Top 10 Most Difficult Asian Languages

The Top Ten
1 Malayalam

Malayalam is incredibly difficult, as there are so many different ways to describe objects that can tell you various things about the object. For example, the "meh" sound can be added to many nouns to indicate someone is on or in the noun. There are many different versions of these nouns as well.

Malayalam also uses a lot of slang in their vocabulary and figurative language, which could be hard for speakers of other languages to understand. Having a good understanding of the Malayalam language can allow you to learn just about any other language you please.

2 Hindi

Hindi is difficult, but if you start learning Hindi then it is very easy. It is very difficult to write but very easy to learn. If you know Hindi then it's very easy for you because in India the most spoken language is Hindi.

It is very hard for a foreign person to learn.

3 Arabic

This language is almost impossible to learn. I'm trying to learn the languages on the list, and so far I've covered 6: Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Chinese, Tagalog, and Cantonese. I cannot speak this language and I can't write it at all. I don't recommend learning this language unless you're up for a big 10-year challenge.

The writing, the grammar, the sentence structures… everything about Arabic is difficult, even for Arabs like myself. Each letter can be written/read in so many different ways depending on the sentence.

4 Persian

It's pretty complicated for me.

5 Lao
6 Vietnamese

Besides being a tonal language of at least six tones (yes, more than six in some areas), Vietnamese language looks deceptively simple at a glance when it comes to grammar in comparison to other languages such as French. And because of those features, Vietnamese is very dense in meaning with few words. It has a long list of classifiers for almost everything.

Vietnamese is a tonal language, so if you use the wrong tones, you can accidentally say a different word than the word you intentionally tried to say. Also, the northern and southern dialects are different, so people from the north have a hard time understanding the people in the south due to differences in pronunciation.

7 Thai

Speaking easy Thai is possible to achieve through daily life learning, but it's just for easy communication. If you want to master the authentic Thai language, you have to be systematically trained in a formal class. The official writing is the hardest part, even Thai people still have this problem.

Thai is really hard to learn. It's really hard to write, read, and spell out words. I think Thai is harder than Chinese. I am Thai, and it was really easy for me to learn Chinese.

The accent is really complicated.

8 Mandarin Chinese

If you think Chinese isn't the hardest language, you haven't tried it before. Sure, it might be easier for Thai or Vietnamese speakers, but for non-tonal language speakers, it's almost impossible to speak Chinese.

Japanese and Korean have very easy pronunciation. Japan has alphabets, and Korean doesn't even need Chinese characters. They are the least time-consuming languages to learn. I've been learning them for about 10 years in total. If I could, I would learn Korean, Japanese, and one other (language) in the time of studying Mandarin (which is the easiest Chinese language).

9 Korean

Korean is extremely easy to read, and contrary to what people say, the grammar is actually quite easy to understand. What makes it difficult is that Korean has no relation to languages I already speak. It is not related to any language in the world, being what is called a language isolate. However, due to the large amount of Chinese-derived vocabulary, knowing Chinese makes learning Korean much easier.

Unfortunately, I do not speak Chinese, so most of the Korean vocabulary seems totally alien to me. Most of the time, when I need to use a translator to translate a sentence, it's because I don't know what the words translate to, not because I don't understand the grammar. Korean is not as hard as Japanese, though, because of the ridiculously easy writing system.

10 Tibetan

Some ancient Tibetan languages have up to 19 tones! That's more than twice the amount in Cantonese! Just because a language is not widely spoken doesn't mean it's not hard.

The Contenders
11 Japanese

Japanese has two simple alphabets, but it also has several thousand Chinese characters (called kanji), which are used just as often as the other two alphabets. The kanji are actually sometimes more complicated because China has since simplified its characters, whereas Japan has not. By the way, Japanese originated from Chinese. They also have multiple pronunciations - like 7.

Also, the sentence order is different from English, so it's confusing. The use of particles (don't worry about what they are if you don't know) means sentences can be said in any order and still be understandable. There are also conjugations that change depending on the social status of the person you're talking to.

Chinese has characters and tones, but it has really simple grammar. Japanese is so complicated.

12 Tamil

To be honest, I don't know how to read and write Tamil, but I only know how to speak Tamil fluently. For me, Tamil is really hard, even though I was born in Southeast Asia to a Tamil Muslim father and an Arab mother. It is easy for me to learn Arabic - to read, write, and speak it - but learning Tamil to read and write is quite hard, and speaking it is much harder as their pronunciation is rarely found in other languages.

As I watch and speak more to my father's side of the family, I start to speak Tamil fluently. In another way, I found Malayalam easier, even though their words are similar to Tamil.

13 Telugu

I can speak 17 Indian languages, but Telugu is the hardest. It is very hard to spell any word in it.

I can speak 7 and can understand 12 Indian languages, but the most difficult one is Telugu.

Telugu is the toughest language among all the Indian languages.

14 Filipino (Tagalog)

Sure, Tagalog is easy to speak, and there are also a lot of borrowed words. But it has a unique grammar system that not even native speakers realize. I bet many Tagalog speakers don't know what grammatical function the word "ng" has or the difference between "ito" and "nito". What I'm trying to say is that there's a lot going on grammatically that it's easier not to learn the rules but just learn the language.

P.S. I'm a native speaker.

Tagalog is pretty easy, but the grammar's verbal focus will make your head spin. Even as a native Filipino, I got a low grade in this lesson. Master verbal focus and everything will come as easy as a piece of adobo!

15 Bengali

How come this is so far down! Of course, to us Bangladeshis, it's not such a big deal to be able to speak in Bengali. But to most other people in the world, Bangla (or Bengali) can be a really difficult language to learn.

Not being able to pronounce the Bengali words correctly is difficult. Besides, words are very hard to write, and it may take some time to learn writing.

Bengali is very hard to learn for foreigners because it has sounds that other languages don't have.

16 Sinhalese

This is my mother language. Love for Sinhala. I think Sinhala grammar is very difficult to learn. However, you can spell words and short sentences easily.

Sinhalese is the official language of Sri Lanka and the closest language to Malayalam. I'm a native speaker, and I honestly think Sinhala might be really hard for Europeans. Half of its vocabulary is only used in writing, and you need separate conjugations for female, male, single, plural in writing and absolutely no conjugations in speech. This is somewhat like Tamil too.

17 Sanskrit

It has an extremely sophisticated grammar that will take years to master. Even the native speakers make mistakes while using the language. Even a single mistake can disrupt the grammar.

I am Cambodian, and I know it's really hard to learn for other foreigners. But when you can read or speak Khmer, you will find it easy to pronounce other languages.

18 Khmer (Cambodian)

I've been wanting to learn Khmer, but no one really knows the language. I've heard it, though, and it is difficult. Also, it seems their English spelling of words doesn't help at all, as their pronunciation is way different than it looks. I'm interested to see what level of difficulty it would be compared to its surrounding countries and China.

I've read about it, and this language is considered an insanely hard language.

I'm Cambodian, and I only know a few words like "pretty", "hi", and "hello, how are you doing?".

19 Urdu

Urdu is a very easy language to speak, but writing is, of course, difficult.

20 Bahasa Indonesia
21 Kannada
22 Gujarati
23 Burmese

Super confusing. Its grammar has an object-subject-verb order, and there are more than a hundred particles. It's hard for English speakers and its alphabet is rendered into English in a strange way. Hard on so many levels but so interesting.

The Burmese language is really difficult!

Even the Burmese themselves find it difficult to master the Burmese language.

24 Punjabi

I am a native Punjabi speaker. It is a very difficult language to learn as the alphabet contains 30 letters plus 5-6 extra letters (5-6 depending on which dialect of the language you speak, or they may be non-existent for some people for the same reason). But it is a very beautiful language.

The number of speakers is very low, though, which is sad because it shows the language may soon become extinct at this rate. I encourage everyone to look into the language and find out some things about it.

As a native Punjabi speaker, it is easy to learn to speak, but reading and writing are a little more difficult. I can speak it perfectly but can't read or write, and it is slowly going extinct because no one is willing to speak it and parents don't want to teach their kids because they think it is not necessary.

25 Nepali

Learning the Nepali language can take a lot of time. There are 26 alphabets plus 12 extra alphabets (which are said to be vowels). My friend is a Nepalese speaker. After she went overseas for 2 years, she forgot how to read and write in Nepalese.

She learned Nepalese, but still, after 2 years, she still has difficulties reading and writing in Nepalese.

There are so many Nepali languages. It's similar to Hindi, so most people in Nepal do speak Hindi. Even the writing is the same as Hindi. The hardest part is that people speak quite fast, so it is quite hard to understand.

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