The Most Difficult Language in the World! – Floobenflahter

Red Tea Green Tea

To make 'Green Tea' you need to find the source of 'Green Water' right?

If it’s like that on Floobenflahter, surely it’s like that on Earth?

A ‘Floobenflahter’ from the planet Floobenflahter landed here on earth and found himself standing in front of a cup of delicious Japanese Green Tea.

In Floobenflahter, water exists, but it’s a deep red colour. Nevertheless, Floobenflahter water tastes just like earth water, and provides Flooenflahterites with all the same benefits that water provides us earthlings.

There exists tea in Floobenflahter too, but it’s the same deep red colour as Floobenflahter water, it tastes the same as Floobenflahter water, and Flooenflahterites only drink it for medicinal purposes.

Our Floobenflahter friend became so fond of the taste of his new found Green Tea that upon arriving back in Floobenflahter he proclaimed to all in his land that:

“I now know what I am meant to do.  My lifetime quest will be to search for the natural spring of green water. Only then can I make my Green Tea and live happily ever after!”

For anyone that’s ever learned a second language, or for anyone that’s traveled for that matter, you’ve probably heard the following said by the native speakers of ‘X’ language:

“Our language is very difficult – one of the hardest languages to learn in the world”

or

“Our language isn’t easy for foreigners to learn”

Upon hearing that, I usually want to raise my thumb to my nose, extend the rest of my four fingers, wiggle them round and blow a big long dribble-laden raspberry!  I figure if a two-year-old from your country can speak it without any problems, I can speak it.

Language Envy?

For some people, it’s almost like a ‘dick’ thing (am I allowed to say that in blog-world?) – ‘Mine’s bigger and harder than yours’.  These attitudes might exist because there are some things in one’s own language that even to the native speakers are baffling – e.g. look at the spelling in English of the following words – ‘though’, ‘through’, ‘trough’, ‘thorough’, ‘thought’.

Some people have had bad experiences trying to explain things in their own language to learners of that language in the past and concluded that it’s all too difficult.  Some people were told by their teachers at school that their’s was the most difficult language to learn … probably because their teachers have had similar difficulties in trying to explain things in their language in the past.  They might believe this about their language because they constantly hear foreigners speaking it appallingly.  Someone who’s had a bad experience learning a language might conclude that it was all too hard and then the myth spreads.

Patterns and Logic Prevail

I believe that there are patterns and a system to be found with every language, and SOMEWAY, SOMEHOW logic will prevail in explaining why things are the way they are.  It’s finding those lines of logic that make it fascinating for me and they act as great learning devices / memory pegs.

Why have I put this post up now?  I usually use the Floobenflahter analogy to start my Cracking Thai Fundamentals classes – it gets the mindset right.  I have a bunch of cool posts planned, but I would like this analogy to be running in the background.

Back to the Floobenflahter analogy ..

Just like in the Floobenflahter analogy, many people embark on learning a language using their own language, precepts and understanding of ‘their language’ as filters / measures which in the end can send them down a rabbits hole that will never lead them to the place they wanted to go to.

Just because Water has the same taste and colour as tea in Floobenflahter land doesn’t mean that it has the same taste and colour on earth!

… and now you are ready for my next post!

Stuart Jay Raj is a polyglot who specializes in the languages and dialects spoken in South East Asia and China. His talents have allowed him to earn a professional living as a simultaneous interpreter in Thai, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Indonesian, among others, providing language and cultural training for multinational companies in the region and hosting his own TV programme on Thailand's Channel 5. He holds a degree in Cognitive and Applied Linguistics from Griffith University and has become an expert in the field of language acquisition with a strong track record of success. Stuart's background knowledge of Sanskrit, Khmer, Lao and various Chinese dialects and minority languages enables him to present a fascinating and unique perspective on the Thai language which makes everything fall logically into place.