The 50 Weirdest Languages

50 weirdest languages | ESL logoEver wanted to learn a language? The folk at language travel specialists ESL have put together a list of 50 of the world’s weirdest languages, most of which are probably best avoided.

Discover languages on the verge of extinction – Njerep has only four living speakers, Kaixana only one. Explore curios like Yupik, where every word is a complex sentence, Taa, which some argue has more than 100 click sounds in its armoury of consonants, or Archi, which many linguists believe offers more than 1,500,000 possible forms for every single verb. Or wrap your head around invented languages like Klingon, Aklo, Furbish, Sindarin and Dothraki.

Or, of course, you could opt for a stint overseas learning something more useful, like Spanish or (if you’re brave!) Chinese. Enjoy!

50 Weirdest Languages | ESL Languages

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21 Responses

  1. I dunno, Theodora, to the 1.3 billion in China, “Putonghua” is probably easy compared to every other language on the planet. For example, what’s always good for a chuckle is the English language; for example, the differences among “tough”, bough”, “dough”, “lough”, “slough” (noun), *and* “slough” (verb), and the fun times trying to teach the logic behind the conjugation of the verb “to be”, where the 2nd person singular is the same as the 1st person plural and 2nd plural form! It’s something like that joke from “Friends”: Q: What do Chinese people eat in China? A: Food. 🙂

    • Theodora says:

      English spelling IS horrific, you’re right, Henry. Though I don’t think even that’s as bad as the horrors of Chinese literacy.

      Have you come across this poem?

      I take it you already know
      Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
      Others may stumble, but not you,
      On hiccough, thorough, lough and through?
      Well done! And now you wish, perhaps,
      To learn of less familiar traps?
      Beware of heard, a dreadful word
      That looks like beard and sounds like bird,
      And dead: it’s said like bed, not bead –
      For goodness sake don’t call it deed!
      Watch out for meat and great and threat
      (They rhyme with suite and straight and debt).
      A moth is not a moth in mother,
      Nor both in bother, broth in brother,
      And here is not a match for there
      Nor dear and fear for bear and pear,
      And then there’s dose and rose and lose –
      Just look them up – and goose and choose,
      And cork and work and card and ward,
      And font and front and word and sword,
      And do and go and thwart and cart –
      Come, come, I’ve hardly made a start!
      A dreadful language? Man alive!
      I’d mastered it when I was five!

  2. Leslie says:

    The Yagán language should be in that list, there’s only 1 native speaker left in Chile.

  3. B-Dog says:

    I’m not saying this list is fully crappy, but it seems a little iffy. Korean, for example, is related to Chinese in a big way, which is why they use the term “Sino-Korean” to talk about the words that come directly from Chinese. There’s a huge number of them.

    Also, English is one of the hardest languages to learn for speakers of some languages, but if you speak German, for example, learning English isn’t such a horrible experience.

    • Theodora says:

      English is hideously difficult for many non-Europeans — I’m so glad I was raised speaking it. I’d agree the list isn’t a piece of academic rigour, and I’m not a professional linguist, but I think a language — like Japanese, which also has a tonne of Chinese influence — can be an “isolate” WHILE having influences from another language group.

  4. Drew says:

    haaha I love this post!! I have studied 5 languages and I can’t even imagine learning some of these.

    Cheers and happy travels!


  5. Albert says:

    No Gallifreyan?

  6. Katie says:

    The world of linguistics is a mind-bending one indeed!

  7. Oh wow. I wasn’t expecting English to be on the Northern Hemisphere list. HAHAHA! Good one.

  8. Bama says:

    What an informative and fun list! I haven’t heard some of the languages listed here before reading this article. However there’s a slight inaccuracy, the North Sentinel Island where the elusive and secretive Sentinelese live is not a part of Indonesia. Instead it’s a part of India, although technically the Indian government never exercises control there due to the hostile indigenous people.

  9. Vasily says:

    English one of the hardest language to learn??? Are you fucking kidding me?? Come on…

    • Theodora says:

      I think it’s a very hard language to achieve native fluency in, and it’s a hard language to write in, but, yes, it’s not Turkish, Chinese or Vietnamese, is it?