Fun Link Friday: Is Japanese the most difficult language?

The Language Nerds blog recently posted an article summarizing reports from The Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State, categorizing world languages and their difficulty (namely, the amount of time officials have to spend learning them).

The categories were divided into:

Category I Languages: 24-30 weeks (600-750 class hours)
Category II Languages: Approximately 36 weeks (900 class hours)
Category III Languages: Approximately 44 weeks (1100 class hours)
Category IV Languages: 88 weeks (2200 class hours)

Under the Category IV Languages? Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese), Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, and Japanese! These five are listed as 「“Super-hard languages” – Languages which are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers.」

Do you agree? The Language Nerds marked Japanese as “usually more difficult than the languages in the same category,” though I didn’t see any indication of this on the FSI website. Is Japanese the most difficult language out there? We may never know, but it’s fun to think about! 🙂

About Paula

Paula lives in the vortex of academic life. She studies medieval Japanese history.
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