Daily Archives: December 8, 2016

You’ve probably never heard of the language they deemed the hardest of them all

The Economist (on Medium): We went in search of the world’s hardest language. “English is pretty simple. Learning to speak Ubykh or !Xóõ presents more of a challenge.”

“With all that in mind, which is the hardest language? On balance The Economist would go for Tuyuca, of the eastern Amazon. It has a sound system with simple consonants and a few nasal vowels, so is not as hard to speak as Ubykh or !Xóõ. […]

Most fascinating is a feature that would make any journalist tremble. Tuyuca requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”. English can provide such information, but for Tuyuca that is an obligatory ending on the verb. Evidential languages force speakers to think hard about how they learned what they say they know.”

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