Why isn't English the easiest language?
If you ask many people and even look at many web sites you will get many different answers almost none of which are based on research.
This site is based on real research by scientists and even includes results of a masters degree thesis and beginning doctoral dissertation which was an empirical (scientifically provable) study on what would be the easiest language to learn for all peoples of the world.
The easiest language would be easier to learn than all other languages. It would not have hundreds of irregular verbs or thousands of ambiguous words. It would not have thousands of idioms that are expressions that even if you know all of the words the meaning is different and has to be memorized. It would have words that are pronounced as spelled and spelled as pronounced. The pronunciation would be simplified. All verbs would follow a regular form. Its grammar would not be full of exceptions. The easiest language would not force you to memorize thousands of endings and or genders. It would have a lot of words that you would recognize. There would have to be books about it and literature available. It would have to have been a proven language used by all ages and professional persons.
This site will not tell you what you want to hear but rather just give you the facts. There are no politics here nor national favoritism just scientific facts.
And the answer you will see will be a win win for everyone.
we are speaking below of the average learner with average learning abilities.
There are a few gifted people who can pick up new languages as adults much quicker
than the rest of us. Note children achieve fluency in 8 or so years while their
minds are fresh and not fixed to set language patterns. That is over 70,000 hours.
Adults usually require longer times than children.
about English. All of us native English speakers find it the easiest for us because
we learned it to fluency as a child. Of course this is true. But the Chinese,
Russian, Eskimo or Hungarian all feel their language is the easiest for them.
Alute and Hungarian are noted for being particularly difficult. English grammar
as grammar goes is surprisingly easy compared to other languages. But think back
did you find English grammar easy. English has 1400 grammar rules with hundreds
of exceptions. The problem wasn't the grammar it was the thousands of exceptions.
Is there a rule without an exception?
English is the largest language with over one million words and the most widespread. It is one of the "easier languages", although it is abut 100 times as difficult as the easiest language. But English suffers some major problems: It holds the record for the most words not spelled as spoken (estimated to be over 500,000). Over half of its words are not spelled as pronounced. It has the worst spelling in the world. It holds the record for the most irregular verbs 283 (Guinness 147).
It has over 8,000 idioms. It has hundreds of words that present continuing problems even to native speakers. An idiom is a group of words which even if you know the meaning of every word the meaning is different and you still have to memorize the different meaning. English has a huge amount of slang and jargon which adds extra burden to learners. Many phrases in English are often idiomatic and have to be memorized.
It has the most ambiguous vocabulary of all languages. The word "set" for example has 58 noun uses and 126 verb uses. The English word 'inebriated' has 2,241 synonyms. The English word 'isosceles' has 259 spellings and 'cushion' has about 400 spellings (McFarian, 1990 p 144). That is that many words have many meanings many of them conflicting or uncertain. Many words are not logical and similar words sometimes have opposite meanings. When one adds up all of these factors there is a tremendous amount of memorization work.
It has words that are too long for common use such as the English word praetertranssubstantiationalistically (37 letters). The longest real word is floccipaucinihilipilification (from the Oxford English Dictionary) 29 letters (McFarian, 1990, 144-146). The English vocabulary contains 490,000 words plus 300,000 technical terms the most of any language. "but it is doubtful in any individual uses more than 60,000; The membership in the International Society for Philosophical Enquiry (no admission for IQ's below 148 have an average vocabulary of 36,250; Shakespeare employed a vocabulary of c. 33,000 words (Guinness) English has the most duplicate words. There are hundreds of exceptions to the over 1,400 grammar rules (Houghton-Mifflin).
The Barron's Educational Series on languages lists well over 1001 extra facts that need to be memorized in English. Charles Berlitz states that the average speaker uses about 2,800 different English words daily. The Sunday newspaper has about 25,000 words. He states that well read speakers can recognize 25,000-50,000 words (Berlitz, 1982, 137). Charles Berlitz also states that English has a vocabulary more than twice the size of any other language and the next in size is German (1982, 311). Mario Pei states that every (national) language is "laden with idioms" (1949, 144). Charles Berlitz states that one of the big disadvantages of English is its "nonphonetic spelling. One splendid example is the phrase 'though a rough cough and hiccough plough me through'--in which -ough is pronounced six different ways" (1982, 314).
English has many difficulties and often takes average people over 10 years to master the speaking and writing. Many students of English, even native speakers and even after many years of study, still make many grammatical errors in speaking and cannot write a business letter.
So regretfully our favorite language is not the easiest to learn. Scientifically it is one of the easier ones but it is at least 100 times as difficult as the easiest language. Sorry.