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It's fairly clear that depending on your native language, some languages are easier and some are harder to learn.

It's also evident that some languages' orthography is easier or more difficult inherently. I think you can pretty fairly say that Chinese characters are inherently more difficult than a phonetic writing system, and among the phonetic systems some are more consistent (and therefore presumably easier to learn) than others, for example English notoriously has lots of idiosyncrasies with its spelling rules.

I'm wondering if the same is true of spoken languages?

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  • This Q seems too broad. We have a series of narrower questions like "…which languages take the least time to learn for a native Japanese speaker?" and Between Polish and Portuguese, which language is easier to learn for an English speaker…?, and this is arguably a better way to go. The bottom line is that languages employ various tools like grammatical gender, declensions, lexical tone etc, and the more of those are known to you the easier it would be for you. Feb 10, 2021 at 14:48
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    My question is not which languages are easier for some particular person though. Some of those features may be inherently easier or more difficult. As I pointed out, this is obviously true of orthography. It's not obviously true of spoken language, which is what I'm wondering about.
    – user9600
    Feb 10, 2021 at 16:21
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    Perhaps that is too esoteric for this site; Should I ask at linguistics stack exchange instead?
    – user9600
    Feb 10, 2021 at 16:37

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Some languages have more complexity in spoken language. For example Russian have more declensions and Arabic have more persons (I, you singular masculine, you singular feminine, you dual, you plural,...) which make them richer, but more complex and more difficult to learn.

Artificial languages like Esperanto are made to be easy, so they don't have all the historic complexity of natural languages. Every verb is regular, even the verb to be. Another example of a language that make this obvious is Toki Pona: an artificial language that have only 120 words. So even if they are far from your native language, you can learn all of them very fast. The difficulty is to find a way to express the words that doesn't exist (like saying a cold box for a fridge), but it's the same for every mother tongue.

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