that Hungarian (or Magyar, as the natives sometimes refer to it) is hands-down the most difficult language for an English speaker to learn.
The first piece of evidence for my suggestion is the fact that Hungarian has 35 distinct cases. English, by way of contrast, has largely abandoned the case system – the remnants are still there, but in general, it’s possible to speak quite clearly and correctly without any understanding of the case in English, and in fact many do.
Now, the number ‘35’ is misleading. You’ll often see 18 as a more reasonable number. The reason for this disparity is the fact that many of these ‘cases’ apply only to prepositions, which are then appended to the words themselves. So, yes, there is such a thing as the Accusative case in Hungarian, but that simply means that a single letter gets attached to the word to mark it as an object. Still, whether 18 or 35, the Case system in Hungarian is a nightmare.
Sadly, the terror of Hungarian doesn’t end there – Hungarian is a very expressive language that relies on idioms more than other languages, meaning it seems like a secret code to newcomers. In addition to all those cases, there are also 14 different vowels, nearly twice as many in English, and this not only makes spelling and comprehension difficulties, it means the words themselves are nightmares of unfamiliar appearance. Consider Italian or French: As you an English speaker, you might recognize many of the words in those languages by sight. This will not happen in Hungarian. Plus, there are two verb forms, the definite and indefinite, just to ensure you’re driven completely mad.
And Hungarian is difficult to speak and understand, as well, using a lot of ‘throaty’ sounds that are not only tough for people to mimic, but can actually be a little painful at replicate at first, until you get used to it. Consider the word for computer, számítógép. Do you have any idea how to pronounce that? I thought not!
Looking for localization services or translation services? Contact us today!
What our customers are saying
International YouTube Star Nuseir Yassin, Owner of Nas Daily, Grows Russian Language YouTube Channel 35% with BLENDMatt Strach Nas Daily is a social media channel from Arab-Israeli content creator and entrepreneur, Nuseir Yassin. “Nas” means people in Arabic, and by creating unique stories about people and places that bring people...
Simply Increases App Conversion Rate by 10% with BLEND Localization ServicesMatt Strach With comprehensive materials ready for translation and new campaigns prepping to launch, BLEND wasted no time integrating with Simply’s Translation Management Platform, Crowdin, and getting localization started using a unique combination of...
Lightricks Improved Localization Delivery Rates by 120%!Shira Pik-Nathan Lightricks is a pioneer in innovative technology that leads to breakthrough moments throughout the creation process. On a mission to push the limits of technology to reimagine the way creators express themselves, the...
BLEND Helps Payoneer Reduce KYC Verification Times with Localization Services in 50 LanguagesMatt Strach Payoneer is the world’s go-to partner for digital commerce, everywhere. From borderless payments to boundless growth, Payoneer promises any business, in any market, the technology, connections and confidence to participate and flourish...