Is Italian a difficult language?



Before starting to draw up this chapter, I did a quick internet search and found a recurring theme:
Italian has a different degree of difficulty depending on your native language. For a Spaniard, it is easier than for a Chinese.
– Thank you for the amazing, priceless revelation;

Not all students face the same difficulties in their attempt to learn the Italian language. It depends not only on individual interest or available time, but also on the language group one belongs to.
Let’s take Slavic languages as an example. Since all Slavic languages lack articles, it is especially difficult for learners to cope with the rather complicated system of articles in Italian.
I have met Russians, Ukrainians, Czechs who have a perfect command of Italian and are able to interact at the highest level, but still leave out articles in front of nouns in the most common situations. On the other hand, since Slavic languages are mostly based on the perfective-imperfective dual system (in Russian, verbs must be learned in pairs), speakers of these languages don’t usually have any problem in understanding the different use of passato prossimo and imperfetto.
Britons, however, who don’t have any imperfect in their own language, are often at their wits end when it comes to understanding the different uses of the two tenses, above all when it comes to “nuances.” Moreover, in English there is no adjective inflection and this can prove to be a huge handicap when it comes to “noun-adjective” agreement in Italian.
Germans, apart from some natural challenges in pronunciation, have difficulty understanding the use of the gerund since there is nothing like that in their language. On the other hand, they have a rather complex system of adjective inflection, which follows three different patterns, so in this respect, Italian turns out to the proverbial piece of cake for them.

So…is Italian a difficult language?
It is difficult to assess objectively how hard it is to learn a language, but there are three elements related to pronunciation which we can use to make that judgement.

a) Italian phonetics: spelling-sound correspondence
Italian phonetics is rather regular, easy to learn. With a few exceptions, you can anticipate the sound of a letter when you see it written; spelling-sound correspondence is almost completely regular. On this point, among the European languages, English is by far the most difficult.
Naturally there is always some smart-aleck who brings up the theory that Italian phonetics is very complicated because there are actually 30 sounds, against the 21 traditional letters of our alphabet, (not considering J, K, W, X, Y, which we borrowed from other languages).
“Quatsch!” as the Germans say – (I like this sound, so effective, which corresponds more or less to “fiddlesticks!”). I disagree; Italian pronunciation is easily predictable and hardly ever leads you astray.
First of all, in most cases, you can easily guess the sound when you see the written word, and the only important difference concerns the vowels “O” and “E”. Here, indeed, we have two variants: open”; (only possible when the syllable is stressed) andclosed”. In any case, people will easily understand if you pronounce an open “O” as a closed “O” or the other way around.
Then, there are only a handful of homographs, words which are spelled the same, but have a different meaning, depending on the open or closed “O” or “E” : pesca (fishing) – pɛsca (peach). In such cases, the meaning of a word is clear from its context in a sentence.
On the other hand, the choice between “sound” or “mute” S can be difficult sometimes, but here no worries, the same Italians use this letter in a rather discretional way, according on geographical area and personal disposition. (you’ll hear as many Italian sayroSa“ and “roZa” ) And since the sound “gn” as in “gnocchi” is easily assimilated by every foreigner, the only very difficult sound to pronounce is gl “ʎ” , when it’s a digraph (as in the article “Gli”).

b) Vowel endings
Italian words are never too short (not considering, however, articles, interjections, prepositions) and, since all words end in a very clearly uttered vowel, the listener’s life is not too hard.

c) Grammar
Italian, as most neo-Latin languages, has a rather complex grammar, with seven moods [in English there are only three.] Italian has a lot of tenses and conjugations, and a stack of irregular verbs, which require a certain effort to memorize.

These “complications” may, however, be a benefit for the listener.
Are you skilled enough in English to catch at once the difference among: I go…I’d go…I’ll go, especially when you hear a native speaker chatting away? Learners of Italian, however, (even a scarcely trained ear) have little trouble catching the difference among: Io vado,…Io andrei…Io andrò.
My conclusion, from my personal perceptions and the opinions I have gathered, Italian is maybe a bit more difficult than Spanish and much easier than French, but your personal point of view could be different.

As always, a feedback is more than welcome. .