Which Asian languages sound best
The simplest Asian languages: a ranking
Let's face it: the thought of learning an Asian language can be quite intimidating. As the largest continent in the world, Asia is home to a huge number of languages and dialects belonging to different language families. However, if you are not intimidated by their number and complexity, there are numerous career and travel opportunities that most of your friends do not even dare to dream of.
A total ranking of the more than 2300 different languages spoken by the population of around 4.5 billion people on the Asian continent naturally exceeds our capacities by far. We will therefore limit ourselves to the most common, starting with the simplest. So, if you've always wondered what the easiest Asian languages are, read on!
1. IndonEsian or Malay
Indonesian is of course the official language of Indonesia, but is listed here together with Malaysian, as the former is considered a Malaysian dialect. Malaysian is not spoken only in Malaysia, as the name suggests, but also in Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore, to name a few. With over 77 million speakers, it's well worth a mention.
But what makes the language so easy compared to others? Malaysian has no conjugations, no plural, no genders and best of all: no tenses! In addition, the modern Malaysian alphabet uses Latin letters, making Malaysian one of the simplest Asian languages!
Khmer or Cambodian is the official language of Cambodia and, like Vietnamese, belongs to the Mon Khmer family, with the latter taking 14th place on our list of the simplest Asian languages. But what makes Khmer so easy compared to the other languages of his family? On the one hand, Khmer is not a tonal language like Vietnamese, for example, which means that differences in meaning are not indicated by different speaking heights.
On the other hand, like English, French, Spanish and most other European languages, Khmer uses an SVO (Subject Verb Object) sentence structure and a relatively simple word order, which considerably simplifies the grammar. You will have to learn a new system of writing, but you will be spared memorizing the pitch as it does not change from word to word.
Traveling to Thailand and learning Thai is worthwhile just because of the neon-lit Bangkok at night, the peaceful Thai temples, the cheap and good food on every street corner and the worldwide unique paradise beaches. The alphabet has 44 consonants and 15 vowels, which you have to learn, but at least there is no distinction between upper and lower case.
The Foreign Service Institute of the United States classifies Thai as level IV on the difficulty scale for languages - in the same category as Vietnamese and Hungarian, for example. As a result, an average of 44 weeks of learning are necessary in order to acquire a language level suitable for everyday work. The perfect excuse for an extended stay in Thailand!
15. Dravidian languages
What are Dravidian languages? They all belong to a language family with over 70 individual languages. The most widely spoken languages are Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Malayalam, which are spoken by over 220 million people, mainly in southern, central and parts of eastern India. If you are planning a language trip to India to sample the world-famous flavorsome food or to admire some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, learning a Dravidian language will certainly help.
But what makes this so difficult? Apart from the fact that you use a different writing system, Dravidian languages are agglutinating, which means that word formation takes place with the help of affixes, which is rather unusual for most speakers of European languages. This sometimes results in rather long word combinations, but at least German speakers are unlikely to be impressed by it.
Mandarin is the most widely spoken of all Chinese languages and therefore the most widely learned by foreigners. But it is definitely NOT one of the simplest Asian languages! The famous Chinese characters are so-called logograms, which means that they stand for whole words and not for individual letters. The basic vocabulary consists of an estimated 3,500 characters - but there are around 80,000 in total!
The good news is that the Pinyin system uses the Latin alphabet for the phonetic transcription of Chinese characters, which makes things a lot easier for beginners. Another difficulty is pronunciation, as the meaning of a word depends on its accent. There are four different pitches, but luckily the context helps you make yourself understood. It is still worth the effort, because learning Chinese will open up a number of doors on the international job market for you, and it will also make things easier for you when it comes to traveling. Take the plunge into the deep end!
Tourism in South Korea is booming thanks to pulsating cities, dreamy landscapes and fascinating mountains. If you're aiming for a career in business, tech giants like Samsung, headquartered in Seoul, can no doubt help you learn Korean. The Korean alphabet, known as Hangul, has 14 characters for consonants and 10 for vowels, which are combined into blocks by syllable.
It is also interesting that Korean is an isolated language, that is, it is not related to any other known language. In terms of the number of weeks of study required, Korean is classified as level V. So it takes around 88 weeks to speak the language fluently. But the countless Korean TV shows on Netflix are sure to help!
Maybe you already guessed, but the most difficult Asian language to learn is almost universally considered to be Japanese. Experts estimate that you’ll need about 2,200 study hours to be able to make the claim that you speak Japanese.
But why is the language so complicated? It already starts with the Japanese spelling, because there are three fonts: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are syllabary scripts and are used for the same sounds (Katakana mainly for foreign words), Kanji in turn describes whole words, mostly derived from Chinese. But don't be discouraged, because the great thing about learning Japanese is that the words have no gender, the verbs are not conjugated, and there are no multiple sounds like in most other Asian languages. Ready to learn Japanese?
So if you've always dreamed of a trip to Asia, take the plunge into the deep end and learn one of its languages. This will help you get closer to the culture and discover a new country as you face a new challenge.
Off to Asia to learn languages!
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