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            語言學習難度

            Which languages are easiest -- and most difficult -- for native English speakers to learn?
            對于以英語為母語的人來說,哪種語言最容易學,哪種又是最難的?(最易與最難學習的語言是什么)

            With so much time on our hands during lockdown, many of us have entertained the idea of expanding our horizons.
            在疫情期間,很多人想利用大把的時間來開闊眼界。
            Learning a foreign language is an obvious option.
            學習外語是顯而易見的一個選擇。
            It's one that I would personally endorse: My individual circumstances were such that, by the age of 12, I could speak German, Greek and English, so languages became my passion and my hobby.
            我個人贊同這一點:拿我自己來說,在我12歲的時候,我會說德語、希臘語和英語,所以語言成為了我的熱情和愛好。
            My advice is that you should learn a language because you're also interested in the culture and the country.
            我建議,您也對文化和國家感興趣的話,您應該學習一種語言。
            If you like Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, learn Russian. If you're going to live in Bangkok, learn Thai. If your partner is Mexican, learn Spanish.
            如果你喜歡托爾斯泰和陀思妥耶夫斯基,那就學俄語吧。如果你要住在曼谷,那就學泰語。如果你的伙伴是墨西哥人,那就學習西班牙語。
            And remember: Although you can get by as a tourist in, possibly, weeks, mastering a language is a long-term commitment taking years, not months.
            記住:雖然你要旅游時可以在幾周內學習到一門語言,但若要掌握則是一個長期的過程,需要幾年的時間,而不是僅僅數月就可以。

            Language and diplomacy語言與外交

            After World War II, the United States expanded its influence around the world by training its embassy staff in the local languages of the countries they were in.
            第二次世界大戰后,美國通過訓練其在各國大使館中的工作人員習得當地語言來擴大其在世界各地的影響力。
            Thankfully for language learners today, the US Foreign Service Institute's language books and tapes can be found online.
            值得慶幸的是,對于今天的語言學習者來說,美國外交服務學院的語言書籍和磁帶在網上就可以找到。
            These are the best free courses available, though you can still detect a touch of the Cold War in the syllabus ("Where is the state clothing shop?").
            盡管你仍然可以在課程大綱中發現一點冷戰的痕跡(例如:“州服裝店在哪里?”),但這些都是最好的免費課程。
            Best of all, the FSI has done us a great service by classifying languages in degrees of difficulty for English speakers.
            最重要的是,FSI為我們提供了很棒的一項服務是,它為說英語的人將語言難度進行了分類。
             Here are a few examples, ranked in order of the number of hours it takes the average learner to master them from lowest to highest:
            以下是一些例子,按照學習者掌握這些技能所需的時間從低到高排序:
             

            Easiest (about 600 hours of study)最易學的(學習大約600個小時

            After just 600 hours of study, you'll have no trouble fitting in on the streets of Paris.
            只要學習600個小時,你就會毫不費力地適應巴黎的街道。
            Along with Dutch and Norwegian, the popular Latin languages -- Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese -- require about 600 hours of study to achieve "general professional proficiency" in speaking and reading.
            與荷蘭語和挪威語一樣,流行的拉丁語系——意大利語、法語、西班牙語和葡萄牙語——需要大約600個小時的學習才能在口語和閱讀方面達到“一般專業水平”。
            Of these, Spanish and Italian are the easiest for native English speakers to learn, followed by Portuguese and finally French.
            其中,英語為母語的人最容易學習西班牙語和意大利語,其次是葡萄牙語,最后是法語。
            They share many words with English, but it's that common vocabulary that creates "false friends" -- words in different languages that look or sound similar, but differ significantly as meanings have drifted with time. For instance, in Spanish an "embarazada" woman is pregnant, while a French "préservatif" is not something you add to your food, but a condom.
            它們和英語有很多共同的詞匯,但這些共同的詞匯創造了“假朋友”——在不同的語言中,這些詞看起來或聽起來很相似,但隨著時間的推移,意思卻有很大的不同。例如,在西班牙語中,“embarazada”是婦女懷孕了,而在法語中,“
            préservatif"不是你添加到食物中的東西,而是安全套。
            While French and Italian are pretty standardized, you must choose whether to learn Latin American Spanish or "castellano," which is spoken in Spain; they differ as much as US English and British English.
            雖然法語和意大利語都很標準,但你必須選擇是學習拉丁美洲的西班牙語還是西班牙人說的“卡斯蒂亞語”;像美式英語和英式英語一樣也是不盡相同。
            The choice is even more striking with Portuguese; long ago I opted for Brazilian and to this day I still can't properly understand speakers from Portugal.
            葡萄牙語的選擇更驚人 。很久以前,我選擇了巴西語,直到今天,我仍然不能正確地理解葡萄牙人說的話。


            German (750 hours)德語(750小時

            Interested in reading Karl May's "Wild West" series in its original language? You'll need to spend 750 hours mastering German first
            想讀卡爾·梅(Karl May)的《狂野西部》(Wild West)系列原著嗎?首先你需要花750個小時來掌握德語。.
            One of my German teachers used to joke that it takes you a year to say, "I'm traveling on the bus," but once you're on that bus, it's plain sailing.
            我的一位德語老師曾經開玩笑說,你要花一年的時間才能說:“我坐公交去旅行。”但是一旦你上了那輛公交車,一切就變得很容易了。
            With nouns that are masculine, feminine and neutral, verbs that conjugate heavily and an extremely strict syntax, German may appear insurmountable to start with.
            德語中有陽性、陰性和中性的名詞,動詞變化頻繁,語法極其嚴格,一開始可能會讓人覺得難以逾越。
            On the other hand, pronunciation and spelling is straightforward and once you learn the -- admittedly many -- rules, that's it.
            但另一方面,發音和拼寫很簡單,一旦你學會了--當然很多的規則,就可以了。
            You'll also realize why Germans never interrupt you during a conversation: they're waiting to hear the verb at the end to figure out what you were talking about.
            你也會明白為什么德國人在談話時從不打斷你:他們在等著聽動詞的結尾,以弄清你在說什么。


            Russian (1,100 hours)俄語(1100小時

            The big advantage of learning Russian is that, once you're proficient, you can understand other Slav languages like Czech, Polish or Bulgarian.
            學習俄語的一大好處是,一旦你熟練掌握,你就能聽懂其他斯拉夫語,如捷克語、波蘭語或保加利亞語。
            It's also spoken and understood in all former regions of the Soviet Union from Armenia to Kyrgyzstan.
            從亞美尼亞到吉爾吉斯斯坦,所有前蘇聯地區的人都說這種語言。
            Hidden behind a Cyrillic veil of mystery, it's one of the harder languages to master, so much so that even many Russians speak it incorrectly.
            一旦揭開神秘的西里爾語面紗,你就會發現,它是一種較難掌握的語言,以至于許多俄羅斯人都會說錯。
            But any literature, music and ballet buff or aspiring astronaut -- Russian is a mandatory subject at NASA -- should study a language with over 500,000 words (some up to 38 characters long), where the letter "e" sounds as e or o and nouns are "alive" or "dead."
            但任何文學、音樂、芭蕾愛好者或有抱負的宇航員——俄羅斯是NASA的一門必修課——都應該學習這一門超過50萬個單詞(
            有些長達38個字符)的語言,其中字母“e”聽起來像e或o,名詞分“活的”或“死的”。


            Arabic (2,200 hours)阿拉伯語(2200小時

            It takes the average native English speaker a whopping 2,200 hours to become proficient in Arabic.
            英語為母語的人平均要花2200個小時才能精通阿拉伯語。
            There's an urban myth about a pharmaceutical company that advertised an analgesic pill with three non-verbal images for international consumption.
            有一個關于一家制藥公司的都市神話,該公司用三種非語言圖像為一種止痛藥做廣告推向世界。
            The left picture depicted a woman with a headache. The middle one showed her swallowing the pill and the right one had her smiling after the pain had subsided.
            左圖描繪了一個頭痛的女人。中間的那張是她吞下藥丸的照片,右邊的那張是她在疼痛消退后微笑的照片。
            It worked everywhere except in the Arab world, which read it from right to left.
            在阿拉伯世界里都適用從右到左進行閱讀。
            The direction of reading and the cursive script, which may or may not include vowels, are the two major hurdles for Arab learners.
            閱讀的方向和草書,其中可能包括也可能不包括元音,是阿拉伯語學習者的兩個主要障礙。
            Classical Arabic -- the language of the Qur'an -- will make you understood everywhere, but colloquial Arabic may be more useful, because once the locals start conversing with each other, you'll lose the plot.
            古阿拉伯語——古蘭經語言——會讓你在任何地方都能被理解,但是阿拉伯口語可能更有用,因為一旦當地人開始互相交談,你就會不知所云。
            But who can resist a language with eleven words for love, five gradations of swearing and close to 100 words describing a camel?
            但是,誰能抗拒這一種語言呢,它有11個表達愛的單詞,5個不同程度的咒罵,以及接近100個描述駱駝的單詞?

            Japanese (2,200 hours)日本(2200小時

            A country that's enriched the world with sushi, karaoke and manga, Japan has many devotees, especially among gamers and geeks.
            日本是一個以壽司、卡拉ok和漫畫享譽世界的國家,它有很多愛好者,尤其是游戲玩家和極客們。
             
            But they are confronted with an extremely challenging language that uses imported Chinese characters (Kanji) cut off from their original meaning as well as two syllabaries -- Hiragana and Katakana (you must learn when to use which).
            但他們所面對的語言極具挑戰性,這種語言使用的來自引進的漢字,但已與原意不同,還會用到兩個假名表——平假名和片假名(
            你必須學會兩種假名在何時使用)。
             
            What Japanese you speak also depends on your gender. There's a "rough" language for men and a more "ladylike" language for women, but you must understand both.
            你所說的日語也取決于你的性別。男人用一種“粗俗”的語言,女人更“淑女”,但你必須同時理解這兩種語言。
            By all means start a course of Japanese at home, but if you want to progress at all, pencil in a month of intensive practice in the Land of the Rising Sun.
            你當然可以在家里開始一門日語課程,但是如果想進步的話,要在日本進行一個月的強化練習。

            Cantonese/Mandarin (2,200 hours each)粵語/普通話(每種2200小時)

            One of the challenges of learning Mandarin is learning all of the characters.
            學習普通話的挑戰之一就是學習所有的漢字。
            Each Chinese dialect is effectively another language but Mandarin (Putonghua in Chinese, which means the common language) is considered the official tongue in modern China.They all share (roughly) one evolving writing system, referred to as 書面語 (or written language) invented for administering a large, diverse empire.
            中國的每一種方言實際上都是另一種語言,但普通話(
            普通話的意思是通用語言)被認為是現代中國的官方語言。他們(可能)都使用同一個演化的書寫系統,稱為書面語來管理這個龐大、多樣化的帝國。
            To complicate the matter further, there are two main types of written Chinese characters under the same writing system: the traditional Chinese used in Hong Kong and Taiwan and the simplified Chinese in mainland China (standardized and simplified in the 1950s to increase literacy in the country).
            更復雜的是,在同一書寫系統下,有兩種主要的書寫漢字:香港和臺灣使用的是繁體漢字,中國大陸使用的是簡體字(
            在20世紀50年代,為了提高國民的識字率,對漢字進行了標準化和簡化)。
            For example, fly is written as 飛 in traditional Chinese and 飛 in simplified Chinese. They're basically the same character written in two different ways but pronounced differently when spoken in different dialect.
            例如,fly繁體字寫成“飛”,簡體字寫成“飛”。它們基本上是同一個字,用兩種不同的方式書寫,但在不同的方言中發音不同。
            Confused yet?
            哈,暈不?
            Each written word when spoken is mutually incomprehensible between a Mandarin speaker in Beijing and a Cantonese speaker in Hong Kong. If you think that's odd, consider our number system: the symbol "9" is universally recognized but it's pronounced "nine" in English and "devet" in Slovenian.
            在北京說普通話的人和在香港說粵語的人,說出來的每一個字都是相互聽不懂的。如果你覺得這很奇怪,想想我們的數字表中“9”這個符號是公認的,但它在英語中讀作“nine”,在斯洛文尼亞語中讀作“devet”。
            Every word must be memorized separately as you can't guess its pronunciation from the script -- but one could say the same of English if you consider plough, dough and tough.
            每個字都必須分開記憶,因為你無法從字母中猜出它的發音——但如果你看一下plough, dough 與 tough這三個單詞的字母,就能說出同類的英語。
            Meanwhile, dictionaries list words according to stroke count.
            同時,字典會根據筆畫數列出中文字。
            These go from one to over 60 strokes. The archaic character zhé -- has 64 strokes.
            從1劃到60多劃。古漢字“𪚥”,有64劃。
            And then there are the pronunciation challenges.
            還有發音方面的挑戰。
            In the days of the British Empire, if you were going to be sent to Hong Kong as a civil servant, you had to pass a musical test first because all Chinese languages are tonal.
            在大英帝國時期,如果你要被派往香港當公務員,你必須先通過音樂測試,因為所有的漢字繁體字都是有聲調的。
            There are four tones in Mandarin: high pitch (say G in a musical scale), rising pitch (like from C to G), falling (from G to C) and falling low then rising (C to B to G) -- and if you think that's difficult, there are nine tones in Cantonese.
            普通話有四個聲調:平調(
            比如音階中的G調)、升調(比如從C調到G調)、降調(從G調到C調)、先降后升調(從C調到B調到G調)——如果你認為這很難,那么粵語有九個聲調。
            In other words, if you are tone-deaf you might as well give up now.
            換句話說,如果你五音不全,你最好現在就放棄吧。

            英文內容來自于CNN



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