Despite the fact that Greek roots are found throughout the English language, Greek is among the hardest languages for English speakers to learn, according to studies conducted by the US Department of State.
The Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute, which trains diplomats and offers language courses, released linguistic data regarding the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn.
The information is arranged by how many hours of intensive study it takes to learn each language, and languages are ranked as easy, medium, and hard.
According to the data, most western European languages, such as French, Spanish, and Italian, are classified as easy to learn. Generally, English speakers can achieve proficiency in around 600 class hours, or 24 weeks.
Russian, Hindi, Thai, Polish and Greek, on the other hand, take around 44 weeks to learn, making them particularly time consuming and difficult for English speakers to learn.
While very difficult, there are a number of languages that are even more challenging than Greek to learn. The hardest languages, which include Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Arabic, can take more than a year and a half of intensive study to reach the proficiency level.
Greek in particular is especially hard to learn for English speakers, considering the fact that its grammar is structured in a completely different way.
Additionally, those who speak English will have to learn the Greek alphabet, a step that is not required to learn most European languages.
Greek is a difficult language, but the effort is worth it
Although learning a new language can be hard work, science has shown that learning a second language at any age slows down mental decline.
So even if it takes you one whole year of intensive studying, it is worth the trouble to be able to speak one of the oldest, richest and most diverse languages in the world.
In fact, Greek is one of the world’s oldest languages that is still in use today.
“It is a language that has been spoken for forty centuries without interruption. It has also been written in the same way, using the same alphabet, for 28 centuries, and it has held on to the same spelling rules for 24 centuries,” noted prominent Linguistics professor and former Education Minister Georgios Babiniotis.
Although now spoken as a native language by only 13.4 million people in Greece, Cyprus, and throughout the diaspora, Greek once was the lingua franca of the ancient world, spoken for business, education, politics, art, and science, much like English today.
The sheer number of English words that come from Greek roots — estimated to be over 150,000 — is evidence of the language’s persisting influence throughout time.
When studying medical terminology, the influence of Greek thought on modern science is particularly clear, as over three fourths of English words used in medicine come from the language.
Not only is Greek a beautiful language, it is also filled with thousands of years of history and influence.