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Map: Language Difficulty Ranking For English Speakers

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Language Difficulty Map

Language Difficulty Ranking For English Speakers

Learning a new language as an adult is big undertaking – so if you want the best value for your time, choose wisely.

For most people, there are no time constraints on becoming fluent in another language, but for the Foreign Service Institute – the U.S. government’s main provider of foreign affairs training – quantifying the “learn time” of various languages is vital. American diplomats, for example, need to become proficient in the official language of their posting country, and it helps immensely to know how long that might take.

The FSI organizes languages into five broad categories based on how different each language and culture is to the United States:

Category I: The Quick Ones

Category I languages are the easiest for English speakers, who can reach reading and speaking proficiency within about half a year of intense study. There is a mix Romance and Germanic languages in this classification, including Dutch, Swedish, French, Spanish, and Italian.

It might be surprising also to learn that Afrikaans is in this “easiest” category as well. It uses 26 letters in its alphabet like English (although it also contains additional phonetic sounds), and has a lot in common with modern Dutch.

Category II: Es ist schwer zu sagen

Though German is very closely related to English, there are grammar quirks that bump it up in difficulty. FSI estimates it would take 30 weeks of intense study to become proficient in German.

Category III: Intermediate

Category III languages are mainly spoken in Southeast Asia, and they include Indonesian and Malay. Swahili also counts as a Category III language. (Note: there are no Category III languages spoken in Europe.)

Category IV: For people who like a challenge

Category IV includes the most challenging European languages for English speakers to pick up. Here you’ll find Slavic and Baltic languages such as Polish, Croatian, and Latvian, as well as Greek, Turkish, and Icelandic.

This category also includes Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian. These Uralic languages have the distinction of being particularly challenging for English speakers to master as they have little in common with any other European languages. FSI estimates it would take a year of intense study to become proficient in these languages.

Category V: For people who really like a challenge

Languages in category V are the most challenging for English speakers because they generally have completely unfamiliar scripts and cultural assumptions. These languages are most common in Asia and the Middle East.

While Mandarin, Arabic, and Korean are sufficiently difficult to comprehend, Japanese has a reputation for being the toughest in this group thanks, in part, to multiple writing styles.

Mastering Japanese could take years, but FSI estimates that it’ll be at least 88 weeks before you’re chatting your way through Tokyo.

べんきょうがんばってください。

This map was inspired by one created by Redditor, Fummy.

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Business

Flowchart: Are You Working for a Toxic Boss?

Most people have had bad bosses, but is your boss toxic? This flowchart helps you discover if you have a toxic boss and what to do about it.

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toxic boss

Flowchart: Are You Working for a Toxic Boss?

The experience of less-than-ideal work situations are common, and the global pandemic has likely heightened challenges for bosses and employees alike. How can mediocre or outright hostile leadership impact your ability to work well?

This flowchart from Resume.io helps you figure out if you’ve got a toxic boss weighing you down. It covers seven archetypes of toxic bosses, and how to respond to each one.

The 7 Types of Toxic Bosses

Barbara Kellerman, a professor of public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School identifies seven types of toxic bosses that can exist.

NumberToxic Boss TypeDescription
#1Incompetent BossUnable or unwilling to do their job well
#2Rigid BossConfuses inflexibility with strength
#3Intemperate BossLacks self-knowledge and self-control
#4Callous BossLacks empathy and kindness
#5Corrupt BossSteals or cheats to promote their own interests
#6Insular BossIs cliquish or unreachable
#7Evil BossCauses pain to further their sense of power and dominance

Some bosses simply don’t have the capacity to do their jobs, which makes it more difficult for their employees. Others can be corrupt or callous, creating a highly unmotivating work environment.

But how many people are in this situation?

To give a few quick examples, around 13% of all employees in Europe work under a toxic boss. In the U.S., a whopping 75% say they have left a job primarily because of a bad boss.

What’s so Bad about a Bad Boss?

Bosses can make or break your job experience. Having a toxic boss can cause your quality of work to suffer, which can then trickle down to impact your overall career.

In fact, Harvard Business Review found that a toxic work environment can lead to decreased motivation and employee disengagement. This has significant knock-on effects such as:

  • 37% higher absenteeism
  • 60% more errors in their work
  • 18% lower productivity

According to the same study, this can cause companies to have 16% lower profitability and a 65% lower share price over time.

The physical side effects are not to be underestimated, either. One Swedish study found that a bad boss who increases your job strain can, in tandem, increase your chance of cardiac arrest by 50%. Additionally, a study out of Stanford found that mismanagement in the American workplace and subsequent stress could potentially be responsible for 120,000 deaths per year.

Tips to Deal with a Toxic Boss

Bad bosses can hurt the company, the overall work environment, and can impact your professional growth and personal health.

So, what can you do about it?

NumberToxic Boss TypeSolution
#1Incompetent BossUse initiative
#2Rigid BossUse the power of persuasion
#3Intemperate BossLook for opportunities
#4Callous BossAsk for a 1-on-1 meeting
#5Corrupt BossFind co-workers who share your concerns
#6Insular BossOffer them opportunities to open up
#7Evil BossTake a stand

Different kinds of bosses require different approaches, and some simply aren’t worth putting up with. For instance, taking initiative with an incompetent boss is one relatively easy solution, but having a 1-on-1 with a callous boss takes more effort. An evil boss requires intervention from HR.

If you don’t have a toxic boss, consider yourself lucky. Here are two ways to keep your working relationship strong:

  • Take initiative
  • Keep up open communication
  • Ask for constant feedback so you know where you stand
  • Under-promise and over-deliver

What Can Bosses Do?

Toxic bosses can have disastrous consequences on employees and companies. According to one Gallup survey, at minimum, 75% of the reasons for voluntary turnover can be influenced by managers.

After looking at some of the ways employees can address toxic bosses, how can bosses ensure their work environment is healthy? Harvard Business Review recommends four main things:

  • Encourage social connections
  • Show empathy
  • Go out of your way to help
  • Encourage employees to talk to you—especially about their problems

The future of work may be changing, with remote work becoming more popular and feasible. This can pose problems in creating a strong work culture.

However, if bosses and employees can work together to foster a positive and healthy work environment, everyone, including the bottom line, will benefit.

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Misc

Figures of Speech: 40 Ways to Improve your Writing

Figures of speech are important literary tools that can help improve your writing. Here are 40 different types, and how to use them.

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Figures of Speech: 40 Ways to Improve your Writing

View the high resolution of this infographic by clicking here.

Figurative speech plays an important role in our ability to communicate with one another. It helps create compelling narratives, and evoke emotion in readers.

With this in mind, this periodic table graphic by Visual Communication Guy groups the 40 different figures of speech into two distinct categories—schemes and tropes.

What’s the difference between the two, and how can they help improve your writing?

Types of Schemes

In linguistics, a scheme is language that plays with sentence structure to make a sentence smoother, or even more persuasive, using syntax, word order, or sounds.

Here are four different ways that schemes fiddle with sentence structure.

Balance

This is especially important when trying to make a sentence smoother. A good example of balance is parallelism, which is when you use the same grammatical form in at least two parts of a sentence.

  • Not parallelism: “She likes reading, writing, and to paint on the weekends.”
  • Parallelism: “She likes reading, writing, and painting on the weekends.”

Word Order

Changing the position of words can have an impact on the way a sentence is understood. For instance, anastrophe is the deliberate reordering of words in a sentence to either emphasize a certain point, or distinguish a character as different.

  • An example of anastrophe: “The greatest teacher, failure is.” -Yoda

Omission and/or Inclusion

Omissions and inclusions are useful in order to build suspense or add emotional expression to text. For example, an ellipsis is a form of punctuation that uses three dots (…) to either replace a word in a sentence or indicate a break in speech or an incomplete thought.

  • Example of an ellipsis: “I was thinking of calling her Susie. Well, at least I was until…never mind. Forget I said anything.”

Repetition

Similar to the other types of schemes, repetition allows you to emphasize a certain point you want the reader to pay attention to, but it’s also used to create rhymes and poetry.

A well-known literary device, alliteration uses the same consonant sound at the start of each word in a sentence. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same letter, so long as the sound is the same.

  • A popular example is this nursery rhyme: “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
  • Another example: Phillip’s feet. (different letter, but same sound)

Types of Tropes

While schemes play around with the mechanics of a sentence, tropes stray from the literal or typical meanings to evoke emotion, and keep a reader engaged and interested.

Tropes help create an alternative sense of reality, using these five strategies.

Reference

These are literary devices that help paint a deeper picture of a concept, using a reference to something related, but different.

Metaphors and similes are common examples of references, but a lesser-known type of reference is a synecdoche, which is when a small part of something is used in reference to the thing as a whole.

  • An example of a synecdoche: “Check out my new wheels.” (where wheels refer to a car)

Wordplay & Puns

This type of literary device plays with sounds or meaning to add depth to a sentence. For instance, a syllepsis uses one word to create parallels between two separate thoughts, while an onomatopoeia is a figure of speech that uses words (either real or made-up) or even letters to describe a sound.

  • An example of a syllepsis: “When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes.” – E.B. White
  • An example of an onomatopoeia: “Ding-dong” (the sound of a doorbell)

Substitutions

This is when someone replaces a word or thought with something else. For instance, anthimeria is the use of a word in a grammatical form it’s not generally used in, while periphrasis is when someone intentionally elaborates on a point, instead of expressing it succinctly.

  • An anthimeria: “I could use a good sleep.” (Sleep is normally a verb, but here it’s used as a noun)
  • Example of a periphrasis: Instead of saying, “It’s cold outside.” you say, “The temperature of the atmosphere when I exited my home this morning was quite chilly and exceptionally uncomfortable.”

Overstatement and/or Understatement

These are intentionally exaggerated, or downplayed situations that aren’t meant to be taken literally. A hyperbole is an example of an overstatement, while litotes are the opposite—deliberate understatements.

  • An example of a hyperbole: I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse.
  • While a litotes looks like this: It’s not rocket science.

Inversions

This type of literary technique uses contradictory ideas and indirect questions for dramatic effect, or to emphasize a point. For instance, an oxymoron is when two contradictory words are used back-to-back.

  • An example of an oxymoron: Act natural

Using Figures of Speech to Craft Content

First, let’s just address it…Yes, I did use alliteration in the above header, and yes, now I’m using an ellipsis in this sentence.

Because let’s face it—in the age of information overload, writing articles that are interesting and compelling to readers is a top priority for online content creators. And using figurative language is a good way to keep readers attention.

So, if you’re a content creator yourself (or simply looking to beef up your knowledge on linguistics), hopefully this graphic has helped you on that journey.

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