The United States Foreign Services Institute
groups languages into four categories, according to the average time required for an English-speaking learner to become proficient in them. For example:
24 weeks: Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish, Swedish
36 weeks: German, Haitian Creole, Indonesian, Malay, Swahili
44 weeks: Albanian, Bengali, Burmese, Czech, Farsi, Finnish, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Kazakh, Mongolian, Polish, Russian, Somali, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Vietnamese (and many others)
88 weeks: Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin
Language Log has produced an alternative
ranking of language difficulty, based on a survey of the blog’s readers. These are some examples. The higher the score, the harder the language (e.g. written Chinese at 5.11 is harder than Spanish at 1.7).
Mandarin (spoken) 3.5
Chinese (written) 5.11
Royal College of Psychiatrists has information about mental health: on depression, shyness, stress, eating disorders, therapies, etc.
Some of it has been
translated into various languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu.
الاكتئاب عند الرجال
Каннабис и психическое здоровье
Preocupaciones y ansiedades
سگریٹ نوشی کے ذہنی صحت پراثرات
Information is also available from
Mental Health in Multicultural Australia in several languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.
Chinese Mental Health Association (in the UK) has information in English and Chinese.
Did you know that blind people gesture when they speak? Or that blind Turkish speakers gesture like sighted Turkish speakers – but differently from English speakers?
In this video linguists Lauren Gawne and Gretchen McCulloch discuss why we gesture when we talk:
Lingthusiasm blog post includes the links mentioned in the video, such as Blind people gesture and Gesturing in a second language.
World Atlas of Language Structures is “a large database of structural (phonological, grammatical, lexical) properties of languages”.
For example, in some languages
certain pronouns are used for politeness. The atlas classifies languages according to second person pronouns that:
encode no politeness distinction (e.g. English, Swahili)
encode a binary politeness distinction (e.g. German, Russian, Mandarin)
encode multiple politeness distinctions (e.g. Hindi, Hungarian)
are dominantly avoided for politeness reasons (e.g. Japanese, Vietnamese, Indonesian).
You can see the distribution of these four on