a reply to: maddy21
My experience of language-learning;
French and Latin at school, with a little Italian because the Head thought we had too much free time.
New Testament Greek and Hebrew self-taught for getting into a theology course. I still read the Greek easily enough when required. But as for the
Hebrew; "The examiners wish me to inform you that your Hebrew paper was of a bare passing standard". I remember almost nothing of it, and trying to
check a Hebrew point for one of my threads is ruddy hard going.
I also have a book on the Etruscan language.
All this is reading knowlege, not speaking knowledge. Speaking is not my forte.
And I've known a couple of people studying Chinese.
On the strength of all that, I suggest that a very important factor is the ease or difficulty of the script. That affects how easily you can vocalise
what you're reading, which makes a lot of difference.
In the case of languages using the Roman alphabet, you can plunge straight into them. (If you have any knowledge of Latin, that helps you get running
with Italian or Spanish)
Greek and Russian have alphabets with a similar structure to the Roman alphabet, even though the letters have different shapes. So learning them is
just a preliminary stage which need not increase the difficulty very much.
But once you get into languages like Hebrew and Arabic, you're moving into a different world. The scripts are vastly different, and the grammatical
structure of the language is vastly differentfrom anything you may have learned for English or Latin.
And I understand that the Chinese symbols are about representing concepts rather than sounds. I get the impression from the people I knew that
learning Chinese, for a westerner, is intensively difficult.
As for speaking, I imagine that the languages would group themselves in the same way in terms of the ease or difficulty of getting the tongue round