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aw   Aruba

Most phonetic languages.

May 2013

I couldn't find a thread on this so here goes:

1. I'm a native English speaker and the disconnect between spelling and pronunciation is pretty large.

2. Spanish is my second language and it is pretty darn phonetic; I've read that Spanish and Swahili are two of the most phonetic languages since if you can pronounce a word, you can spell it VERY easily. (Thus, you don't have spelling bees in Spanish)

3. My question: what other languages are very phonetic? The thing that gives me pause about French, and to a lesser extent Portuguese, is the fact that they aren't that phonetic. Well, at least less so than Spanish.

4. German is a language that I've always been interested in since it is apparently very phonetic, but according to the FSI it is about 25% harder for an English speaker to learn than romance languages, it isn't as widespread as French or Portuguese, and I wouldn't get a Romance language "discount" by knowing Spanish. This may seem weird to you guys, but for me to get excited about a language it has to have a lot of native speakers, be widespread, be very influential world-wide, be relatively easier for English speakers, and also ideally be phonetic. Thus, I haven't ever learned a third language but I'm still deciding between Portuguese, French, and German.

I like Brazilian music but also have a strong interest in World War 2; I read a lot of books about the topic. With French...I don't have any big interest in anything the language has to offer, unfortunately. I joke that I don't learn French because I don't want to get "smug." My friends that took French in HS tended to look down on us Spanish students because French was considered more prestigious and higher-class. But I didn't mind.

(actually, German is pretty much only spoken in Europe and as a second language in Eastern Europe. Germany only had its colonies in Africa for about 20 years and there are very few speakers in Nambia, Togo, and the other colony that they had in Africa, as well as German East Indies)

German: A "powerful" language, especially in Europe, phonetic, not "super" hard like Arabic or Chinese but it is not widely spoken outside of Europe.

Portuguese: A lot of countries speak it and Brazil, according to many surveys and studies, has a VERY poor English level. Thus, it would be more useful to know Portuguese to communicate with them. Also, it would be much easier learning Portuguese than the other two due to my Spanish background. But in my lifetime it will always be less developed than German-speaking countries.

French: Probably the language that I could use more face to face since I live relatively close to Canada, though it is mostly Quebec that speaks it in North America. It would be hard to learn, but much easier than German for me. Unfortunately, I don't have a burning desire to learn it. The good news is that I learned Spanish just by habit and it just became part of my life; it's not hard for me to develop an attachment to a language. Thanks!