This is the aunt of a friend of mine. The family is from Singapore. They are part of an ethnic group called the Pernakans, a Southern Chinese group that moved to Malaysia ~600 years ago for some reason, possibly due to overcrowding in Fujian or worse, the terrible wars that periodically raged through the region.
Chinese groups have been leaving from this part of Southern China for a very long time now, especially in the last 200 years. In the past couple of centuries, this part of China has become very crowded. Possibly as a result, wild and vicious wars periodically raged through the area, sometimes killing 100,000’s of people. If you study Chinese history, you will hear about these wars a lot. It is not uncommon to read that invaders conquered several large cities and exterminated the whole populations of perhaps 300,000 people, men, women and children. This is how the Chinese have often fought wars. Chinese wars are unbelievably vicious and savage.
The Pernakans moved to Malaysia, and over time, bred in with Dutch and Portuguese and to a lesser extent British Europeans. All three were colonists in the region. I believe that they were Min speakers, but their Hokkien has gotten so changed, in particular from massive borrowings from Malay, that these languages in general are no longer intelligible with Amoy or Taiwanese Hokkien Proper.
Most Pernakans now are somewhat Eurasian, Chinese crossed with Dutch, Portuguese and sometimes British. The Pernakans had their own patriarchal culture and were known as very hard workers, often at manual labor type jobs like farming, timber harvest are working on rubber plantations. They committed little crime and had very orderly societies. The European colonists marveled at their high level of civilization. They did keep slaves, but they probably treated their slaves better than any slaves have ever been treated, and in many cases, slaves were freed.
Over time, most Pernakans also bred in with Malays. Pernakans are now a Chinese/Malay/European race, but the Asiatic tends to be prominent over the European in the stock. The mixing of cultures over 600 years in Malaysia resulted in some very interesting fine cuisine.
Many of these Chinese migrated to Singapore, where they, along with Teochew speakers (another Min group) and a large group of Cantonese Chinese, form what is known as the Singaporean Chinese, one of the wealthiest and most economically advanced ethnic groups on Earth. There is still a division of labor in Singapore, with Chinese on top, Malays on the bottom, and Southern Indian Dravidian speakers in between. Nevertheless all three groups are substantially mixed by this point. Most Chinese have Malay blood, and a lot of Malays have some Chinese in them. Malays and Indians are now intermarrying quite a bit. There is some ethnic conflict but not a lot possibly due to the wealth and everyone being so mixed.
Although this woman has a somewhat archaic phenotype (note prognathism), these archaic types are fairly common in Southern China. Many can be seen in the mountains of Yunnan Province. The archaism may be due to incomplete transition from Australoid -> Mongoloid, as the transition happened much later in Southern China than in Northern China, and prominent Australoid types were common in the far south of China only 3-4,000 YBP.
I also believe that this woman may be admixed with Caucasian. And I think the Malay admixture is quite clear. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I think I see some Vedda influence here. That would not be unusual, as Malays were Veddoids only until quite recently, and the Senoi are Veddoids to this day. The Mani Negritos are also still extant.
The transition in Malaysia went from Australoid Negritos (Mani) and Orang Asli -> Australoid Veddas (Senoi) -> Paleomongoloid Southeast Asians (modern Malays). The Malays appear to be aware of this transition, as they state that the Mani and Orang Asli are their ancestors. The bloodline of the Orang Asli goes back 72,000 YBP, so this group has been present in Malaysia since the very first Out of Africa groups, and their archaism is about on a par with the Andaman Islanders, another Australoid group which is also the remains of some of the earliest OOA groups.
From one of the most flipped out anti-Semitic sites of them all, Subverted Nation. What idiots!
Jewish ritual murder is where the Jews go around murdering Christians, sometimes to steal their blood and make matsos. Whether Joran is a Jew or not, I doubt if that was his motive!
So is van der Sloot a Jew or what? Wikipedia says nothing about it, even on the Discussion page, but various websites say that van der Sloot surname is Dutch Jewish. But Dutch Jews are some of the most assimilated on Earth. I imagine a lot of them have been converting and marrying out for some time now.
Ever hear the name Hollander? That’s a Dutch Jewish name. Xaviera Hollander, slut author, whore and madam? Dutch Jew. Bobby Hollander, super-sleazy porn merchant from the 1980’s, now dead of emphysema? Dutch Jew.
Sorry about the examples, but I don’t mind porn people too much (I’ve consumed a ton of porn in my life), though of course they are generally slimeballs. You won’t last long in that business if you have any decency. The real slimers are the ones who run the show. The actors and actresses are in many cases not bad people, though in other cases they are. Whores don’t usually have hearts of gold, and female porn stars are golddiggers extraordinaire. The male stars often have sociopathic tendencies. Who else would do such a thing?
But there are healthy people in the industry. At bottom I feel that many of the stars, male and female, are more victims than anything else. Victims of the sleazy and shitty industry. Victims of life in general. They have a high suicide rate and apparently die about 20 years before the rest of us do due to all sorts of causes.
I’ve never known any female porn stars, though I dated a woman once who wanted me to get her into the industry. Former call girl. Figures. She was also a crack addict. I got pissed at her one night and left her in the Wilshire District many miles from her home with no way to get home. She was mad at me that I wouldn’t buy her any more crack for the night. I went off with some other Black chick instead. Her Mom called me at 3 AM demanding to know if I had murdered her daughter and left her in a ditch. She was Black and lived in South Central LA.
A commenter suggests that Russians are the smartest Whites.
It’s not the case. Russians are not at all the smartest Whites. Here are some recent scores. There is a North-South cline, but it’s not perfect at all. Italian is a very much a Med state, and it’s IQ is very high. France is mostly a Northern state, and it’s IQ is not so hot. Spain is a Med state with a high IQ. Ireland is a Northern state with a lower IQ than the rest.
Notice I title this piece White Europeans, because as a Pan-Aryanist, I not only believe that most all Caucasoids of Europe are White, but I also believe that there are Whites outside of Europe who are just as White as those of Europe.
Germany 107 Netherlands 107 Poland 106 Sweden 104 Italy 102 Austria 101 Switzerland 101 UK 100 Norway 100 Belgium 99 Denmark 99 (median) Finland 99 Americans 98 (for comparison purposes) Czech Republic 98 Hungary 98 Spain 98 Ireland 97 Russia 96 Greece 95 France 94 Bulgaria 94 Romania 94 Turkey 90 Serbia 89
I don’t have much to say about these scores. If France can produce such a great nation with an IQ of 94, then others with similar scores can do well too. Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic should be able to create some fine modern societies. They are surely smart enough to. These others listed below are certainly intelligent enough to do well for themselves. IQ is certainly not holding them back at any rate.
Mongolia 100 Vietnam 99.5 Estonia 99 Latvia 97.5 Ukraine 96 Belarus 96 UK East Indian 96 Uruguay 96 Moldova 95.5 US Mexican-American (2nd generation) 95 Argentina 94.5 Lithuania 94 US Filipino 94
Even Serbia has created an excellent modern society with an IQ of only 89. If you go to Belgrade, you would think you are in any modern US or European city. Even the countryside is not really backwards. Its health, education and development figures are excellent. There’s nothing inferior about the place other than their morals. If we take Serbia as the IQ at which one ought to be able to create a fine, modern, European-type society, things get a lot more interesting, and a lot more countries have the brains to do well.
Armenia 93.5 Georgia 93.5 Kazakhstan 93.5 Malaysia 92 Macedonia 92 Brunei 91.5 Cyprus 91.5 Chile 91.5 Thailand 91 Albania 90 Bermuda 90 Croatia 90 Costa Rica 90 Bosnia and Herzegovina 90 Cambodia 90 Cook Islands 89 Laos 89 Suriname 89
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Warning! This post is quite long – it runs to 126 pages. Frequently updated – last updated May 24, 2015.
Where the Dutch language begins and where it ends is an important question. Ethnologue splits Low Franconian-Low Saxon (whatever that is) into 15 languages – Flemish, Dutch, Zeelandic, Afrikaans, Achterhoeks, Drents, Gronings, Plautdietsch, Sallands, Low Saxon, Stellingwerfs, Twents, Veluws, Westphalian and East Frisian Low Saxon. Instead of the confusing Low Franconian-Low Saxon, we will henceforth refer to the same as “Macro-Dutch.”
This treatment will lump together many of the Dutch Low Saxon lects as Dutch, put East Frisian Low Saxon into Dutch, put Westphalian and German Low Saxon into German, move Limburgish out of German to Dutch where it belongs, and create a dozen new Macro-Dutch languages.
An important question is the position of Frisian languages in all of this. Currently Ethnologue has them in Anglo-Frisian. Gooskens 2004 makes a good case that Frisian is better analyzed as Macro-Dutch than Anglo-Frisian based on Levenshtein distance. She is probably correct, but I am going to leave Frisian outside of Dutch until I can analyze it better.
Anyway, genetically, Frisian is a part of an Anglo-Frisian family (Gooskens 2004). However, Frisian has drifted far away from English due to massive influence from Dutch such that it now is closer to Dutch than the Scandinavian languages are to each other (Gooskens 2004). It depends on if you wish to analyze Frisian based on its genetic history or on which language it is closest to.
One thing that ought to be dispensed with immediately is the notion that German, Dutch, Flemish and Afrikaans are intelligible with each other. The truth is that Hochdeutsch speakers can at worst barely understand a word of any of them and at best have only limited intelligibility.
Neither is German intelligible to Dutch speakers, even after 3-4 years of studying German. This even holds for Low German, which is often held to be intelligible with Dutch. It’s not, even after 3-4 years of study and even to speakers of Dutch-German border lects in the Netherlands that are presumably closer to Low German than the rest of Dutch. After 3-4 years of German, Dutch speakers have only 55% intelligibility of Low German, and the ones on the border have only 59% intelligibility of Low German (Gooskens in publication).
Nor are Frisian and Dutch mutually intelligible, another common claim. They have combined intelligibility of 61% (Gooskens 2005). Neither are Afrikaans and Dutch mutually intelligible. Combined intelligibility of the two languages is 55%, the same as Spanish and Portuguese (Gooskens 2005).
The Dutch either have a nationalist complex or are possible simply ignorant or indifferent on the question of what constitutes “Dutch.” They take a very conservative, nationalist view of the language question. To the Dutch, every language spoken in the Netherlands and some spoken outside of it is Dutch. Brabantian, Flemish, Veluws, Afrikaans, Limburgish, Bergish, Guelderish, Kleverlandish and Dutch Low Saxon are often all considered to be dialects of Dutch.
To be fair to the Dutch, I’m making a similar claim here, but instead of calling all of the above dialects of Dutch, I will call them separate languages under an umbrella called Macro-Dutch which subsumes them all.
The Dutch do recognize Limburgs and Low Saxon as minority languages.
Spain, Germany, Italy, France and Sweden do not recognize the languages under the umbrellas of Macro-Spanish, Macro-German, Macro-Italian, Macro-French and Macro-Swedish umbrella.
Spain does not recognize Asturian, Aragonese or Extremaduran. France does not recognize the many langues d’oil. Italian does not recognize Piedmontese, Ligurian, Lombard, Venetian, Emigliano, Romano, Neapolitan or Sicilian. Sweden does not recognize Scanian, Gutnish, Jamska or Dalecarlian. Germany does not recognize Bavarian, Swabian, High Franconian, Low German, Westphalian, Upper Saxon, Ripuarian or Pfaelzisch.
Probably the reasons that these languages are not recognized is due to the national consolidationist efforts behind a standard language and the fears of splintering the standard into substandard forms and the separatism that may ensue. So the Dutch are simply following in standard European modernist tradition.
This has resulted in problems and violations of language rights for speakers of other Low Franconian lects. For instance, Zeelandic is definitely a separate language, not a dialect of Dutch. Zeelandic speakers petitioned to have their language recognized as a minority language nine years ago, but the Dutch government has refused to grant this request.
The truth may disturb many Dutch speakers. For Dutch is not just the 15 languages confusingly listed in Ethnologue; it is actually 30 separate languages, which I will attempt to demonstrate below.
Method: Various “Dutch” and “Low Franconian” lects were analyzed on the basis of mutual intelligibility with Standard Dutch to see if they warranted treatment as separate languages. A rough guide was >90% intelligibility = Dutch dialect and <90% intelligibility = separate “Macro-Dutch” language. There are reasons for choosing 90% as a metric. Below 90%, and it gets difficult to discuss complex or technical subjects. Also, 90% seems to be where Ethnologue splits dialects from languages these days, and they are in charge of giving out ISO codes.
Other lects in Ethnologue’s treatment were analyzed to determine whether they belonged in “Macro-German” or “Macro-Dutch.” Westphalian and German Low Saxon were moved to Macro-German; the rest were moved to Macro-Dutch.
Anecdotal reports and scientific studies were reviewed, and native speaker informants were interviewed. Where intelligibility estimates are controversial, scientific intelligibility studies could always settle the matter. The creole was not counted.
Results: Ethnologue’s Low Franconian-Low Saxon was expanded from 15 into 35 languages based on mutual intelligibility. Below, separate languages are in bold, while dialects are in italics. Dutch, like Arabic, Italian, German, Chinese and so many others, is a macrolanguage.
Discussion: This work is merely a working hypothesis intended to be discussed and criticized by scholars and interested parties. I would be interested in criticism on a peer review basis. Criticism must be both constructive and friendly, otherwise it will be summarily rejected. This is very much a work in progress.
In recent years, there were five Dutch creoles spoken in Indonesia, Guyana and the US Virgin Islands. It appears that four of the five are extinct, and one is barely alive.
Berbice Creole Dutch is barely alive, spoken in Guyana by only four speakers. There are another 15 with limited competence. It is spoken in the Berbice River region of the country. About 1/3 of the words and most of the morphology is from the Nigerian Bantu language Izon, a language with 1 million speakers. The rest of the lexicon is mostly from Dutch. 10% of the words are borrowings from Guyanese Creole English and Arawak, an Indian language still spoken in Guyana.
Low Franconian Languages and Dialects
Standard Dutch, Algemeen Nederlands or AN (henceforth, AN) is a major world language spoken by all 15 million residents of the Netherlands and an additional 7 million speakers elsewhere. Although one might suspect that Dutch goes all the way back to the oldest Old Franconian, actually, the lects closest to Old Franconian are French Flemish, West Flemish and Zeeland Flemish. Dutch proper seems to have broken off sooner.
Dutch has many dialects, but they are all more or less intelligible. There are two forms of Dutch in general – Hollandic and Brabantian. Both are part of AN. Modern Belgian Dutch is much more Brabantian than Hollandic.
There is also Brabantian Netherlands Dutch, a dialect of Netherlands Dutch, and Brabantian Belgian Dutch, a dialect of Belgian Dutch or Vlaams (Grondelaers 2009).
Surinamese Dutch is a Dutch dialect, easily intelligible with AN, that is spoken in Suriname. It has 280,000 speakers, or 60% of the population. It is the official language of Suriname.
Netherlands Dutch is the Dutch dialect spoken in the Netherlands, differentiating with Belgian Dutch. It is widely understood throughout the country, especially the Standard Dutch variety of this dialect that has been popularized in the Netherlands since the 1960’s.
Netherlands Brabantian Dutch is a Dutch dialect spoken in North Brabant Province in the Netherlands (Grondelaers 2009). It is easily intelligible with AN. This dialect has about 2.45 million speakers.
Belgian Brabantian Dutch is the same thing as the Verkavelingsvlaams described below. It is spoken in North Brabant Province and in Antwerp Province by about 3.4 million speakers. It is being replaced by French in Brussels, but it is still widely spoken elsewhere.
Stadsfries is a mixed dialect spoken in certain urban areas of Friesland such as the towns of Leeuwarden, Dokkum, Bolsward, Sneek, Stavoren, Harlingen and Franeker. Originally Frisian speakers, they gave up Frisian for Dutch about 500 years ago. The vocabulary is mostly Dutch with Frisian pronunciation. AN speakers can understand this dialect pretty easily. Lately it is seriously declining and has low prestige, hence it is becoming a sociolect spoken mostly by low-income people in the cities.
Snekers is a Stadsfries dialect spoken in the Friesland city of Sneker. It traces back to 1600 or so when locals abandoned West Frisian for Hollandic speech as an elite gesture, since Hollandic was not spoken much outside of the Holland Provinces. By 1800, the rest of the city had modeled their elitist behavior after the rich and the whole city spoke Snekers. It continued to be a highly valued speech until 1900. People kept speaking it a lot until WW2.
The disdain towards Frisian, seen as peasant speech, continues in many Snekers speakers to this day. In the 20th Century, many rural people moved to the city, and many foreigners moved there too. Snekers became a speech used only by Sneker natives among themselves. They spoke Dutch or sometimes Frisian to newcomers. Nowadays, Snekers is dying. The youth have taken it up, but they speak a watered down version that is probably intelligible to AN speakers.
Hollandic Dutch is the other large dialect of Dutch besides Brabantian. Hollandic is spoken in the provinces of North Holland and South Holland by about 6 million speakers. This dialect is intelligible with AN. Hollandic Dutch is the variety that is closest to AN. It is divided into two lects, North Hollandic Dutch and South Hollandic Dutch.
IJmuidens is a dialect spoken in by the lower classes in IJmuiden, the third largest port in the Netherlands, in North Holland. The dialect is probably readily intelligible with AN.
Haarlems is the dialect spoken in Haarlem in North Holland, especially by the lower classes. It does not differ much from Amsterdams or AN. This area has long had the reputation for being the place where the purest Dutch is spoken, although this is no longer true anymore. Nowadays, the purest Dutch is spoken in places like Dronten on the Dutch polders in the IJsselmeer.
Nijmeegs is a very interesting dialect spoken in the city of Nijmegen in eastern Gelderland. Although strictly speaking it should be a South Gulderish dialect, it has heavy Hollandic features such that it may well be intelligible to AN speakers. Until the late 1800’s, residents of the city were speaking a typical South Gulderish dialect. However, in the late 1800’s, the upper class of the city began speaking a Randstad dialect similar to Amsterdams and Haags.
The lower classes quickly began speaking the same dialect, and the traditional dialect of the city disappeared, as it was poorly valued anyway. Nijmeegs still has some East Brabantian, Limburgish and Achterhoeks features, but it also lacks many characteristic Limburgish and Brabantian features of surrounding dialects.
Amsterdams is the dialect of the city of Amsterdam, spoken by the lower classes in the city. It is still spoken in the city, especially in certain neighborhoods. Although it is located in North Hollands, Amsterdams is more of a South Hollands dialect. A book published in 1874 found an astounding 19 different dialects spoken in the city.
Although it is still spoken, Amsterdams is associated with lower-classes, street toughs, etc, such that many Amsterdammers try to unlearn the dialect in order to improve their career chances. Amsterdams has many Yiddish words due to the fact that a large Jewish community has traditionally lived there. Amsterdams is intelligible with AN.
Haags is a South Hollandic dialect spoken by the lower classes in The Hague. It is easily intelligible with AN. The dialect is dying out and undergoing serious leveling, but since the 1980’s there has been a movement to bring back the dialect, and more residents of the city are speaking it, often with intentionally exaggerated features. Its syntax is similar to AN and is quite different from the nearby Rotterdams and Leids dialects.
Gouds is a South Hollandic dialect spoken in the city of Gouda, 20 miles northeast of Rotterdam. In many ways it is similar to AN. With mass immigration and compulsory education in AN, the real Gouds is hardly heard anymore.
Rotterdams is the South Hollandic dialect spoken in the city of Rotterdam. It differs little from AN. This is because the standard for Hollandic dialects, dating back to 1600, was the Rotterdams dialect. Its influence spread throughout the region, first to the upper classes and then to the lower classes as they imitated the speech of the rich.
The Rotterdams dialect does have many unique features, mostly due the waves of immigrants who have come to the city, each bringing their own language which added to the Rotterdams dialect. In the 1800’s, there was a large influence from Brabantian and Zeelandic speakers. In the 1900’s, the influences have become more varied, as speakers of Arabic and the Papiamento or Surinamese creoles added their words to the mix. It is still heard throughout the Rotterdam region and in the cities of Spijkenisse, Hellevoetsluis and Capelle aan den IJssel to the east and southwest.
Bildts is a mixed Frisian-Dutch lect spoken in the Het Bildt, a polder region in Friesland northwest of Leeuwarden that dates back to the 1500’s. Many immigrants came from the South Holland area to this part of Friesland to help create the polders. Their South Hollandic lects mixed with the Frisian spoken by the local farm workers to create this interesting mixed dialect.
Intelligibility between Bildts and AN is not known, but in a dialect map published in 1974 showed Bildts the furthest of all from AN (Berns 1991). On the basis of that study, Bildts may indeed be a separate language, but better intelligibility data would be nice.
Midslands is a North Hollandic dialect, similar to Stadsfries, that is still spoken in on Terschelling Island off the coast of Friesland in the village of Midsland. It has Hollandic and Frisian influences. Intelligibility data is lacking.
Amelands is a another dialect like Midslands and Stadsfries. It has mostly Hollandic vocabulary with Frisian grammar. There are four villages on the island, each with their own dialect. Nevertheless, all dialects are intelligible with each other.
The dialect developed in the 1700’s when Hollandic migrants moved to the island, probably for trade, and the locals gave up their Frisian speech for Hollandic. The process was not complete, and Amelands was the result. It is still very widely used. 85% of youth continue to speak Amelands. Intelligibility with AN is not known.
Westfries is a highly divergent dialect of Dutch spoken in West Friesland that is not to be confused with the West Frisian language. It is dying out and is only spoken by about 8% of the population. There are many subdialects, often one for every village or town they often differ considerably.
There is some confusion about the difference between this Dutch dialect and the West Frisian language proper. It has heavy Frisian influence. A better way to describe it might be to say that it is a mixed language of Dutch and West Frisian, almost a “creole.” It could also be described as Dutch with a heavy Frisian substrate.
Westfries was apparently a Frisian language for centuries until it died out about 200 years ago. It appears to have transformed from a full Frisian language to a form of Dutch. The strong variety is still used in cabaret performances.
Another way to look at it is that Westfries is one of the last of the more pure Hollandic dialects. Most of the rest of Hollandic has undergone serious leveling such that most of the peculiar features, such as the Frisian substrate that characterized all Hollandic, have washed out. AN speakers reportedly have a hard time understanding Westfries, and it is about as distant from AN as Zeelandic. There appears to be more than one language inside Westfries, since it’s not uncommon for speakers of varying Westfries lects to not understand each other.
Westfries consists of two parts. One, the Westfries language, which consists of Island Westfries. And two, Land Westfries, which is part of the North Hollandic language.
Island Westfries or Eland Westfries is a major split in Westfries. This is spoken on the islands and former islands of Texel, Vlieland and Wieringen and on land in the city of Enkhuizen. Island Westfries has poor intelligibility with the more common Land Westfries due to its archaic character, hence it may be a separate language.
Wierings is an Island Westfries dialect spoken on the former island of Wieringen. It is very close to Tess, the dialect of Texel Island. Wierings is rapidly disappearing and is only spoken by the older generation. Younger people speak a weak Wierings which looks more like Land Westfries. There is a navy base on Wieringen, so many non-islanders have come to live there.
Tessels is an Island Westfries dialect spoken on the island of Texel in North Holland that is so different from the rest of Island Westfries that it must be a separate language. It is still widely spoken, especially in the rural areas, but it is not much spoken in the larger cities. There are different varieties of Tessels spoken in the towns of Oudeschild, De Cocksdorp, Den Hoorn and Oosterend. The dialects differ greatly, and speakers from different towns do not necessarily understand each other fully, hence intelligibility is somewhat marginal among the dialects.
North Hollandic is a language spoken in North Holland Province. It consists of the Land Westfries, Zaans and Waterlands dialects. The situation is confusing, as there is also North Hollandic Dutch, a dialect of AN.
Land Westfries is a dialect of North Hollandic Dutch, a major split in the Westfries language. This variety is less conservative and has been influenced more by Dutch. The more archaic varieties of Island Westfries have poor intelligibility with Land Westfries, hence it may be a separate language.
Kennemerlands is a North Hollandic Dutch lect spoken in Kennermerland around the cities of Haarlem and Beverwijk. It arose in the Middle Ages due to contact between Frisian speaking fishermen and speakers of North Hollandic Dutch. Towards the north, it looks more like Westfries and the Zaans dialect. It is best analyzed as a transitional dialect between North Hollandic and Westfries. It is unintelligible to AN speakers, and is apparently a separate language.
Durkers or Egmonds is a strange dialect, often analyzed as either Westfries or Kennemerlands, spoken on Egmond aan Zee in the north of North Hollands Province. In this treatment, we will analyze it as Kennemerlands. It is not intelligible with AN (Anonymous January 2010)
Zaans-Waterlands is a North Hollandic lect spoken in North Holland Province. It is composed of two dialects, Zaans and Waterlands.
Zaans is an archaic North Hollandic dialect spoken in the Zaan, an old settled and industrial area between Amsterdam and Haarlem. It is spoken in the city of Zandam and in the towns of Wormerveer, Krommenie and Zaandijk. It apparently arose out of Westfries. Zaans has difficult intelligibility with AN.
Waterlands is a Zaans-Waterlands dialect that is spoken between the Zaan and the IJsselmeer, the inland sea in the Netherlands. This dialect is very archaic, though it is similar to Zaan and Westfries. It has difficult intelligibility with AN.
Volendams is a Waterlands dialect that is extremely divergent. It is unintelligible with AN, and even other Waterlands speakers have a hard time understanding it, so it is probably a separate language.
The city of Volendam was isolated for centuries, and this gave rise to its strange language. This isolation, combined with immigration of speakers of other odd dialects from fishing villages around the Zuiderzee, helped shape Volendams. Volendams received huge immigration in 1859 following the evacuation of the former Zuiderzee island of Schokland due to fierce storms. The Schokland residents spoke a strange dialect called Schokkers which was basically a Low Saxon dialect similar to Urkers.
Markens is a very unusual Waterlands dialect that is spoken on the former island of Marken. It also received large input from the fleeing residents of Schokland. Markens is one of the most unusual dialects in the Netherlands and has been the object of many studies. It has difficult intelligibility with AN, but intelligibility with the rest of Waterlands is not known.
Markens appears to have a heavy base of Frisian or even Old Frisian. It appears to be undergoing dialect leveling under the pressure of the mass media and immigration, and young people typically do not speak pure Markens.
Goois is a North Hollandic dialect spoken in Het Gooi, a region in the far southeast of North Hollands. Cities in this region include Naarden, Bussum, Huizon, Blaricum, Laren and Hilversum. Opinions on this dialect are varied. One view is it is a Dutch-Low Saxon transition dialect, mostly in the far east of Blaricum, Laren and Hilversum. That would be transitional to West Veluws. This view sees the rest of the area as Hollandic. There is also influence from the Utrechts dialects. The dialect is still alive, especially in the three eastern cities discussed above.
South Hollandic is a lect spoken in South Hollandic Province. A similar situation is going on here as with Brabantian and North Hollandic. As there is Brabantian Dutch and North Hollandic Dutch and Brabantian and North Hollandic languages, so there is South Hollandic Dutch and the South Hollandic language. The South Hollandic language is mostly gone now, as dialect leveling has moved most of the dialects to South Hollandic Dutch. However, it remains alive in the form of the Strandhollands and East IJsselmonds dialects.
Aalsmeers is a dialect spoken in the city of Aalsmeer in southern North Holland near the border with South Holland. Traditionally, it was a Strandhollands dialect, but it has lost most of its Strandhollands features and is probably not a part of that group anymore. It has a similar genesis with the Strandhollands language, in that it was formed by immigrants from the Frisian-speaking north moving down to the area long ago.
However, due to geographical isolation (they were cut off on three sides by marshes or lakes and only accessible via a sliver of land) they were cut off from the rest of Strandhollands and the convergent evolution with it ended. There was also a group of Mennonites who came down from Friesland and settled in the area.
Immigrants probably kept speaking Frisian here longer than in other places. In general, this dialect is best seen as transitional between North and South Hollandic. The original Aalsmeers dialect is nearly extinct. Intelligibility data with AN is not known.
Strandhollands is a very conservative dialect of the Hollandic language spoken in the fishing villages in the area of Sheveningen and Katwijik aan Zee in the Holland Provinces. Intelligibility in general is marginal at best and hardly possible at worst between this lect and AN (Anonymous January 2010), hence it is a separate language.
This is a very archaic South Hollandic language that has preserved many old features, while the rest of South Hollandic behind the dunes has trended towards Hollandic Dutch. Strandhollands retains many features of Medieval Dutch. It is interesting that the standard dialect of The Hague is close nearby.
It emerged about 400 years ago and its provenance is obscure. Probably fishermen from elsewhere on the coast, such as Friesland and and the Zuiderzee moved into the area to take up fishing. The language has a strong Frisian substrate. Probably the isolation of the villages helped to keep the lect different from surrounding evolving lects.
The Strandhollands dialects become more intelligible with AN, in general, as one moves to the south. The least comprehensible ones are generally in North Holland Province. Intelligibility data between this and the rest of South Hollandic, especially East IJsselmonds, is needed.
Wijk aan Zee is a Strandhollands dialect spoken in the fishing village of Wijk aan Zee that has poor intelligibility with AN (Anonymous January 2010). The town is located west of Beverwijk.
Zandvoort is a Strandhollands dialect that is hardly comprehensible to AN speakers (Anonymous January 2010). It is spoken in Zandvoort on the coast west of Haarlem.
Noordwijks is a Strandhollands dialect spoken in the fishing village of Noordwijks an Zee in South Holland Province. Intelligibility with AN is somewhat marginal (Anonymous January 2010). Noordwijks is probably the easiest Strandhollands lect for AN speakers to understand.
Katwijks is a Strandhollands lect spoken in the fishing village of Katwijks an Zee in South Holland Province. It is based on an archaic version of Leids, the dialect of the city of Leiden. Katwijks, like Zandvoort and Wijk aan Zee to the north, is barely comprehensible to AN speakers (Anonymous January 2010).
Schevenings is a Strandhollands dialect spoken in the fishing village of Scheveningen in South Holland Province. It has marginal intelligibility with AN (Anonymous January 2010). This dialect is said to be based an archaic version of Haags, the dialect of The Hague.
Zoetermeers is a very divergent South Hollandic dialect spoken in the city of Zoetermeer 10 miles east of the Hague. This was always an isolated farming village, so it was not effected much by the trends effecting the Haags dialect a short while away. In the 1960’s, the population grew from 10,000 to 120,000 as immigrants flooded into the Hague region. Hence, only a few locals speak the dialect anymore.
Westhoeks is spoken in the Westhoek in northwest North Brabant. It’s a Hollandic dialect spoken in Brabant. No one is sure why. They are Protestants, and this may have something to do with it, but it’s more likely a case similar to Bildts, where many Hollandic speaking immigrants moved to the area after the polders were created in the 1600’s and afterward. Intelligibility with the rest of South Hollandic is not known.
Westhoeks is divergent enough from the rest of South Hollandic to be given its own category in many analyses. It has some influence from Dordts, the old dialect of Dordrect not far to the north.
Fijnaarts is a Westhoeks dialect spoken in the village of Fijnaart in North Brabant.
Dordts is a South Hollandic dialect spoken in the city of Dordrect that is intelligible with the rest of South Hollandic. It has heavy Zeelandic and Brabantian influences. In the 20th Century, it underwent dialect leveling under the influence of the much less divergent Rotterdams dialect in Rotterdam. The strongest Dordts is now heard in the center of the city.
IJsselmonds is a South Hollandic lect spoken south of Rotterdam on the old island of IJsselmond, now reclaimed from the sea. The former island can now be seen via satellite as #9 on this map. In general, it is south of Rotterdam between the Niewe Maas and the Spijkenisse Rivers. The region is now heavily industrial, particularly gone over to shipbuilding. The lect is quite a bit different from both AN and Rotterdams. It has two main variants, West and East IJsselmonds.
West IJsselmonds has come under severe Rotterdams influence and can hardly be heard in its pure form anymore. It is only barely alive in the town of Pernis.
East IJsselmonds is extremely divergent from AN and Rotterdams and cannot be understood outside the region. It has mostly undergone dialect leveling and in general is rarely heard. The youth speak a watered down version that is intelligible with AN. Only in the city of Hedrik-Ido-Ambrecht can the true lect be heard on an everyday basis. Given that it’s unintelligible outside the region, it may be a separate language. Intelligibility data between this and the rest of South Hollandic, especially Strandhollands, is needed.
Ambachts is the last remaining holdout of the East IJsselmonds language. This is a deeply conservative dialect, the most conservative of the language, such that the lect of one village may differ greatly from the next. It has striking influences from the Umbrechts-Alblasserwards dialect group to the east.
Baorendrechts is a deeply conservative East IJsselmonds dialect that is spoken in the city of Barendrecht. It has been mostly superseded by AN these days.
Bulessers is another deeply conservative East IJsselmonds dialect spoken in the city of Bolnes. It is almost extinct, under heavy pressure from AN.
Zwindrechts is an East IJsselmonds dialect spoken in Zwijndrecht. It has undergone serious dialect leveling due to the effects of industrialization but can still be heard, mostly in farmers. It has some Dordts influence.
Rekkarkeks is a South Hollandic lect spoken in the city of Ridderkerk, halfway between Rotterdam and Dordrect. This is a very unusual lect that is very different from AN. Hence is has poor to marginal intelligibility with AN, and thus, it may well be a separate language.
It is located just to the east of the East IJsselmonds language, hence its unusualness is probably due to its East IJsselmonds features. It is barely alive and has only a few speakers left. A diluted version is still quite alive. Intelligibility data with the East IJsselmonds language is urgently needed.
Hoekschewaards is a South Hollandic dialect spoken on a former island southwest of Dordrecht, between the Spijkenisse River and the Haringvliet Channel. The city of Numansdorp is located in this region. This dialect has strong IJsselmonds and Albasserwards tendencies. These are much stronger than the Dordts influences. It has three divisions, West Hoekschewaards, East Hoekschewaards and Gravendeel. It is still very much alive, though it is coming under heavy influence from Rotterdams and AN.
West Albasserwards is spoken in the Western part of the Albasserwards, east of Rotterdam about halfway to the Utrecht border. The dialect is dying out in many areas, and there is little interest in preserving it. However, in many of the rural areas, a strong dialect is still alive.
In the eastern part of the Albasserwards, the dialect is like that of Utrecht, but in the west it is quite Hollandic, although it has some Utrecht influences. The dialect differs even from village to village. It is spoken in cities such as Sliedrecht and Papendrecht. The Papendrecht dialect is almost gone due to heavy immigration.
Slierechs is the very divergent West Albasserwards dialect spoken in the city of Sliedrecht. People here have taken more interest in their dialect than elsewhere in the region, and there are regular CD’s and books issued on it.
Utrechts-Alblasserwaards is a dialect group of Hollandic dialects spoken in Utrecht Province, far southeast South Hollands and a small part of Gelderland. To the south there are dialects heading into Brabantian and to the east, there are more dialects heading into South Gulderish. The dialect has low prestige, and there is little interest in it, even among speakers. Nevertheless, it is still learned by children, and there are 330,000 speakers of this dialect.
Utrechts is spoken by the lower classes of the city of Utrecht, capital of Utrecht Province. Nowadays it is spoken more in the rural areas around the city than in the city itself, but even in the city, it is still spoken in certain districts. There is a lot of immigration into the city and emigration out of it, so the dialect is dying.
Vijfheerenlands is an Utrechts-Alblasserwaards dialect spoken in the Vijfheerenland region in the southeast of South Holland. This area includes the cities of Vianen, Meerkerk, Leerdam and Lexmond.
Eemlands is a confusing set of dialects spoken in the eastern part of Utrecht and has strong Veluws influence. Some say that they are Utrechts-Alblasserwaards dialects, and others say that they are West Veluws. The best analysis is that they are transitional between the two varieties, in other words, that they are Low Franconian-Low Saxon transitional dialects. They are spoken in Soest, Amersfoort and Bunschoten. Amersfoort and Bunschoten tend to be considered more West Veluws, and Soest tends to be seen as more Utrechts. With the exception of Bunschoten, these dialects are highly endangered.
Geldersevalleis is a set of dialects spoken in the Gelders Valley, 2/3 of which is in Gelderland and 1/3 of which is in Utrechts. The towns of Ede, Wageningen and Veenendaal are located in this region. These dialects are very hard to characterize, as they have West Veluws, Utrechts and South Guelderish tendencies. They are seriously declining and becoming more Hollandized.
West Veluws is a strange dialect usually collated with Dutch Low Saxon, but which is in fact a Low Franconian dialect. Practically speaking it is best seen as transitional between Low Franconian and Low Saxon. For the most part it is intelligible with AN, but as one moves to the north and east of the West Veluws area, West Veluws gets harder for AN speakers to understand. This dialect has heavy Dutch influence. In most places, this is a dying dialect, and it is not spoken much by young people anymore.
Even the forms of West Veluws still spoken in the home are coming under increasing AN influence. It is spoken in Amersfoort, Spackenburg, Bunschoten, Nijkerk, Barneveld, Putten, Voorthuizen, Ermelo, Elspeet, Uddel, Leuvenum, Harderwijk, Hierden, Nunspeet, Lunteren, Otterlo and Huenderlo. In Nijkerk, Amersfoort, Spackenburg and Bunschoten in the west of the West Veluws region, the dialect is nearly dead.
Brabantian is actually a separate language. It is distinct from Netherlands Brabantian Dutch, which is merely a dialect of Dutch (Grondelaers 2009). The real hardcore Brabantian is dying out, but it is highly divergent, and Dutch speakers say it is incomprehensible. Intelligibility is far lower than for Zeelandic. However, Verkavelingsvlaams speakers can understand Brabantian pretty well, since Verkavelingsvlaams is very Brabantian.
Brabantian is dying out in the Netherlands, but it is still spoken in Tilburg and in the rural areas of Nord Brabant. There is quite a bit of confusion about what is the pure Brabantian and what is Brabantian Dutch, but the key is intelligibility. Brabantian Dutch is easily comprehensible to an AN speaker, and the real Brabantian is not at all. Other than South Brabantian, which is a separate language, all of the Brabantian dialects are mutually intelligible.
North Central Brabantian is a dialect of Brabantian that is spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium in a strip that runs along the border around the towns of Ravels, Tilburg, Loon op Zant, Waalwijik, Vlifjmen, Huesderf and Drunen.
Tilburgs is a hard North Central Brabantian dialect that is still widely spoken in the city of Tilburg in the southern part of the Netherlands. It is intelligible with the rest of Brabantian (Anonymous January 2010).
East Brabantian is spoken in the eastern part of North Brabant. It is one of the main Brabantian divisions. The various divisions of East Brabantian include Kempenlands, North Meierjis, Peellands, Geldrops and Heeze en Lendes.
It includes the towns of Eindhoven, Veldhoven, Vught, Boxtel, Oirshchot, Best, Acht, Middelbeers, Eersel, Waalre, Mierlo, Luijksgestel, Bergelijk, Aalst, Heeze, Leende, Son, Helmond, Berjeijk, Schijndel, Lieshout, Beek, Gemert, Aarle-Rixtel, Aasten, Someren, Liessel, Duerne, Bakel, Mill, Veghel, Volkel, Uden, Nistelrode, Heesch, Zeeland, Boekel, Sint Michielsgestel in the Netherlands and Arendonk and Lommel in Belgium. East Brabantian is intelligible with the rest of Brabantian (Anonymous January 2010).
Northern Kempens is a hard East Brabantian dialect spoken in an area on the border of Belgium and the Netherlands in eastern Antwerp and western Limburg Provinces in Belgium and north into the Netherlands. Major cities and towns in the region include Turnhout, Arendonk, Eersel, Oirshchot, Hilvarenbeek, Retie, Oisterwijk, Boxtel, and Eindhoven. It is an area of poor soil with many marshes, bogs and forests. Lately, it is primarily a tourist region. Northern Kempens is intelligible with the rest of Brabantian (Anonymous January 2010).
Arendonk is a very specific, apparently highly diverse and possibly archaic Northern Kempens Brabantian dialect spoken near Turnhout close to the Dutch border. It is said to be unintelligible outside of the nearby area. Hence, it may well be a separate language.
Northwest Brabantian is a Brabantian dialect spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is spoken in Breda and the surrounding region to south into Belgium.
Cities in which it is spoken include Breda, Baarle-Hertog, Oosterhout, Steenbergben, Made, Raamsdonksveer, Roosendaal, Putte, Geertruidenberg Hoogstraten, Brecht, Moerdjik, Oudenbosch, Bergen Op Zoom, Huijbergen, Rijsbergen and Woesndrecht in the Netherlands and Woostwezel, Meer, Ekeren, Merksom, Kapellen, Lillo, Stabroek, Meerle and Rijkevorsel in Belgium.
This dialect was created from the Eighty Years War. After the war, this Brabantian-speaking region was essentially depopulated, and afterward, a large movement of immigration from the Antwerp region occurred, spreading the tendencies of the Antwerps dialect. Northwest Brabantian consists of three major dialects, Antwerps, Baronies and Markiezaats. Antwerps is spoken in Antwerp and north to the Netherlands border. Baronies is spoken in the area around Breda and Markiezaats is spoken in the west over by Zeeland.
Bredaas is a Northwest Brabantian dialect spoken in the city of Breda that is dying out. It is mostly spoken in certain areas and with the older generation. It tends to re-emerge around Carnival time though.
Markiezaats is spoken in the west of North Brabant around the cities of Bergen op Zoom and Steenbergen. It extends over to the Drimmelen region to the northeast and generally includes everything west of Breda.
Antwerps is a hard Brabantian dialect spoken in Antwerp, Belgium. It is intelligible with all the rest of Brabantian (Anonymous January 2010). This dialect is widely disliked in Belgium because it is neither Flemish nor a Dutch dialect, and hence is poorly understood.
It is often heard in the Belgian media, but it is rarely subtitled, and this is the cause of the frustration with non-Antwerps speakers. East Flemish speakers say that they cannot understand it. This language is spoken in Antwerp. In a study, 51% of East Flemish speakers said that they wanted subtitles when listening to Antwerps speakers on TV (De Houwer 2008). Antwerps was regularly heard on TV until recently.
This dialect is one of the most influential in terms of inputs towards the creation of Verkavelingsvlaams. Verkavelingsvlaams at the moment is heavily based on the Antwerps dialect. There is some uncertainty regarding the intelligibility of Antwerps with surrounding lects.
Students who recently went to school in Antwerps say that they could not understand students who came from villages in the Antwerps area. It is not known what lects the villagers were speaking. But since people living in Antwerps say they cannot understand the villagers around them, we have to split it off into a separate language.
Wase is the name for a group of Brabantian dialects spoken in the Waseland in the far northeast of East Flanders. The capital of this region is the city of St. Niklaas. The area was originally wide fields bounded by willow trees. It flooded and was drained a few times. Many turnips are grown here.
Maaslands is a dialect of Brabantian that is spoken in a narrow strip in North Brabant south of the Maas River. It is spoken in the towns of Empel, Maren, Lith, Herpen, Oijen, Megen, Ravenstein, Oss and Grave, all of them along the Maas River.
Bosch is a Maaslands dialect spoken in Hertogenbosch, a large city a bit south of the Maas River in North Brabant. The dialect is still pretty well alive, but its use varies throughout the city, with some areas speaking a lot of Bosch and other areas in which it is rarely heard. Due to immigration and the fact that it has become a commuter town, the dialect has been declining for some time now.
Nederbetuws is a confusing dialect, usually included in South Guelderish, spoken in the Lower Betuws in Gelderland. It actually has heavy Brabantian features. The dialects of the river cities of Tiel and Culemborg are quite different. It is spoken in the towns of Tiel, Culemborg, Buren, Geldermalsen, Wadenoijen, Ophemert, Waardenburg, Herwijnen and Gorinchem. This is mostly a rural area, with a lot of livestock, fruit orchards, vegetables and greenhouses.
South Brabantian is a very divergent lect within Brabantian that is very hard for other Brabantian speakers, even those from nearby Antwerp Province, to understand (Anonymous January 2010). Therefore, it may well be a separate language. It is spoken in Brabant Province in Belgium and around the capital of Brussels. This area has retained the most extreme and archaic Brabantian features. It is under heavy pressure from Verkavelingsvlaams, especially in the cities and less so in the countryside.
The least intelligible variety seems to be spoken from Brussels west to the East Flanders border, especially in the rural areas and near the southern and western borders.
Brussels in the name for a group of South Brabantian lects that were traditionally spoken in Brussels, and still are by a small number of old people. In the past 200 years though, the language of the capital shifted to French. The remaining Brabantian speakers shifted to some form of Dutch, and many today speak some Dutch standard, usually VRT. At any rate, the original Brussels South Brabantian lects are now almost extinct, spoken only by the older generation, most of whom are also bilingual in French.
Traditionally, Brussels lects were very diverse and were not intelligible with Antwerps Brabantian or Leuvens South Brabantian from about 1650 on. Increasing French influence after the Eighty Years War which ended in 1648 resulted in a closing off of Brussels to most outside influence and increasing French influence on the Brussels lects. It was still the most widely used language in Brussels until the French occupation around 1800.
It then began to decline as more residents started speaking French. In part this was an urban elitist effect, as the local rural areas all spoke Brabantian dialects, and the city became increasingly French speaking, especially the upper class. To sum up, to speak French meant you sounded like an aristocrat and to speak Brabantian meant you were talking like a farmer.
During the 1800’s there was a big debate in Brussels about which form of Dutch to make the official language – some common Flemish form or something more like Netherlands Dutch? People could not make up their minds, and this gave people one more reason to just speak French instead.
Brussels is almost extinct, and only some older Brusseliers speak it. Apparently no one else, including almost everyone in Brussels, can understand them. As Brussels is barely understood even in the city, clearly it must not be understood outside the city either. Hence, Brussels may be a separate language. But intelligibility data with the rest of South Brabantian would be nice to have.
Marols is a divergent Brussels dialect traditionally spoken in the colorful Marollen district, traditionally a poorer, rundown working class area, that was recently full of drug dealers and bums, but is now undergoing gentrification. Marols is a strange mixture of Spanish, Yiddish, Walloon and Brabantian. The Yiddish and Spanish is from many Spanish Republicans and Polish Jews moving to this district just before WW2. Marols is rarely heard these days, and intelligibility with the rest of Brussels is not known.
Liekert is a South Brabantian dialect spoken in Liedekerke, Belgium in Brabant Province on the border with East Flanders. It is unintelligible with the rest of even Flemish Brabantian, including Antwerps.
Leuvens or Leives is a South Brabantian dialect spoken in the city of Leuven in Belgian Brabant. Many immigrants moved to the city after WW2, and use of the dialect reduced dramatically. Intelligibility between Leuvens and the rest of South Brabantian is not known.
Ninove is apparently a South Brabantian dialect spoken in the city of Ninove in the east of East Flanders. It is probably close to Liekert, and hence is very hard for even Flemish to understand.
Elingen is a South Brabantian dialect spoken in the town of Elingen on the border with Hainaut Province. It is not intelligible at all with Brabantian proper (Anonymous January 2010).
Aalsters is a South Brabantian dialect that is very hard for even the Flemish to understand. It is spoken in the city of Aalst in East Flanders, Belgium, on the border of Brabant Province. It is also spoken in Opwijks, Asses and Tenants over the border in Brabant Province.
Tiens is a South Brabantian dialect spoken in Tienen in Eastern Brabant, Belgium. It has Limburgish tendencies. It is dying out and tends to be spoken more by the working classes, but is still pretty widely spoken. Intelligibility with the rest of South Brabantian is not known.
Afrikaans is a separate language, recognized by Ethnologue. It is spoken in South Africa by 13.2 million people, including 6.45 million native speakers and 6.75 million second language speakers. 12-16 million people have basic knowledge of the language.
A study noted that Dutch speakers have 59% intelligibility of Afrikaans (Gooskens 2005), while Afrikaans speakers have 51% intelligibility of Dutch. The combined intelligibility estimate is 55%, close to distance between Spanish and Portuguese. Afrikaans split off from Dutch in about 1675 when Dutch settlers began settling in South Africa. The first written Afrikaans is dated to 1795.
Zeelandic or Zeêuws is a separate language, recognized by Ethnologue as a different Low Franconian language from Dutch. Zeelandic is not easily understood by AN speakers. It is spoken in Zeeland Province and in South Holland Province on the island of Goeree-Overflakee. This area is south of Rotterdam. It is best thought of as transitional between Dutch and West Flemish.
There are a variety of dialects, Walcheren, Zuid-Beveland and Goeree-Overflakee among others. Toward the north, Zeelandic looks more Hollandic or Dutch, and towards the south, it looks more Flemish. The dialects of Zeelandic Flanders are really outside of the definition of Zeelandic and are best described as East and West Flemish instead.
Although it is clearly a separate language from Dutch, Dutch nationalism mandates that it be seen as a dialect and not a separate language, hence the Dutch government refuses to recognize it as a separate language. The language is still in pretty good shape, though it is declining.
It still has 220,000 speakers. In some rural villages, up to 90% of the children still speak Zeelandic. The dialects of the larger cities are going extinct, yet Zeelandic is still in good shape in the rural areas. Surveys conducted in the 1990’s showed that 60% of residents of the area still spoke Zeelandic on an everyday basis. All Zeelandic dialects are intelligible with each other except South Beveland, which is possibly a separate language. Intelligibility between Zeelandic and West Flemish is not known, but may be high.
Along with French Flemish and West Flemish, Zeelandic is part of Southwest Low Franconian. These languages are said to be the remains of the oldest of Old Franconian.
Burgerzeeuws is a Dutch dialect spoken in Zeeland. Though it ought to be part of the Zeelandic language, it is not. It is originally Zeelandic, spoken in the cities of Zeeland, which was then replaced with Hollandic by status conscious upwardly mobile people. Like Stadsfries, this language developed in the 1600’s. It is especially spoken in Middelburg and Vissingen.
In the 1990’s, only 1/3 of urban Zeelanders spoke Zeelandic, compared to 2/3 in the province as a whole. This dialect is still alive though, even among the youth, especially in conservative Christian circles. In some areas this dialect is scorned, while in others it is valued. Burgerzeeuws has unknown intelligibility with AN, but it is probably easier to understand than Zeelandic proper.
Oostvoorns is a Zeelandic dialect spoken in the far north of the region that is actually spoken outside of Zeeland proper in the area called Oostverne just to the north. Some say that this dialect is actually Hollandic and not Zeelandic. It’s probably best seen as a transitional Zeelandic-Hollandic dialect. Intelligibility with AN is not known, but it’s probably better understood to AN speakers than the rest of Zeelandic.
Goerees is a Zeelandic dialect spoken in the Goeree region of Zeeland. The dialect of the fishing village of Ouddorp is quite different, with many unique words. It is quite a bit different from the rest of Zeelandic. This dialect is still widely spoken.
Flakkees is a Zeelandic dialect spoken in the region of Overflakee, east of Goeree. It is spoken in Ooltgensplaat, Middelharnis and Sommelsdijk. Flakkees is divided into three subdialects – West Flakkees, East Flakkees and Brabants Flakkees. Flakkees is still very widely spoken.
Schouwen-Duivelands is a Zeelandic dialect spoken in the Zeelandic region of Schouwen-Duivelands. In some places such as Bruinisse the dialect is in great shape, with 90% of youth even speaking it. In other places such as Burgh, Haamstede and Zierikzee it is undergoing decline due to tourism.
Thools is a Zeelandic dialect spoken on the former island of Tholen is Zeeland. It is undergoing some decline due to widespread immigration but is still widely spoken. There is a sharp barrier between Thools and the North Brabant area just to the east. The city of Oud Vesssemer speaks a mixed North Brabantian-Zeelandic dialect.
Walchers is a Zeelandic dialect spoken on the former island of Walcheren in Zeeland. It is spoken in the towns of Domburg, Westkapelle, Koudekerke, Arnemuiden and Oost Souburg. The dialect of the fishing village of Westkapelle is very different, with many unique words. In Westkapelle and Arnemuiden, the dialect is still doing very well. In other places it is under heavy pressure from tourism and immigration.
South Bevelands is a Zeelandic lect spoken in the Zuid Bevelands area of Zeeland. This area is still very rural, so the lect is in great shape. South Bevelands was scarcely touched by Hollandization during the Golden Age of Holland, hence its archaic character.
South Bevelands is extremely diverse, varying wildly from one village and town to the next to the point that communication is so seriously impaired that residents from different towns typically use AN to communicate rather than their town lects. On the face of it, it’s tempting to split off every town as a separate language, but that seems wild and threatens chaos, and until we get more data, it’s thankfully premature.
However, since South Bevelands is not even intelligible within itself, it can’t possibly be intelligible with the rest of Zeelandic, hence it may well be a separate language.
Land of Cadzands is a Zeelandic dialect spoken in the far south of the Netherlands in Zeelandic Flanders. It is properly seen as a Zeelandic dialect transitioning to West Flemish.
Dutch Low Saxon is a group of lects related to Dutch and German that are very hard to classify, especially in terms of their relationship with Low German in Germany and with Low Franconian (Macro-Dutch) in the Netherlands.
I originally put Dutch Low Saxon in with Low German and added it to my German reclassification. However, after thinking this over for a year now, I now believe that Dutch Low Saxon belongs much more in Macro-Dutch than in Macro-German. Nerbonne 1996 makes a convincing case that Dutch Low Saxon is more properly seen as Macro-Dutch than as Macro-German in a scientific paper analyzing Levenshtein distances between Dutch lects.
There is an argument floating around that all of Dutch Low Saxon is intelligible with all of German Low Saxon. This is certainly not true. Looking at Veluws to Schleswigsch, those two languages are not intelligible with each other at all. In fact, even Groningen and Veluws are not intelligible within the Netherlands alone.
Arguing against the notion of Dutch Low Saxon as being a Dutch dialect, many Dutch say that Dutch Low Saxon is not intelligible with Dutch. There is marginal intelligibility of around 90% between Dutch and Dutch Low Saxon (Zweers 2009). And some Dutch Low Saxon lects, for instance Veluws and Groningen, are not fully intelligible with each other either (Smith 2008).
Dutch Low Saxon includes four groups: Friso-Saxon, Westphalian, Gelders-Oaveriessels and Plautdietsch.
Friso-Saxon is a group of Low Saxon lects spoken in Groningen that have all been heavily influenced by the East Frisian language. These lects are Gronings-East Frisian Low Saxon, Stellingwerfs, Westerkwartiers, Kollumerpompsters, Kollumerlands, Middaglands, Middle Westerkwartiers, South Westerkwartiers, Hogelandsters, Stadsgronings, Westerwolds, Veenkoloniaals and Oldambtsters.
It is often stated that Friso-Saxon is intelligible with general Low Saxon across the board across the border in Germany. This is not true; it is only intelligible with East Frisian Low Saxon, which is not part of the greater German Low Saxon language. For instance, Gronings, Westerwolds and Veenkoloniaals have only 57% intelligibility of Bremen Low Saxon in Germany (Gooskens 2009). Friso-Saxon is broken into four principal groups: Groningen, East Frisian Low Saxon, Westerkwartiers and Stellingwerfs.
What is difficult is dividing up Dutch Low Saxon into different languages. Ethnologue has gone too far, with proper Dutch Low Saxon divided into eight separate languages – Gronings, Veluws, Sallands, Drents, Stellingwerfs, Twents, Achterhoeks and Plautdietsch. We have reduced this complexity quite a bit here, by reducing Dutch Low Saxon to Friso-Saxon, Stellingwerfs, Urkers and Plautdietsch – four languages, and a reduction of Ethnologue’s classification by 5 languages.
Gronings-East Frisian Low Saxon is a Friso-Saxon language, consisting of two parts, Gronings in the Netherlands and East Frisian Low Saxon across the border in Germany.
East Frisian Low Saxon is a Friso-Saxon dialect spoken in the East Frisian peninsula of northwestern Lower Saxony, Germany. It is intelligible with Gronings in the Netherlands. However, it has only 57% intelligibility with Bremen Low Saxon (Gooskens 2009). It has 230,000 speakers. There are still rural areas around here where the majority of people under age 40 speak the language. 50% of the population still speaks the dialect on a daily basis.
This dialect has an East Frisian substratum. There is dialectal diversity between the western and eastern branches. There are also speakers of this dialect in Iowa, about 500 of them, mostly over age 50. The classic variety of East Frisian Low Saxon probably looks something like this. Dialects include Hinte, Ems (Emsfriesisches), Weser (Weserfriesisches), Jeverländer, Harlingerländer, Ommelands and Mooringer.
Hinte East Frisian Low Saxon (Hintener) is a divergent dialect of East Frisian Low Saxon, but intelligibility data with the rest of East Frisian Low Saxon is not known. It is spoken in the town of Hinte in Germany on the Dutch-German border. Hinte is spoken in Eastern Friesland (Ostfriesland) in Lower Saxony in Germany and Groningen is on the Dutch side. It is somewhat similar to Twents.
Westerkwartiers is a group of Friso-Saxon dialects spoken in the far southwest of Groningen Province. This is the group of Friso-Saxon dialects that most resembles West Frisian. A good characterization of this group would be to say it is transitional from Gronings to West Frisian. The cities of Leek, Zuidhorn and Marum speak this dialect. The group includes Kollumerpompsters, Kollumerlands, Middle Westerkwartiers, South Westerkwartiers and Middaglands.
Kollumerpompsters is a Friso-Saxon Westerkwartiers dialect spoken in the city of Kollumerpomp and the surrounding area in the far east of Friesland. The municipality of Kollum speaks this dialect.
The Gronings group of dialects that are spoken in all of Groningen Province, some of Drenthe Province, and a bit of Friesland Province in far northeastern Netherlands. They have 320,000 speakers. They have a heavy Old Frisian (East Frisian) substrate.
Along with Limburgish, it is the group spoken in the Netherlands farthest from Dutch. Yet Gronings is intelligible with East Frisian Low Saxon across the border in Germany. Gronings is very close to Drents, but it is far from Achterhoeks, Twents and Stellingwerfs, and is not fully intelligible with Stellingwerfs or Veluws. Gronings appears to have good intelligibility of Drents (Felder 2015). Dutch speakers have 89-92% intelligibility of Gronings. But other Dutch speakers say that Gronings is often very hard to understand and sometimes they cannot understand anything at all of it (Felder 2015).
The original language of Groningen was Frisian, but there was a mass movement of Saxons from Drenthe to the area. They mostly settled in the city of Groningen, but then they radiated out from there. In addition, many East Frisian speakers came from across the border in Germany. This had to do with the reclamation of peat land in Groningen. The East Frisian language was supplanted by Low Saxon long ago, before the 1500’s. Traces of East Frisian still exist, but only in morphology and syntax and not in phonology (Heeringa 2004).
Gronings consists of North Drents, Hogelandsters, Stadsgronings, Westerwolds, Veenkoloniaals and Oldambtsters.
Hogelandsters is a Friso-Saxon dialect spoken in the far north of Groningen in a region called Hogeland. This is said to be the “purest” Gronings of all, and it is the hardest for AN speakers to understand. The cities of Leens, Ulrum, Baflo, Uithuizen, Bedum, Winsum, Loppersum and Uithuizermeeden are located in this region.
Stadsgronings is the Friso-Saxon dialect spoken in the city of Groningen itself. It is close to North Drents. The dialect is dying out in the city itself due to immigration of large numbers of students from outside the region who do not speak Gronings.
However, many people still speak Gronings in the city and some are more or less Gronings monolinguals who do not speak ABN well. These tend to be people age 40+ (Felder 2015).
Noordenvelds or North Drents is hard to analyze, but it is best analyzed as Friso-Saxon and not Drents proper. This dialect is close to Stadsgronings. It is spoken in the north of Drenthe Province in the towns of Roden, Norg, Eelde and Vries by 38,000 people. This is nearly the same speech as Stadsgronings (Felder 2015).
Oldambtsters-Reiderlands is a Friso-Saxon dialect spoken in a part of Groningen called Oldambt. It is related to Veenkoloniaals and Hogelandsters and has heavy Westphalian influence. Oldambtsters has a close relationship with the Rheiderlander dialect of East Frisian Low Saxon across the border in Germany; in fact, it is basically the same dialect. East Frisian was spoken here until 1400.
This dialect is steadily declining, but holds out best in the rural areas. German is still widely spoken in this part of the Netherlands, especially in the city of Winschoten. It is spoken in Winschoten, Scheemda, Noordbroek, Heiligerlee, Beerta and Nieuwe Schans.
Veenkoloniaals is a Friso-Saxon dialect spoken in eastern Groningen on the border between Groningen and Drenthe Provinces and over the border into Drenthe. This dialect came into being due to peat mining in the area. In recent years it has been expanding a lot, probably because it is closer to AN than neighboring lects.
Veenkoloniaals is close to Drents but even closer to Stellingwerfs. Veenkoloniaals lacks full intelligibility with Dutch. Veenkoloniaals is quite close to Stadsgronings and almost sounds like the same lect. There are a few differences between the two. This is a harder Gronings that is even harder for ABN speakers to understand than Stadsgronings (Felder 2015).
Westerwolds is another Friso-Saxon dialect. that, like Veenkoloniaals, is spoken in eastern Groningen. Westerwolds is not fully intelligible with Dutch and has heavy influence from East Frisian Low Saxon spoken in Germany. Although it is Friso-Saxon, it is closer to Westphalian than to Frisian. It has a particularly close relationship to Ems Low Saxon spoken in Germany.
Lately it has been losing ground to Veenkoloniaals. It is spoken in a small corner of far southeast Groningen on the German border in the towns of Stadskanaal, Musselkanaal, Ter Appelkanaal, Ter Appel and Vledderveen. ABN speakers say that this is an extremely hard form of Gronings that is very hard to understand, even harder to understand than Veenkoloniaals (Felder 2015).
Stellingwerfs is a Friso-Saxon language spoken in the municipalities of Weststellingwerfs and Oststellingwerfs in southeastern Friesland Province on the border with Drenthe and Overijssel Provinces and over the border into Drenthe and Overijssel.
It is spoken in towns such as Appelscha, Noordwolde, Tjalleberd, Luinjeberd, Donkerbroek, St. Johannesga, Rotsterhaule, Rotstergaast, Delfstrahuizen, Uffelte, Diever, Vledder, Echten, Steenwijk, Giethoorn, Tuk, Willemsoord, Oldemarkt, Kuinre, Smilde, Wolvega, Oldeberkoop, Oldeholtpa, Nijeholtpa, Dwingeloo and Oosterzee.
Frisian speakers moved into the formerly Drents-speaking area when peat-digging began. This began the process of Frisianization. Stellingwerfs is not usually put into Friso-Saxon, but Heeringa 2004 makes a good case for putting it into Friso-Saxon (Fig. 4, p. 97).
One way to look at Stellingwerfs is to see it as a Drents variety intermixed strongly with a Frisian layer (Heeringa 2004). The process of Frisianization began as early as the 1200’s. Stellingwerfs probably has over 300,000 speakers in two dialects, East Stellingwerfs and West Stellingwerfs. Stellingwerfs is not close to Gronings, Drents, Twents or Achterhoeks, and it is not fully intelligible with Dutch, nor with Gronings and Veluws.
Gelders-Oaveriessels is a dialect group within Dutch Low Saxon. It includes Urkers, Sallands, Drents and East Veluws. This group is also sometimes called West Dutch Low Saxon. This group has heavier Dutch (Low Franconian) influence than the rest of Dutch Low Saxon. The two other groups have heavy Frisian and Westphalian Low German influence respectively. The Dutch influence is primarily an archaic version of Hollandic from the 1600’s.
East Veluws is a Gelders-Overijssels Dutch Low Saxon dialect spoken in the Veluwe, a formerly heavily forested and swampy region along a ridge in northern Gelderland Province. This region has a lot of wildlife and used to be very popular with hunters. There are proposals to turn much of this region into a national park.
Although it is a part of Dutch Low Saxon, Veluws is marginal within this family (Smith 2009), with West Veluws looking a lot like Low Franconian (“Dutch”) proper, and East Veluws looking more like a typical Dutch Low Saxon. West Veluws and East Veluws can understand each other, and East Veluws and Twents are mutually intelligible. East Veluws is more intelligible with Dutch than any other type of Low Saxon, probably due to its close connection to West Veluws, a Low Franconian lect; however, East Veluws tends to have marginal intelligibility with AN.
Veluws is one of the lects where Low Saxon and Low Franconian are very close, similar to Gronings and East Frisian Low Saxon, except that Veluws in closer to Low Franconian, and Gronings is closer to Low Saxon. Nevertheless, Veluws is not fully intelligible with Stellingwerfs or Gronings. There are probably 300,000 speakers of all varieties of Veluws, but there are fewer Veluws speakers than speakers of Gronings, Stellingwerfs and Twents.
East Veluws is spoken in the towns of Apeldoorn, Doernspijk, Oldebroek, Elberg, Hattem, Heerde, Epe, Ernst, Vaasen, Het Loo, Twello, Gorssel, Brummen, Doesburg, Eerbeek and Dieren.
Sallands is a Gelders-Overijssels Dutch Low Saxon dialect spoken in the Salland region in the western part of Overijssel Province. Sallands has fewer than 300,000 speakers. Sallands lacks full intelligibility with Dutch, but is intelligible with Twents. Based on linguistic distance (Fig. 3) it may not be intelligible with Groningen. There is a transitional Sallands-Twents dialect spoken on the border with the northwest of the Twents-speaking area (ter Denge 2009). There is a lot of variability in Sallands.
Sallands is spoken in Zwolle, Zutphen, Nijverdal, Vroomshoop, Kloosterhaar, Marienberg, Hardenberg, Gramsbelgen, Lutten, Heemse, Witharen, Ommen, Oudleusen, Den Ham, Vilsteren, Dalfsen, Kampen, Heino, Lemereveld, Ittersum, Wijhe, Windesheim, Heeten, Olst, Espelo, Holten, Wesepe, Diepenveen, Lettele, Deventer, Bathmen, Genemuiden, Zwartsluis and Blokzijl.
Zwols is a Sallands dialect spoken in Zwolle, the capital of Overijssel Province. It has some similarities to Urkers nearby. 61% of the population still speaks Zwols. Nowadays, it is mostly spoken in the older districts. It contains many colorful slang expressions.
Dêmpters is the name of the Sallands dialect spoken in Deventer.
Zutphens is a transitional Achterhoeks-Sallands dialect that is spoken in Zutphen, a city in Gelderland. It is interesting because it has many Hollands features. Zutphens is still very heavily spoken by the population of the city.
Drents is a Dutch Low Saxon dialect that is in a group of its own. It has over 240,000 speakers in in Drenthe Province, where it is spoken by about 1/2 the population, and it also has some speakers in Overijssel. In towns like Zuidwolde, the majority of people even aged 30-40 continue to speak Drents as the main everyday language.
Every town and village has its own dialect. Drents is quite far from Twents, Achterhoeks and Stellingwerfs, but it is very close to Gronings and intelligible with Twents. Drents is not intelligible with Dutch.
It is spoken in Assen, Rolde, Geiten, Annen, Anlo, Eext, Klooverstervee, Gasselte, Borger, Grollo, Buinem, Elp, Amen, Beilen, Odoorn, Schoonloo, Hijken, Emmen, Valthermond, Zoordsleen, Sleen, Hoogeveen, Noordbarge, Dalen, Coevorden, Schoonebeek, Eursinge, Zuidwolde, Nieuw Amsterdam, Klazienaveen, Nieuw Schoonebeek, Zwartemeer, De Krim, Linde, Staphorst, Ruinen, Balkbrug, Meppel, Dedemsvaart, Rouveen, Den Hulst and Havelte.
Urkers is a very divergent Gelders-Overijssels Dutch Low Saxon lect spoken in the small city of Urks, formerly an island in the Zeelandic Sea. It is a very conservative Protestant town with no less than 17 churches, where 97% of the population goes to church every week for about three hours a day. Women marry young, and cohabitation is unheard of.
Urkers is utterly incomprehensible to AN speakers, and on structural and intelligibility grounds, there is justification for making it a separate language. Further, a linguistic analysis based on Levenshtein distance suggests that Urkers is best analyzed as a separate language in its own right, apart from all other Dutch lects (Heeringa 2004).
Westphalian Dutch Low Saxon is a branch of Dutch Low Saxon. It contains two dialects, Twents and Achterhoeks, is heavily Germanized and collates with the Westphalian Low German spoken across the border in Germany. Twents is one of the most divergent of all of the Dutch Low Saxon lects from AN, especially the dialects spoken in Vriezenzeen, Rijssen and Wierden.
Every town has its own dialect, but all dialects are mutually intelligible. Twents is not close to Stellingwerfs or Gronings, but it is intelligible with Drents, Sallands, Achterhoeks (ter Denge 2009) and East Veluws. Based on linguistic distance (Fig. 3) it may not be intelligible with Groningen.
In the northwest of the Twents region, there is a transitional Sallands-Twents dialect that has a largely Twents vocabulary with a Sallands inflection. In the towns of Rijssen and Enter, there is a variety of Twents spoken that uses diphthongs where other varieties have monophthongs. This may be a remnant of an earlier Westphalian variety that may have been generalized throughout the Twents region. On the border with the Achterhoeks region, there is no clear dialect border, as Twents and Achterhoeks slide into each other (ter Denge 2009).
Many Dutch speakers find Twents unintelligible.
Twents is spoken in the towns of Vriezenveen, Almelo, Rijssen, Hengelo, Borne, Enschede, Oldenzaal, Tubbergen, Ootmarsum, Weerselo, Reutum, Denekamp, Deurningen, Losser, Lonneker, Glanerbrug, Usselo, Boekelo, Haaksenbergen, Diepenheim, Goor, Delden, Markelo and Wierden.
Achterhoeks is a Westphalian Dutch Low Saxon dialect. Achterhoeks is far from Drents, Gronings and Stellingwerfs but is intelligible with Twents (ter Denge 2009). Based on linguistic distance (Fig. 3) it may not be intelligible with Groningen. Achterhoeks is not intelligible with Dutch. Achterhoeks is in very good shape, and is widely used as an everyday language.
Achterhoeks is spoken Northern Gelderland east of East Veluws in towns such as Doetinchem, Terborg, Silvolde, Ulft, Dinxperlo, Alten, Winterswijk, Meddo, Groenle, Lichtenvoorde, Eibergen, Neede, Borculo, Ruunlo, Zelhem, Hengelo, Lochem, Laren, Almen and Vorden. Interestingly, Achterhoeks speakers in Dinxperlo can communicate with speakers of Westphalian German Low Saxon in Suderwick, Germany, across the border.
Plautdietsch is a Dutch Low Saxon language that originated in the Netherlands, but then spread to other parts of the world. It forms a subgroup of its own and is quite divergent from the rest of Dutch Low Saxon. It is not intelligible with many other Low German languages, Standard German, or Pennsylvania German. Plautdietsch has 50% intelligibility with Hutterite German.
This language was originally a Friesland Dutch Low Saxon lect, but they moved to Prussia after they were persecuted for their religion, and later they moved to the US. This is the language of the Mennonites worldwide.
Flemish or Vlaams is a separate language, recognized as such by Ethnologue. Flemish has anywhere from 30% (Zweers 2009) to 66% (Van Bezooijen 1999) intelligibility with AN. However, it is more complicated than that, for in truth, Flemish is more than one language. The primary split is between West Flemish and East Flemish. It’s now widely acknowledged by most that West Flemish and East Flemish are not completely mutually intelligible.
Hinrichs undated makes a strong case for the inclusion of Flemish as a recognized regional language in section III of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages based on linguistic distance to AN. The distance between Flemish and AN is as great as between Low Saxon and Dutch, and Low Saxon is recognized.
VRT-Nederlands, BRT-Nederlands, VT-Nederlands or BT-Nederlands are abbreviations for the form of AN spoken in Belgium. It may be thought as “Dutch with a Fleming accent.” It is easily intelligible with AN, and is increasingly heard on Belgian TV. Further, many Flemings can also speak this language, which is pretty much what they are taught in school under the rubric of “Dutch” classes. There is tremendous confusion between this dialect and “Flemish.”
This dialect is simply a dialect of Dutch or AN. The varieties subsumed under Flemish are completely different languages altogether. This dialect is making increasing inroads in Belgian life and some Flemish speakers are becoming alarmed about this.
Standard Flemish, Verkavelingsvlaams, Vlaamse Tussentaal, VT or Soap Vlaams (henceforth VT) is a koine developed recently in Belgium that is understood by all Flemish speakers and is used often on TV. It is a mixture both of an artificially created Standard Flemish and the local dialects, and AN speakers find it quite incomprehensible. It is nearly the same as Belgian Brabantian. It probably has around 3.4 million speakers in Belgium. VT is fully intelligible with the Brabantian language.
West Flemish or West Vlaams is a highly divergent Low Franconian language that, along with French Flemish and Zeelandic, is part of Southwest Low Franconian and is the closest to the original Old Franconian. This group of languages is interesting because they have retained features of Ingvaeonic or North Sea Germanic features. Ingvaeonic is the postulated language that gave birth to Old English, Old Saxon and Old Frisian, possibly 2,000 YBP. It was spoken what is now the Netherlands, northwest Germany and Denmark. There are also influences from langues d’oil, not so much French proper as Picard, which is spoken adjacent to the West Flemish region.
West Flemish is spoken in Zeelandic Flanders in the Netherlands, West Flanders Province in Belgium and French Flanders in Nord Province in France (see map Fig. 1). East Flemish speakers have a hard time understanding West Flemish, especially the variety spoken in France. For example, West Flemish speakers regularly get subtitles on Belgian TV. Studies have shown that speakers of Antwerp East Flemish cannot understand the West Flemish of Oostende, Diksmuide, or Kortrijk, cities in West Flanders Province (De Houwer 2008).
West Flemish has 1 million regular speakers in West Flanders in Belgium and 70,000 in Zeelandic Flanders for a total of 1.07 million speakers. It also has a few speakers in Flemish Zeeland in the Netherlands.
Brugs is a West Flemish dialect spoken in and around the city of Bruges. It is quite divergent from other West Flemish dialects and even other Flemish find it hard to understand. However, precise intelligibility with West Flemish per se and not Flemish per se (whatever that means) is needed before we can determine whether or not it is a separate language. Brugs is declining in recent days and is being replaced with a more widely spoken Flemish, possibly VT.
Kortrijks is a West Flemish dialect spoken in the city of Kortrijk in the southeast of West Flanders. It is also spoken in the towns of Kuurne, Wevelgem, Ledegem, Moorslede, Muelebeke, Tiens and Izegem. Past Tiens, it starts turning into the Brugs dialect. Past Moorslede, it starts turning into the Ypres dialect.
Ypres is a South Flanders dialect spoken in and around the city of Ypres in the south of West Flanders. It is different from Kortrijks.
Waregems is a dialect spoken in the West Flanders city of Waregem. It is different from Kortrijks and is unique in some ways. It is best seen as a West Flanders dialect heading out towards the East Flanders language. There is an entire area on the border between West Flanders and East Flanders where the dialects may be hard to characters as belonging to either the West Flanders or East Flanders languages. There is a suggestion that only those from the immediate area can understand Waregems well, but until we get better data, it is premature to split it.
Vlaemsch or French West Flemish is a highly divergent West Flemish lect spoken in France that has been diverging from the rest of West Flemish for over 300 years since Louis XIV annexed it to France around 1680. Vlaemsch is full of French loan words, and other West Flemish speakers (such as Oostende West Flemish speakers) have a hard time understanding it, so it is probably a separate language.
Though it is recognized by the French government as a minority language (as “Dutch”), it gets no support from them and has been declining for centuries. It has 60,000 speakers, 20,000 of whom use it every day. The vast majority of Vlaemsch speakers are over age 60. Vlaemsch will probably go extinct in a matter of decades.
East Flemish or East Vlaams is a separate language spoken mostly in East Flanders in Belgium but also in Zeelandic Flanders in the Netherlands. It is not intelligible with AN. For example, the East Flemish speakers in Zeelandic Flanders have a hard time understanding the Brabantian Dutch speakers across the Schelde River. Also, East Flemish speakers have a hard time understanding West Flemish.
West Flemish speakers moving to Ghent in large numbers have created so many problems that the city council took action against them for “speaking a language that no one could understand,” that is, West Flemish.
Not only is East Flemish a separate language, but there is tremendous dialect diversity inside of East Flanders. In fact, it appears that East Flanders is more than one language. East Flemish probably has about 1.1 million speakers, almost all in Belgium, but that figure may be inflated. The true number of speakers is hard to determine. There are 1.4 million residents in the area, but they cannot all speak East Flemish.
Gents is a highly divergent East Flemish lect spoken in Ghent, Belgium that appears to be a separate language. It is considered very hard to understand even by other East Flemish speakers, so it may be a separate language. To South Brabantian speakers, it may as well be Greek.
In fact, there are two different dialects of Gents, one on the west side of the city and another on the east side. In addition, the dialects of the villages around Ghent are also said to be different from Gents itself. Intelligibility data for the various dialects in and around Ghent is not known. This language has many features of a “language island,” in that it differs markedly from surrounding East Flemish lects. Gents has a strong French influence and many French loans.
Dendermonds is another highly divergent East Flemish lect spoken in the city of Dendermode. Studies indicate that other East Flemish speakers have a hard time understanding it (De Houwer 2008), so it may well be a separate language. Dendermode is about 1/2 way between Antwerp and Ghent. This language has heavy Brabantian influence, and that is why it is so different from the rest of East Flemish.
Lokers is an East Flemish dialect spoken in the city of Lokeren in the northeast of East Flanders on the border with Brabantian. Here East Flemish is transitioning to a group of Brabantian dialects called Wase, spoken in the Waseland. This dialect may be close to Dendermonds.
Limburgish is an East Low Franconian language that is spoken in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is a separate language and is not intelligible with other forms of Low Franconian nor with any Low German. As a part of Meuse-Rhenish, it is transitional between Low Franconian (Dutch) and Low German (German).
Limburgish and Dutch had very different geneses – Limburgish came from Old East Low Franconian, and Dutch came from Old West Low Franconian. It has 1.6 million speakers. Each village and city has its own dialect, but they are all mutually intelligible. There are as many as 580 different Limburgish dialects.
Although Limburgish is said to be intelligible with Ripuarian, the truth is that it is not inherently intelligible with it. There are however some Limburgish and Ripuarian dialects on the borders of the two that are transitional between Ripuarian and Limburgish. See the South Guelderish and the Low Dietsch entries here for more on those transitional languages.
Limburgish is one of the Meuse-Rhenish languages. It is often claimed that Limburgish is intelligible with German, but this is not so. The intelligibility situation with regard to Limburgish and AN is confusing. Some say that Limburgish has marginal intelligibility with AN (Zweers 2009), but other Dutch speakers say that they can barely understand a word of Limburgish. A study concluded that Dutch speakers have about 89% intelligibility of Limburgish.
The real pure Limburgish is not intelligible with Standard Dutch at all, but what is most often spoken nowadays is a sort of a Dutch-Limburgish mixed language that is intelligible to most AN speakers. However, there are still some speakers of the real pure Limburgish around.
This Wikipedia article on Limburgish is wrong. It groups all of Bergish, South Guelderish, Southeast Limburgish and Dutch Limburgish into one “variety” or dialect, and then refuses to call that variety a language.
However, “Limburgish” is composed of at least four languages. Bergish is a separate language, not intelligible with Southeast Limburgish (60% intelligibility), South Guelderish, or Dutch Limburgish. Neither is Southeast Limburgish intelligible with Limburgish. And Venlo may well be a separate language all of its own.
Geleens is an East Limburgish dialect that is spoken in the city of Geleen in Limburg Province in the Netherlands. It differs quite a bit from the dialect of Sittard, even though the two cities have recently merged.
Sittards or Zittesj is an East Limburgish dialect that is spoken in Sittard in Limburg Province, the Netherlands. It’s quite different from Geleens. It is closest to dialects right across the German border, but otherwise it is a transitional Middle Limburgish-South Limburgish dialect, similar to Roermond.
Heerlen Dutch is a Limburgish-Dutch creole or dialect of Dutch spoken in the city of Heerlen in Limburg Province, the Netherlands. In the 1800’s, there were many coal miners in this area and everyone spoken Heerlen Limburgish. As the mines expanded, people came to work from all over the Netherlands and even the Kerkrade region of Germany.
None of them spoke Heerlen, and many didn’t even speak Limburgish. Later a sort of creole based on AN and Heerlen arose. What we have now is a Dutch dialect with a Heerlen base and a strong Limburgish flavor, not really a Limburgish dialect per se. Heerlen Dutch is apparently intelligible with AN.
Hasselts or Hessels is a Limburgish dialect spoken in Hasselt in Belgian Limburg. Dialect leveling has been occurring in the past 50 years as rural residents of the surrounding villages moved to Hasselt. It is best analyzed as a Belgian Limburgish dialect transitional with Brabantian.
Maastrichts is a Limburgish dialect spoken in the city of Maastricht in Dutch Limburgish. It has 60,000 speakers and hence is the largest Limburgish dialect. It is still widely spoken in the city. Maastrichts differs significantly from the dialects of the neighboring villages.
Horsters is the Limburgish dialect spoken in the city of Horst in Dutch Limburg. Some say that everything north of Venlo is outside of Limburgish proper and into South Guelderish. That’s an interesting argument, but we will leave it in Limburgish for now, especially since Limburgish isoglosses extend to just north of Horst. Some see it as transitional between Limburgish and South Guelderish, Kleverlandish and North Limburgish.
Tegels is is a Limburgish dialect spoken in the city of Tegelen in Dutch Limburg. Although it is very close to Venlo, Tegels speaks a typical Limburgish dialect, while Venlo is North Limburgish and is probably a separate language altogether.
They are so different because Tegelen was ruled by the Duchy of Gulik for 750 years, while Venlo was under the Duchy of Gelders for 400 years. The Duchys did not end their rule of both cities until around 1800 or so. Tegelen did not go to the Netherlands until 1817, when it was traded to Netherlands from Germany in exchange for the Dutch city of Henzogenrath, which was traded to Germany.
Weerts or Wieërts is a Limburgish dialect spoken in the city of Weert in Dutch Limburg. It is a Middle Limburgish dialect. Weerts, together with another Limburgish dialect spoken in Hamont in Belgian Limburg and a dialect of Bavarian, has more vowels than any other lect on Earth – 28 of them. The area around Weerts has many forests, sand dunes, bogs and marshes. This part of the Netherlands is also very Catholic. In the far north, it tends to be a lot more Protestant.
Hamont is a Limburgish dialect spoken in Hamont, on the border with the Netherlands in Belgian Limburg.
The map below (Fig. 3) is quite interesting. As we can see below, Limburgish is further removed from Dutch than Veluws, Afrikaans, and Dutch Low Saxon. Much of Dutch Low Saxon is also further from Dutch than Afrikaans.
South Low Franconian is the name for a lect spoken in Germany just east of the Limburgs Province in the Netherlands. Dialects include Jlabbacher Platt of central Mönchengladbach, Föschelner Platt of Fischeln in Krefeld, and Dremmener Platt of Dremmen near Heinsberg. The intelligibility of these German lects with the rest of Meuse-Rhenish is unclear, and it may be a separate language altogether. The closest in intelligibility would be to Bergish, Venloos and Southeast Limburgish in that order.
Southeast Limburgish (SE Limburgish) is a East Low Franconian language made up of a number of dialects that are transitional between Limburgish and Ripuarian. It has a close relationship with Limburgish. Some call SE Limburgish/Low Dietsch/Aachen German by an alternate name – Limburgish-Ripuarian of the Three Countries Area.
Some classifications put this language into Ripaurian, but it is possibly better analyzed as Limburgish or better yet Ripuarian-Limburgish transitional. The classification is important since if it is Ripaurian, this language is “German,” and if it is Limburgish, it is “Dutch.” But if we see it as Ripuarian-Limburgish transitional, this language may most properly be characterized as a Dutch-German transitional lect.
It is spoken in Belgium around Eupen, including Welkenraedt, Lontzen, Raeren, La Calamine, Eynatten, Gemmenich, and Moresnet; in the Netherlands between Ubach and Brunssum in the towns of Kerkrade, Bocholtz and Vaals, where it is known as Waals; and in a large area in North Rhine-Westphalia between the cities of Aachen and Eschweiler in the towns of Stolberg, Wurselen, Eilendorf and Kohlscheid. To the east over by Duren (Dürener Platt), we start moving into Ripuarian proper. It is also spoken in the far upper Eifel region around the Hurtgen Forest (Tulipan 2013).
It is a separate language, unintelligible to those outside the region. Most if not all Southeast Limburgish lects appear to be intelligible with each other (Tulipan 2013).
Bocholtzer is a SE Limburgish dialect spoken in the towns of Bocholtz, Bocholtzerheide and Baneheide in Limburg Province. It is still very widely spoken in the area. Intelligibility is about 90% with Stolberg German (Tulipan 2013).
Aachen German or Aachener Platt is a SE Limburgish dialect spoken in this same general region in Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia on the border with Belgium. Aachen German has 60% intelligibility with Bergish, the form of Limburgish spoken across the border (Harms 2009). The common notion is that Aachen German and Bergish are the same language. Since they are not intelligible, this is not the case.
Intelligibility with Stolberg German is excellent (Tulipan 2013). Aachen German intelligibility with Ripaurian is variable, but averages 40% (Köhler 2015). Aachen German has 50% with Dürener Platt, 30% intelligibility with Kolsch, and 25% with Eupener Platt.
Stolberg German is a SE Limburgish dialect spoken in Stolberg, Germany, near Aachen. It is intelligible with Aachen German, though it has more Ripuarian influences. and 90% intelligibility with Kirchröadsj, Vaals, etc. Other than with Kirchröadsj and Vaals, etc. intelligibility is not good with the rest of the lects spoken in the Netherlands, including Limburgish proper. Stolberg German is still widely spoken (Tulipan 2013).
Kirchröadsj is a SE Limburgish dialect spoken in Kerkrade in the Netherlands. It is often put into Ripuarian, but we will put it in SE Limburgish instead. Kirchröadsj is not fully intelligible with Kölsch. But it along with Vaals and related lects is about 90% intelligible with Stolberg German (Tulipan 2013).
Low Dietsch is a lect, often thought to be a SE Limburgish dialect, that is made up of a number of subdialects that are transitional between Limburgish and Ripuarian. However, Low Dietsch is better seen as a separate language because intelligibility with Southeast Limburgs is poor (Köhler 2015). When people say that Limburgish and Ripuarian are mutually intelligible, what they mean is that there are languages like Low Dietsch and Southeast Limburgish that are transitional between Limburgish and Ripuarian.
Around Eupen a Low Dietsch dialect called Eupener Platt (Eupen German) is spoken. Eupener Platt has only 25% intelligibility with Aachen German. Aachen Platt speakers say that Eupener sounds funny, like a mixture of Platt, French and English (Köhler 2015). Intelligibility is difficult with Stolberg German (Tulipan 2013).
Low Dietsch has been slowly dying out for a long time, since World War 1, almost a century, and it is not spoken much anymore. However, in recent years it is undergoing a Renaissance, and it is now being spoken more, even by young people, who seem to be spearheading the resurgence (Tulipan 2013). Eupener Platt has high but not full intelligibility with Kolsch (~70%) and the Middle Limburgish spoken in Heeren.
The following is an example of Eupener Platt.
By Siegfried Theissen
Wi de Ammerekaaner no Öëpe koëmte – iich gelöüf, et woër veerenvärrtech off voëvenvärrtech – wonnde ver ä gene Wéërt. Wi ver no hoërte dat-te Ammerekaaner ä gene Hollefter, a ge Schokkelaates, en gruëte Käüche oppgemaakt hoë, léïpe véër Kaïnder dahään, waïl aïnder es fertaut hoë, dadd-et ta Panneköük ömmesöss güëf. Änn taatsächlech, jédderéïne kräch esuvoël Panneköük, wi-e draage koss!
Änn véër Kaïnder krächte ouch noch en Taafel Schokkelaat, gätt watt fer allt lang neet mië geséë hoë. Dé Schokkelaat woër esu schwarrt wi di ammerekaanesche Köch.
Di Schwarrte doschde suwisuë märr Dénnsmättje schpéële! Obb-ene gouwe Daach gäng derr Vadder métt, änn éïne van di Schwarrte, dé gätt Döttsch koss, waïl-e e gannts Joër bi de Döttsche gevange gewässt woër, vrodde ann derr Vadder, off-e neet föël Gaïlt ferdeene wöül. Derr Vadder woër natüürlech mésstrouwesch änn saat: „ Watt möss-ech da davöër doë?“. – „Véër Schwarrte, saat-é Schwarrte, wäärde van de wétte Offtséëre esuë schléët behaïndelt, ver wäärde ouch esuë schléët betallt, dadd-iich nou oug ens gätt ferdéïne wéll!
Iich hann ene ganntse Kammjong voll Tsigerätte geklaut, änn dé wéll ech nou vöër voëvduusent Frang verkoupe. Et möss waal hü noch séë, waïl möëre wäärde ver versatt!“ Derr Vadder ho jo di voëvduusent Frang geschpaart, mä e saat, e möss terösch métt sinn Vro drövver kalle.
De Modder saat: „ Dat-tönnt fer! Esunne Kammjong Tsigerätte éss en Milljuën wäärt! Di Tsigerätte verkloppe ver ä Oëke, änn dé Kammjong wäärt fer béï ene Buër kwiit.“ Mä derr Vadder woër te bang. E woss neet, wu e dé Kammjong aunderschtélle köss, änn-e saat ouch: „Wänn de Ammerekaaner es schnappe, da schéëte di es, of-fer koëme joërelang ä gene Topp.“ Do saat-e Modder: „No hä ver ens Milljonäär wäärde könne, änn no hass-tou géïn Kuraasch!“ Mä derr Vadder saat märr: „Dou haas-tech förrege Wéëk allt genoch gelaïst!“
Iich woss néït, watt-e damétt maïnt, änn do vertaut de Modder: „ Ä gen Gosspertschtroët sönnd ouch Ammerekaaner änne su Huus, änn jéddesch Kiër wi ech da verbéïkoëmt, vrodde esunne Schwarrte: ‚ No Cognac? I give Cigarettes and Chocolate for Cognac!’ Iich ho allt lang géïne Konnjakk mië, mä ech ho waal noch en léëch Konnjakkflaïsch, médd-et Étikätt änn dréï Schtääre dropp.
Iich di Bubbel voll Tië gedoë, derr Schtopp dropp, alles fië togepläkkt änn no di Ammerekaaner. Wi di di Flaïsch soëge, paggde di mech en Schtang Tsigerätte änn dréï Taafele Schokkelaat änn en Tüüt, änn ië di di Flaïsch oppmaake kosste, léïp iich ewäkk, datt mech de Vokke vloëge. Wänn di mech kréëge häë, di häë miich kaut gemakkt! Mä saïtämm bänn ech neet mië dörrech gen Gosspertschtroët gegange!“
Hôessëlts is a Low Dietsch dialect spoken in Belgian Limburg in the small city of Hoeselt. It’s dying out, but a dictionary of it was recently published.
Aeres, Æres or Ourish is a West Central German Central Franconian language spoken around the German-Dutch border area that is closely related to, but very different from, Limburgish. It is spoken in several villages in the Dutch provinces of Gelderland and Overijssel and in the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen.
It has 600 speakers, but there were formerly many more. Most speakers are elderly. Some say it is part of Dutch Low Saxon, others that is close to Limburgish, and others that it is close to Frisian, so its classification is quite confused. Some people say that the whole idea of this language is a fraud since good sources are hard to find, but this seems questionable. On the other hand, the existence of this language has not been well proven.
South Guelderish/Kleverlandish is a Low Franconian language consisting of South Guelderish spoken in Netherlands and and Kleverlandish spoken in Germany. It is part of Meuse-Rhenish, and hence is transitional between Low Franconian (Dutch) and Low German (German).
Dialects include Rheden, Cleves (Kleve, Kleef), Oberhausen, Essen-Werder, Venlo, Venray, Liemers, Cuijk, Groesbeek and Zevenaar, and also the dialects of Northern Limburgish. The Cuijk dialect is typical. South Guelderish has a very heavy Frisian substratum. Based on its distance to AN alone (see Fig. 3) it must have difficult intelligibility with AN, probably along the lines of Zeelandic.
Overbetuws is a South Guelderish dialect spoken in the Upper Betuws region of Gelderland. Cities in this area include Valberg, Elst and Zetten. It was widely spoken until recently, when it began to decline. It is similar to Liemers.
Liemers is a South Guelderish dialect transitional to Achterhoeks that is spoken in the Liemers region in the far east of Gelderland east of Arnhem to the German border. It is spoken in the towns of Didam, Zevenaar, Lobith and Wehl. This dialect is basically South Guelderish transitional to Achterhoeks Low Saxon.
Kleverlandish is South Guelderish spoken in Germany along the border with the Netherlands. Kleverlandish lects are quite a bit different from South Gulderish, but intelligibility data is lacking.
This dialect is often referred to as Kleverländisch. It is spoken southeast of Munster along the border with the Netherlands and north of Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Kleverlandish is not intelligible with Bergish (Harms 2009), as one is an analogue of North Limburgish and the other an analogue of South Limburgish. Venlo Kleverlandish is incomprehensible to most Dutch speakers. Kleverlandish is still widely spoken in Wesels, Germany, at least by the older generation (Anonymous 2009).
Venloos is an extremely divergent Dutch lect spoken in the city of Venlo in the center of Limburg Province. In the north of Limburg, Limburgish is no longer spoken, and the lect changes to more of a Gulderish/Brabantian type.
Venloos is interesting because it is so different. It seems to be transitional between Limburgish, Ripuarian German, and Gulderish/Brabantian. On purely structural grounds, there are suggestions that it is a separate language, but since we are dividing only on intelligibility and not structural grounds here, that won’t cut it. In the linguistic literature, statements are made to the effect, “If Limburgish is a separate language, then Venloos must surely be also.”
Venloos is regarded as particularly incomprehensible by many AN speakers, much more so than Limburgish. Venloos may well be a separate language, as it appears to be poorly understood outside of the Venlo region. Venloos is still very widely spoken in Venlo, even by young people. The Heinisch dialects next to the Dutch border in Viersen (Viersener Platt), Breyellsch Platt of Breyell in Nettetal and Jriefrother Platt of Grefrath are intelligible with Venloos.
Bergish or Neiderrbergisch is a form of Low Rhenish that is analogous to Limburgish. This is Limburgish spoken on the other side of the border in Germany, but the variety in Germany is a separate language.
There are two high level splits in Neiderrbergisch, Südniederfränkisch or Bergisch and Ostbergisch. However, both appear to be intelligible, so they are dialects of a single language (Harms 2009). The following nonbolded entries are all dialects of Neiderrbergisch Low Rhenish.
Ostbergisch or East Bergisch is spoken around Mülheim an der Ruhr, Saarn and Gummersbach. Gummersbach is a dialect of this language. All dialects are intelligible with Düsseldorver Platt Bergish (Harms 2009). Ostbergisch has a close relationship with the Sallands Gelders-Overijssels Dutch Low Saxon dialect spoken in Zutphen, however, the two are not completely intelligible. Dialects include Duisburg and Wuppertal.
Mülheim an der Ruhr is the classic form of Ostbergisch spoken in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Germany. It is quite different, but it is still intelligible with the other dialects.
Saarn Mülheim an der Ruhr is spoken in the Saarn District of Mülheim an der Ruhr, Nordrhein-Westfalen (North Rhine-Westphalia), Germany, but it differs considerably from the standard version of Ostbergisch. Nevertheless, it is fully intelligible with the other dialects.
Bergish is one of two high level splits in Neiderrbergisch. It is definitely not intelligible with Cleves Kleverlandish (Harms 2009). This language is based on Low Rhenish but has acquired a heavy Ripuarian layer such that speakers feel that their speech somewhat resembles the Ripuarian language Kölsch, which is nearby (Harms 2009).
There are various dialects of this language, including Krieewelsch, spoken in central Kresweld, Ödingsch of Uerdingen in Krefeld, Metmannsch Platt of Mettmann, Düsseldorver Platt of northern and central Düsseldorf, Vogteier, spoken in Nieukerk, Solinger Platt of Solingen, Remscheder Platt of Remscheid, Rotinger Platt of Ratingen, and Wülfrother Platt of Wülfrath which is located between Düsseldorf and Wuppertal. Solingen, Krieewelsch and Wülfrath are all mutually intelligible (Harms 2009). It is also spoke in Neuss, Remscheid, Mochengladbach and Heinsberg.
Düsseldorver Platt is intelligible with Ostbergisch but not with South Guelderish, Limburgish or Aachen German. Düsseldorver Platt has 60% intelligibility with Aachen German. Düsseldorver Platt is not fully intelligible with any of the various lects spoken in the Netherlands (Harms 2009).
Düsseldorver Platt is mostly only spoken by older people these days, who nevertheless keep it very well alive. Middle-aged people have passive competence, but often not active, and young people may lack either, though some can hear the language.
Solinger Platt is a form of Bergish spoken in Solingen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. The link leads to a description of it and a transcription of a short story in the dialect. It is fully intelligible with Düsseldorver Platt (Harms 2009).
- Anonymous. Wesels Kleverlandish native speaker, Wesels, Germany. Personal communication. July 2009.
Anonymous. Antwerps, AN and Verkavelingsvlaams speaker, Antwerp, Belgium. Personal communication. January 2010.
Berns, J.B. 1991. “De Kaart van de Nederlandse Dialecten”, in Herman Crompvoets and Ad Dams, eds., Kroesels op de Bozzem. Het Dialectenboek, Waalre:24-27
DeEllis, Jonathon. Dutch-English translator and former Venlo resident for 10 years. January 2010. Personal communication.
Felder, Lianne. May 2015. Resident of Groningen City, Netherlands, ABN speaker. Personal communication.
Gooskens, Charlotte & Heeringa, Wilbert. 2004. The Position of Frisian in the Germanic Language Area. In: Gilbert, D. & Schreuder, M. & Knevel, N. (eds.), On the Boundaries of Phonology and Phonetics, 61-87. Klankleergroep, Faculty of Arts, University of Groningen, Groningen. Dedicated to Tjeerd de Graaf.
Gooskens, Charlotte and Kürschner, Sebastian. 2009. On the Low Saxon Dialect Continuum – Terminology and Research. In Lenz, Alexandra N.; Gooskens, Charlotte and Reker, Siemon (Eds.). Low Saxon Dialects Across Borders – Niedersächsische Dialecte Über Grenzen Hinweg, Zeitschrift fur Dialektologie und Linguistik. Beihefte 138:9-27.
Gooskens, Charlotte; Kürschner, Sebastian and van Bezooijen, Renée. Intelligibility of Low and High German to Speakers of Dutch. Dialectologia (submitted for publication, not yet published).
Grondelaers, Stef. Linguist, the Netherlands. Personal communication, August 2009.
Harms, Biggi. Düsseldorf Bergish native speaker. Personal communication. March 2009.
Heeringa, Wilbert. 2004. Dialect Variation in and Around Frisia: Classification and Relationships. Us Wurk; Tydskrift foar Frisistyk 53(4).
Heeringa, Wilbert. Jan. 2004. Measuring Dialect Pronunciation Differences Using Levenshtein Distance (Chapter 9). PhD Dissertation, University of Groningen.
Gooskens, Charlotte and van Bezooijen, Renée. 2005. How Easy Is It For Speakers of Dutch To Understand Spoken and Written Frisian and Afrikaans, and Why? In: J. Doetjes and J. van de Weijer (eds). Linguistics in the Netherlands 22:13-24.
Houwer, Annick; Remael, Aline and Vandekerckhove, Reinhild. July 2008. Vandekerckhove Intralingual Open Subtitling in Flanders: Audiovisual Translation, Linguistic Variation and Audience Needs. Journal of Specialized Translation 10.
Hinrichs, Erhard; Gerdemann, Dale and Nerbonne, John. Undated. Measuring Linguistic Unity and Diversity in Europe. Project Proposal. Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.
Köhler, Pascal. Eschweiler German and German native speaker. Personal communication. January 20, 2015
Nerbonne, J. W.; Heeringa, E.; van den Hout, P.; van der Kooi, S. Otten, and van de Vis, W. 1996. Phonetic Distance Between Dutch Dialects. In: G. Durieux, W. Daelemans, and S. Gillis (eds.). CLIN VI, Papers from the Sixth CLIN Meeting. Antwerpen. University of Antwerp, Center for Dutch Language and Speech, 185-202.
Smith, Norval. Linguistics professor, the Netherlands. Personal communication. March 2009.
ter Denge, Martin. Twents native speaker, Rijssen, the Netherlands. Personal communication. November 2009.
Tulipan, Laszlo. Stolberg German native speaker, Stolberg, Germany. Personal communication. April 2013.
van Bezooijen, Renée and van den Berg, Rob. 1999.
Taalvariëteiten in Nederland en Vlaanderen: Hoe Staat Het Met Hun Verstaanbaarheid? Taal en Tongval 51(1): 15-33.
Zweers, Steven. Dutch native speaker, the Netherlands. Personal communication. March 2009.
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Caution: This post is very long! It runs to 184 pages on the Web. Updated November 25, 2016.
This post will deal with how hard it is for English speakers to learn other IE languages. The English section will necessarily deal with how hard it is for non-English speakers to learn English, and as such will be less scientific. Nevertheless, there are certain things about English that tend to cause problems for many, such as phrasal verbs.
We did a post on this earlier, but it looks like we only scratched the surface. There are many webpages on this topic, and one could read about the subject for a long time, but after a while, things start getting repetitive.
For starters, before we do our own analysis, let’s look at what some other people came up with. This post is very good. They did a survey, and the post describes the results of the survey.
According to the survey, the nine hardest languages to learn overall were Mandarin, Hungarian, Finnish, Polish, Arabic, Hindi, Icelandic, German and Swedish.
The eight hardest languages to speak (or to pronounce correctly, specifically) were French, Mandarin, Polish, Korean, Hungarian, Arabic, Basque and Hindi.
The nine hardest languages to write were Arabic, Mandarin, Polish, French, Serbo-Croatian, Japanese, Russian, Basque and English.
How does that survey line up with the facts? Surveys are just opinions of L2 learners, and carry variant validity. For starters, let’s throw Swedish off the list altogether, as it actually seems to be a pretty easy language to learn. It’s interesting that some people find it hard, but the weight of the evidence suggests that more folks find it easy than difficult.
Mandarin, Arabic, Japanese and Russian of course use different alphabets and this is why they were rated as hard to write.
Method. 42 IE languages were examined. A literature survey, combined with interviews of various L2 language learners was conducted. In addition, 100 years of surveys on the question by language instructors was reviewed. The US military’s School of Languages in Monterey’s ratings system for difficulty of learning various languages was analyzed.
Results were collated in an impressionistic manner along a majority rules line in order to form final opinions. For example, a minority said that Portuguese or Spanish were very hard to learn, but the consensus view was that they were quite easy. In this case, the minority opinion was rejected, and the consensus view was adopted. The work received a tremendous amount of criticism, often hostile to very hostile, after publication, and many changes were made to the text.
Clearly, such a project will necessarily be more impressionistic than scientific. Scientific tests of the relative difficulty of learning different languages will have to await the development of algorithms specifically designed to measure such things. And even then, surely there will be legions of “We can’t prove anything” naysayers, as this is the heyday of the “We can’t prove anything” School of Physics Envy in Linguistics.
One common criticism was, “In Linguistics, the standard view is that there is no such thing as an easy or difficult language to learn. All languages are equally difficult or easy to learn.” Unless we are talking about children learning an L1 (and even then that’s a dubious assertion), this statement was rejected as simply untrue and exemplar of the sort of soft science (“We can’t prove anything about anything”) mushiness that has overtaken Linguistics in recent years.
Sociolinguistics and Applied Linguistics have long been nearly ruined by soft science mushiness, and in recent years, soft science “We can’t prove anything” muddleheadedness has overtaken Historical Linguistics in a horrible way. Bizarrely enough, this epidemic of Physics Envy has been clouded, as one might suspect, in claims of rigorous application of the scientific method.
But hard sciences prove things all the time. Whenever a field claims that almost nothing in the field is provable, you’re heading in the realms of Politically Correct soft science Humanities brain mush.
Results. A ratings system was designed in terms of how difficult it would be for an English-language speaker to learn the language. In the case of English, English was judged according to how hard it would be for a non-English speaker to learn the language. Speaking, reading and writing were all considered.
Ratings. Languages were rated 1-5 based on difficulty for an English speaker, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = most difficult of all.
Time needed. Time needed for an English language speaker to learn the language “reasonably well”: Level 1 languages = 3 months-1 year. Level 2 languages = 6 months-1 year. Level 3 languages = 1-2 years. Level 4 languages = 2 years. Level 5 languages = 3-4 years, but some may take longer.
Conclusion. The soft science, Politically Correct mush-speak from the swamps of Sociolinguistics currently in vogue, “All languages are equally difficult or easy for any adult to learn,” was rejected. The results of this study indicate that languages to indeed differ dramatically in how difficult they are for L2 English language learners.
Ind0-Ayran languages like Kashmiri, Hindi and especially Sanskrit are quite hard, and Sanskrit is legendary for its extreme complexity.
The Hindi script is quite opaque to Westerners, some of whom say that Chinese script is easier. You speak one way if you are talking to a man or a woman, and you also need to take into account whether you as speaker are male or female. Gender is also as prominent as in Spanish; you have to remember whether any given noun is masculine or feminine.Hindi is definitely an IE language by its rich system of gender, case and number inflection.
The most difficult aspects of Hindi are the pronunciation and the case system. In addition, Hindi is split ergative, and not only that, but it actually has a tripartite ergative system, and the ergativity is split by tense like in Persian.
The distinction between aspirated/unaspirated and alveolar/retroflex consonants is hard for many to make. There is a four-way distinction ion the t and d sounds with aspirated/unaspirated dental and aspirated/unaspirated retroflex t‘s and d‘s. The are three different r sounds – one that sounds like the English r and two retroflex r‘s that are quite hard to make or even distinguish, especially at the end of a word. Hindi also has nasalized vowels.
If you come from a language that has case, Hindi’s case system will not be overly difficult.
In addition, there is a completely separate word for each number from 1-100, which seems unnecessarily complicated.
However, Hindi has a number of cognates with English. I am not sure if they are Indic loans into English or they share a common root going back to Proto-Indo-European (PIE).
loot – plunder/destroy, English loot.
mausaum – season/weather, English equivalent is monsoon
toofan – storm, English equiv. typhoon
kammarband – something tied around the waist, English equiv. cummerbund
badnaam – literally bad name, means bad reputation. These are both cognates to the English words bad and name.
bangalaa – house, English equiv. bungalow
jangal – jungle
pandit – priest, English equiv. pundit
Nevertheless, Hindi typically gets a high score in ratings of difficult languages to learn. Based on this high score across multiple surveys, we will give it a relatively high rating.
Hindi is rated 4, very hard to learn.
Punjabi is probably harder than any other Indic language in terms of phonology because it uses tones. It’s like Hindi with tones. It has either two or three tones: high or high-falling, low or low-rising and possibly a neutral or mid tone. It is very odd for an IE language to have tones.
Punjabi is rated 4.5, very difficult.
Bengali is similar to Hindi, but it lacks grammatical gender, and that fact alone is said to make it much easier to learn. Bengali speak tend to make stereotypical gender errors when speaking in Hindi. Nevertheless, it uses the Sanskrit alphabet, and that alone makes it hard to read and write.
Bengali is rated 3.5, harder than average to learn.
Nepali is a very difficult language to learn as it has a complex grammar. It has case not for nouns themselves but for clause constituents. It has tense, aspect, and voice. Nepali has an unbelievable 11 noun classes or genders, and affixes on the verb mark the gender, number and person of the subject. It even has split ergativity, strange for an IE language.
Nepali has the odd feature, like Japanese, of having verbs have completely different positive and negative forms.
hũ ~ hoina (I am ~ I am not)
chas ~ chainas (you (intimate) are ~ you are not)
bolchu ~ boldina (I speak ~ I don’t speak)
Note the extreme differences on the conjugation of the present tense of the verb to be between 1 singular and 2 familiar singular. They look nothing like each other at all.
Adjectives decline in peculiar way. There is an inflection on adjectives that means “qualified.” So can say this by either inflecting the adjective:
dublo ~ dublai (tall ~ quite tall)
hoco ~ hocai (short ~ rather short)
rāmro ~ rāmrai (nice ~ nice enough)
or by putting the invariant qualifying adverb in front of the adjective:
ali dublo – quite tall
ali hoco – rather short
ali rāmro – nice enough
Nepali gets a 4.5 rating, very difficult.
Sinhala is also difficult but it is probably easier than most other languages in the region.
Sinhala is rated 3, average difficulty.
Sanskrit is legendary for its difficulty. It has script that goes on for long sequences in which many small individual words may be buried. You have to take apart the sequences to find the small words. However, the words are further masked by tone sandhi running everything together. Once you tease the sandhi apart, you have to deal with hundreds of compound characters in the script. Once you do those two things, you are left with eight cases, nine declensions, dual number and other fun things.
Even native speakers tend to make grammatical mistakes are admit that parts of the grammar are fiendishly difficult. There are many grammatical features that are rarely or never found in any other language. Noun declension is based on the letter than the noun ends in, for instance, nouns that end in a, e or u all decline differently. There are three genders for nouns, and those all decline differently also. Each noun has eight cases and three numbers (singular, dual and plural) so there are 24 different forms for each noun. Counting the different combinations of endings and genders (all subsumed into a sort of noun class system) there are 20 different “noun classes.”
Combining the “noun classes” with the three genders, you end up with 1,440 different regular forms that nouns can take. To make matters worse, some of the cases have different forms themselves. And there are some exceptions to these rules. The I and you pronouns decline differently, but pronouns are simple compared to nouns.
For the verbs, each verb had exist in 10 different forms of tense or mood (one from Vedic Sanskrit is no longer used). There are six tenses and four moods. The six tenses are: one present tense, two future tenses and three past tenses. The moods are: imperative, dubitive (expresses uncertainty), optative (expresses hope or offers a benediction) and a form that expresses the concept if only, then… There are two different conjugations based on who is the beneficiary of the action, you or others. There are ten different classes of verbs, each of which conjugates differently. Additionally, each verb has a different form in the singular, dual and plural and in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons.
Once you get past all of that, you are ready to take on the really difficult parts of the language, participles, noun derivatives and agglutination, each of which is far more complicated than the above. To add insult to injury, Sanskrit has pitch accent.
Nevertheless, the language is so mathematically precise and regular that some have said it is a perfect language for computer programming. There may not be a single irregularity in the whole language.
Sanskrit is rated 5, extremely difficult.
Persian is easier to learn than its reputation, as some say this is a difficult language to learn. In truth, it’s difficulty is only average, and it is one of the easier IE languages to learn. On the plus side, Persian has a very simple grammar and it is quite regular. It has no grammatical gender, no case, no articles, and adjectives never change form. Its noun system is as easy as that of English. The verbal system is a bit harder than English’s, but it is still much easier than that of even the Romance languages. The phonology is very simple.
On the down side, you will have to learn Arabic script. There are many lexical borrowings from Arabic which have no semantic equivalents in Persian.
English: two (native English word) ~ double (Latin borrowing)
Note the semantic transparency in the Latin borrowing.
Persian: do (native Persian word) ~ tasneyat (Arabic borrowing)
Note the utter lack of semantic correlation in the Arabic borrowing.
Some morphology was borrowed as well:
ketāb – book
kotobxānah – library (has an Arabic broken plural)
It is a quite easy language to learn at the entry level, but it is much harder to learn at the advanced level, say Sufi poetry, due to difficulty in untangling subtleties of meaning.
Persian gets a 3 rating as average difficulty.
Kurdish is about as hard to learn as Persian, but it has the added difficulty of pharyngeals, which are very hard for English speakers to make. Like Persian, it is no gender or case, and it also has a tense split ergative system.
Kurdish gets a 4 rating, very hard to learn.
Ossetian is a strange Iranian language that has somehow developed ejectives due to proximity of Caucasian languages which had them. An IE language with ejectives? How odd.
Ossetian gets a 4 rating, very hard to learn.
Italian is said to be easy to learn, especially if you speak a Romance language or English, but learning to order a pizza and really mastering it are two different things. Foreigners usually do not learn Italian at anywhere near a native level.
For instance, Italian has three types of tenses – simple, compound, and indefinite.
There are also various moods that combine to take tense forms – four subjunctive moods, two conditional moods, two gerund moods, two infinite moods, two participle moods and one imperative mood.
There are eight tenses in the indicative mood – recent past, remote pluperfect, recent pluperfect, preterite (remote past), imperfect, present, future, future perfect. There are four tenses in the subjunctive mood – present, imperfect, preterite and pluperfect. There are two tenses in the conditional mood – present and preterite. There is only one tense in the imperative mood – present. Gerund, participle and infinite moods all take only present and perfect tenses.
Altogether, using these mood-tense combinations, any Italian verb can decline in up to 21 different ways. However, the truth is that most Italians have little understanding of many of these tenses and moods. They do not know how to use them correctly. Hence they are often only used by the most educated people. So an Italian learner does not really need to learn all of these tenses and moods.
Italian has many irregular verbs. There are 600 irregular verbs with all sorts of different irregularities. Nevertheless, it is a Romance language, and Romance has gotten rid of most of its irregularity. The Slavic languages are much more irregular than Romance.
Counterintuitively, some Italian words are masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural. There are many different ways to say the:
Few Italians even write Italian 100% correctly. However, there is no case in Italian, as in all of Romance with the exception of Romanian.
Italian is still easier to learn than French – for evidence see the research that shows Italian children learning to write Italian properly by age six, 6-7 years ahead of French children. This is because Italian orthography is quite sensible and coherent, with good sound-symbol correspondence. Nevertheless, the orthography is not as transparent as Spanish’s.
In a similar sense, Italian changes the meaning of verbs via addition of a verbal prefix:
In these cases, you create completely new verbs via the addition of the verbal prefix to the base. Without the prefix, it is a completely different verb.
Like German and French, Italian forms the auxiliary tense with two different words: avere and essere. This dual auxiliary system is more difficult than French’s and much more difficult than German’s.
Italian is somewhat harder to learn than Spanish or Portuguese but not dramatically so. Italian has more irregularities than those two and has different ways of forming plurals, including two different ways of forming plurals that can mean different things depending on the context. This is a leftover from the peculiarities of the Latin neutral gender. The rules about when plurals end in -io or -e are opaque.
In addition, Italian pronouns and verbs are more difficult than in Spanish. Grammar rules in Spanish are simpler and seem more sensible than in Italian. Italian has the pronominal adverbs ne and se. Their use is not at all intuitive, however, they can be learned with a bit of practice.
Italian pronunciation is a straightforward, but the ce and ci sounds can be problematic. The only sounds that will give you trouble are r, gl and gn.
Italian gets a 3.5 rating, average difficulty.
Often thought to be an Italian dialect, Neapolitan is actually a full language all of its own. In Italy, there is the Neapolitan language and Neapolitan Italian, which is a dialect or “accent” of Italian. Many Italians speak with a Neapolitan accent, and it is easy for non-Neapolitans to understand. However, the Neapolitan language is a a full blown language and is nearly incomprehensible to even speakers of Standard Italian.Neapolitan is said to be easier than Standard Italian. Unlike Italian, Neapolitan conjugation and the vocative are both quite simple and any irregularities that exist seem to follow definite patters.
Neapolitan gets a 2.5 rating, fairly easy.
French is pretty easy to learn at a simple level, but it’s not easy to get to an advanced level. For instance, the language is full of idioms, many more than your average language, and it’s often hard to figure them out.
One problem is pronunciation. There are many nasal vowels, similar to Portuguese. The eu, u and all of the nasal vowels can be Hell for the learner. There is also a strange uvular r. The dictionary does not necessarily help you, as the pronunciation stated in the dictionary is often at odds with what you will find on the street.
There are phenomena called élision, liaison and enchainement, which is similar to sandhi in which vowels elide between words in fast speech. There are actually rules for this sort of thing, but the rules are complicated, and at any rate, for liaisons at least, they are either obligatory, permitted or forbidden depending on the nature of the words being run together, and it is hard to remember which category various word combinations fall under.
The orthography is also difficult since there are many sounds that are written but no longer pronounced, as in English. Also similar to English, orthography does not line up with pronunciation. For instance, there are 13 different ways to spell the o sound: o, ot, ots, os, ocs, au, aux, aud, auds, eau, eaux, ho and ö.
In addition, spoken French and written French can be quite different. Spoken French uses words and phrases such as c’est foutu – the job will not be done, and on which you might never see in written French.
The English language, having no Language Committee, at least has an excuse for the frequently irrational nature of its spelling.
The French have no excuse, since they have a committee that is set up in part to keep the language as orthographically irrational as possible. One of their passions is refusing to change the spelling of words even as pronunciation changes, which is the opposite of what occurs in any sane spelling reform. So French is, like English, frozen in time, and each one has probably gone as long as the other with no spelling reform.
Furthermore, to make matters worse, the French are almost as prickly about writing properly as they are about speaking properly, and you know how they are about foreigners mangling their language.
Despite the many problems of French orthography, there are actually some rules running under the whole mess, and it is quite a bit more sensible than English orthography, which is much more chaotic.
French has a language committee that is always inventing new native French words to keep out the flood of English loans. They have a website up with an official French dictionary showing the proper native coinages to use. Another one for computer technology only is here.
On the plus side, French has a grammar that is neither simple nor difficult; that, combined with a syntax is pretty straightforward and a Latin alphabet make it relatively easy to learn for most Westerners. In addition, the English speaker will probably find more instantly recognizable cognates in French than in any other language.
A good case can be made that French is harder to learn than English. Verbs change much more, and it has grammatical gender. There are 15 tenses in the verb, 18 if you include the pluperfect and the Conditional Perfect 2 (now used only in Literary French) and the past imperative (now rarely used). That is quite a few tenses to learn, but Spanish and Portuguese have similar situations.
A good case can be made that French is harder to learn than Italian in that French children do not learn to write French properly until age 12-13, six years after Italian children.
Its grammar is much more complicated than Spanish’s. Although the subjunctive is more difficult in Spanish than in French, French is much more irregular. Like German, there are two different ways to form the auxiliary tense to have. In addition, French uses particles like y and en that complicate the grammar quite a bit.
French is one of the toughest languages to learn in the Romance family. In many Internet threads about the hardest language to learn, many language learners list French as their most problematic language.
This is due to the illogical nature of French spelling discussed above such that the spelling of many French words must be memorized as opposed to applying a general sound-symbol correspondence rule. In addition, French uses both acute and grave accents – `´.
French gets a 3.5 rating for more than average difficulty.
Spanish is often said to be one of the easiest languages to learn, though this is somewhat controversial. Personally, I’ve been learning it off and on since age six, and I still have problems, though Spanish speakers say my Spanish is good, but Hispanophones, unlike the French, are generous about these things.
It’s quite logical, though the verbs do decline a lot with tense and number, and there are many irregular verbs, similar to French.
Compare English declensions to Spanish declensions of the verb to read.
pudísteis haber leído
hubiéremos ó hubiésemos leído
Nevertheless, Romance grammar is much more regular than, say, Polish, as Romance has junked most of the irregularity. Spanish has the good grace to lack case, spelling is a piece of cake, and words are spoken just as they are written. However, there is a sort of case left over in the sense that one uses different pronouns when referring to the direct object (accusative) or indirect object (dative).
Spanish is probably the most regular of the Romance languages, surely more regular than French or Portuguese, and probably more regular than Italian or Romanian. Pluralization is very regular compared to say Italian. There are generally only two plurals, -s and -es, and the rules about when to use one or the other are straightforward. There is only one irregular plural:
hipérbaton -> hipérbatos
This is in reference to a literary figure and you would never use this form in day to day speech.
The trilled r in Spanish often hard for language learners to make.
There is a distinction in the verb to be with two different forms, ser and estar. Non-native speakers almost never learn the use these forms as well as a native speaker. The subjunctive is also difficult in Spanish, and L2 learners often struggle with it after decades of learning.
Spanish pronunciation is fairly straightforward, but there are some sounds that cause problems for learners: j, ll, ñ, g, and r.
One good thing about Spanish is Spanish speakers are generally grateful if you can speak any of their language at all, and are very tolerant of mistakes in L2 Spanish speakers.
Spanish is considered to be easier to learn for English speakers than many other languages, including German. This is because Spanish sentences follow English sentence structure more than German sentences do. Compared to other Romance languages, Spanish one of the easiest to learn. It is quite a bit easier than French, moderately easier than Literary Portuguese, and somewhat easier than Italian.
Nevertheless, Hispanophones say that few foreigners end up speaking like natives. Part of the reason for this is that Spanish is very idiomatic and the various forms of the subjunctive make for a wide range of nuance in expression. Even native speakers make many mistakes when using the subjunctive in conditional sentences. The dialects do differ quite a bit more than most people say they do. The dialects in Latin America and Spain are quite different, and in Latin America, the Argentine and Dominican dialects are very divergent.
Spanish gets rated 2.5, fairly easy.
Portuguese, like Spanish, is also very easy to learn, though Portuguese pronunciation is harder due to the unusual vowels such as nasal diphthongs and the strange palatal lateral ʎ, which many English speakers will mistake for an l.
Of the nasal diphthongs, ão is the hardest to make. In addition, Brazilian (Br) Portuguese has an r that sounds like an h, and l that sounds like a w and a d that sounds like a j, but only some of the time! Fortunately, in European (Eu) Portuguese, all of these sounds sound as you would expect them to.
Portuguese has two r sounds, a tapped r (ɾ) that is often misconceived as a trilled r (present in some British and Irish English dialects) and an uvular r (ʁ) which is truly difficult to make. However, this is the typical r sound found in French, German, Danish and Hebrew, so if you have a background in one of those languages, this should be an easy sound. L2 learners not only have a hard time making them but also mix them up sometimes.
You can run many vowels together in Portuguese and still make a coherent sentence. See here:
É o a ou o b? [Euaoube]
Is it (is your answer) a or b?
That utterance turns an entire sentence into a single verb via run-on vowels, five of them in a row.
Most Portuguese speakers say that Portuguese is harder to learn than Spanish, especially the variety spoken in Portugal. Eu Portuguese elides many vowels and has more sounds per symbol than Br Portuguese does. Portuguese has both nasal and oral vowels, while Spanish has only oral values. In addition, Portuguese has 12 vowel phonemes to Spanish’s five.
Portuguese has also retained the archaic subjunctive future which has been lost in many Romance languages.
Try this sentence: When I am President, I will change the law.
In Spanish, one uses the future tense as in English:
Cuando yo soy presidente, voy a cambiar la ley.
In Portuguese, you use the subjunctive future, lost in all modern Romance languages and lacking in English:
Quando eu for presidente, vou mudar a lei. – literally, When I may be President, I will possibly change the law.
The future subjunctive causes a lot of problems for Portuguese learners and is one of the main ways that it is harder than Spanish.
There is a form called the personal infinitive in Eu Portuguese in which the infinitive is actually inflected that also causes a lot of problems for Portuguese learners.
para eu cantar for me to sing para tu cantares for you to sing para el cantar for him to sing para nos cantarmos for us to sing para eles cantarem for them to sing
Some sentences with the personal infinitive:
Ficamos em casa do Joao ao irmos ao Porto.
We are staying at John’s when we go to Porto.
Comprei-te um livro para o leres.
I bought you a book for you to read.
In addition, when making the present perfect in Spanish, it is fairly easy with the use have + participle as in English.
Compare I have worked.
Yo he trabajado.
In Portuguese, there is no perfect to have nor is there any participle, instead, present perfect is formed via a conjugation that varies among verbs:
Eu trabalhei – because Eu hei trabalhado makes no sense in Portuguese.
Portuguese still uses the pluperfect tense quite a bit, a tense that gone out or is heading out of most IE languages. The pluperfect is used a lot less now in Br Portuguese, but it is still very widely used in Eu Portuguese. The pluperfect is used to discuss a past action that took place before another past action. An English translation might be:
He had already gone by the time she showed up.
The italicized part would be the equivalent to the pluperfect in English.
O pássaro voara quando o gato pulou sobre ele para tentar comê-lo.
The bird had (already) flown away when the cat jumped over it trying to eat it.
Even Br Portuguese has its difficulties centering around diglossia. It is written in 1700’s Eu Portuguese, but in speech, the Brazilian vernacular is used. Hence:
I love you
Amo-te or Amo-o [standard, written]
Eu te amo or Eu amo você [spoken]
We saw them
Vimo-los [standard, written]
A gente viu eles [spoken]
Even Eu Portuguese native speakers often make mistakes in Portuguese grammar when speaking. Young people writing today in Portuguese are said to be notorious for not writing or speaking it properly. The pronunciation is so complicated and difficult that even foreigners residing in Portugal for a decade never seem to get it quite right. In addition, Portuguese grammar is unimaginably complicated. There are probably more exceptions than there are rules, and even native speakers have issues with Portuguese grammar.
Portuguese gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.
Surprisingly enough, Romanian is said to be one of the harder Romance languages to speak or write properly. Even Romanians often get it wrong. One strange thing about Romanian is that the articles are attached to the noun as suffixes. In all the rest of Romance, articles are free words that precede the noun.
English telephone the telephone Romanian telefon telefonul
Romanian is the only Romance language with case. There are five cases – nominative, accusative, genitive, dative, vocative – but vocative is not often use, and the other four cases combine as two cases: nominative/accusative and dative/genitive merge as single cases.
Nominative-Accusative aeroportul Genitive-Dative aeroportului
The genitive is hard for foreigners to learn as is the formation of plurals. The ending changes for no apparent reason when you pluralize a noun and there are also sound changes:
Many native speakers have problems with plurals and some of the declensions. Unlike the rest of Romance which has only two genders, masculine and feminine, Romanian has three genders – masculine, feminine and neuter (the neuter is retained from Latin). However, neuter gender is realized on the surface as masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural, unlike languages such as Russian where neuter gender is an entirely different gender.
The pronunciation is not terribly difficult, but it is hard to learn at first. For some odd reason, the Latinization is considered to be terrible.
Romanian is harder to learn than Spanish or Italian and possibly harder than French. However, you can have odd sentences with nothing but vowels as in Maori.
Aia-i oaia ei, o iau eu?
That’s her sheep, should I take it?
It may have the most difficult grammar in Romance. Romanian has considerable Slavic influence and this will make it harder for the English speaker to learn than other Romance languages.
Romanian gets a 3.5 rating, more than average difficulty.
People often say that English is easy to learn, but that is deceptive. For one thing, English has anywhere from 500,000-1 million words (said to be twice as much as any other language – but there are claims that Dutch and Arabic each have 4 million words), and the number increases by the day. Furthermore, most people don’t understand more than 50,000, and a majority might only understand 30,000 words. Yet your average person only uses 5,000 at most.
Actually, the average American or Brit uses a mere 2,500 words. As we might expect, our cultivated Continentals in Europe, such as Spaniards and French, probably have twice the regular vocabulary of English speakers and far more colloquial expressions.
In addition, verbal phrases or phrasal verbs are a nightmare. Phrasal verbs are probably left over from “separable verbs” in German. In most of the rest of IE, these become affixes as in Latin Latin cum-, ad-, pro-, in-, ex-, etc.. In many cases, phrasal verbs can have more than 10 different antagonistic meanings.
Here is a list of 123 phrasal verbs using the preposition up after a verb:
Back up – to go in reverse, often in a vehicle, or to go back over something previously dealt with that was poorly understood in order to understand it better.
Be up – to be in a waking state after having slept. I’ve been up for three hours. Also to be ready to do something challenging. Are you up for it?
Beat up – to defeat someone thoroughly in a violent physical fight.
Bid up – to raise the price of something, usually at an auction, by calling out higher and higher bids.
Blow up – to explode an explosive or for a social situation to become violent and volatile.
Bone up – to study hard.
Book up – all of the booking seats have been filled for some entertainment or excursion.
Bottle up – to contain feelings until they are at the point of exploding.
Break up – to break into various pieces, or to end a relationship, either personal or between entitles, also to split a large entity, like a large company or a state.
Bruise up – to receive multiple bruises, often serious ones.
Brush up – to go over a previously learned skill.
Build up – to build intensively in an area, such as a town or city, from a previously less well-developed state.
Burn up – burn completely or to be made very angry.
Bust up – to burst out in laughter.
Buy up – to buy all or most all of something.
Call up – to telephone someone. Or to be ordered to appear in the military. The army called up all males aged 18-21 and ordered them to show up at the nearest recruiting office.
Catch up – to reach a person or group that one had lagged behind earlier, or to take care of things, often hobbies, that had been put off by lack of time.
Chat up – to talk casually with a goal in mind, usually seduction or at least flirtation.
Cheer up – to change from a downcast mood to a more positive one.
Chop up – to cut into many, often small, pieces.
Clam up – to become very quiet suddenly and not say a thing.
Clean up – to make an area thoroughly tidy or to win completely and thoroughly.
Clear up – for a storm to dissipate, for a rash to go away, for a confusing matter to become understandable.
Close up – to close, also to end business hours for a public business.
Come up – to approach closely, to occur suddenly or to overflow.
Cook up – to prepare a meal or to configure a plan, often of a sly, ingenious or devious nature. They cooked up a scheme to swindle the boss.
Crack up – to laugh, often heartily or to fall apart emotionally.
Crank up – elevate the volume.
Crawl up – to crawl inside something.
Curl up – to rest in a curled body position, either alone or with another being.
Cut up – to shred or to make jokes, often of a slapstick variety.
Do up – apply makeup to someone, often elaborately.
Dream up – to imagine a creative notion, often an elaborate one.
Dress up – to dress oneself in formal attire.
Drive up – to drive towards something and then stop, or to raise the price of something by buying it intensively.
Drum up – to charge someone with wrongdoing, usually criminal, usually by a state actor, usually for false reasons.
Dry up – to dessicate.
Eat up – implies eating something ravenously or finishing the entire meal without leaving anything left.
End up – to arrive at some destination after a long winding, often convoluted journey either in space or in time.
Face up – to quit avoiding your problems and meet them head on.
Feel up – to grope someone sexually.
Get up – to awaken or rise from a prone position.
Give up – to surrender, in war or a contest, or to stop doing something trying or unpleasant that is yielding poor results, or to die, as in give up the ghost.
Grow up – to attain an age or maturity or to act like a mature person, often imperative.
Hang up – to place on a hanger or a wall, to end a phone call.
Hike up – to pull your clothes up when they are drifting down on your body.
Hit up – to visit someone casually or to ask for a favor or gift, usually small amounts of money.
Hold up – to delay, to ask someone ahead of you to wait, often imperative. Also a robbery, usually with a gun and a masked robber.
Hook up – to have a casual sexual encounter or to meet casually for a social encounter, often in a public place; also to connect together a mechanical devise or plug something in.
Hurry up – imperative, usually an order to quit delaying and join the general group or another person in some activity, often when they are leaving to go to another place.
Keep up – to maintain on a par with the competition without falling behind.
Kiss up – to mend a relationship after a fight.
Knock up – to impregnate.
Lay up – to be sidelined due to illness or injury for a time.
Let up – to ease off of someone or something, for a storm to dissipate, to stop attacking someone or s.t.
Lick up – to consume all of a liquid.
Light up – to set s.t. on fire or to smile suddenly and broadly.
Lighten up – to reduce the downcast or hostile seriousness of the mood of a person or setting.
Listen up – imperative – to order someone to pay attention, often with threats of aggression if they don’t comply.
Live up – to enjoy life.
Lock up – to lock securely, often locking various locks, or to imprison, or for an object or computer program to be frozen or jammed and unable to function.
Look up – to search for an item of information in some sort of a database, such as a phone book or dictionary. Also to admire someone.
Make up – to make amends, to apply cosmetics to one’s face or to invent a story.
Man up – to elevate oneself to manly behaviors when one is slacking and behaving in an unmanly fashion.
Mark up – to raise the price of s.t.
Measure up – in a competition, for an entity to match the competition.
Meet up – to meet someone or a group for a get meeting or date of some sort.
Mess up – to fail or to confuse and disarrange s.t. so much that it is bad need or reparation.
Mix up – to confuse, or to disarrange contents in a scattered fashion so that it does not resemble the original.
Mop up – mop a floor or finish off the remains of an enemy army or finalize a military operation.
Move up – to elevate the status of a person or entity in competition with other entities- to move up in the world.
Open up – when a person has been silent about something for a long time, as if holding a secret, finally reveals the secret and begins talking.
Own up – to confess to one’s sins under pressure and reluctantly.
Pass up – to miss an opportunity, often a good one.
Patch up – to put together a broken thing or relationship.
Pay up – to pay, usually a debt, often imperative to demand payment of a debt, to pay all of what one owes so you don’t owe anymore.
Pick up – to grasp an object and lift it higher, to seduce someone sexually or to acquire a new skill, usually rapidly.
Play up – to dramatize.
Pop up – for s.t. to appear suddenly, often out of nowhere.
Put up – to hang, to tolerate, often grudgingly, or to put forward a new image.
Read up – to read intensively as in studying.
Rev up – to turn the RPM’s higher on a stationary engine.
Ring up – to telephone someone or to charge someone on a cash register.
Rise up – for an oppressed group to arouse and fight back against their oppressors.
Roll up – to roll s.t. into a ball, to drive up to someone in a vehicle or to arrest all the members of an illegal group. The police rolled up that Mafia cell quickly.
Run up – to tally a big bill, often foolishly or approach s.t. quickly.
Shake up – to upset a paradigm, to upset emotionally.
Shape up – usually imperative command ordering someone who is disorganized or slovenly to live life in a more orderly and proper fashion.
Shoot up – to inject, usually illegal drugs, or to fire many projectiles into a place with a gun.
Show up – to appear somewhere, often unexpectedly.
Shut up – to silence, often imperative, fighting words.
Sit up – to sit upright.
Slip up – to fail.
Speak up – to begin speaking after listening for a while, often imperative, a request for a silent person to say what they wish to say.
Spit up – to vomit, usually describing a child vomiting up its food.
Stand up – to go from a sitting position to a standing one quickly.
Start up – to initialize an engine or a program, to open a new business to go back to something that had been terminated previously, often a fight; a recrudescence.
Stay up – to not go to bed.
Stick up – to rob someone, usually a street robbery with a weapon, generally a gun.
Stir up – stir rapidly, upset a calm surrounding or scene or upset a paradigm.
Stop up – to block the flow of liquids with some object(s).
Straighten up – to go from living a dissolute or criminal life to a clean, law abiding one.
Suck up – to ingratiate oneself, often in an obsequious fashion.
Suit up – to get dressed in a uniform, often for athletics.
Sweep up – to arrest all the members of an illegal group, often a criminal gang.
Take up – to cohabit with someone – She has taken up with him. Or to develop a new skill, to bring something to a higher elevation, to cook something at a high heat to where it is assimilated.
Talk up – to try to convince someone of something by discussing it dramatically and intensively.
Tear up – to shred.
Think up – to conjure up a plan, often an elaborate or creative one.
Throw up – to vomit.
Touch up – to apply the final aspects of a work nearly finished.
Trip up – to stumble mentally over s.t. confusing.
Turn up – to increase volume or to appear suddenly somewhere.
Vacuum up – to vacuum.
Use up – to finish s.t. completely so there is no more left.
Wait up – to ask other parties to wait for someone who is coming in a hurry.
Wake up – to awaken.
Walk up – to approach someone or something.
Wash up – to wash.
Whip up – to cook a meal quickly or for winds to blow wildly.
Work up – to exercise heavily, until you sweat to work up a sweat. Or to generate s.t. a report or s.t. of that nature done rather hurriedly in a seat of the pants and unplanned fashion. We quickly worked up a formula for dealing with the matter.
Wrap up – To finish something up, often something that is taking too long. Come on, let us wrap this up and getting it over with. Also, to bring to a conclusion that ties the ends together. The story wraps up with a scene where they all get together and sing a song.
Write up – often to write a report of reprimand or a violation. The officer wrote him for having no tail lights.
Here are phrasal verbs using the preposition down:
Back down – to retreat from a challenge or a threat.
Be down – to be ready to ready to do something daring, often s.t. bad, illegal or dangerous, such as a fight or a crime. Are you down?
Blow down – to knock something down via a strong wind.
Break down – to take anything apart in order to reveal its component parts.
Burn down – reduce s.t. to ashes, like a structure.
Chop down – to fell a tree with an ax.
Clamp down – to harshly police something bad in order to reduce its incidence, especially s.t. that had been ignored in the past.
Climb down – to retract a poorly made statement.
Cook down – to reduce the liquid content in a cooked item.
Crack down – To police harshly against people doing bad things.
Cut down – to fell a tree by any means or to reduce the incidence of anything, especially something bad.
Drink down – to consume all of s.t.
Drive down – to harshly bring down the price of something, often through brutal means. Investors drove down the price of the stock after the company’s latest product failed badly.
Dress down – to deliberately dress more poorly than expected, often as a trendy fashion statement.
Get down – to have fun and party, or to lie prone and remain there or to reduce something to bare essentials. Get down on the floor or Getting down to brass tacks, how can we possibly explain this anomaly other than in this particular manner?
Hang down – to let one’s hair fall down in front of one’s eyes or to hang s.t. often a banner, from a building or structure.
Hike down – to lower one’s pants. The gangsters hike their pants down to look tough.
Hold down – to hold someone or s.t. on the floor so they cannot rise or get up.
Keep down – to prevent a group, often a repressed group, from achieving via oppression by a ruling group. The Whites are keeping us Black people down.
Kick down – Drug slang meaning to contribute your drugs to a group drug stash so others can consume them with you, to share your drugs with others. Often used in a challenging sense.
Knock down – to hit or strike something so hard that it falls to the ground or collapses.
Let down – to be discouraged by something one had high hopes for.
Live down – to recover from a humiliating experience. After he was publicly humiliated, he was never able to live down his rejection by the people.
Look down – to regard someone in a negative or condemnatory way from a the point of a superior person.
Mark down – to discount the price of s.t., often significantly.
Party down – to have fun and party
Pass down – to leave s.t. of value to someone as an inheritance after a death or to inherit a saying or custom via one’s ancestors through time. It was passed down through the generations.
Pat down – to frisk.
Pay down – to reduce a bill, often a large bill, by making payments, often significant payments. We are slowly paying down that bill.
Play down – to reduce the significance of s.t. often s.t. negative, often in order to deceive people into thinking s.t. is better than it really is.
Put down – to criticize someone in a condescending way as a superior person, to insult.
Play down – to deemphasize.
Rip down – to tear s.t. off of a wall such as a sheet or poster.
Run down – to run over something or someone with a vehicle, to review a list or to attack someone verbally for a long time.
Set down – to postulate a set of rules for something.
Shake down – to rob someone purely through the use of verbal or nonphysical force or power.
Shoot down – to shoot at a flying object like a plane, hitting it so it crashes to the ground or to reject harshly a proposal.
Shut down – to close operations of an entity.
Speak down – to talk to someone in a condescending way from the point of view of a superior person.
Take down – to demolish s.t. like a building, to tackle someone, or to raid and arrest many members of an illegal organization.
Talk down – to speak to someone in an insulting manner as if one was superior or to mollify a very angry person to keep them from causing future damage. The police were able to talk down the shooter until he laid down his fun and set the hostages free.
Tear down – to demolish or destroy someone verbally or to destroy s.t. by mechanical means.
Throw down – to throw money or tokens into the pile in the center when gambling.
Turn down – to reduce the volume of something or to reject an offer.
Write down – to write on a sheet of paper
There are figures of speech and idioms everywhere (some estimate that up to 20% of casual English speech is idiomatic), and it seems impossible to learn them all. In fact, few second language learners get all the idioms down pat.
The spelling is insane and hardly follows any rules at all. The English spelling system in some ways is frozen at about the year 1500 or so. The pronunciation has changed but the spelling has not. Careful studies have shown that English-speaking children take longer to read than children speaking other languages (Finnish, Greek and various Romance and other Germanic languages) due to the difficulty of the spelling system. Romance languages were easier to read than Germanic ones.
This may be why English speakers are more likely to be diagnosed dyslexic than speakers of other languages. The dyslexia still exists if you speak a language with good sound-symbol correspondence, but it’s covered up so much by the ease of the orthography that it seems invisible, and the person can often function well. But for a dyslexic, trying to read English is like walking into a minefield.
Letters can make many different sounds, a consequence of the insane spelling system. A single sound can be spelled in many different ways: e can be spelled e, ea, ee, ei, eo, ey, ae, i, ie, and y. The k sound can spelled as c, cc, ch, ck, k, x, and q.
The rules governing the use of the indefinite, definite and zero article are opaque and possibly don’t even exist. There are synonyms for almost every word in a sentence, and the various shades of meaning can be difficult to discern. In addition, quite a few words have many different meanings. There are strange situations like read and read, which are pronounced differently and mean two different things.
English word derivation is difficult to get your mind around because of the dual origins of the English language in both Latin/French and German.
See and hear and perceptible and audible mean the same thing, but the first pair is derived from German, and the second pair is derived from Latin.
English word derivation is irregular due for the same reason:
assume – assumption (Latin)
child – childish (German)
build – building (German)
In English we have at least 12 roots with the idea of two in them:
However, English regular verbs generally have only a few forms in their normal paradigm. In this arrangement, there are only five forms of the verb in general use for the overwhelming majority of verbs:
present except 3rd singular steal 3rd person singular steals progressive stealing past stole perfect stolen
Even a language like Spanish has many more basic forms than that. However, coming from an inflected language, the marking of only the 3rd singular and not marking anything else may seem odd.
The complicated part of English verbs is not their inflection – minimal as it is – but instead lies in the large number of irregular verbs.
There is also the oddity of the 2nd person being the same in both the singular and the plural – you. Some dialects such as US Southern English do mark the plural – you all or y’all.
English prepositions are notoriously hard, and few second language learners get them down right because they seem to obey no discernible rules.
One problem that English learners complain of is differential uses of have.
- Perfect tense. I have done it.
- Deontic (must). I have to do it.
- Causative. I had it done.
While English seems simple at first – past tense is easy, there is little or no case, no grammatical gender, little mood, etc., that can be quite deceptive. In European countries like Croatia, it’s hard to find a person who speaks English with even close to native speaker competence.
There are quite a few English dialects – over 100 have been recorded in London alone.
The problem with English is that it’s a mess! There are languages with very easy grammatical rules like Indonesian and languages with very hard grammatical rules like Arabic. English is one of those languages that is simply chaotic. There are rules, but there are exceptions everywhere and exceptions to the exceptions. Grammatically, it’s disaster area. It’s hard to know where to start.
However, it is often said that English has no grammatical rules. Even native speakers make this comment because that is how English seems due to its highly irregular nature. Most English native speakers, even highly educated ones, can’t name one English grammatical rule. Just to show you that English does have rules though, I will list some of them.
*Indicates an ungrammatical form.
Adjectives appear before the noun in noun phrases:
Small dogs barked.
*Dogs small barked.
Adjectives are numerically invariant:
the small dog
the small dogs
The dog is small.
The dogs are small.
Intensifiers appear before both attributive and predicative adjectives:
The very small dog barked.
*The small very dog barked.
The dog was very small.
*The dog was small very.
Attributive adjectives can have complements:
The dog was scared.
The dog was scared of cats.
But predicative adjectives cannot:
The scared dog barked.
*The scared of cats dog barked.
Articles, quantifiers, etc. appear before the adjective (and any intensifier) in a noun phrase:
The very small dog barked.
*Very the small dog barked.
*Very small the dog barked.
Every very small dog barked.
*Very every small dog barked.
*Very small every dog barked.
Relative clauses appear after the noun in a noun phrase:
The dog that barked.
*The that barked dog.
The progressive verb form is the bare form with the suffix -ing, even for the most irregular verbs in the language:
The infinitive verb form is to followed by the bare form, even for the most irregular verbs in the language:
The imperative verb form is the bare form, even for the most irregular verb in the language:
All 1st person present, 2nd person present, and plural present verb forms are equivalent to the bare form, except for to be.
All past tense verb forms of a given verb are the same regardless of person and number, except for to be.
Question inversion is optional:
You are leaving?
Are you leaving?
But when inversion does occur in a wh-question, a wh-phrase is required to be fronted:
You’re seeing what?
What are you seeing?
*Are you seeing what?
Wh-fronting is required to affect an entire noun phrase, not just the wh-word:
You are going to which Italian restaurant?
Which Italian restaurant are you going to?
*Which are you going to Italian restaurant?
*Which Italian are you going to restaurant?
*Which restaurant are you going to Italian?
Wh-fronting only happens once, never more:
What are you buying from which store
Which store are you buying what from?
*What which store are you buying from?
*Which store what are you buying from?
The choice of auxiliary verb in compound past sentences does not depend on the choice of main verb:
I have eaten.
I have arrived.
*I am eaten.
*I am arrived.
Je suis arrivé.
English can be seen as an inverted pyramid in terms of ease of learning. The basics are easy, but it gets a lot more difficult as you progress in your learning.
While it is relatively easy to speak it well enough to be more or less understandable most of the time, speaking it correctly is often not possible for a foreigner even after 20 years of regular use.
English only gets a 2.5 rating , somewhat difficult.
German’s status is controversial. It’s long been considered hard to learn, but many learn it fairly easily.
Pronunciation is straightforward, but there are some problems with the müde, the Ach, and the two ch sounds in Geschichte. Although the first one is really an sch instead of a ch, English speakers lack an sch, so they will just see that as a ch. Further, there are specific rules about when to use the ss (or sz as Germans say) or hard s. The r in German is a quite strange ʁ, and of common languages, only French has a similar r. The ç, χ and ‘ü sounds can be hard to make. Consonant clusters like Herkunftswörterbuch or Herbstpflanze can be be difficult. German permits the hard to pronounce shp and shtr consonant clusters. Of the vowels, ö and ü seem to cause the most problems.
German grammar is quite complex. It recently scored as one of the weirdest languages in Europe on a study, and it also makes it onto worst grammars lists. The main problem is that everything is irregular. Nouns, plurals, determiners, adjectives, superlatives, verbs, participles – they are all irregular. It seems that everything in the language is irregular.
There are six different forms of the depending on the noun case:
but 16 different slots to put the six forms in, and the gender system is irrational. In a more basic sense and similar to Danish, there are three basic forms of the:
Each one goes with a particular noun, and it’s not very clear what the rules are.
One problem with German syntax is that the verb, verbs or parts of verbs doesn’t occur until the end of the sentence. This sentence structure is known as V2 syntax, and it is quite alien for English speakers. There are verbal prefixes, and they can be modified in all sorts of ways that change meanings in a subtle manner. There are dozens of different declension types for verbs, similar to Russian and Irish. There are also quite a few irregular verbs that do not fit into any of the paradigms.
German also has Schachtelsätze, box clauses, which are like clauses piled into other clauses. In addition, subclauses use SOV word order. Whereas in Romance languages you can often throw words together into a sentence and still be understood if not grammatical, in German, you must learn the sentence structure – it is mandatory and there is no way around it. The syntax is very rigid but at least very regular.
German case is also quite regular. The case exceptions can be almost counted on one hand. However, look at the verb:
helfen – help
in which the direct object is in dative rather than the expected absolutive.
An example of German case (and case in general) is here:
The leader of the group gives the boy a dog.
In German, the sentence is case marked with the four different German cases:
Der Führer (nominative)
der Gruppe (genitive)
gibt dem Jungen (dative)
einen Hund (accusative).
There are three genders, masculine, feminine and neutral. Yet it is difficult to tell which gender any particular noun is based on looking at it, for instance, petticoat is masculine! Any given noun inflects via the four cases and the three genders. Furthermore, the genders change between masculine and feminine in the same noun for no logical reason. Gender seems to be one of the main problems that German learners have with the language. Figuring out which word gets which gender must simply be memorized as there are no good clues.
Phonology also changes strangely as the number of the noun changes:
Haus – house (singular)
Haeuser – houses (plural with umlaut)
But to change the noun to a diminutive, you add -chen:
Haueschen – little house (singular, yet has the umlaut of the plural)
This is part of a general pattern in Germanic languages of roots changing the vowel as verbs, adjectives and nouns with common roots change from one into the other. For instance, in English we have the following vowel changes in these transformed roots:
foul filth tell tale long length full fill hot heat do does
Much of this has gone out of English, but it is still very common in German. Dutch is in between English and German.
For sick, we have:
krank sick kränker sicker kränklich sickly krankhaft pathological kranken an to suffer from kränken to hurt kränkeln to be ailing erkranken to fall ill
For good, we have:
gut good Güte goodness Gut a good Güter goods gütig kind gütlich amicable
German also has a complicated preposition system.
German also has a vast vocabulary, the fourth largest in the world. This is either positive or negative depending on your viewpoint. Language learners often complain about learning languages with huge vocabularies, but as a native English speaker, I’m happy to speak a language with a million words. There’s a word for just about everything you want to say about anything, and then some!
On the plus side, word formation is quite regular.
Pollution is Umweltverschmutzung. It consists, logically, of two words, Umwelt and Verschmutzung, which mean environment and dirtying.
In English, you have three words, environment, dirtying and pollution, the third one, the combination of the first two, has no relation to its semantic roots in the first two words.
Nevertheless, this has its problems, since it’s not simple to figure out how the words are stuck together into bigger words, and meanings of morphemes can take years to figure out.
German has phrasal verbs as in English, but the meaning is often somewhat clear if you take the morphemes apart and look at their literal meanings. For instance:
vorschlagen – to suggest parses out to er schlägt vor – to hit forth
whereas in English you have phrasal verbs like to get over with which even when separated out, don’t make sense literally.
German, like French and Italian, has two auxiliary tenses – habe and bin. However, their use is quite predictable and the tenses are not inflected so the dual auxiliary is easier in German than in French or especially Italian.
Reading German is actually much easier than speaking it, since to speak it correctly, you need to memorize not only genders but also adjectives and articles.
German is not very inflected, and the inflection that it does take is more regular than many other languages. Furthermore, German orthography is phonetic, and there are no silent letters.
German, like Dutch, is being flooded with English loans. While this helpful to the English speaker, others worry that the language is at risk of turning into English.
Learning German can be seen as a pyramid. It is very difficult to grasp the basics, but once you do that, it gets increasingly easy as the language follows relatively simple rules and many words are created from other words via compound words, prefixes and suffixes.
Rating German is hard to do. It doesn’t seem to deserve to a very high rating, but it makes a lot of people’s “hardest language you ever tried to learn” list for various reasons.
German gets a 3.5 rating, moderately difficult.
While Dutch syntax is no more difficult than English syntax, Dutch is still harder to learn than English due to the large number of rules used in both speaking and writing. The Dutch say that few foreigners learn to speak Dutch well. Part of the problem is that some words have no meaning at all in isolation (meaning is only derived via a phrase or sentence). Word order is somewhat difficult because it is quite rigid. In particular, there are complex and very strange rules about the order of verbs in verbal clusters. It helps if you know German as the rule order is similar, but Dutch word order is harder than German word order. Foreigners often seem to get the relatively lax Dutch rules about word order wrong in long sentences.
Verbs can be difficult. For instance, there are no verbs get and move. Instead, get and move each have about a dozen different verbs in Dutch. A regular Dutch verb has six different forms.
Dutch spelling is difficult, and most Dutch people cannot even spell Dutch correctly. There are only two genders – common and neuter – as opposed to three in German – feminine, neuter and masculine. In Dutch, the masculine and feminine merged in the common gender. But most Dutch speakers cannot tell you the gender of any individual word, in part because there are few if any clues to the gender of any given noun.
There are remnants of the three gender system in that the Dutch still use masculine/feminine for some nouns. In the Netherlands now, most Dutch speakers are simply using masculine (common) for most nouns other than things that are obviously feminine like the words mother and sister.
However, in Belgium, where people speak Flemish, not Dutch, most people still know the genders of words. Not only that but the 3-gender system with masculine, feminine and neuter remains in place in Flemish. In addition, in Flemish, the definite article still makes an obvious distinction between masculine and feminine, so it is easy to figure out the gender of a noun:
ne man, nen boom, nen ezel, nen banaan (masculine)
een vrouw, een koe, een wolk, een peer (feminine)
In addition, most Dutch speakers cannot tell you what pronoun to use in the 3rd person singular when conjugating a verb.
This is because there are two different systems in use for conjugating the 3sing.
The basic paradigm is:
hij he zij (ze) she het it System 1 male persons hij female persons zij neuter words het animals hij, unless noun = neuter objects hij, " " abstractions zij, " " substances hij, " " System 2 male persons hij female persons zij all animals hij all objects hij all abstractions zij all substances het
For instance, melk is a common noun. Under system 1, it would be hij. But under system 2, it would be het because it is a substance.
The er word is tricky in Dutch. Sometimes it is translated as English there, but more often then not it is simply not translated in English translations because there is no good translation for it. There are two definite articles, de and het, and they are easily confused.
Dutch has something called modal particles, the meanings of which are quite obscure.
Some say Dutch is irregular, but the truth is that more than Dutch has a multitude of very complex rules, rules that are so complicated that is hard to even figure them out, much less understand them. Nevertheless, Dutch has 200 irregular verbs.
In some respects, Dutch is a more difficult language than English. For instance, in English, one can simply say:
The tree is in the garden.
But in Dutch (and also in German) you can’t say that. You have to be more specific. What is the tree doing in the garden? Is it standing there? Is it lying on the grass? You have to say not only that the tree is in the garden, but what it is doing there.
In Dutch, you need to say:
Daar ligt een boom in de tuin.
The tree is standing in the garden.
Daar ligt een boom in de tuin.
The tree is lying in the garden.
Dutch pronunciation is pretty easy, but the ui, eu, ij, au, ou, eeuw and uu sounds can be hard to make. Dutch speakers say only Germans learn to pronounce the ui correctly.
Dutch was listed as one of the top weirdest languages in Europe in a recent study.
Dutch is almost being buried in a flood of English loans. While this helps the English speaker, others worry that the Dutch nature of the language is at risk.
Dutch seems to be easier to learn than German. Dutch has fewer cases, thus fewer articles and and adjective endings. There are two main ways of pluralizing in Dutch: adding -‘s and adding -en. Unfortunately, in German, things are much more complex than that. Dutch has only two genders (and maybe just a trace of a third) but German definitely has three genders. Verb conjugation is quite similar in both languages, but it is a bit easier in Dutch. Word order is the same: complex in both languages. Both languages are equally complex in terms of pronunciation. Both have the difficult ø and y vowels.
Dutch gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.
Afrikaans is just Dutch simplified.
Where Dutch has 200 irregular verbs, Afrikaans has only six. A Dutch verb has six different forms, but Afrikaans has only two. Afrikaans has two fewer tense than Dutch. Dutch has two genders, and Afrikaans has only one. Surely Afrikaans ought to be easier to learn than Dutch.
Afrikaans gets a 2 rating, very easy to learn.
Icelandic is very hard to learn, much harder than Norwegian, German or Swedish. Part of the problem is pronunciation. The grammar is harder than German grammar, and there are almost no Latin-based words in it. The vocabulary is quite archaic. Modern loans are typically translated into Icelandic equivalents rather than borrowed fully into Icelandic.
There are four cases: nominative, accusative, dative and genitive – as in German – and there are many exceptions to the case rules, or “quirky case,” as it is called. In quirky case, case can be marked on verbs, prepositions and and adjectives. The noun morphology system is highly irregular. Articles can be postfixed and inflected and added to the noun. In fact, Icelandic in general is highly irregular, not just the nouns.
Verbs are modified for tense, mood, person and number, as in many other IE languages (this is almost gone from English). There are up to ten tenses, but most of these are formed with auxiliaries as in English. Icelandic also modifies verbs for voice – active, passive and medial. Furthermore, there are four different kinds of verbs – strong, weak, reduplicating and irregular, with several conjugation categories in each division. Many verbs just have to be memorized.
Adjectives decline in an astounding 130 different ways, but many of these forms are the same.
The language is generally SVO, but since there is so much case-marking, in poetry all possibilities – SVO, SOV, VSO, VOS, OSV and OVS – are allowed. There is also something odd called “long distance reflexives,” which I do not understand.
In addition, Icelandic has the typical Scandinavian problem of a nutty orthography.
Icelandic verbs are very regular but the sounds change so much, especially the vowels, that the whole situation gets confusing pretty fast. In addition, there are three different verbal paradigms depending on the ending of the verb:
Icelandic verbs are commonly cited as some of the hardest verb systems around, at least in Europe. Even Icelandic people say their own verbs are difficult.
Icelandic has a voiceless lateral l – l̥. This can be a hard sound to make for many learners, especially in the middle of a word. In addition, there are two alveolar trills (the rolled r sound in Spanish), and one of them is voiced while the other is voiceless. Learners say they have problems with both of these sounds. In addition to voiceless l‘s and r‘s, Icelandic also has four voiceless nasals – n̥, m̥, ɲ̊, and ŋ̊ – the n, m, ny (as in Spanish nina), and ng sounds.
There are also contrasts between aspirated and nonaspirated stops including the odd palatal stops cʰ and c. In addition, there is a strange voiceless palatal fricative ç (similar to the h in English huge). In addition, Icelandic has a hard to pronounce four consonant cluster strj- that occurs at the beginning of a word.
Icelandic does have the advantage of being one of the few major languages with no significant dialects, so this is a plus. Icelandic has been separated from the rest of Scandinavian for 1,100 years. Icelandic is spoken over a significant region, much of which has inhabited places separated by large expanses of uninhabitable land such as impassable glaciers, volcanoes, lava flows, geysers and almost no food. How Icelandic managed to not develop dialects in this situation is mysterious.
Icelandic has traditionally been considered to be one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn.
Icelandic gets a 5 rating, extremely difficult to learn.
Faroese is said to be even harder to learn than Icelandic, with some very strange vowels not found in other North Germanic languages.
The Faroese orthography is as irrational as Icelandic’s. There are so many rules to learn to be able to write Faroese properly. Faroese, like Icelandic, prefers to coin new words rather than borrow words wholesale into its language. Therefore the English speaker will not see a lot of obvious borrowings to help them out. Some argue against this nativization process, but maybe it is better than being buried in English loans like German and Dutch are at the moment.
computer – telda (derived from at telja – to count. Icelandic has a similar term.
helicopter – tyrla (derived from tyril – a spinning tool for making wool or loom.
music – tónleikur
pocket calculator – telduhvølpur (Lit. computer puppy), roknimaskina (Lit. calculating machine)
Faroese has the advantage of having no verbal aspect, and verbal declension does not differ much according to person. However, Faroese has a case system like Icelandic.
Faroese gets a 5 rating,extremely difficult.
Norwegian is fairly easy to learn, and Norwegian is sometimes touted as the easiest language on Earth to learn for an English speaker.
This is confusing because Danish is described below as a more difficult language to learn, and critics say that Danish and Norwegian are the same, so they should have equal difficulty. But only one Norwegian writing system is almost the same as Danish the Danish writing system. Danish pronunciation is quite a bit different from Norwegian, and this is where the problems come in.
Even Norwegian dialects can be a problem. Foreigners get off the plane having learned a bit of Norwegian and are immediately struck by the strangeness of the multiplicity of dialects, which for the most part are easy for Norwegians to understand but can be hard for foreigners. Norwegians often only understand their many dialects due to bilingual learning and much exposure and there are definitely Norwegian dialects that even Norwegians have a hard time understand like Upper and Lower Sogn and Trondnersk.
There is also the problematic en and et alternation, as discussed with Danish. Norwegian has an irrational orthographic system, like Swedish, with silent letters and many insensible sounds, both consonants and vowels. It has gone a long time without a spelling reform. It has the additional orthographic issues of two different writing systems and a multitude of dialects. Norwegian, like Danish and Swedish, has a huge vowel inventory, one of the larger ones on Earth. It can be confusing and difficult to make all of those odd vowel sounds: 18 contrasting simple vowels, nine long and nine short iː, eː, ɛː, ɑː, oː, uː, ʉ̟ː, yː, øː, ɪ, ɛ, a, ɔ, ʊ, ɵ, ʏ and œ.
Norwegian has very little inflection in its words, but the syntax is very difficult. Norwegian also has “tonemes” which distinguish between homophones.
tanken – the tank
tanken – the thought
have two different meanings, even though the stress and pronunciation are the same. The words are distinguished by a toneme.
For some reason, Norwegian scored very high on a study of weirdest languages on Earth, but Swedish and Danish also got high scores.
However, Norwegian is a very regular language.
Norwegian gets a 2 rating, moderately easy to learn.
Danish is a harder language to learn than one might think. It’s not hard to read or even write, but it’s quite hard to speak. However, like English, Danish has a non-phonetic orthography, so this can be problematic. It has gone a long time without a spelling reform, so there are many silent letters and sounds, both vowels and consonants, that make no sense. Danish makes it on lists of most irrational orthographies of all.
In addition, there are d words where the d is silent and other d words where it is pronounced, and though the rules are straightforward, it’s often hard for foreigners to get the hang of this. The d in hund is silent, for instance. In addition, the b, d, and g sounds are somehow voiceless in many environments. There are also the strange labiodental glide and alveopalatal fricative sounds. In certain environments, d, g, v, and r turn into vowels.
There are three strange vowels that are not in English, represented by the letters æ, ø and å. They are all present in other Scandinavian languages – æ is present in Icelandic and Norwegian, ø is part of Norwegian, and å is part of Norwegian and Swedish, but English speakers will have problems with them. In addition, Danish has creaky-voiced vowels, which is very strange for an IE language. Danish language learners often report having a hard time pronouncing Danish vowels or even telling one apart from the other. Danish makes it onto lists of the wildest phonologies on Earth,and it made it high on a list of weirdest languages on Earth.
One advantage of all of the Scandinavian languages is that their basic vocabulary (the vocabulary needed to converse at a basic level and be understood) is fairly limited. In other words, without learning a huge number of words, it is possible to have a basic conversation in these languages. This is in contrast to Chinese, where you have to learn a lot of vocabulary just to converse at a basic level.
As with Maltese and Gaelic, there is little correlation between how a Danish word is written and how it is pronounced.
Pronunciation of Danish is difficult. Speech is very fast and comes out in a continuous stream that elides entire words. Vowels in the middle and at the end of words are seldom expressed. There are nine vowel characters, and each one can be pronounced in five or six different ways. There is nearly a full diphthong set, and somehow pharyngealization is used as an accent. Danish has a huge set of vowels, one of the largest sets on Earth. The sheer number of vowels is one reason that Danish is so hard to pronounce. Danish has 32 vowels, 15 short, 13 long and four unstressed: ɑ, ɑː, a, æ, æː, ɛ, ɛː, e, e̝ː, i, iː, o, oː, ɔ, ɔː, u, uː, ø, øː, œ, œː, ɶ, ɶː, y, yː, ʌ, ɒ, ɒː, ə, ɐ, ɪ, and ʊ.
There is also a strange phonetic element called a stød, which is a very short pause slightly before the vowel(s) in a word. This element is very hard for foreigners to get right.
Just about any word has at least four meanings, and can serve as noun, verb, adjective or adverb. Danish has two genders (feminine and masculine have merged into common gender), and whether a noun is common or neuter is almost impossible to predict and simply must be memorized.
Suggesting that Danish may be harder to learn than Swedish or Norwegian, it’s said that Danish children speak later than Swedish or Norwegian children. One study comparing Danish children to Croatian tots found that the Croat children had learned over twice as many words by 15 months as the Danes. According to the study:
The University of Southern Denmark study shows that at 15 months, the average Danish toddler has mastered just 80 words, whereas a Croatian tot of the same age has a vocabulary of up to 200 terms.
[…] According to the study, the primary reason Danish children lag behind in language comprehension is because single words are difficult to extract from Danish’s slurring together of words in sentences. Danish is also one of the languages with the most vowel sounds, which leads to a ‘mushier’ pronunciation of words in everyday conversation.
Danish gets a 3 rating, average difficulty.
Swedish has the disadvantage of having hundreds of irregular verbs. Swedish also has some difficult phonemes, especially vowels, since Swedish has nine vowels, not including diphthongs. Pronunciation of the ö and å (and sometimes ä, which has a different sound) can be difficult. Swedish also has pitch accent. Pronunciation is probably the hardest part of Swedish.
Words can take either an -en or an –ett ending, and there don’t seem to be any rules about which one to use. The same word can have a number of different meanings.
Swedish, like German, has gender, but Swedish gender is quite predictable by looking at the word, unlike German, where deciding which of the three genders to use seems like a spin of the Roulette wheel.
Word order is comparatively free in that one can write a single sentence multiple ways while changing the meaning somewhat. So I didn’t know that. can be written the following ways:
Det visste jag inte.
Det visste inte jag.
Jag visste inte det.
Jag visste det inte.
Inte visste jag det.
For some reason, Swedish got a very high score on a study of the weirdest languages on Earth.
The different ways of writing that sentence depend on context. In particular, the meaning varies in terms of topic and focus.
There is a 3-way contrast in deixis:
Swedish also has the same problematic phrasal verbs that English does:
att slå - beat/hit slå av turn off slå fast settle/establish slå igen close/shut slå igenom become known/be a success slå in wrap in, come true slå ner beat down slå på turn on slå runt overturn slå till hit/strike/slap, strike a deal slå upp open (a book), look s.t. up
Swedish orthography is difficult in learning how to write it, since the spelling seems illogical, like in English. The sj sound in particular can be spelled many different ways. However, Swedish spelling is probably easier than English since Swedish lacks a phonemic schwa, and schwa is the source of many of the problems in English. Where allophonic schwa does appear, it seems to be predictable.
One nice thing about Swedish grammar is that it is similar to English grammar in many ways.
Swedish can be compared to a tube in terms of ease of learning. The basics are harder to learn than in English, but instead of getting more difficult as one progresses as in English, the difficulty of Swedish stays more or less the same from basics to the most complicated. But learning to speak Swedish is easy enough compared to other languages.
Swedish gets a 2.5 rating, easy to average difficulty.
Any Gaelic language is tough. Celtic languages are harder to learn than German or Russian.
Old Irish was the version of Irish written from 650 to 900 AD. It was used only by the educated and aristocratic elites. The rest of the population spoke a simplified version that was already on its way to becoming Middle Irish.
The verbal system in Old Irish was one of most complicated of all of the classical languages.
The persons were 1st, 2nd, 3rd and plural. The tenses were present, preterite, imperfect, perfect, future and an odd tense called secondary future. There were imperative and subjunctive moods. There was no infinitive – instead it was formed rather erratically as a verbal noun derived from the verb. This gerund underwent 10 different declensions and often looked little like the verb it is derived from.
cingid – to step -> céim – stepping
There were both strong and weak verbs, and each had both simple and compound forms.
Bizarrely, every verb had not one but two different paradigms – the conjunct and the absolute. You used the conjunct when the verb is preceded by a conjunct particle such as ní (not) or in (the question particle). You used the absolute when there was no conjunct particle in front of the verb.
Hence, the present indicative of glenaid (sticks fast), is:
Absolute Conjunct glenaim :glenaim glenai :glenai glenaid :glen glenmai :glenam glenthae :glenaid glenait :glenat
The colon before the conjunct verbs indicates that a conjunct particle preceded the verb.
The phonological changes were some of the most complicated you could imagine. An attempt was made to orthographically portray all of these convoluted changes, but the orthography ended up a total mess.
Each consonant had four different values depending on where it was in the word and whether or not it was palatal. Hence, even though the 1st person absolute and conjunct look identical above (both are spelled glenaim), they were pronounced differently. The absolute was pronounced glyenum, and the conjunct was pronounced glyenuv.
The grammar was unbelievably complex, probably harder than Ancient Greek. There was even a non-IE substratum running underneath the language.
Old Irish gets a 5 rating, extremely difficult.
Irish students take Irish for 13 years, and some take French for five years. These students typically know French better than Irish. There are inflections for the inflections of the inflections, a convoluted aspiration system, and no words for yes or no. The system of initial consonant mutation is quite baffling. Noun declension is mystifying. Irish has irregular nouns, but there are not many of them:
the woman – an bhean
the women – na mná
and there are only about 10 irregular verbs. There are dozens of different declension types for verbs. The various phonological gradations, lenitions and eclipses are not particularly regular. There are “slender” and “broad” variants of many of the consonants, and it is hard to tell the difference between them when you hear them. Many learners find the slender/broad consonants the hardest part of Irish. The orthography makes many lists of worst orthographies on Earth.
Irish gets a 4.5 ratings, very difficult.
Both Scots Gaelic and Irish Gaelic are written with non-phonetic spelling that is even more convoluted and irrational than English. This archaic spelling is in drastic need of revision, and it makes learners not want to learn the language. For instance, in Scots Gaelic, the word for taxi is tacsaidh, although the word is pronounced the same as the English word. There are simply too many unnecessary letters for too few sounds. Of the two, Scots Gaelic is harder due to many silent consonants.
Irish actually has rules for its convoluted spelling, and once you figure out the rules, it is fairly straightforward, as it is quite regular and it is actually rational in its own way. In addition, Irish recently underwent a spelling reform. The Irish spelling system does make sense in an odd way, as it marks things such as palatalization and velarization.
Scottish Gaelic and Manx have gone a long time with no spelling reforms.
Scottish Gaelic gets a 4.5 ratings, very difficult.
Manx is probably the worst Gaelic language of all in terms of its spelling since it has Gaelic spelling yet uses an orthography based on English which results in a crazy mix that makes many lists of worst scripts.
Manx gets a 4.5 rating, very difficult.
Welsh is also very hard to learn, although Welsh has no case compared to Irish’s two cases. And Welsh has a mere five irregular verbs. The Byrthonic languages like Welsh and Breton are easier to learn than Gaelic languages like Irish and Scots Gaelic. One reason is because Welsh is written with a logical, phonetic alphabet. Welsh is also simpler grammar-wise, but things like initial consonant mutations can still seem pretty confusing and are difficult for the non-Celtic speaker to master and understand. Verbal declension is irregular.
caraf I love carwn we love cerais I loved carasom we loved
The problem above is that one cannot find any morpheme that means 1st person, 3rd person, or past tense in the examples. Even car- itself can change, and in connected speech often surfaces as gar-/ger-. And carwn can mean I was loving (imperfect) in addition to we love. There are no rules here, and you simply have to memorize the different forms.
Welsh gets a 4 rating, very hard to learn.
Breton is about in the same ballpark as Welsh. It has a flexible grammar, a logical orthography and only four irregular verbs.
On the other hand, there are very few language learning materials, and most of those available are only written in French.
Breton gets a 4 rating, very hard to learn.
Greek is a difficult language to learn, and it’s rated the second hardest language to learn by language professors. It’s easy to learn to speak simply, but it’s quite hard to get it down like a native. It’s the rare second language learner who attains native competence. Like English, the spelling doesn’t seem to make sense, and you have to memorize many words. Further, there is the unusual alphabet. However, the orthography is quite rational, about as good as that of Spanish. Whether or not Greek is an irregular language is controversial. It has that reputation, but some say it is not as irregular as it seems.
Greek has four cases: nominative, accusative, genitive and vocative (used when addressing someone). There are three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. Nouns have several different declension patterns determined by the ending on the noun. Verb conjugations are about as complicated as in Romance. Greek does retain the odd aorist tense. In addition, it has the odd middle voice and optative mood. Greek syntax is quite complicated.
Greek gets a 5 rating, extremely difficult to learn.
Classic or Ancient Greek was worse, with a distinction between aspirated and unaspirated consonants, a pitch accent system and a truly convoluted, insanely irregular system of noun and verb inflection. It had a dual number in addition to singular and plural and a very difficult optative case. Irregular verbs had one of six different stem types. The grammar was one of the most complex of all languages, and the phonology and morphology were truly convoluted.
Ancient Greek is said to have had four different genitive cases, but it actually had four different uses of the genitive:
- Objective Genitive – “for obedience to faith”
- Subjective Genitive – “faith’s obedience” or faithful obedience
- Attributive Genitive – “obedience of faith”
- Genitive of Apposition – obedience, i.e. faith
Classic Greek gets a 5.5 rating, nearly hardest of all to learn.
An obscure branch of Indo-European, Armenian, is very hard to learn. Armenian is a difficult language in terms of grammar and phonetics, not to mention the very odd alphabet. The orthography is very regular, however there are some irregularities. For instance:
գրել , written grel but spoken gərel (schwa removed in orthography)
խոսել, written xosel but spoken xosal (a changed to e in orthography)
However, the alphabet itself presents many problems. Print and cursive can be very different, and upper case and lower case can also be quite different. Here are some pairs of letters in upper and lower case:
All in all, this means you have to memorize as many as four different shapes for each letter. However, the grammar is very regular.
In addition, many letters very closely resemble other letters, which makes it very easy to get them mixed up:
գ and զ
ե and է
դ and ղ
ո and ռ
There are voiced consonants and an alternation between aspirated and unaspirated unvoiced consonants, so some mix up the forms for b, p and pʰ, for instance. Nevertheless, there are many things about the grammar that seem odd compared to other IE languages. For instance, Armenian has agglutination, and that is a very strange feature for an IE language.
Part of the problem is that due to its location in the Caucasus, Armenian has absorbed influences from some of the wild nearly Caucasian languages. For instance, an extinct NE Caucasian Nakh language called Tsov is thought to have contributed to the Hurro-Ururtian substratum in Armenian. So in a sense when you learn Armenian, you are also learning a bit of Chechen at the same time. For some reason, Armenian scored very high on a weirdest languages survey.
People who have learned both Arabic and Armenian felt that Armenian was much easier, so Armenian seems to be much easier than Arabic.
Armenian is rated 4, very hard to learn.
Albanian is another obscure branch of Indo-European. Albanian nouns have two genders (masculine and feminine), five cases including the ablative, lost in all other IE. Both definite and indefinite articles are widely used, a plus for English speakers. Most inflections were lost, and whatever is left doesn’t even look very IE. The verbal system is complex, having eight tenses including two aorists and two futures, and several moods, including indicative, imperative, subjunctive, conjunctive, optative and admirative. The last three are odd cases for IE. The optative only exists in IE in Ancient Greek, Sanskrit and Manx. Oddly enough, there is no infinitive. Active and passive voices are used.
Similarly to Gaelic, Albanian is even harder to learn than either German or Russian. Albanian may be even harder to learn than Polish.
Albanian is rated 5,extremely difficult.
All Slavic languages have certain difficulties. For instance, the problematic perfect/imperfect tenses discussed below in Czech and Slovak are present in all of Slavic. The animate/inanimate noun class distinction is present in all of Slavic also. Slavic languages also add verb prefixes to verbs, completely changing the meaning of the verb and creating a new verb (see Italian above).
People are divided on the difficulty of Russian, but language teachers say it’s one of the hardest to learn. Even after a couple of years of study, some learners find it hard to speak even a simple sentence correctly.
It has six basic cases – nominative, accusative, dative, genitive, instrumental and prepositional – and analyses have suggested up to 10 other cases. The most common of the extra cases are locative, partitive and several forms of vocative. All of these extra cases either do not apply to all nouns (“incomplete” cases) or seem to be identical to an existing case. At any rate, the vocative is only used in archaic prose. And there is also a locative case, which is what the exceptions to the prepositional case are referred to. Russian has two genitive cases, the so-called Genitive 1 and Genitive 2. The first one is standard genitive and the second is the genitive-partitive (see above), which is now only used in archaic prose.
The grammar is fairly easy for a Slavic language. The problem comes with the variability in pronunciation. The adjectives and endings can be difficult. In addition, Russian has gender and lots of declensions. Like Lithuanian, almost everything in the language seems to decline. The adjectives change form if the nouns they describe have different endings. Adjectives also take case somehow.
Verbs have different forms depending on the pronouns that precede them. Russian has the same issues with perfective and imperfective forms as Polish does (see the Polish section below). There are dozens of different declension types for verbs and many verbs that are irregular and don’t fit into any of the declension types. In addition, there are many irregular nouns, syncretisms, and an aspectual system that is morphologically unpredictable.
Word order is pretty free. For instance, you can say:
I love you by saying
I love you.
You love I.
Love you I.
I you love.
Love I you.
You I love.
Pronunciation is strange, with one vowel that is between an ü and i. Many consonants are odd, and every consonant has a palatalized counterpart, which will be difficult to speakers whose languages lack phonemic palatalized consonants. These are the soft and hard consonants that people talk about in Russian. The bl sound is probably the hardest to make, but the trilled r is also problematic.
Russian has several words that, bizarrely, are made up of only a single consonant:
s – with, off of
k – to, towards
v – in, into
b – subjunctive/conditional mood particle (would)
Z – emphatic particle
In addition, Russian has some very strange words that begin with a doubled consonant sound:
The orthography system is irregular, so there are quite a few silent letters and words that are pronounced differently than they are spelled.
Word Silent Letters Example здн [зн] праздник рдц [рц] сердце лнц [нц] солнце стн [сн] лестница вств [ств] чувство жч [щ] мужчина зч [щ] извозчик сч [щ] счастье чт [шт] что чн [шн] конечно тц [ц] вкратце дц [ц] двадцать тч [ч] лётчик дч [ч] докладчик тся [цца] учится ться [цца] учиться
Stress is quite difficult in Russian since it seems arbitrary and does not appear to follow obvious rules:
дóма – at home
домá – buildings
One problem is that phonemic stress, not written out, changes the way the vowel is pronounced. For instance:
узнаю – I’m finding out
узнаю – I will find out
The two are written identically, so how you tell them apart in written Russian, I have no idea. However in speech you can tell one from the other because the two forms have different stress.
Russian also has vowel reduction that is not represented in the orthography. The combination of stress and vowel reduction means that even looking at a Russian word, you are not quite sure how to pronounce it.
Like German, Russian builds morphemes into larger words. Again like German, this is worse than it sounds since the rules are not so obvious. In addition, there is the strange Cyrillic alphabet, which is nevertheless easier than the Arabic or Chinese ones. Russian also uses prepositions to combine with verbs to form the nightmare of phrasal verbs, but whereas English puts the preposition after the verb, Russian puts it in front of the verb.
All of Slavic has a distinction between animate and inanimate nouns as a sort of a noun class. Russian takes it further and even has a distinction between animate and inanimate pronouns in the male gender:
dvoje muzhchin two men troje muzhchin three men chetvero muzhchin four men pyatero muzhchin five men shestero muzhchin six men semero muzhchin seven men
dva duba two oaks tri duba three oaks chetyre duba four oaks
However, Russian only has the animate/inanimate distinction in pronouns and not in nouns in general.
Like Polish below, you use different verbs depending if you are going somewhere on foot or other than on foot. Second there is a distinction between going somewhere with a goal in mind and going somewhere with no particular goal in mind. For instance, to go:
idti (by foot, specific endpoint)
xodit’ (by foot, no specific endpoint)
exat’ (by conveyance, specific endpoint)
ezdit’ (by conveyance, no specific endpoint)
The verb to carry also has four different forms with the same distinctions as above.
In addition, there are various prefixes you can put on a verb:
into v- out of vy- towards po- away from u- up to the edge of pod- away from the edge of ot- through pro- around ob-
These prefixes look something like “verbal case.” You an add any of those prefixes to any of the going or carrying verbs above. Therefore, you can have:
poiti –walk up to something
obezdit’ – drive around with no goal
uxodit’ – walk away from something with no goal in mind
The combination of paths and goals results in some very specific motion verbs.
Russian is harder to learn than English. We know this because Russian children take longer to learn their language than English speaking children do. The reason given was that Russian words tended to be longer, but there may be other reasons.
Russian has the advantage of having quite a bit of Romance and Greek loans for a Slavic language, but unfortunately, you will not typically hear these words in casual conversion. Russian also has no articles. English speakers will find this odd, but others regard it as a plus.
Russian is less difficult than Czech, Polish or Serbo-Croatian.
Russian gets a 4 rating, very hard to learn.
Czech and Slovak
Czech and Slovak are notoriously hard to learn; in fact, all Slavic languages are. Language professors rate the Slavic languages the third hardest to learn on Earth. Czech is in the Guinness Book of World Records as the hardest language to learn. Even the vast majority of Czechs never learn to speak their language correctly. They spend nine years in school studying Czech grammar, but some rules are learned only at university. Immigrants never seem to learn Czech well, however, there are a few foreigners who have learned Czech very well – say, three or fewer errors in a 30 minute monologue, so it is possible to learn Czech well even if it is not very common.
Writing Czech properly is even more difficult than speaking it correctly, so few Czechs write without errors. In fact, an astounding 1/3 of the population makes at least on grammatical or spelling mistake in every sentence they write! The younger generation is now even worse as far as this goes, as Czech language teaching for natives has become more lax in recent years and drills have become fewer. Nevertheless, the Czech and Slovak orthographies are very rational. There is nearly a 1-1 sound/symbol correspondence.
Even natives often mess up the conditional (would). The 3rd conditional (past conditional) has nearly gone out of modern Czech and has merged with the present conditional:
3rd conditional – If I “would have known” it, I would not have asked has merged with
2nd conditional – If I “would know” it, I would not ask.
This means conditional events in the present are no longer distinguished between those in the past, and the language is impoverished.
Native speakers also mix up a specific use of the gerund:
She looked at me smiling.
He walked along whistling.
He was in his bed reading a book.
This is easy to say in English, and the use of these forms is rather common. However, it is very hard to make those sentences in Czech, and possibly only 3% of the population can formulate those sentences properly. Instead, they break them up into two sentences:
She looked at me, and she smiled.
He was in his bed, and he was reading.
Czech is full of exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions. It is said that there are more exceptions than there are rules. Czech has seven cases in singular and seven more cases in plural for nouns, for a total of 59 different “modes” of declension. There are also words that swing back and forth between “modes.” Adjectives and pronouns also have seven cases in the singular and plural. Czech is one of the few languages that actually has two genitive cases – one more or less possessive and the other more or less partitive. There are six genders, three in the singular and three in the plural.
When you put all that together, each noun can decline in 59 different ways. Further, these 59 different types of nouns each have 14 different forms depending on case. Verbs also decline. The verbs have both perfective and imperfective and have 45 different conjugation patterns. Czech learners often confuse the perfect and imperfect verbs. Verbs of motion can also be quite tricky.
One of the problems with Czech is that not only nouns but also verbs take gender, but they only do so in the past tense. In addition, Czech has a complicated aspect system that is often quite irregular and simply must be memorized to be learned.
This conjugation is fairly regular:
viděl continuous past – he saw
uviděl punctual – once he suddenly saw
vídával repetitive – he used to see (somebody/something) repeatedly
Others are less regular:
jedl continuous – he ate
snědl dojedl – he ate it all up
ujedl – he ate a bit of it
pojedl – he finished eating
jídával repetitive – he used to eat repeatedly
Czech also has an evidential system. The particle prý is used to refer to hearsay evidence that you did not personally witness.
Prý je tam zima.
Someone said/People say it’s cold outside.
Truth is that almost every word in the language is subject to declension. The suffixes on nouns and verbs change all the time in strange ways.
There are some difficult consonants such as š, č, ť, ž, ľ, ď, dz, dž, ĺ and ŕ. It’s full of words that don’t seem to have vowels.
Entire Czech sentences can have extreme consonant clusters that appear to lack vowels:
Strč prst skrz krk.
Stick a finger through your neck.
Smrž pln skvrn zvlhl z mlh.
A morel full of spots welted from fogs…
Mlž pln skvrn zvh.
However, the letters r and l are considered “half-vowels” in Czech, so the sentences above are easier to pronounce than you might think.
The letters ř and r (Czech has contrasting alveolar trills) are hard to pronounce, and ř is often said to exist in no longer language, including other Slavic languages. It is only found in one other language on Earth – the Papuan language Kobon, which pronounces it a bit differently. Even Czechs have a hard time making these sounds properly (especially the ř), and many L2 speakers never get them right. There is also a hard and soft i which is hard to figure out.
As with other Slavic languages like Russian, it has the added problem of fairly loose word order. In addition, there are significant differences between casual and formal speech where you use different forms for someone you are familiar with (are on a first name basis with) as opposed to someone you do not know well. In addition, females use different endings for the past tense than men do.
On the plus side, Czech stress, like that of Polish, is regular as the accent is always on the first syllable. But if you come from a language such as Spanish where the accent is typically on the second syllable, this might present an obstacle.
Czech gets a 5.5 rating, nearly hardest of all.
Slovak is closely related to Czech, and it is controversial which one is harder to learn. Slovak is definitely more archaic than Czech. Some say that Slovak is easier because it has a more regular grammar. Slovak has the additional problem is marking acute accents: á, é, í, ĺ, ó, ŕ, ú and ý. Slovak fortunately lacks the impossible Czech ř sound. Instead it has something called a “long r,” (ŕ) which is not very easy to make either. This is something like the er sound in English her.
Slovak, like Czech, has retained the vocative, but it almost extinct as it is restricted to only a few nouns. Like Polish and Sorbian, Slovak also has an animate/inanimate distinction in gender for plural nouns. So Slovak has five genders: masculine, feminine and neuter in the singular and animate and inanimate in the plural.
Some say that Slovak is even harder than Polish, and there may be a good case that Czech and Slovak are harder than Polish.
Slovak gets a 5.5 rating, nearly hardest of all.
Polish is similar to Czech and Slovak in having words that seem to have no vowels, but in Polish at least there are invisible vowels. That’s not so obviously the case with Czech. Nevertheless, try these sentences:
- Wszczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie i Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.
- Wyindywidualizowaliśmy się z rozentuzjazmowanego tłumu.
- W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie.
I and y, s and z, je and ě alternate at the ends of some words, but the rules governing when to do this, if they exist, don’t seem sensible. The letter ť is very hard to pronounce. There are nasal vowels as in Portuguese. The ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, sz, cz, dz, dź, dż sounds are hard for foreigners to make. There are sounds that it is even hard for native speakers to make as they require a lot tongue movements. A word such as szczescie is hard to Polish L2 speakers to pronounce. Polish written to spoken pronunciation makes little sense, as in English – h and ch are one sound – h, ó and u are the same sound, and u may form diphthongs where it sounds like ł, so u and ł can be the same sound in some cases.
The confusing distinction between h/ch has gone of most spoken Polish. Furthermore, there is a language committee, but like the French one, it is more concerned with preserving the history or the etymology of the word and less with spelling the word phonemically. Language committees don’t always do their jobs!
Polish orthography, while being regular, is very complex. Polish uses a Latin alphabet unlike most other Slavic languages which use a Cyrillic alphabet. The letters are: A Ą B C Ć D E Ę F G H I J K L Ł M N Ń O Ó Q P R S T U V W X Y Z Ź Ż. Even Poles say that their orthography is very complicated.
Polish is even complex in terms of pronunciation. There are apparently rules for regarding comma use, but the rules are so complex that even native speakers can’t make sense of them.
Further, native speakers speak so fast it’s hard for non-natives to understand them. Due to the consonant-ridden nature of Polish, it is harder to pronounce than most Asian languages. Listening comprehension is made difficult by all of the sh and ch like sounds. Furthermore, since few foreigners learn Polish, Poles are not used to hearing their language mangled by second-language learners. Therefore, foreigners’ Polish will seldom be understood.
Polish grammar is said to be more difficult than Russian grammar. Polish has the following:
There are five different tenses: zaprzeszły, przeszły, teraźniejszy, przyszły prosty, and przyszły złozony.
There are seven different genders: masculine animate, masculine inanimate, feminine, and neuter in the singular and animate and inanimate in the plural. However, masculine animate and masculine inanimate and the plural genders are only distinguished in accusative. Masculine animate, masculine inanimate and neuter genders have similar declensions; only feminine gender differs significantly.
Masculine nouns have five patterns of declension, and feminine and neuter nouns have six different patterns of declension. Adjectives have two different declension patterns. Numbers have five different declension patterns: główne, porządkowe, zbiorowe, nieokreślone, and ułamkowe. There is a special pattern for nouns that are only plural.
There are seven different cases: nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, instrumental, locative, vocative. Only the genitive locative cases are irregular, the latter only in the singular. Verbs have nine different persons in their declensions: ja, ty, on, ona, ono, my, wy, oni, one. There are different conjugation patterns for men and women. There are 18 different conjugation patterns in the verb (11 main ones). There are five different polite forms: for a man, a woman, men, women and men and women combined.
There are four different participle forms, three of which inflect. Some of these are active and others are passive, but the whole system is incredibly complex. All of the participles decline like nouns, each gender adds its bit to each pattern which in turn change more according to tense.
Polish has seven cases, including the vocative which has gone out of most Slavic. The vocative is often said to be dying out, becoming less common or only used in formal situations, but the truth is that it is still commonly used.
In an informal situation, a Pole might be more like to use nominative rather than vocative:
Cześć Marek! (Nom.), rather than
Cześć Marku! (Voc.)
However, in a more formal situation, the vocative is still likely to be used:
Dzień dobry panie profesorze/doktorze! (Voc.). Dzień dobry pan profesor/doktor! (Nom.) would never be used, even in casual conversation.
Case declension is very irregular, unlike German. Polish consonant gradation is called oboczność (variation).
The genders of nouns cause the adjectives modifying them to inflect differently.
Noun matka mother (female gender) ojciec father (male gender) dziecko child (neuter gender) Modifying Adjective brzydkiugly ugly Singular brzydka matka ugly mother brzydki ojciec ugly father brzydkie dziecko ugly child Plural brzydkie matki ugly mothers brzydcy ojcowie ugly fathers brzydkie dzieci ugly children
Gender even effects verbs.
I ate (female speaker) Ja zjadłam I ate (male speaker) Ja zjadłem
There are two different forms of the verb kill depending on whether the 1st person singular and plural and 2nd person plural killers are males or females.
I killed zabiłem/zabiłam We killed zabiliśmy/zabiłyśmy They killed zabili/zabiły
The perfective and imperfective tenses create a dense jungle of forms:
kupować - to buy Singular Simple Past Imperfect I (f.) kupiłam kupowałam I (m.) kupiłem kupowałem you (f.) kupiłaś kupowałaś you (m.) kupiłeś kupowałeś he kupił kupował she kupiła kupowała it kupiło kupowało Plural we (f.) kupiłyśmy kupowałyśmy we (m.) kupiliśmy kupowaliśmy you (f.) kupiłyście kupowałyście you (m.) kupiliście kupowaliście they (f.) kupiły kupowały they (m.) kupili kupowali
The verb above forms an incredible 28 different forms in the perfect and imperfect past tense alone.
The existence of the perfective and imperfective verbs themselves is the least of the problem. The problem is that each verb – perfective or imperfective – is in effect a separate verb altogether, instead of just being conjugated differently.
The verb to see has two completely different verbs in Polish:
Widziałem – I saw (repeatedly in the past, like I saw the sun come up every morning).
Zobaczyłem – I saw (only once; I saw the sun come up yesterday).
Some of these verbs are obviously related to each other:
But others are very different:
This is not a tense difference – the very verbs themselves are different! So for every verb in the language, you effectively have to learn two different verbs. The irregular forms may date from archaic Polish.
In addition, the future perfect and future imperfect often conjugate completely differently, though the past forms usually conjugate in the same way – note the -em endings above. There is no present perfect as in English, since in Polish the action must be completed, and you can’t be doing something at this precise moment and at the same time have just finished doing it. 95% of verbs have these maddening dual forms, but for 5% of verbs that lack a perfective version, you only have one form.
It’s often said that one of the advantages of Polish is that there are only three tenses, but this is not really case, as there are at least eight tenses:
Indicative grac to play Present gram I play Past gralem I played Conditional gralbym I would play Future będę grać I will play Continuous future będę grał I will be playing Perfective future bogram I will have played* Perf. conditional pogralbym I would have played *Implies you will finish the action
There is also an aspectual distinction made when referring to the past. Different forms are used based on whether or not the action has been completed.
Whereas in English we use one word for go no matter what mode of transportation we are using to get from one place to another, in Polish, you use different verbs if you are going by foot, by car, by plane, by boat or by other means of transportation.
In addition, there is an animate-inanimate distinction in gender. Look at the following nouns:
hat kapelusz computer komputer dog pies student uczen
All are masculine gender, but computer and hat are inanimate, and student and dog are animate, so they inflect differently.
I see a new hat – Widze nowy kapelusz
I see a new student – Widze nowego ucznia
Notice how the now- form changed.
In addition to completely irregular verbs, there are also irregular nouns in Polish:
człowiek -> ludzie
Let us look at pronouns. English has one word for the genitive case of the 1st person singular – my. In Polish, depending on the context, you can have the following 11 forms, and actually there are even more than 11:
Numerals can be complex. English has one word for the number 2 – two. Polish has 21 words for two, and all of them are in common use.
dwa (nominative non-masculine personal male and neuter and non-masculine personal accusative)
dwaj (masculine personal nominative)
dwie (nominative and accusative female)
dwóch (genitive, locative and masculine personal accusative)
dwu (alternative version sometimes used for instrumental, genitive, locative and dative)
dwoma (masculine instrumental)
dwiema (female instrumental)
dwoje (collective, nominative + accusative)
dwojga (collective, genitive)
dwojgu (collective, dative + locative)
dwójka (noun, nominative)
dwójkę (noun, accusative)
dwójki (noun, genitive)
dwójce (noun, dative and locative)
dwójką (noun, instrumental)
dwojgiem (collective, instrumental)
Polish also has the paucal form like Serbo-Croatian. It is the remains of the old dual. The paucal applies to impersonal masculine, feminine and neuter nouns but not to personal masculine nouns.
Personal Masculine one boy jeden chłopiec two boys dwóch chłopców three boys trzech chłopców four boys czterech chłopców five boys pięciu chłopców six boys sześciu chłopców seven boys siedmiu chłopców eight boys ośmiu chłopców Impersonal Masculine one dog jeden pies two dogs dwa psy three dogs trzy psy four dogs cztery psy five dogs pięć psów six dogs sześć psów seven dogs siedem psów eight dogs osiem psów
In the above, two, three and four dogs is in the paucal (psy), while two, three or four men is not and is instead in the plural (chłopców)
A single noun can change in many ways and take many different forms. Compare przyjaciel – friend
Singular Plural who is my friend przyjaciel przyjaciele who is not my friend przyjaciela przyjaciół friend who I give s.t. to przyjacielowi przyjaciołom friend who I see przyjaciela przyjaciół friend who I go with z przyajcielem z przyjaciółmi friend who I dream of o przyjacielu o przyjaciołach Oh my friend! Przyajcielu! Przyjaciele!
There are 12 different forms of the noun friend above.
Plurals change based on number. In English, the plural of telephone is telephones, whether you have two or 1,000 of them. In Polish, you use different words depending on how many telephones you have:
two, three or four telefony, but
Sometimes, this radically changes the word, as in hands:
four ręce, but
There are also irregular diminutives such as
psiaczek -> słoneczko
Polish seems like Lithuanian in the sense that almost every grammatical form seems to inflect in some way or other. Even conjunctions inflect in Polish.
In addition, like Serbo-Croatian, Polish can use multiple negation in a sentence. You can use up to five negatives in a perfectly grammatical sentence:
Nikt nikomu nigdy nic nie powiedział.
Nobody ever said anything to anyone.
Like Russian, there are multiple different ways to say the same thing in Polish. However, the meaning changes subtly with these different word combinations, so you are not exactly saying the same thing with each change or word order. Nevertheless, this mess does not seem to be something that would be transparent to the Polish learner.
In English, you can say Ann has a cat, but you can’t mix the words up and mean the same thing. In Polish you can say Ann has a cat five different ways:
Ania ma kota.
Kota ma Ania.
Ma Ania kota.
Kota Ania ma.
Ma kota Ania.
The first one is the most common, but the other four can certainly be used. The truth that while the general meaning is the same in each sentence, the deep meaning changes with each sentence having a slightly different nuanced interpretation.
In addition, Polish has a wide variety of dialects, and a huge vocabulary. Although Polish grammar is said to be irregular, this is probably not true. It only gives the appearance of being irregular as there are so many different rules, but there is a method to the madness underneath it all. The rules themselves are so complex and numerous that it is hard to figure them all out.
Polish appears to be more difficult than Russian. For example, in Russian as in English, the 1st through 3rd person past tense forms are equivalent, whereas in Polish, they are each different:
English Russian Polish 1st past I went ya pashou ja poszedłem 2nd past you went ty pashou ty poszedłeś 3rd past he went on pashou on poszedł
Even adult Poles make a lot of mistakes in speaking and writing Polish properly. However, most Poles are quite proud of their difficult language (though a few hate it) and even take pride in its difficult nature.
On the positive side, in Polish, the stress is fixed, there are no short or long vowels nor is there any vowel harmony, there are no tones and it uses a Latin alphabet.
Polish is one of the most difficult of the Slavic languages. Even Poles say it is very hard to learn. Most Poles do not learn to speak proper Polish until they are 16 years old! Although most Poles know how to speak proper Polish, they often use improper forms when speaking formally, not because they do not know how to speak correctly but simply because they feel like it.do
It is harder than Russian and probably also harder than Czech, though this is controversial. There is a lot of controversy regarding which is harder, Czech or Polish.
Polish gets a 5 rating, extremely difficult.
It’s controversial whether Bulgarian is an easy or hard language to learn. The truth is that it may be the easiest Slavic language to learn, but all Slavic language are hard. Though it is close to Russian, there are Russians who have been living there for 20 years and still can’t understand it well.
It has few cases compared to the rest of Slavic. There are three cases, but they are present only in pronouns. The only case in nouns is vocative. This is odd because most Slavic languages have either lost or are in the process of losing the vocative, and in Bulgarian it is the only case that has been retained. Compared to English, Bulgarian is well structured and straightforward with little irregularity. In addition, Bulgarian has more Romance (mostly French) and Greek borrowings than any other Slavic languages. Romance came in via the Vlahs who lived there before the Slavs moved in and Greek from the Byzantine period. In recent years, many English borrowings have also gone in.
Bulgarian has a suffixed general article that is not found in the rest of Slavic but is apparently an areal feature borrowed from Albanian. The stress rules are nightmarish, and it seems as if there are no rules.
Bulgarian has grammatical gender, with three genders – masculine, feminine and neuter. In addition, adjectives must agree with the gender of the noun they are modifying. In English, adjectives are invariable no matter what the noun is:
However, the Bulgarian alphabet is comparatively simple compared to other Slavic alphabets. Since 1945, it has only had 30 letters. Compare this to the 70 letters in Polish. There are only six vowels, and it has the easiest consonant clusters in Slavic. The orthography is very regular, with no odd spellings. The Cyrillic alphabet is different for those coming from a Latin alphabet and can present problems. For one thing, letters that look like English letters are pronounced in different ways:
В is pronounced v in Bulgarian
E is pronounced eh in Bulgarian
P is pronounced r in Bulgarian
There are a number of Bulgarian letters that look like nothing you have ever seen before: Ж, Я, Ь, Ю, Й, Щ, Ш, and Ч. Bulgarian handwriting varies to a great degree and the various styles are often difficult to map back onto the typewritten letters that they represent.
While Bulgarian has the advantage of lacking much case, Bulgarian verbs are quite complex even compared to other Slavic languages. Each Bulgarian verb can have up to 3,000 forms as it changes across person, number, voice, aspect, mood, tense and gender. Bulgarian has two aspects (perfect and imperfect), voice, nine tenses, five moods and six non infinitival verbal forms.
For instance, each verb has at two aspects – simple and continuous – for each of the tenses, which are formed in different ways. Onto this they add a variety of derivatives such as prefixes, suffixes, etc. that change the meaning in subtle ways:
Aorist or Perfect:
да прочитам – to read in whole a single text/book/etc (viewed as fact, that is the duration of the action does not interest us)
да изчитам – to read every book there is on the subject (viewed as fact, that is the duration of the action does not interest us)
да дочета – to finish reading something (viewed as fact, that is the duration of the action does not interest us)
Continuous or Imperfect:
да чета – to be reading (viewed as an action in progress)
да прочитам – to read in whole a single text/book/etc (viewed as an action in progress)
да изчитам – to read every book there is on the subject (viewed as an action in progress)
Mood is very complicated. There are different ways to say the same idea depending on how you know of the event. If you know about it historically, you mark the sentence with a particular mood. If you doubt the event, you mark with another mood.
If you know it historically but doubt it, you use yet another mood. And there are more than that. These forms were apparently borrowed from Turkish. These forms are rare in world languages. One is Yamana, a Patagonian language that has only one speaker left.
In Bulgarian, you always know if something is a noun, a verb or an adjective due to its marking. You will never have the same word as an adjective, noun and verb. In English, you can have words that act as verbs, adjectives and nouns.
Let’s go to the dance.
Let’s go to dance lessons.
Bulgarian is probably the easiest Slavic language to learn.
Bulgarian gets a 3.5 rating, above average difficulty.
Macedonian is very close to Bulgarian, and some say it is a dialect of Bulgarian. However, I believe that is a separate language closely related to Bulgarian. Macedonian is said the be the easiest Slavic language to learn, easier than Bulgarian. This is because it is easier to pronounce than Bulgarian. Like Bulgarian, Macedonian has lost most all of its case. But there are very few language learning materials for Macedonian.
Macedonian gets a 3.5 rating, above average difficulty.
Serbo-Croatian, similar to Czech, has seven cases in the singular and seven in the plural, plus there are several different declensions. The vocative is still going strong in Serbo-Croatian (S-C), as in Polish, Ukrainian and Bulgarian. There 15 different types of declensions: seven tenses, three genders, three genres or moods, and two aspects. Whereas English has one word for the number 2 – two, Serbo-Croatian has 17 words or forms.
Case abbreviations below:
N = NAV – nominative, accusative, vocative
G = Genitive
D = Dative
I = Instrumental
Masculine inanimate gender
D L I dvama
D L I dvema
D L I dvoma
Masculine animate gender
D L dvojici
D L dvojci
The grammar is incredibly complex. There are imperfective and perfective verbs, but when you try to figure out how to build one from the other, it seems irregular. This is the hardest part of Serbo-Croatian grammar, and foreigners not familiar with other Slavic tongues usually never get it right.
Serbian has a strange form called the “paucal.” It is the remains of the old dual, and it also exists in Polish and Russian. The paucal is a verbal number like singular, plural and dual. It is used with the numbers dva (2), tri (3), četiri (4) and oba/obadva (both) and also with any number that contains 2, 3 or 4 (22, 102, 1032).
gledalac viewer pažljiv(i) careful gledalac pažljiv(i) careful viewer 1 careful viewer jedan pažljivi gledalac 2 careful viewers dva pažljiva gledaoca 3 careful viewers tri pažljiva gledaoca 5 careful viewers pet pažljivih gledalaca
Above, pažljivi gledalac is singular, pažljivih gledalaca is plural and pažljiva gledaoca is paucal.
As in English, there are many different ways to say the same thing. Pronouns are so rarely used that some learners are surprised that they exist, since pronimalization is marked on the verb as person and number. Word order is almost free or at least seems arbitrary, similar to Russian.
Serbo-Croatian, like Lithuanian, has pitch accent – low-rising, low-falling, short-rising and short-falling. It’s not the same as tone, but it’s similar. In addition to the pitch accent differentiating words, you also have an accented syllable somewhere in the word, which as in English, is unmarked. And when the word conjugates or declines, the pitch accent can jump around in the word to another syllable and even changes its type in ways that do not seem transparent. It’s almost impossible for foreigners to get this pitch-accent right.
The “hard” ch sound is written č, while the “soft” ch sound is written ć. It has syllabic r and l. Long consonant clusters are permitted. See this sentence:
Na vrh brda vrba mrda.
However, in many of these consonant clusters, a schwa is present between consonants in speech, though it is not written out.
S-C, like Russian, has words that consist of only a single consonant:
s – with
Serbo-Croatian does benefit from a phonetic orthography.
It is said that few if any foreigners ever master Serbo-Croatian well. Similar to Czech and Polish, it is said that many native speakers make mistakes in S-C even after decades of speaking it, especially in pitch accent.
Serbo-Croatian is often considered to be one of the hardest languages on Earth to learn. It is harder than Russian but not as hard as Polish.
Serbo-Croatian gets a 4.5 rating, very difficult.
Slovenian or Slovene is also a very hard language to learn, probably on a par with Serbo-Croatian. It has three number distinctions, singular, dual and plural. It’s the only major IE European language that has retained the dual. Sorbian has also retained the dual, but it is a minor tongue. However, the dual may be going out in Slovenia. In Primorska it is not used at all, and in the rest of Slovenia, the feminine dual is not used in casual speech (plural is used instead), but the masculine dual is still used for masculine nouns and mixed pairs of masculine and feminine nouns.
In addition, there are six cases, as Slovene has lost the vocative. There are 18 different declensions of the word son, but five of them are identical, so there are really only 13 different forms.
Singular Dual Plural 1. Sin Sina Sini 2. Sina Sinov Sinov 3. Sinu Sinovoma Sinovom 4. Sina Sinova Sinove 5. O sinu O sinovoma O sinovih 6. S sinom Z sinovoma Z sini
There are seven different ways that nouns decline depending on gender, but there are exceptions to all of the gender rules. The use of particles such as pa is largely idiomatic. In addition, there is a lack of language learning materials for Slovene.
Some sounds are problematic. Learners have a hard time with the č and ž sounds. There are also “open” and “closed” vowels as in Portuguese.
Here is an example of a word that can be difficult to pronounce:
križišče – crossroads
However, Slovene has the past perfect that is the same as the English tense, lost in the rest of Slavic. In addition, via contact with German and Italian, many Germanic and Romance loans have gone in. If you know some German and have some knowledge of another Slavic language, Slovene is not overwhelmingly difficult.
Some people worry that Slovene might go extinct in the near future, as it is spoken by only 2 million people. However, even this small language has 356, 881 headwords in an online dictionary. So it is clear that Slovene has plenty enough vocabulary to deal with the modern world.
Slovene is easier than Russian, Serbo-Croatian, Polish, Czech or Slovak.
Slovenian gets a 4 rating, very hard.
Lithuanian, an archaic Indo-European Baltic tongue, is extremely difficult to learn. There are many dialects, which is interesting for such a small country, and the grammar is very difficult, with many rules. There is grammatical gender for nouns, and in addition, even numerals have gender in all cases. The language is heavily inflectional such that you can almost speak without using prepositions.
A single verb has 16 participial forms, and that is just using masculine gender for the participles. You can also add feminine forms to that verb. There are two main genders or giminės, masculine and feminine, but there is also neutral gender (bevardė giminė), which has three different forms. Verbs further decline via number (singular, dual and plural) and six different cases. There are five classes of verbs and six modes of declension for nouns (linksniai). However, Lithuanian verb tense is quite regular. You only need to remember infinitive, 3rd person present and 3rd person past, and after that, all of the conjugations are regular.
Here is an example of the Lithuanian verb:
Eiti – “to go“. Ei is the verb root, and ti is in infinitival suffix.
Verbs decline according to:
Person and number 1st singular einu I go 3rd dual einava we two go 1st plural einame we go The four tenses 2nd pl. past Ėjote you (guys) went 2 sing. imperfect eidavote you used to go 2 sing. indicative einate you go 2 sing. future eisite you will go
They also change according to something called “participants.” The participant paradigm has three tenses and all three genders. Participants are further divided into direct and indirect.
Regular direct participant (3 tenses, 3 genders) Male Ėjęs while he himself went einąs while he himself is going eisiąs while he himself will be going Female Ėjusi while she herself went Neuter buvo einama while it itself went einama while it itself was going bus einama while it itself will be going Regular indirect participant (3 tenses, 3 genders) Male past eidytas one that was forced to go present eidomas one that is being forced to go future bus eidomas one that will be forced to go Semi participant (no tenses, 2 genders) Male eidamas while going himself Female eidama while going herself Active participant (2 tenses, no genders) past Ėjus while going (in the past) present einant while going now 2nd infinitive or budinys (no tenses) eite in a way of going Plusquamperfect (be + regular participants) Paradigm indicative būti to have been gone present yra has been gone past buvo had been gone imperfect būdavo used to have been gone future bus will have been gone past 3pl buvo ėję they had been gone Additional moods Imperative (all persons) Eik! Go! Eikime! Let's go! Teeina/Lai eina! Let him/her go! Subjunctive (all persons) eičiau I would go eitum thou would go
In addition, while most verb marking is done via suffixes, Lithuanian can make aspect via both suffixes and prefixes, bizarrely enough (Arkadiev 2011).
Determining whether a noun is masculine or feminine is easier than in German where you often have to memorize which noun takes which gender. Lithuanian is similar to Spanish in that the ending will often give you a hint about which gender the noun takes.
Here is an example of the sort of convolutions you have to go through to attach the adjective good to a noun.
geras - good Masculine Feminine Singular Plural Singular Plural Nominative geras geri gera geros Genitive gero gerų geros gerų Dative geram geriems gerai geroms Accusative gerą gerus gerą geras Instrumental geru gerais gera geromis Locative gerame geruose geroje gerose
The noun system in general of Lithuanian is probably more complicated even than the complex Russian noun system. Lithuanian is possibly more irregular and may have more declensions than even Polish. Learners often feel that the grammar is illogical.
Furthermore, while it does not have lexical tone per se, it does have pitch accent – there are three different pitches or degrees (laipsniai), which sound like tones but are not tones. Stress is hardly predictable and nearly needs to be learned word by word. It’s almost impossible for foreigners to get the accent right, and the accents tend to move around a lot across words during declension/conjugation such that the rules are opaque if they exist at all. It was formerly thought to be nearly random, but it has now been found that Lithuanian stress actually falls into four paradigms, so there is a system there after all.
You cannot really forget about lexical tone when learning Lithuanian, as stress is as fundamental to Lithuanian as tone is to Mandarin.
Often you need a dictionary to figure out where the accent should be on a word. Lithuanian pronunciation is also difficult. For example, look at rimti (to get calm) and rimti (serious – plural, masculine, nominative). There is a short i sound that is the same in both words, but the only difference is where the stress or pitch accent goes. Consonants undergo some complicated changes due to palatalization. Lithuanian has soft and hard (palatalized and nonpalatalized) consonants as in Russian.
Try these words and phrases:
ačiū už skanią vakarienę
Or this paragraph:
Labas, kaip šiandien sekasi? Aš esu iš Lietuvos, kur gyvenu visą savo gyvenimą. Lietuvių kalba yra sunkiausia iš visų pasaulyje. Ačiū už dėmesį.
Lithuanian is an archaic IE language that has preserved a lot of forms that the others have lost.
In spite of all of that, picking up the basics of Lithuanian may be easier than it seems, and while foreigners usually never get the pitch-accent down, the actual rules are fairly sensible. Nevertheless, many learners never figure out these rules and to them, there seem to be no rules for pitch accent.
Learning Lithuanian is similar to learning Latin. If you’ve been able to learn Latin, Lithuanian should not be too hard. Also, Lithuanian is very phonetic; words are pronounced how they are spelled.
Some languages that are similar to English, like Norwegian and Dutch, can be learned to a certain extent simply by learning words and ignoring grammar. I know Spanish and have been able to learn a fair amount of Portuguese, French and Italian without learning a bit of grammar in any of them.
Lithuanian won’t work that way because due to case, base words change form all the time, so it will seem like you are always running into new words, when it fact it’s the same base word declining in various case forms. There’s no shortcut with Latin and Lithuanian. You need to learn the case grammar first, or little of it will make sense.
Some say that Lithuanian is even harder to learn than the hardest Slavic languages like Polish and Czech. It may be true.
Lithuanian gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.
Latvian is another Baltic language that is somewhat similar to Lithuanian. It’s also hard to learn. Try this:
Sveiki, esmu no Latvijas, un mūsu valoda ir skanīga, skaista un ar ļoti sarežģītu gramatisko sistēmu.
Latvian and Lithuanian are definitely harder to learn than Russian. They both have aspects like in Russian but have more cases than Russian, plus a lot more irregular verbs. Latvian, like Lithuanian, has a tremendous amount of inflection. The long vowels can be hard to pronounce.
Latvian is easier to learn than Lithuanian. The grammar is easier to figure out and the phonological system is much easier. Also, Latvian has lost many archaic IE features that Lithuanian has retained. Latvian has regular stress, always on the first syllable, as opposed to Lithuanian’s truly insane stress system. Latvian has fewer noun declensions, and fewer difficult consonant clusters.
Latvian gets a 4.5 rating, very hard.
- Arkadiev, Peter. 2011. On the Aspectual Uses of the Prefix Be- in Lithuanian.
- Baltic Linguistics 2:37-78.
- Seymour, Philip H. K.; Aro, Mikko; Erskine, Jane M. and the COST Action A8 Network. 2003. Foundation Literacy Acquisition in European Orthographies. British Journal of Psychology 94:143–174.
This research takes a lot of time, and I do not get paid anything for it. If you think this website is valuable to you, please consider a a contribution to support more of this valuable research.
Updated June 25, 2014. This article is 64 pages long, so be warned.
I’ve been reading a lot about this issue because I find it fascinating. Of course the media is going to feed you a lot of crap, nonsense and lies about this situation, so where do we go to really learn about it? Maybe I should ask some Latin Americans? That isn’t going to work. Most of the Latin Americans I have met are from the middle and upper classes, and almost all of them insist that there is no racism in their particular country. That sounds dubious! So, where shall we go to get the straight-up ugly truth?
No better place than Stormfront, the home of Nazi White nationalist maniacs! True, they are not very nice people, but I figured that if there were any Latin Americans on there, they would definitely tell it like it is.
Indeed there is a Latin American forum on Stormfront, and it is populated by lots of Latin American Whites. I learned a lot there, reading probably over 1,200 pages over a few days, but I’m not going to link to any of the comments because why link to Stormfront?
The truth will be very depressing to White nationalists, and it surely destroys some of their cherished myths. One of them is that racial separatism is possible. Apparently it is not.
Another is that as a White population shrinks, separatism becomes more of an urgent reality for a larger number of Whites. The truth, as we see in Latin America, is quite the opposite. As the White population shrinks down below 50%, unbelievably, White ethnocentrism declines accordingly, and the impulse to separate becomes less and less.
First of all, many or probably most White nationalist types in the US are Nordicist idiots who think that Latin American Whites are not “pure Whites.” Regardless of the truth of this, Latin American Whites have a more lax view of Whiteness. To them, if you have White ancestry, and if you look White and you act White, you are White. This strikes me as very reasonable.
During colonial times, children of a criollo (pure Spaniard, or White) and a castizo (1/4 Indian, 3/4 White) was considered to be criollo, or White. This person would have been 12% Indian and would probably have a strong White phenotype. It is likely that this standard is still employed in Latin America today.
The Latin American system classes all European Meds as White: Portuguese, Spaniards, Italians, Romanians, Greeks and Yugoslavs. Also, White Arabs, especially Lebanese and Syrian Christians, are also considered White. Latin American Whites also consider Armenians and Georgians to be White.
How many Whites are there in Latin America? That’s a very interesting question. Many figures are tossed about. I figure the best figure is around 170 million+ Whites in Latin America.
What was interesting on the forum is the way that they described Latin American Whites. According to them, the average White down there is very, very racist in US terms.
In Argentina, the general belief is that they are White and not a part of the rest of Latin America as a result, and there is open contempt, at least in private, for mestizos and mulattos*, not to mention Indians. The general belief, contrary to the US, is that dark = ugly. Indians are ugly, Whites are beautiful.
Latin American Whites do not necessarily despise mestizos, though some certainly do, and this feeling is more pronounced in some countries than in others. In many cases, Whites do not dislike mestizos of the same social class. However, the contempt for Indians is a hallmark of the mindset of Latin American Whites pretty much across the board.
In the US, the feeling is quite the opposite. Indians are not regarded as ugly, and Indian women have long been fetishized by White men as sex objects. Indian men are not seen as ugly either. We pretty much like Indians here in the US.
Similarly, Whiteness is highly prized all over Latin America in both Whites and non-Whites, whereas in the US, many Hispanics, typically Chicanos, get angry if you suggest that they are White or part-White. This is seen as an insult to them.
In Latin America, Indians are widely despised by Whites, there is no way of getting around that obvious fact, and no amount of denial and lying will make it go away.
Let us look at Mexico. It is a common Mexican lie that there is no racism in Mexico. This lie is usually perpetrated by mestizos and Whites. I doubt many Indians would tell you that.
Among the Mexican upper class, with the males at least, there is once again a belief that Indian women are ugly.
Nevertheless, Mexican politics means that most Mexican Whites say they are mestizos, deny their Whiteness, and hate the US. These are traditions of Mexican society.
Mexico decided a while back to deal with the race issue by formulating a lie that said that every Mexican was a mestizo, and that’s that. That lie is called mestizaje, and it is said to be the essence of Mexicanness.
There is another lie about Mexican society, this one about Blacks. A friend went on a tour of Mexico and was informed that the large Black population had simply disappeared.
The truth is that they were “bred out.” They were bred into the population so heavily that the average mestizo now is 4% Black, and that percentage is fairly uniform across the mestizo population. There are few Blacks remaining in Mexico, but there are some down by Veracruz.
Denial of Whiteness goes along with mestizaje .
Hatred of the US (the gringos), is part of Mexican culture for a long time now.
These same Mexicans, who deny their Whiteness, insist they are mestizos and hate the gringos, the men anyway will have nothing to do with a woman that is pure Indian or maybe mostly Indian. On the other hand, they date, sleep with and gladly breed with mestizos, especially the lighter ones. They will often deny this by saying that the mestiza is White like they are, or not like the household help, or whatever.
These same Mexican Whites are also very happy to have mestizos and Indians moving into the Whiter parts of Mexico, as this means more low wage labor and more customers to buy their stuff. White consciousness in Mexico is essentially about zero. The same White Mexicans who will insist that they are mestizos and not White will get angry if you call them indio. Indio is a big insult to any White Mexican.
Nevertheless, there is little overt racism in Mexico between mestizos and Whites, perhaps due to the homogenizing effect of mestizaje. However, there is some discrimination in employment to the extent that lighter skin makes it easier to get a good job than darker skin.
Light skin, eyes and hair are valued traits, but they are not necessary to get along in society. However, there is considerable racism against Indians. In addition, most White and mestizo Mexicans have a deep and abiding hatred for Blacks, whom they call pinche mayates (fucking niggers).
In recent years, the number of White Mexicans marrying mestizos has been very high. In Mexico, mestizos often want to marry White according to the tradition of mejorando la raza, literally, “improving the race.” Mestizo men are said to have an extreme fetish for blonde White women.
It is true that if you watch Mexican TV, you might think Mexico is 90% White. However, this is mostly true for the largest two networks, and it is often not the case with local or regional networks, where you see many mestizos. Mexican mestizos have conflicted feelings towards White Mexicans, and some of them have extreme anti-Spanish and anti-European feelings. Typically, if they are males, they would also do anything to get their hands on a White woman.
The history of White Mexico is quite interesting. Forum posters say that Mexico was around 37% White as late as independence. That’s fascinating.
What’s happened since then is more and more breeding with mestizos and possibly even Indians, such that the percentage of White Mexicans is now about 8% and declining all the time. That percentage is controversial. Some Mexicans say the true number is as low as 5%. 61% of the population are mestizos of all sorts of varieties, and 30% are either Indian or mostly Indian.
There are up to 10 million Whites in Mexico. Areas of Mexico that were 90% White in the past are now maybe 30-40% White.
Historically and to this day, most of the Whites lived in the northeast, but they are also scattered throughout the country. Nuevo León in the northeast used to be overwhelmingly White until a vast migration of Indians and mestizos from the South swamped it. Afterward, very heavy mixing occurred, and Nuevo León is no longer a White state. Most of the Whites in Nuevo León live in the large city of San Pedro.
But there are still small towns in the mountains of Nuevo León which are, bizarrely enough, all-White towns. Many people in these towns have blond hair and blue eyes.
The original plan for Nuevo León was to create a separate Spanish colony, separate from New Spain, but it never came to fruition. This state is prosperous and plays a very important role in the Mexican economy.
According to posters, along with the claim that Mexico was 40% White in colonial times is the notion it was a very nice country back then (assuming you were White of course) and that it has subsequently declined into what posters called a cesspool as it grew darker in the next nearly two centuries. Posters felt the situation was hopeless for Mexican Whites, and it was projected they would become extinct or nearly so with a century.
With Mexican-Americans, things are a bit different. I have seen very White Hispanics who act angry if you tell them they look White. Many of them do not even realize that Hispanics are mixed with White and Indian. The levels of White-hatred among US Hispanics seems to be quite high, probably as a result of US culture. Within the Chicano community, some Whiter Chicanos complain of a lot of mistreatment, often due to envy.
Costa Rica is a very interesting case, and the % of Whites in Costa Rica is very much in dispute. Costa Rica initially experienced a huge massacre of Indians in the context of conquest and enslavement, and the White population remained small at maybe 20,000 until independence. Costa Rica was always one of the poorest, if not the poorest, of the Spanish colonies.
Nevertheless, this population had become much less White during colonization, since the Spaniards brought few women with them. Most male Indians were either killed or exported to Peru. Hence, the colonists bred with Indian women. This continued all through the 1500’s and 1600’s. Later on there was an input of Black slaves from Jamaica. By independence, these people were about 55% White.
The Central Valley region, where Whites initially settled, is still as White as Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil and Antioquia in Colombia, two heavily-White enclaves in Latin America. This region may be 90% White.
After independence, the government had a policy of importing White workers from Europe, and this continued until about 1950 or so. This resulted in mass breeding with the original Costa Ricans, hence the original group became lighter over time. This is why Costa Rica traditionally has been such a White place.
As late as 1960, Costa Rica was probably 90% White.
However, in recent years, a large influx of mestizo illegal immigrants from Nicaragua, Colombia and other places has come into the country. There are 4 million native Costa Ricans in the country, but there are also 1.5 million Nicaraguans and 1.3 million Colombians. 99% of the Nicaraguans are mestizos.
The Colombians are regarded as “the Jews of Costa Rica” in that, once they go into a business sector, they tend to quickly dominate it. Hence, Colombians are somewhat resented in Costa Rica. Downtown San Jose now looks like Mexico City. Crime has risen along with the mass illegal immigration.
In addition, on the Caribbean Coast, there are now many Jamaican Blacks, possibly also illegal immigrants. In coastal cities, people tend to be mixed-race. In the inland cities, most people are White. In recent decades, many mestizos have appeared among native Costa Ricans, as the Whites there are starting to breed in with mestizos. In some places, a majority of Whites are now married to mestizos.
Nevertheless, the upper class is still overwhelmingly White, as this photo set of Costa Rican Presidents shows. And Costa Rica is still a mostly-White country. The population is 73% white, 17% Mestizo, 4% mulatto, 3% Black, 1% Chinese and 1% Indian. Officially, 85% of the population identifies as White, but that includes a certain number of light mestizos. There are 3 million Whites in Costa Rica.
Costa Rican Whites are quite racist and openly dislike Indians and Blacks, in keeping with the Latin American standard. They have fewer problems with mestizos, unless the person is a heavily-Indian mestizo.
A sort of Latin American version of PC nonsense along the lines of Mexico’s mestizaje has recently become de rigeour in Costa Rica. The notion is, “We are all White.” In addition, the usual anti-White nonsense history familiar to any American is now taught at all high schools. Most Whites are drinking the Nonsense Koolaid, and White consciousness is now very low.
Honduras has the tiniest White population in Latin America; only 1% of the population is White. There was long a tiny White population on the Cays Islands off the Honduran coast, descendants of English and Dutch immigrants. They always spoke British English. The Cays have been owned by Honduras since 1850, but this colony never married Blacks or mulattos out of tradition.
At some point, this group become seriously inbred, and many of them migrated to the US in order to spread out and ameliorate their genetic issues.
The situation of Cuban Whites is also very interesting. Cuba was an 74% White country at the time of the Revolution in 1957. The reason was similar to that of Costa Rica. Cuba was originally quite Black (they were all slaves) but there was huge immigration from Spain in the 1800’s, mostly from Galicia (northwest Spain). Quite a few also came from Catalonia.
Hence, at the time of the Revolution, 85% of Cuban Whites were Spanish, 10% French and the next largest group was Italians. The remainder included Scottish, Irish, English, Germans and Hungarians.
The rest included 12% Blacks and 14% mixed race. Although Havana has always been darker, the rest of the country was heavily White, and some parts still are. Whites tend to be concentrated in Western Cuba, the tobacco-growing region. Since tobacco did not use slave labor, there were fewer slaves in this region.
There was little breeding between Whites and Blacks because Cuba was a very racist society, something the anti-Castro Cubans deny. Part of the reason for this was high White race consciousness in Cuban Whites. Another aspect was that breeding with Blacks would be like breeding with your former slaves, as many White Cubans were slaveholders. This was seen as insulting and degrading to Whites.
After Castro, most of the Whites took off, and they keep on leaving. Cuba is now 37% White by government statistics. Cuba has 3.4 million Whites. Many of the remaining Whites are older. Further, the Revolution resulted in mass interbreeding between Whites and Blacks for some reason, such that there is now a huge mulatto population in Cuba.
Cuban Whites go back to Cuba now and say that their beautiful White homes are now inhabited by Blacks and mulattos, and this infuriates them. They insist that after Castro, they are going to go back and take over all their White property from the Blacks and mulattos. This is probably a fantasy.
As you can see, there is a heavy racist element in the whole anti-Castro movement.
Cuban-Americans were described as still very racist, and most want nothing to do with Blacks or mulattos at all. In South Florida, you will rarely if ever see a White Cuban-American woman with a Black man. It is just not done. Further, there is a lot of housing discrimination in Miami as racist Cuban Whites refuse to rent to mestizos or mulattos.
The situation in the Dominican Republic was described as dire. Posters said that maybe 16% of the population was White and it was declining all the time. The D.R. has 1.6 million Whites.
The DR has always been a much darker place than Cuba or Puerto Rico. Dominicans have long looked down on Haitians as Blacks, and most Dominicans will tell you they are mulattos no matter how much Black they have in them. In part, this is a way of distinguishing themselves from Haitians.
Soon after the Haitian Revolution in 1804, Haitians invaded the Dominican Republic. The Haitians quickly turned this into a nonstop rape-athon of the Dominican women. Anyone who was lighter-skinned such as Whites and mulattos was quickly killed, and the Dominican Blacks were enslaved by the Haitians. That is why to this day, Dominicans hate Haitians so much, over 200 years later.
Most remaining DR Whites are in the areas of Santo Domingo, the capital, and Cibao and Bani. These were tobacco-growing regions, and tobacco did not need huge armies of slaves to work on it. Hence, tobacco growers were often small landowners. The lack of slaves meant that there was much less interbreeding between Whites and Blacks.
The situation in Puerto Rico was very confusing, although it seemed as if maybe the population is 62% mulatto, 18% White, 18% Black and 2% Asian. Nevertheless, 80.5% of the population identifies as White, but most of those are probably mulattos or light mulattos. Forum posters said that Puerto Rico was once much Whiter, and indeed, there was a movement around 60 years ago among White Puerto Ricans for independence, and after independence, reunion with Spain as a colony.
Some White Puerto Ricans in the US are race-conscious. Even in the US, it is not common for a White Puerto Rican woman to date a Black man. However, in Puerto Rico, things are different. A number of non-Whites try to marry White in a mejorando la raza gambit. Kinky African hair is devalued as pelo malo or “bad hair.” Many Puerto Rican Whites are quite racist by US standards. Slurs and jokes about Blacks are commonplace.
There was racial apartheid in Puerto Rico until 1898. Until that time, Blacks were not allowed to own businesses or be doctors, lawyers or engineers. Up until the 1960’s, banks would not hire Blacks, and Blacks were not allowed into some clubs.
Since the 1960’s, salsa music has been promoted. Most Whites dislike this “African” music and want nothing to do with it, but it is extremely popular with Blacks and mulattos. Upper middle class areas are 95% White, but they are right next to lower class areas such as housing projects. 99% of the people in the projects are Blacks and mulattos. The projects are full of problems, and theft is rampant. Upscale White areas are often gated to keep out non-White criminals.
There is a serious illegal immigration problem consisting of Blacks and darker mulattos from the Dominican Republic.
White Puerto Ricans have a very dim view of the US Puerto Rican community, whom they generally describe as “trash.” They say most of them are Blacks and mulattos and act worse than the non-Whites on the island. White Puerto Ricans usually do not live in Puerto Rican enclaves in the US and instead tend to be spread out.
Unbelievably, there is even a tiny number of Whites in Haiti of all places. Haiti is 96% Black, with the rest being a tiny number of mulattos and some Whites. The White population is only .015%. Port Au Prince is about 2.5% White. A number of the Whites are Christian Arabs from Syria and Lebanon.
The original Whites were massacred in 1804 during a rebellion led by a Black named Desallines. Almost all 25,000 of the White slaveholders and their families were killed in the uprising, which ended slavery in Haiti once and for all.
Considering the Whites were slaveowners, as a revolutionary I support Desallines’ Rebellion, but they should not have killed minors or mentally disabled Whites. There was one case where they killed a screaming crazy White woman who was well-known to be mentally ill. Some of the Blacks wanted to save her, but the mob had their way.
The rebellion also ended colonialism in Haiti. With 25,000 Frenchmen dead, France said goodbye and good luck to the colony. France has been furious at Haiti ever since.
After the Whites were either killed or left in 1804, the place quickly fell apart, and the Blacks begged the Whites to return. Some Whites did return, but in 1805, a Black leader ordered all of the Whites to be tortured to death.
It’s hard to believe, but one of the big vote-getters in one of the recent fake elections in Haiti was a White man named Charles Baker (photo).
The rest of the Caribbean has very few Whites left, and those that remain, posters on the forum report, have very much of a siege mentality.
Barbados (4% White) is a good example. The Whites here are English, Scottish and Irish for the most part and have a high level of White consciousness.
There is also a group of very light-skinned mulattos in the Caribbean – especially in the Grenadines and St. Kitts – who see themselves as White or near-White. They refuse to marry Blacks and will only marry “high yellows”, “redbones” or “Portagees.” I assume that those are words for very light-skinned mulattos. Some even have White features like green eyes.
In Barbados, the Grenadines and St. Kitts, there also remain small White communities who seldom intermarry. They only marry White out of tradition. Along with this is a refusal to date or even socialize with Blacks and mulattos. For this, they have long been accused of racism.
The Bahamas has a 7% White population, mostly in certain areas. White consciousness is very high here, the highest in the region. Officially, the number is 12%, but that number is too high and includes many light mulattos.
St. Barts, unbelievably, is a majority-White island in the Caribbean – the only one. Most are descendants of French from Normandy and Brittany. However, it is now being flooded with Black immigrants from neighboring French islands who are looking for work.
Bermuda is 34% White. Whites keep to themselves here and don’t socialize much with Blacks. White consciousness is very high here also, second to the Bahamas. The Whites are British.
Martinique is 5% White, almost all from France (it is a French colony).
Jamaica is only .01% White, and there is a large mulatto population. However, Kingston is about 4.5% White. The White community has been steadily declining over the years, and many White males are breeding with mulattas. The White community here is said to be barely holding on. The remaining young Whites often present a “wigger” appearance with long dreadlocks, smoke ganja and the same Jamaican creole as the Blacks. Curiously, the remaining White females almost always marry Whites.
The Cayman Islands still have quite a few Whites (10%), especially on the western half of Cayman Brac. Officially, Whites are 20%, but once again that includes many light mulattos. 80% of the population is mulatto.
All through the Caribbean, the White birth rate is low, about the same as in the US. The birth rate for the Blacks and mulattos is much higher. Although White communities are hanging on in the Caribbean, posters acknowledge that they are “culturally Africanized” to some degree due to living near Blacks for so many years.
Colombia has a large White population estimated at around 22%, which means there are 10 million Whites in Colombia, as many as in Mexico. However, the Whites here typically have some Indian and Black blood, so it is more of a social race concept. Further, a Colombian White often has brothers or sisters that are quite a bit darker than he is, relics of a long history of interbreeding here. The rest of the population is 54% mestizo, 14% mulatto, 6% Black, 3% zambo (defined below) and 2% Indian.
Antioquia Province is one of the Whitest places in Latin America along with Southern Brazil and Costa Rica’s Central Valley. This region is 80% White, and White Antioquians are known as paisas. Antioquia is 1% Indian, and the rest are Blacks and mulattos. There was little interbreeding with the Indians since the Indians were so violent that they did not accept newcomers.
The capital of Antioquia is Medellin, and this is also a very White city, but recently many Blacks, mulattos and Indians have been moving to the city from other parts of Colombia, so it is not as White as it used to be.
Manizales is another majority-White city. The Whites are mostly Spaniards, but curiously, in Barranquilla and Santander, there are many Germans. Colombia received a very large input of Black slaves.
There is a lot of racism in employment here, and the dumb blonde gets the job over the competent Black with a degree. Everything here is all about appearances both genetic and personal – your height, weight, clothing – and above all else, social class. Other than that, some say that race relations are generally pretty good, keeping with the trend in the most heavily mixed Latin American countries such as Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil.
However, others say that racism is still a very serious problem in Colombia. 30 years ago, it was not uncommon to see signs in Colombia saying saying, “House For Rent. No Blacks.” To this day, it is very common for Afro-Colombians to be turned away from upscale establishments on account of their color.
Whites are about 20% of the population of Venezuela (5.2 million Whites), but they have very low levels of race consciousness. Most of the population at all levels does not bother much with race, as class is much more important than race in this country. It is quite common to see mulatto or mestizo parents having a kid who looks quite White. That is the degree of the historical racial interbreeding in this nation. Venezuela, like Mexico, is one of more racially egalitarian states in the region.
There is a vast population of Blacks, mulattos and zambos. (Zambos are mixed Black-Indians) in the country, especially in certain areas. Venezuela also received a large number of Black slaves.
Ecuador is a profoundly racist society, as you often see in South American countries where the White % gets low. Although official figures put the White population at 10.4%, the actual number is around 5%. There are 650,000 Whites in Ecuador. They are about as racist as Peruvian Whites. They have utter contempt for Indians and Blacks, and they have nothing to do with other non-Whites.
Similar to how it was in the Jim Crow South, non-Whites are not allowed to eat in White restaurants, or if they are, they must use a separate set of dishes. Whites often wash their faces and hands after dealing with a non-White, as if they had been dirtied.
Official figures show that Ecuador is 65% mestizo and 25% Indian, but social race is amply on display here, and if we go by actual genetics instead, the figures are probably reversed – 66% Indian and 26% mestizo. 3% of the population is Black, all on the coast. As in Bolivia, Ecuadorian Whites said that the Indians in Ecuador hate everyone who is not Indian and want to throw them all out of the country.
The racial history of Ecuador is pretty nasty. Slavery lasted in various odd forms all the way until 1930, and de facto White rule was ongoing until the 1970’s. Non-Whites were not allowed to have any significant government or military posts until that time. In the 1970’s, a progressive regime allowed non-Whites into the officer corps. The nation is very racially stratified, and Whites, Blacks, mulattos, mestizos and Indians all pretty much marry their own.
From 1809 to 1905, Chinese and Jews were banned from entering Ecuador, and there was something resembling an actual racial apartheid structure in place.
In the early 1900’s, a progressive mestizo president came aboard and initiated a series of major changes. At the time, the White population was 30%, but it has since dropped from 30% to 5% in a mere century. The progressive reforms involved a major land reform that broke up the White latifundias (vast estates) and distributed the lands to the Indians and mestizos. Many of the original stock of Spanish and British Whites returned to Europe in disgust due to these changes.
In the 1920’s, a significant wave of German immigration came to the country. Presently, Germans make up the largest % of Ecuadorian Whites, followed by Spaniards, British and a small number of Lebanese. Many of the Germans are Nazi supporters.
One would think that there would be hardly any Whites in a country like Peru, yet 12% of Peruvians are White. Official figures are 15% according to the CIA, but the last racial census in 1940 showed only 3.7% Whites. The true % of Whites in Peru is quite confused. I think the % of Whites is probably around 12% though, since I have met four Peruvians in the US (all in the LA area), and 3 of them were White. I’ve met five on the Internet, and two of those were White. So out of my limited encounters with Peruvians, 40% of those I encountered were White.
This gives us 3.5 million Whites in Peru.
The rest of the population is 45% Indian and 37% mestizo. The mestizos here seem to be more Indian than in places like Mexico and Chile.
Peru is an incredibly racist society, and Lima is regarded as the most racist city in Latin America. If a mestizo or Indian stops a White on the street of Lima and asks directions, the White will usually refuse to speak to them. The Whites there have the attitude, “We don’t even talk to these people”, who they refer to as cholos.
Even mestizos experience a lot of racial discrimination, and this experience was one of the reasons so many young Peruvian mestizos became cadres in Sendero Luminoso. My perception is that the average Peruvian mestizo has a lot of Indian blood, possibly even mostly or pure Indian.
Social race is rampant here, and if you take off your Indian clothes, move out of the village to a big city and quit speaking Quechua, you can automagically transform yourself into a mestizo.
Many light or upper class mestizos identify as White and desperately want to be White, and many are admitted into White social circles. A lot of these people have high levels of cognitive dissonance. You may hear an obviously mestizo upper middle class mestizo point to a lower class mestizo as dark as they are and curse the “cholo de mierda” (shitty cholo).
Posters said that the rest of the mestizos who are not trying to identify as Whites really hate Whites and don’t try to hide it at all. Race relations in Peru appear to be catastrophic.
Although official figures put the number of Whites in Bolivia at 15%, the actual number is smaller at 8%. 65% are Indians, and 27% are mestizos. There are 1 million Whites in Bolivia. The Whites tend to live in the Western part of country. Race relations there were described as horrible, and Whites were often targets of abuse and verbal and even physical aggression by Indians.
The Indians were said to have a grudge against the Whites going back centuries to the Conquest. Posters said that the Indians consider the whole country theirs, hate everyone who is not Indian and want to throw all non-Whites out of the country.
Whites have traditionally tried to marry only other Whites, but lately some young Whites are starting to date Indians and Blacks, much to the consternation of their more traditional relatives. Whites do not really hate mestizos, though out of tradition, they do not date or marry them. Furthermore, the mestizos often hate the Indians just as much as the Whites do.
Posters described White Bolivians as living in fear. Expressions of White ethnocentrism invite attacks, robberies and even homicides, so Whites tend to keep their heads down. The feeling among Bolivian Whites is that they are losing their country. Many White Bolivians are taking off, often migrating to Southern Brazil.
About 50% of Brazil is White, which leaves us with 80 million Whites, although this figure is extremely controversial since it gets into the “Who is White?” mess.
The official figures showing 54% White in Brazil are from government surveys and are a bit high. This means that 54% of the population identifies as White, but many of those might not be seen as White in the US.
The reason the government number is higher is because it relies in self-report, and many Brazilians who are light-skinned but not really White see themselves as White and identify as White.
The rest are Blacks, mulattos, Indians, caboclos (mestizos) and zambos. Something like 42% of the population is mixed race – this includes various forms of mulattos, mestizos and zambos – however, almost all of these are mixed with Black, and few Brazilians have obvious Indian admixture. The Indian admixture is most prevalent in the Northeast.
Census figures say only about 7% are Black, but those figures are based on self-report, so they are erroneous since many Blacks claim to be mulattos. The Blacks are mostly in the northeast. Anyway, about 29% of the population are actual mulattos.
This means that Brazil has a Black and part-Black population of 36%, or 70 million, making it the second largest Black population on Earth after Nigeria. If Black Brazil were a nation, it would be the second largest Black country on Earth.
About 13% of the population, or 25 million people, are caboclos or mestizos.
A tiny .5% are Indian.
There are possibly 96 million Whites in Brazil, meaning that Brazil has one of the largest White populations in the world. The stunning truth is that Brazil has more Whites than most European countries. If Brazil’s Whites were a country, it would be one of the largest White countries on Earth.
Southeastern Brazil is still very White, especially Rio Grande do Sul. The three southern states – Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná and Santa Catarina – are the Whitest ones; in addition, the state of São Paolo is still majority White, but it is much less White than the southern states.
São Paolo used to be overwhelmingly White, but lately it has been flooded with non-Whites from the northeast and other areas. The city of São Paolo now is heavily non-White (75%), but many of the smaller cities in São Paolo state are still very White. Other southeastern states like Rio de Janiero and Espirto Santo were 70-80% White in the 1940’s, but are now less than 50% White due to mass immigration of mulattos from the northeast.
A recent government survey found that the South is 85% White and that Rio Grande do Sul was 92% White, but that does not seem to be the case anymore with the heavy internal migration that has been moving to the area from the Northeast and Rio. The figure was already an overestimate due to the faulty nature of the poll, and the present figures are that the South is about 65% White.
In Rio Grande do Sul, Blacks and mulattos are concentrated in the southern part of the state near the Argentine border. In Parana, they live near the Paraguayan border.
The Whites are mostly Germans and Italians (71%). Brazil has the largest Italian community (27 million) outside of Italy, although the Argentines would argue with that and try to claim that title for themselves. Italians live in São Paolo, the South and parts of Minas Gerias. Most of the Italians are from Northern Italy. Portuguese (24%) make up another large group, and Spaniards (mostly Galicians) make up a somewhat smaller group.
French, Poles, Dutch, Ukrainians, Swedes, Belgians, Croatians, Lithuanians, Jews, Russians, Romanians, Lebanese and Syrians are a yet smaller sector.
West of Curitiba there are 100% Italian cities. There are also cities that are completely German. In these places, the newspapers, menus, schools – everything – is in Italian or German, and Portuguese is a second language.
The White South has its roots in history. There were few Indians in this part of Brazil for some reason, so they were easily overrun and routed. The main industry of the South has always been cattle ranching, and there is no need to import Black slaves for that. Further, there were few of the plantations that characterized the North.
This is also one of the wealthiest regions of the country. The separatist movement in the South claims that the majority of the taxes paid to the Central Government come from the three White states in the South.
The explicitly racial White Separatist movement in the South has little support, but the more general non-racial separatist movement that intends to split off the three White states from the rest of Brazil has varying levels of support in the South. A recent poll in Rio Grande do Sul found 60% support for secession in that state. However, secessionist movements are outlawed by the Constitution and in order to form a political party, the secessionist movement would have to be supported by X% of voters up in a large number of states, possibly nine states.
Nevertheless, whatever support there is does not translate into votes, and the secessionist candidate last time did not even win .1% of the vote. The secessionist movement looks like a joke from here.
I do not support this secessionist movement. It reminds me of Padanian separatists in Italy, Ahwaz separatists in Iran and Bolivian separatists in eastern Bolivia. There is no reason why a state should let the wealthiest region lop itself off, make off with all the loot, make a new state, and leave the old state broke and holding the bag.
Due to the wealth of the region, the white parts of Brazil were flooded with immigrants from other parts of Brazil, especially the impoverished and mostly Black northeast. This migration lasted only from the 1950’s to the 1980’s and affected only the state of Sao Paolo. In addition, many were flooding in from Rio, which is an extremely racially mixed city. Posters seemed to think this was a disaster, as the new migrants will soon start breeding with the Whites in the South.
Brazilian Whites were said to have a low level of White consciousness, and many think that a lot of mestizos and mulattos are actually White. Hence, many will willingly breed with non-Whites, probably especially with mestizos and mulattos. However, there are definitely some hardcore Nazi types in the South, though probably not very many.
Brazilian soaps are almost always about White families. Blacks play minor supporting roles, running a juice stand on the beach, practicing voodoo and giving practical advice to the Whites. The reason Brazilian TV is so White is because research has shown that mostly Black/mulatto Brazilian viewers do not want to see Blacks or mulattos on TV.
There is still racial discrimination in Brazil to the extent that if you are lighter it is easier to get a good job than if you are darker, but Brazilians like Mexicans labor under the lie that they have beaten racism. This is a problem in that it makes existing racism hard to deal with. If there is no racism and everyone gets along fine, anyone bringing up racism charges is a troublemaker and a liar who is trying to set the races against each other.
Furthermore, studies show that Blacks are bullied at school by Whites who call them the equivalent of “nigger.” Blacks are almost never hired by Brazilian firms for good white-collar jobs, and those few Blacks that have such jobs are almost always hired by foreign firms.
The truth is that privileged Brazilian Whites simply refuse to work for a Black boss or have Black superiors. That would be like your slaves lording it over you. The Whites have a very good privileged system there, and they don’t want to share with Blacks at all.
On the other hand, the discrimination is really more economic than genetic, and social race is all the rage. Black and mulatto cops will stop and search groups of Black and mulatto males (racial profiling) but will not stop groups of Whites. Why? The darker guys are often up to no good.
A wealthy Black is only respected if he dresses the part and has the proper wealthy adornments. Furthermore, he needs a White woman, preferably a blond. The first thing Black futbol stars do when they hit the big-time is grab a blond to marry.
Yet a White man, even if he dresses down, is considered to be automatically OK. But a rich Black man dressing down would be considered just another low-class Black up to no good. Much also is made of education and speech. Most Whites are well-educated and speak a refined Portuguese. Blacks are usually poorly-educated and speak a slangy, low-class dialect something like a Portuguese Ebonics.
But not all Whites are rich, and there are many poor Whites in the South. The favelas of the South are filled with Whites, and there are White beggars on the streets. Blacks in the South have been elected governors of states and mayors of large cities, and the South was the first place Blacks got civil rights. Studies show that the best place for a Black to live is in the White South due to the wealth of the region.
Nevertheless, the upper class Whites of the South are extremely racist by US standards. They dislike people with dark skin and regard them as inferior. There is not much anti-Semitism because there are only a few Jews (12,000) in the region
The racial history of Brazil is very interesting.
Originally, the Indian tribes were nearly bred out of existence. They sent over the dregs of Portuguese society. Due to the harsh nature of the region they were going to, the colonists were nearly all men. They few women on board the ships were generally prostitutes. Most decent women did not want to put up with the rigors of colonization. It meant a long sea voyage on a ship full of males in an environment of poor hygiene. When you stepped off the ship, the new land was all jungle, with unpleasant tropical weather, many jungle diseases and no hospitals. In addition, the new settlements were under continuous attack by hostile Indians.
One famous such colonist was named Diogo Álvares. The Tupinambá Indians referred to him as Caramurú, his Indian name. He singlehandedly fathered 200 children by many different Indian women. Essentially, most of the coastal Brazilian Indian tribes were simply fucked out of existence. Interbreeding with Indians continued even up until the late 1800’s, and it was not unusual for a White man to father up to 20 children with different Indian women.
Hence, the true settlement of the country occurred due to voluntary immigration from Europe or the importation of African slaves, mostly from the Portuguese colony of Angola.
White women were so heavily valued by Portugal that the law stipulated that they were not allowed to leave the country without the signed permission of their husbands or fathers, in shades of a practice that continues today in Arab lands. Unbelievably, this law remained on the books until 1975!
Since there was a shortage of women, many men brought their own wives from Europe, or arranged marriages in Europe, or tried their luck with the yearly importation of Crown’s Orphans, orphan girls gathered from all over Europe and imported to Brazil to become brides for male colonists. Yet there were still not enough women. So many men had sex with their female Black slaves, resulting in a large mulatto population.
In the late 1800’s after slavery was abolished (1888) the government undertook a “Whitening” or Branqueamento project that was shockingly called just that. The idea was that Brazil was a mostly Black country, and that mostly Black meant disaster for the future (Racial thinking was extremely common at the time).
Hence a huge effort was made to encourage Europeans to immigrate to Brazil. This effort went on for some time and attracted many immigrants from Italy, Germany, other parts of Europe, and even Japan.
In 1923, a Brazilian Congressman famously said, “The Black eclipse will have passed entirely in 70 years.” He was referring to the disappearance of Blacks in Brazil as an ethnic entity, presumably replaced with some sort of mulatto or zambo.
In 1945, the country’s official immigration policy openly stated the need to “develop within the country’s ethnic composition the most convenient characteristics of its European descent.”
As recently as 25 years ago (1988), an assistant to the governor of São Paolo actually suggested mass birth control for Blacks, Indians and mixed-race people as a eugenic measure.
This official explicitly racial thinking is pretty much a thing of the past. Posters said that Lula is a mulatto (though he looks White to me), and racism is now actually illegal in the country (whatever that means), though the law is hardly enforced and even those convicted get a slap on the wrist.
Furthermore, there is a very large amount of interbreeding going on in Brazil, even in the Far South. Down there, this mostly involves White women breeding with Black and mulatto men. In the rest of Brazil, all sorts of racial interbreeding is going on, described as epidemic.
In general, this is mostly going on with lower class Whites. The middle and upper class Whites still do not mix with non-Whites all that much.
White Brazilians felt that the situation for Whites in Brazil was dire, even in the South.
Uruguay is easily the Whitest country in Latin America. A government survey taken 10 years ago came up with figures of 93% White, 6% Black, .4% Indian and .4% Asian. The Blacks, like in Brazil, are almost all mulattos. There were only a few Indians here, and they were mostly quickly massacred. There are 3 million Whites in Uruguay.
The economy has always revolved around cattle-raising, and there is no need for Black labor for that. However, the economy is now in terrible shape, and many of the middle classes are leaving. Whites have a low level of consciousness here, and this is probably the PC capital of Latin America. There are strong cultural connections to Argentina, stronger than between the US and Canada.
Argentina is still the largest White country in Latin America. 97% of the population identifies as White, but as probably 80% of Argentine mestizos identify as White, that figure is confusing. The population is still about 80% White (though estimates vary from 75-85%), the rest being mestizo. This gives us 32 million Whites in Argentina.
However, this is a decline from 1970, when the country was 90% White. Further, there are millions of illegal immigrants who are not being counted and who will probably be legalized soon. There are 30 million Whites in Argentina.
The largest White group are Italians at 60%, followed by Spaniards (mostly Basques and Galicians) at 20% and then Germans at 10%. Argentina has the largest Basque, Galician and Catalan populations outside of Spain. The other 10% of the White population is made up of Swiss, French, Irish, English, Russians, Belgians and Dutch in that order.
German and Irish Argentines mostly segregate themselves from those of Spanish and Italian descent, but many Argentines are some mixture of German, Spanish and Italian anyway. There is a certain amount of German supremacist Nordicism in the German community along with very high levels of support for Nazism.
Only about 1% are Indians. They killed most of the Indians very quickly during colonization, so there were not many Indians to breed with. Argentina’s Indians live in the arid northwest up near Bolivia and Chile in their own communities and don’t bother anyone.
There was a large Black population in the 1800’s in Buenos Aires, but they seem to have vanished into thin air. Argentine legend says they fled the country due to persistent discrimination, but that seems a little dubious. They were probably just bred into the population, and the Argentine gene pool is now 3% Black. In the northwest (Jujuy and Salta), mestizos are the majority. This area is also being heavily flooded by illegals from Bolivia. The northeast near the border with Brazil is also heavily mestizo.
Since the 1990’s, there has been a huge illegal immigrant invasion of mestizos and Indians from Bolivia (by far the largest group), Peru, Paraguay and Chile. There are other immigrants coming in from Asia, mostly Korea but also some from China. Immigrants, almost all mestizos and Indians, are continuing to pour into Argentina at the rate of 200,000/yr. The government does nothing to stop it, and recently gave citizenship to millions of mestizos and Indians from Bolivia.
The illegals from Bolivia and Peru are regarded by White Argentines as troublesome people who commit a lot of crime, engage in street protests and riots, and have no interest in assimilating.
In addition, the heavily-Indian illegals from Peru and Bolivia have an extremely high birthrate in Argentina of 6+ children per woman. The girls start getting pregnant at age 14-15. On the other hand, White Argentine women are only having 1-2 kids at most.
The posters were complaining about this and saying that the non-White immigration situation in Argentina was far worse than in the US and that in 20-30 years from now, White Argentina may be just a memory.
Posters said that White Argentines were very racist at least in US terms. Most were said to be sympathetic to Nazism and fascism, and this is why so many Nazis fled to this area after World War 2.
However, the fascist military dictatorship, which flaunted Nazi imagery, nostalgia and anti-Semitism, pretty much ruined things in terms of overt White consciousness in the country. To be strongly pro-White now is to be a Nazi or pro-dictatorship, and this is not acceptable in polite society since the dictatorship was so unpopular.
There is also still an extremely high level of anti-Semitism in Argentina, at least as compared to the US. White Argentines complain privately about how Jews and non-Whites are wrecking the place, but have a “What can you do about it?” attitude.
The mestizos of Argentina are very light, and at some point it gets really hard to tell who is a light mestizo and who is White. The mestizos identify as Whites and say they are White.
The reason for this is that the huge immigration from Europe to Argentina lightened the Argentine mestizo population, similar to what occurred in Costa Rica. Also there has been a dramatic increase in White-mestizo breeding in the past few generations, something that was previously rare.
In addition, a correlative to US hip-hop culture called cumbia villera has recently showed up. It is based on the culture of Argentina’s mestizo and Indian ghettos, and the topics and mindset of the music resemble rap – songs about killing people, selling dope, treating women like crap, etc.
Most Argentine Whites are horrified by this trend, but a lot of young Whites are getting into because it’s “cool”, the same way a lot of young Whites are getting into Black rap music. Young Argentine Whites who are into villera music are also starting to date mestizos. As in the US, it’s White females going for the darker, thuggish types. There the young White women go for mestizo villera types, and here young White women go for Black rapper types.
At the same time, there is an increasing trend among Argentine Whites to say that they have a little bit of Argentine Indian in them, sort of like the way many White Americans say that they have a little bit of Cherokee. This is seen as progressive, liberal and hip.
I mentioned above that most Argentines are quite racist and are contemptuous, at least in private, of mestizos, Indians, mulattos and Blacks. It works the other way too. Argentines say that many Mexican, Caribbean and Colombian mestizos, mulattos and zambos really hate Argentines. Some hate Argentines and Chileans more than gringos. They call Argentines “Nazis” even though Argentines have never done anything to them. However, many of these same folks would love to get into Argentina.
The situation in Chile is very confusing. It’s not really a White country. It’s more of a light-Mestizo country. 60% of Chileans are (generally light) Mestizos, 33% are White (usually with some Indian admixture) and 7% are Indian. However, on appearance, half of Chileans appear White. Blacks are only 1%. This gives us 6 million Whites in Chile. The Whites tend to live in Santiago and in the south of the country.
Mixing occurred early in Chile, as it really took a long time to defeat the Indians; they really put up a hard fight here. They were not totally defeated until the 1880’s or so, and after that, they were not exterminated, but their population was seriously reduced. There were not many White colonists in Chile, and the few who were there were often soldiers. Mass breeding occurred between White soldiers and Indian females. This constituted the basic stock of the nation.
The initial White stock was mostly English and Spaniard. The Spaniards were mostly from Castille, Andalusia and the Basque region. Later, many immigrants arrived from Europe, and there are large German, Italian and Croatian colonies in the South. White Chileans are also Swiss, British (often Scots Irish) and French. Among the Germans, there is high support for Nazism.
The lower classes tend to be a bit darker shade of mestizo (25% Indian), but not much. The upper classes are somewhat lighter mestizos (15% Indian). All mestizos and Whites in Chile identify as White and say they are White. Whiteness is something that is highly valued by society, and Indianness and mestizaje is devalued. Chilean TV is like Mexican TV – just about everyone on it is White.
However, Chile is experiencing the same problem as Argentina, a mass invasion of darker mestizo illegal immigrants from Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador, mostly the first two, beginning in 2000. Further, many of the White Argentines who settled there after the recent crisis are going home.
Along with the mass immigration of Peruvian and Bolivian Indians and mestizos has come a serious wave of street crime. The local Chilean Indians are not much of a problem. They live isolated in their own communities and leave other people alone. White Chileans will happily breed with mestizos and even Indians. Often it’s a White girl and a mestizo or Indian man. White consciousness is pretty low in Chile. Posters lament that the racial situation in Chile looks dire.
Many posters commented that mestizos and Indians in Latin America really hate Whites. Although this is a typical White nationalist claim everywhere (that all non-Whites hate Whites), there may be something to it in Latin America. One said he had heard Indians and mestizos saying that they were going to take power all over Latin America and throw all the Whites back to Europe.
All posters felt that Lula in Brazil, Chavez in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia and Castro in Cuba were anti-White Leftist politicians.
Lula was seen as anti-White for initiating affirmative action for non-Whites for the first time in Brazil. Chavez was accused of “ethnically cleansing” Whites from the country, but that seems like nonsense. What’s going on actually is that wealthier Whites are leaving Venezuela due to Chavez’ socialist policies. Morales was accused of wanting to take over all the Whites’ property and give it to Indians and mestizos.
All over Latin America, the Indian, mestizo and anti-White cause was seen as being led by Communists for various reasons. Some of the reasons given were quite dubious. It’s probable that these Leftists are simply being driven to ameliorate the vastly inequitable situation in their countries.
One poster noted that in spite of the profound racism, at least in his part of Latin America (apparently Peru), Indians and mestizos of both sexes were constantly trying to marry White or at least have babies by Whites.
This went so far as males misleadingly impregnating White women, females misleadingly allowing themselves to be impregnated by White men, ingratiating themselves to and flattering Whites, etc.
The poster said they want to marry White to “wash themselves.” I find it dubious that mestizos and Indians have that much self-hatred, but it’s possible.
All of his aunts and uncles married mestizos, and none of the marriages turned out well.
He described Indians and mestizos as aggressive, abusive (usually verbally but sometimes physically), and unable to control their emotions well. None of the mixed race offspring of his relatives did well in school. All of his White relatives now have mixed feelings about their part-White kids, and to some extent, they are ashamed of their offspring due to their mixed blood, poor grades and mestizo values.
While most posters lamented the historical fact that the original White settlers to Latin America had bred in heavily with Indians and to some extent Blacks, others attempted to rationalize it. As one put it, it was either Indian and Black women or homosexuality/bestiality.
Some posters attempted to explain why White men had bred in so heavily with Indian women. One described it as a natural match. Indians being racially Mongoloid or Asian, Indian women are similar to Asian women. Indian women, similar to Asian women, were described as very submissive, and White men liked this quantity very much. The poster noted that in the US you see many White male/Asian female couples for the same reason. A Caucasian male and a Mongoloid female appears to be a natural mix. Each party gets what they want out of the relationship.
Another poster said that many White males continue to breed with Indians, Blacks, mulattas and mestizas because these women are not laboring under the same sexually repressive strictures that White women in the region are. The life of a moneyed White woman in the region is somewhat restricted sexually, as she feels bound by the Madonna/whore dichotomy characteristic of Hispanic culture.
However, in the White women in poorer classes and with non-White women are much freer sexually. As one poster put it, “Indian and Black women spread their legs very easily, and many White men are tempted by this.”
All posters felt that the future for Whites in Latin America was hopeless. Continued immigration of non-Whites, high birth rates of non-Whites combined with low birth rates of Whites, along with continuing and accelerating intermarriage of Whites with non-Whites, meant a slow darkening of the White population and its eventual diminishment to low numbers.
Various proposals were suggested to “take back our countries,” but all were rejected as hopeless.
One suggestion was mass emigration to Uruguay, seen as one of the last holdouts for Whites in Latin America. This was rejected as impractical, mainly due to the small size of the country.
A while back, there was a “move to Argentina” movement, but that didn’t seem to catch on either since most White Latin Americans love their home countries and don’t want to leave. Another problem was that Argentina’s economy was very bad.
There were many threads about leaving Latin America and moving to Whiter places, especially Europe.
Some radicals offered militant proposals. One was to declare a White nationalist state in Southern Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, separate from Brazil, and presumably evict all the non-Whites.
From that base, the new state would expand across the rest of Brazil, pushing the Blacks and mulattos into Northeastern Brazil. Then the Blacks would be shipped to Central Africa and the mulattos would be shipped to Angola. This proposal seems unlikely to come to fruition.
The White State in the Southern Cone, expansionist or not, is a pipe dream for other reasons. Part of the problem is that Brazilians and Argentines, even the Whites, hate each other. I’m not sure what it’s all about, maybe soccer. Also they speak two different languages and have very different cultures. Further, even White Brazilians are very nationalistic and would probably never want to leave Brazil.
A union of Uruguay and Argentina would actually be possible due to deep cultural connections between the two, but it would not be good for the White state, since Uruguay is PC Central in Latin America. It would be like annexing a gigantic Spanish-speaking Massachusetts.
I saw in these threads the future of the US. America will become much more mixed and Spanish-speaking.
The history of the continent is one of the marriage of the two great races, the White and the Indian, and the language of the marriage was Iberian. We missed out on it here, since so many Indians died, White immigration was so huge, and most colonists were from Britain. Also, White colonists here brought women along.
Soon the US will become just another Latin American country, that is, we will finally become part of the continent of the Americas. In other words, the unusual and continentally anomalous experiment of “America” will slowly end, and we will finally join the Americas.
*Although the word mulatto is offensive to Blacks and mixed race people, I am going to use this word because that is the way that Black-White mixed race folks are referred to in Latin America. Further, “mixed race” is a seriously idiotic way to describe Black-White mixes.
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