Method and Conclusion. See here.
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 are rated 1-6, easiest to hardest. 1 = easiest, 2 = moderately easy to average, 3 = average to moderately difficult, 4 = very difficult, 5 = extremely difficult, 6 = most difficult of all. Ratings are impressionistic.
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. Level 6 languages = more than 4 years.
This post will look at the Somali language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.
Somali has one of the strangest proposition systems on Earth. It actually has no real prepositions at all. Instead it has preverbal particles and possessives that serve as prepositions.
Here is how possessives serve as prepositions:
“because of the heat”
Here we have the use of a preverbal particle serving as a preposition:
kú ríd shandádda
Into put the-suitcase.
“Put it into the suitcase.”
Somali combines four “prepositions” with four deictic particles to form its prepositions.
There are four basic “prepositions”:
These combine with a four different deictic particles:
toward the speaker
away from the speaker
toward each other
away from each other
Hence you put the “prepositions” and the deictic particles together in various ways. Both tend to go in front of and close to the verb:
Nínkíi bàan cèelka xádhig kagá sóo saaray.
Well-the rope with-from towards me I raised.
“I pulled the man out of the well with a rope.”
Way inoogá warrámi jireen.
They us-to-about news gave.
“They used to give us news about it.”
Prepositions are the hardest part of the Somali language for the learner.
Somali deals with verbs of motion via deixis in a similar way that Georgian does. One reference point is the speaker and the other is any other entities discussed. Verbs of motion are formed using adverbs. Entities may move:
towards each other wada away from each other kala towards the speaker so away from the speaker si
kala durka "to separate" si gal "go in (away from the speaker)" so gal "come in (toward the speaker)"
At one time, Somali lacked orthographic consistency. There were four different orthographic systems in use – the Wadaad Arabic script, the Osmanya Ethiopic script, the Borama script and the Latin Somali alphabet. In 1972, Somali President Said Barre decreed that the Latin alphabet would be the official alphabet for the Somali language, so the Somali orthographic system is now stable.
All of the difficult sounds of Arabic are also present in Somali, another Semitic language – the alef, the ha, the qaf and the kha. There are long and short vowels. There is a retroflex d, the same sound found in South Indian languages. Somali also has 2 tones – high and low. For some reason, Somali tends to make it onto craziest phonologies lists.
Somali pluralization makes no sense and must be memorized. There are seven different plurals and there is no clue in the singular that tells you what form to use in the plural. See here:
áf “language” -> afaf “languages”
hoóyo “mother” -> hoyoóyin “mothers”
áabbe -> aabayaal
Note the tone shifts in all three of the plurals above.
There are four cases, absolutive, nominative, genitive and vocative. Despite the presence of both absolutive and nominative cases, Somali is not an ergative language. Absolutive case is the basic case of the noun, and nominative is the case given to the noun when a verb follows in the sentence. There are different articles depending on whether the noun was mentioned previously or not (similar to the articles a and the in English). The absolutive and nominative are marked not only on the noun but also on the article that precedes it.
In terms of difficulty, Somali is much harder than Persian and probably about as difficult as Arabic.
Somali gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.