Often described as a difficult language to learn, French does indeed have some quirks that are sometimes difficult for a child or a foreigner to grasp. In fact, more than 73% of French people think that French is a difficult language. The French spelling champion Guillaume Terrien even admitted that the French language is demanding and not always very logical. So why French is so difficult to learn?
First of all, the French language is known to be the Romance language. It is therefore derived from Latin. But, throughout history, it has been influenced by Gallic, which is a Celtic language, especially with terms like “charrue = plow”, “chêne = oak”, “sillon = furrow”, etc…
French was influenced also by the Franks. For example, the terms “arquebuse = harquebus”, “flèche = arrow”, “roseau = reed” come from it.
A language that evolves
The French language is often criticized as a difficult language also because it is constantly evolving. As proof of this, grandparents sometimes have trouble understanding the vocabulary used by their grandchildren. Some words appear in the French dictionary, and others disappear because they become obsolete. These perpetual evolutions are one of the characteristics of living languages. French is also enriched by foreign influences (notably through anglicisms) and by vocabulary linked to the emergence of new technologies (“twittosphere”, “youtubeur”, “geek”, etc.).
Learning a language is not always easy, especially with French and its strict grammar. Its spelling is also quite original, for example, the verb “appeler = to call” which takes two “p” and one “l”, but once conjugated “j’appelle” still takes two “p”, but this time two “l”.
French also has a complicated conjugation with many tenses to know. You also have to distinguish between the feminine and masculine with “le”, “la”, “une”, “un”, as well as between “le tutoiement (use of the familiar ‘tu’) and le vouvoiement (using the’ vous’ form)”, unlike in English.
Pronunciation different from writing
Also, one of the aspects that makes it difficult to learn the French language is pronunciation. Indeed, it’s sometimes different from writing. For example, with ” œuf”, we pronounce the “f”, but in the plural, we say “des œufs” without pronouncing either the “f” or the “s”. And put yourself in the shoes of a foreigner learning French when faced with the words “œil”, “cœur”, “quincaillerie” or “tilleul”. We wish them good luck!
this complexity makes French a rich language, very precise to express a thought. Moreover, if you learn other languages, you will notice that the French language is not more complicated than any other language. In English, a word will have two different meanings depending on the context. In Chinese, you have to know thousands of Characters to write. Languages like Xhosa have “clicks” that are impossible for a European to reproduce. In short, the key is to be motivated and, above all, not to give up!
Here is my guide if you are interested in learning French, it will help you along the way.