"Why is English so hard to pronounce?"

The title of the post is not my opinion, but is what the man of the video asks himself.


My opinion is that it makes stronger the point that it’s very hard to try to learn a language with rules (grammar rules, pronunciation rules, and so on).
I have no idea if it happens with most of the languages.

What do you think?

While the actor on the clip (edar?) expressed his surprise at the fact that those words were pronounced differently I was surprised at the fact that he could easily distinguish between those sounds.


It seems to me that the man is an English native (so he is perfectly aware of the differences in pronuntiation), and he’s only talking about how much difficult is English for foreign learners.

You are right, he was only talking about that, having no any idea what was difficult to me.

no any idea about what can really be difficult to a non-native speaker, the one who had never heard a native speech brfore becoming a grown-up :slight_smile:

I watched the video you had referred to in your message, and felt that he was entitled to be called a good tutor or teacher. I really enjoyed his style of presentation. Thank you.

Yes, I agree, the stile of his presentation is fascinating. Who is he? As Steve says, anyone could be a great tutor. Even a high-payed sale-person in retirement :slight_smile: ( I have nothing against him, just I have nothing to do now, waiting in a queue)

For my part, I enjoy reading grammar books written well, and they are good companions when I am writing in English, which is not my native language. I think that some grammatical rules are easy to understand, but the others are not; we don’t have to learn all grammatical rules by reading grammar books, and we cannot memorize all grammatical rules because there are a lot of rules that are not written even in grammar books.

If you are studying mathematics you cannot disregard the fundamental rules in mathematics. If you are a computer programer, any mistake in grammar , spelling, and even punctuations in your instruction code cannot be tolerated. But happily, we humans can breathe, walk , speak, and so on without knowing the complete mechanism of our behavior, and we cannot fully describe the mechanism in detail.

I think that french is harder :frowning: I’m really having a hard time trying to do it right. English was hard too but not as much.

I can’t speak on behalf of foreigners, but I’d imagine the key to overcoming these types of problems is lots of listening, hearing these words many times in different contexts. But I don’t know if it matters much when communicating. I’ve got a number of Finnish friends who often say that something is ‘gewd’ instead of ‘good’.

Guess the guy went to jail for 5 years for posting videos! he’s really funny, has a lot of videos and was a Youtube sensation until he was caught! He violated his probation which I guess was not to have a computer in the first place! so sad in a way but I guess he was a sex offender…

Chinese is much more difficult for westerners when it comes to the tones.English is easier than French.

trust me, those R’s in french are a killer! but I will say that chinese is probably harder to pronounce than any other language.

Yes, as for Japanese, I also think that Chinese is more difficult than any other language because there are many similar sound but a bit little different ones such as ju, qu, jiu, chu, zi , etc.

Ok, so some similar sounds are difficult to distinguish (for an untrained grown up foreigner). That difficulty may be related to, but it is not exactly the same thing as the difficulty to pronounce a language (the title of this thread). And the difficulty in distinguishing the sounds is not what the clip of that guy was about, right? Because the clip is about a few English words that are spelled similarly but pronounced, differently, what a horror!

                 The English just have holes in their brains!
                  Proved by the magnetic resonance imaging!


And we, guys, just have normal brains. No holes.

I’m glad it’s just the English, not Scots, Welsh or Americans who have holes in their brains. The jury is out on Canadians, Australians, and other anglophones, I suppose. I can’t wait for the next
update on this one.

It’s a good thing Rasana told us about how Russians get into heated discussions, then make up.

@my English “cousins”=I don’t believe have any more breezeways in your brains than those of us on this side of the pond.

I don’t believe YOU have any more breezeways.
Ilya, I’ll look at your article in detail.

Yataka and dilleme, I have read it again, and it occurred you do have the (same?) hole: “The model thus helps clarify why a Japanese individual who learns English late in life has difficulty distinguishing between the English phonemes /r/ and /l/: the English sounds both fall into the same hole…”

We know that the brain forms patterns to deal with the input that it receives through the senses. These patterns, as I understand it, consist of teams of neurons that have fired together to form networks.

If a person hears a lot of Japanese, or English or whatever mother tongue, the brain will form patterns to enable the brain to deal with the sounds of that language. Other sounds will be excluded, in order to make it more efficient to deal with the language that matters, the mother tongue. The same is true for other kinds of language patterns, gender, cases, prepositions, and even the relationship between spelling and pronunciation. Especially in early childhood, the patterns of the native language really take hold.

We need to remember, though, that the brain remains plastic throughout our lives. New neurons and neural networks are constantly being created (neurogenesis) so the issue is how to help the adolescent and adult language learner’s brain create the new neural networks needed to cope with new sounds or other patterns of a new language.

The issue in the first video on this thread is not so much that of hearing sounds, but rather that of not being able to create the necessary pattern in the brain in order to deal with the variability of English pronunciation, which does follow a pattern, but a complex one. We could add into the equation the people who pronounce the “l” in “would”. The problem is the tendency to use the spelling rules or patterns of one’s native language when pronouncing another language.

We need a lot of listening and noticing to liberate us from the tyranny of the rules and patterns of the native language. We also need a strong desire to do so, and a willingness to let go of the security of the native language. These elements of attitude are often lacking in the adult learner, whereas in the adolescent learner these attitudinal obstacles do not exist to the same extent.

I’ve read a book (The third ear) where the author stated that native English people who lived in Hong Kong for a long time but didn’t speak a word in Cantonese tried to learn to speak Mandarin. The result was shocking - they pronounced Mandarin words exactly like native Cantonese speakers. They weren’t aware of that. Living in Hong Kong, immersing themselves in the language (even though they didn’t speak it) helped their brain to formulate certain patterns that native Cantonese speakers have. Interesting, very interesting.

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