Given the complexity of some languages, when translating, it is essential to hire a professional and experienced translator. This masters the target language and has the necessary specialist knowledge to create a high-quality translation that is completely understandable for the target audience. A translation job can be a real challenge. But which languages ​​are the most difficult to translate?

With around 7000 different languages ​​worldwide , the size of the challenge depends on the translator and their mother tongue . For example, best certified translators will find it much easier to translate a text from French or Italian, which like Spanish are Romance languages, than a text from Chinese or Korean.

But regardless of the translator’s language, some languages ​​are generally more difficult to translate than others. Here is UNESCO’s ranking of the most difficult languages ​​to translate , in order of least difficulty to most difficult.

The 8 most difficult languages ​​to translate according to UNESCO

1 – French

Although, as said, French is easier for a Spanish translator than other languages, the language is considered one of the most difficult languages ​​to translate due to the complicated grammar and pronunciation that can be difficult to master.

Likewise , translation becomes more and more difficult as the distance between the source language and the target language increases . As already mentioned, it is easier to translate a text from French to Spanish or vice versa than from Chinese to French.

2 – Germanic languages

Translations from Germanic languages ​​are also very complex , especially German, Danish and Norwegian. In addition, these languages ​​are also very difficult to learn.

The difficulty lies in the complex grammatical and orthographic structure . Like Finnish (see below), they are inflectional languages ​​in which the form of words varies depending on their grammatical relationship to the other words in the same sentence.

3 – Finnish

Finnish (a branch of the Uralic languages) is an ever-changing language (inflectional and agglutinative) in which words change form depending on their function within the sentence in which they occur. A great challenge, because the translator must have a perfect command of the language in order to be able to produce an accurate translation.

4 – Japanese

Japanese, has grammatical formulas called keigo, or honorifics , and this is the main difficulty we encounter when translating.

These are expressions that indicate respect for the interlocutor’s social position . Therefore, in addition to mastering the grammar and vocabulary, translating from Japanese also requires a great deal of understanding and knowledge of Japanese culture.

5 – Icelandic

The challenge with Icelandic is that it is a language with very old rules , belonging to the Norse Germanic languages, which also has a specific vocabulary and vowels that can vary depending on conjugation and declension.

6 – Standard Arabic

Standard Arabic is one of the most difficult languages, both learning and translating is a challenge . It has its own alphabet, it is written from right to left and very complex grammar and spelling characterize this language. A challenge for every translator.

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7 – Greek

Although simpler than Ancient Greek, Greek is still a difficult language to translate , which, like Arabic, has a specialized alphabet and very complex rules for stress and pronunciation. It is imperative that you master this in order to understand everything correctly.

8 – Chinese

We close the ranking of the most difficult languages ​​to translate with Chinese, a tonal language where intonation and pronunciation are paramount . Factors that the translator must master perfectly, because any small deviation can completely change the meaning of the same word.These are the 8 most difficult languages ​​to translate according to UNESCO . You will achieve the best translation results if you hire a translator whose native language is the target language of the text to be translated