A Look at the Buyang Language

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 Buyang language in terms of how difficult it would be for an English speaker to learn it.

Kam-Sui

Kra

Paha

According to a Fudan University study, Buyang in the third most phonologically complex language in the world. Buyang is a cluster of four related languages spoken by 1,900 people in Yunnan Province, China. Buyang has a completely wild consonant inventory.

It has a full set of both voiced and voiceless plain and aspirated stops, including voiceless uvulars. The contrast between aspirated and plain voiced stops is peculiar. The stop series also has distinctions between palatalized and rounded stops. It has a labialized voiceless palatal fricative and a voiceless dental aspirated lateral, both unusual sounds. It has four different voiceless aspirated nasals. It has voiceless y and w, both more odd sounds. It also has plain and labialized palatal glides.

That is one wild phonology.

Buyang gets a 5 rating, extremely hard to learn.

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Filed under Applied, Asia, China, Language Families, Language Learning, Linguistics, Regional

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