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.

Malayalam is the sexiest language in the world. You have to clean your tongue before you start speaking out anything in Malayalam. The word malayalam itself is a fascinating string palindrome.
I should note that Tamil sounds like sing-a-song for girls, and Chinese languages seem to be having sounds similar to falling metal objects, although I like both of them very much. The typical fluency of Tamil language as a whole is just magnificent. Peace!

"I'm a native Malayali, but since I since I was young, I used to speak Hindi along with Malayalam. In school I speak English. What has happened now is that, I find it difficult to speak in Malayalam.
I keep messing up words in Malayalam. I much as I understand, the letters are very difficult to pronounce. You need to twist and turn your tongue to speak it. But in general it is a really beautiful language.
The script and writing is complex too.
So as far as I know, Malayalam is one, really difficult language."

Simple to remember the main letters, but they do tend to look alike. Also, when Malayalam is written in other fonts, it's such a pain to read. Advantage is that it's fairly straightforward to read, and phonetical, but since some letters have virtually no difference to say, then that can be hard to write. If you know it and can understand it well, then it'll be simple. Watch out for na and nna, hard ra and soft ra, zha, when chillaksharam na is followed by ra - because that makes intta, most of the time, and that would be because of printing space.

2 Hindi

Why is this even here, it is not a language at all. India has dozens of languages and they can be extremely different because there is the Dravidian language branch in the south and Indo-European language branch everywhere else. Heck, indo-European is the language branch that English, French, Italian, Persian, and many other languages are from. Both of these language branches are very different.

Seriously? "Indian Language"? There's no language called "Indian language". I mean really? There are a lot of languages in India. Anyways, if this is supposed for any language from India, then I deny it. I'm not fluent, but one language I know. It's easy for me. And then again, these are all opinions.

Indian Languages other than hindi are very difficult, if you know Hindi, then you could communicate with 67% of india. Only South Indian and North-Eastern India languages are difficult, if you know english then you could communicate with them.

"Indian language" seriously? But most of the languages in India are incredibly hard. The pronunciations have to be very precise and the sentence structure is quite different from English.

3 Arabic

This language should be almost impossible just learning. I'm trying to learn the languages on the list, and so for I've covered 6. Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Chinese, Tagalog and Cantonese. I cannot speak this and I can't wright 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.

Arabic is the hardest language to learn for an English speaker because of the letters.

It is Much harder to learn arabic Than Korean. And you know it.

4 Persian

It is usually grouped as being in the second hardest GROUP of languages. It is my first language, so I don't know how hard other people think it is. Conjugations are very simple and there is no masculin or feminin unlike many other languages. It may be easy for English speakers because it is from the Indo-European language branch (the group of languages that stretch from Europe to Central Asia and North India, the same group as English and most other European languages). It is not in the same language group as Arabic (which is an Afro-Asiatic language, the language branch spoken in parts of Asia and Africa). It does have some Arabic influence though from Arab invasions. So this language might be easier than some think.

No, its not. Actually, it's so easy. I can speak Persian and I think it's better than English

Its pretty complicated for me.

5 Vietnamese

as a vietnamese myself, I don't find it really hard, well a little bit at least. Although there are no conjugations here and there, most vietnamese words are short and the word order is the same as the common european languages. But if you mean the pronunciation, that is, and since it's a strict tonal language, and you have to deal with words that have multiple meanings.

Beside being a tonal language of at least 6 tones (yes, more than 6 in some areas), Vietnamese language looks deceptive simple at a glance when it comes to grammar in comparison to other languages such as French; and because of those features that Vietnamese 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.

My mom speaks Vietnamese and Cantonese when talking on the phone with my CA relatives. I understand Cantonese but not Vietnamese. Based on the context that she used when speaking in Vietnamese, I am convinced that she was talking trash about me.

6 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 use, you have to be systematically trained in the formal class. The official writing is the hardest part, even Thai people still have this problem.

For Cambodian, Thai is a super easy language. My friends learned it by internet for only 3 months, they can comunicate with Thai. I was in Thailand 3 nights. I realized that it is yeah easy. Tones sounds difficult. But for Cambodain, it would not pose any problem. Khmer language has all Thai consonants and sylables. But Thai don't have all of Khmer consonants and sylables.

I'm Thai and I think the idea that Thai is hard is actually not true even in the slightest. Thai has very easy grammar and syntax. The pronunciation can be hard, but still far from impossible.

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.

7 Mandarin Chinese

I saw Chinese was on here, but I wanted to specify. I have visited China and from the little I know, it is a highly complex language with not only a massive vernacular, but also a broad range of phonemes. Tone and pitch of the same sound can have totally different meanings- there are at least 4 definitions of the word "shi" based on pronunciation.

Chinese should be 1!, there are 5 different pronunciations so the way you are saying ma could mean mother, horse, scold etc, not to mention that there are TWO chinese languages, this is especially difficult for english speakers

If you do think Chinese isn't the hardest language, you haven't tried it before. Sure, it might be easier for Thai or Vietnamese, but for non-tonal language speakers it's almost impossible to SPEAK Chinese. Japanese and Korean have very easy pronunciation, Japan has alphabets, Korean doesn't even need Chinese characters, it's the least time consuming language to learn. I've been learning them three about 10 years in total. If I could I would learn Korean, Japanese and one other in the time of studying Mandarin (which is the easiest Chinese language).

Okay but Chinese should be far higher up. I live in America with two first generation immigrant parents and they've been teaching me chinese ever since I was four, and I still find it rather difficult. So I think maybe chinese should be considered harder than some of the languages up there

8 Lao
9 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 it's characters whereas Japan has not (Japanese originated from Chinese by the way). They also have multiple pronunciations - like 7. Also the sentence order is different to English so it's confusing. The use of particles (don't worry what they are if you don't know) means sentences can be said in any order and still understandable. There's also conjugations which change depending on the social status of person you're talking to. Chinese has characters and tones but it has really really really simple grammar. Japanese is so complicated.

When it comes to writing it's very tough to master.
Of course reading speaking is also complicated with many types of alphabets and difficult grammar.
Definitely the most difficult in the Asia though beautiful language.

Even Japanese can't speak perfect Japanese... So complicated and so many beautiful vocabulary that can not translate to English. But to speak broken Japanese is easier than other.

It might easy for Korean people because their grammar are very similar such as 'Sou des ka? ' to 'Geureot seupni ka? ' means Really? And 'Sou the' to 'Geureot the' means Yes, that's real. Also, many words are came from Chinese.

10 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 actually is not related to any language in the world, being what is called a language isolate, but due to the large amount of Chinese derived vocabulary, knowing Chinese makes learning Korean much easier. I do not speak Chinese, unfortunately, so most of the Korean vocabulary seems totally alien to me, and 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.

Korean to be honest isn't as bad as you might think. Each character is assembled not by meaning like Chinese but by sound, so first you put the consonant, then the vowel. It's a lot like English except that the word are stacked on top of each other (I'm Korean)

It might easy for Japanese and Chinese people. Their are similar worlds based on Chinese and grammar is simmilar to Japanese. The words are little bit similar to Japanese such as 'kosokdoro' (kosokudoro in Japanese) means highway and 'muri' (muri in Japanese) means not make sense.

Korean is much harder to learn than Arabic and you know it. Damn the other person who said arabic is harder, its slighly easier. Korean has no connection to other languages

The Contenders
11 Tamil

TBH, 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 I born in South East Asia to a Tamil Muslim father and Arab mother... It is easy for me to learn Arabic read, write and speak but learning Tamil to read and write is quite hard and speaking it, is much harder as their pronunciation is rarely be found in other languages... As I watch and speak more to my father side people, I start to speak Tamil fluently... In another way, I found Malayalam is easier even their words are similar to Tamil...

I'm a Tamilian who was born and raised in America. I find that Tamil is not hard to understand, but very difficult to speak, because the language contains so many sounds that are not commonly found in other languages, and words are often differentiated by minor differences in pronunciation. The writing system is also quite hard- even my parents, who both grew up in India, have trouble reading the script (although this is probably because they studied Hindi instead of Tamil at school).

Tamil, which is predominantly spoken in South India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malasyia and Maldives is relatively easier to understand than some of the other south Indian languages because of its clarity in pronunciation. But it is very difficult for a foreigner to speak in that language because of the stress that people need to put on words to pronounce them. If you know either Telugu, Kannada or Malayalam, then it will be easier for you to learn Tamil.

To learn Tamil first you have to know how to twist your tongue well. Otherwise you can't differentiate the words, then the meaning will differ. As it is a classic language, generally it is difficult to learn.

12 Tibetan

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

13 Telugu

I think Telugu would be easier to learn for someone who already speaks a South Indian language. Even for North Indians, I don't think it is impossible as it is very close to Sanskrit and even preserves many elements of Sanskrit that other Indian languages have lost.
The script is not overly complex as it is very logical. It definitely takes a lot of practice though. The gender is also easier than other languages as most things are conjugated with the female verb form, one doesn't need to remember any genders. I think Telugu is the easier of the south Indian languages and I would say that a serious student should be able to learn it easily.

I was born and bought up in Australia. But my parents were born in India and all of my family is in India as well. I speak English every day, but Telugu will always be my mother tongue. It is an amazing language, and unlike English, it is actually easier to learn. In English there are many ways to spell and read each word, where as in Telugu there is only one way. Telugu is not actually as hard as everyone says it is. In fact it is probably easier than English, in some ways.

"Desha bashalandhu telugu lessa". Quote from Sri Krishna Devaraya, Emperor of Vijayanagara Empire of Karnataka, stating Telugu is the best among all Indian languages. It is simple for normal people and yet carries very depth for poets and linguists.

Nope as of me, I am from kerala, its very easy for me to learn telugu.. I had never been to andra, I have no telugu friends too, still I could understand telugu... Its easy for keralaites...

14 Punjabi

I am a native Punjabi speaker. It is a very difficult language to learn as the alphabet contains 30 letters + 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 is 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.

I also speak Punjabi, my whole family speaks it and due to that fact I was desperate to go to classes an graduated them at A level still just as I became a teen. It really is a beautiful language with so much culture and history behind it and I hope for it to come back from the few speakers and flourishes again.

So beautiful language

15 Filipino (Tagalog)

Filipino (Tagalog) is one of the easy language in Asia, why? Simply because the Philippines is colonized by the Spain and America at the top. More than 90% of Filipino are English speaking, and some of them are Taglish (Tagalog-English). Aside from English, some of Filipino words are similar to Spanish language. The Philippines/Filipino are very fast learners and more advanced in my own opinion. Filipinos are hardworking obviously.

Sure, Tagalog is easy to speak and there's 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 kill your head. Even as a native Filipino, I got a low grade in this lesson. Master Verbal Focus and everything will come a piece of adobo!

I am an Ilonggo/Hiligaynon (4th most spoken dialect in the Philippines) and I find Filipino a little bit of difficult. Although I can speak and write, I'm not really sure if I can speak a straight Filipino for about how many minutes. Also, there are so many words which sounds the same but spelled and meant differently (e.g. "nang" and "ng") It's quite confusing in my part sometimes. And also when to use hyphens and different punctuation marks. Lol.

16 Bengali

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

Not begin able to pronounce the Bengali words correctly. Besides words are very hard to write and it may take some time to some writing.

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

It is easy to speak Bengali if it is your mother tongue but reading, writting and mastering spelling is the hardest part.

17 Sinhalese

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.

Sinhalese is a bit tough to learn, but it is one of the most beautiful languages to ever exist, starting from the pretty, rounded letters and song like pronunciation. If you want to learn Sinhalese, just go for it. It's worth it.

I am a native Sinhalese speaker although some written grammatical forms are difficult. But very rich language to express correct sound and meanings.

Because I am Sinhalese and there is hard words and even I find it a bit hard.

18 Sanskrit

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

I am Cambodian, and I knew it really hard to learn for other foreigner. but when you can read or speak Khmer you will be easy to pronouncing another language.

19 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 don't help at all as their pronunciation is waay different than it looks. I'm interested to see what level of difficulty it would be on compared to it's surrounding countries and China.

I've read about it. And this language considered as an insanely hard language.

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

Probably the toughest I say 72 alphabets not including the headers

20 Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesia has more than 740 native languanges, to united all of them. Indonesia made national languange which is called "bahasa". Bahasa is simple in order people easy to learn.

But from all native languanges, any some languange that hard to learn and do. The harsest one is "Basa Jawa". It's similiar to thai, Cambodia, etc but to do this languange you have to know your opposite talker. You will do difference word when you talk toward older, younger, at your age, importance pearson, etc. So, one word has many same words.

I am a native in this language. The language is so simple. You just need to memorize the words and put them in Subject + Verb + Object +... then it has meaning.

21 Urdu

Great language. I love it.

22 Gujarati

I disagree since mostly everyone in my class knows Gujarati including my teacher being Canadian

23 Kannada

Tough language to learn

24 Burmese

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

Burmese language is really difficult!

25 Nepali

Learning Nepali language can take a lot of time. There 26 alphabet +12 extra alphabet (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 same to Hindi. The hardest part is people speak quite fast, so it is quite hard to understand.

Very tough. There are more than 50 Nepali cultural languages.

Very hard to write.

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