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The Seven Most “Impossible” Languages On Earth To Translate


What are the most impossible-to-translate languages out there? We’d think many of you would go straight for Chinese, Arabic, or Japanese. And very few would think about Hungarian, for example. In all honesty, all languages on this earth are hard to translate, especially if the translation is done by the wrong person. Much like in a relationship, if the translator and the source language are comfortable with one another, their relationship (or translation) will be a success.

Finnish is another example. Should you think about learning this one, for you or for translations… good luck with that! This language is spoken in a way and then written in a totally different way. To make matters worse, Finnish people use a colloquial form of the language, not the official one. It’s like you’d speak Banat Romanian written in Maramures Romanian. You’d laugh if you were a Romanian, trust us.

What makes these languages so hard to translate after all?


By far the most “impossible” and expensive language to translate, Chinese is no joke. You’d think it’s a more accessible language thanks to its 1.5 billion native speakers, right? Well, the truth is that Chinese to English, or to any other language, is usually done by non-native speakers of this intricate, mysterious language. This makes the entire process of translation that much more demanding, no matter the nature of the document that needs to be translated.

impossible languages

Chinese or Mandarin comes in many forms and dialects. And they’re all different when it comes to grammar and pronunciation. Of course, they are! Chinese is also a tonal language, meaning any character can and will be read in multiple ways and have countless meanings. Speaking of characters, as there are no letters in Chinese, the most impressive of them all is biang, which is made out of 58 pen strokes. Fifty-eight!


There is no future tense in Arabic. They only have past and present. If this is normal for natives, when you try to translate the language into others, a whole new world of problematic situations comes to the surface. Translators have to make the new text sound natural to their audience. Arabic is among the languages with the most regional dialects on the planet, which is in itself a challenge. When you translate from Arabic into English or any other language, these features lead to astronomical confusion for linguists.

And of course, much like with the Aladdin story, this is not the end of it! Arabic has no vowels, or at least no written ones, although they can be heard. Letters can also be written down in four different ways a piece. The difference is in the place the letter takes within the word. The same word can mean totally different things if one letter is drawn the other way around. All these nuances of the fascinating Arabic language make it one of the most difficult to translate on the entire globe.


Thai is a tonal language. The same words will therefore have different meanings based on how you pronounce them. Because of this, Thai translations are nearly impossible. In order to be able to translate from Thai, the translator has to be well-informed in a certain field and a master of the language. Oh, and get this, there are no capital letters in Thai. And no spaces between words. Nospacesbetweenwords!

Another thing is, adverbs and adjectives come after the words they describe, not before. Translating from English into Thai, for example, implies perfect knowledge of both languages. No wonder Thai is among the most expensive languages at any translation agency. When it comes to Thai translators, they are rare and very costly!


Our neighbours have a complicated language. Very complicated! So complex, in fact, that it is considered to be among the hardest languages to learn and translate on Earth. Thanks to a mixture of past events and historical inputs, this small country in the heart of Europe got to speak one of those languages that puzzle linguists every day.

limbi imposibile

Hungarian is part of the Finno-Ugric languages. It comes with 35 grammatical cases, to get off on the wrong foot. This is already an important headache producer when it comes to technical texts, as well as literature and other content types. And to make matters worse, Hungarian has possessive forms and tenses most other languages don’t. Ó Istenem!


Another language that gives translators nightmares is Finnish. It made it hard for the brilliant Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory to learn it, and he’s a genius! The problem with this language is the very complex grammar. Moreover, the language is hard to translate because there are a lot of colloquialisms used when spoken in daily life.

To put it bluntly, every single word is pronounced differently than how you write it on paper. If translations from/to Finnish are hard, interpreting is at a whole different level of difficulty and surrealism. Just the best linguists in the world can take on a serious Finnish interpreting session that would please even Santa Claus himself.


impossible languages

Although a European language, Polish is an “impossible” language thanks to its many irregularities and special characteristics, when compared to English, for example. One of which is about the declensions, which although two in English, turn into 14 when you work with Polish. Fourteen! There are also 22 ways in which you can say the word “two”. And as there’s no earthquake without a secondary shake, there are no lexical rules when you put together a Polish sentence. You don’t have to go for the subject-verb-adverb construction. You can speak as you please!


The language of Genghis Khan is difficult mostly thanks to the great ruler himself. By occupying many territories around his home country, Khan also took over the languages of the people who were under his reign. This is why Mongolian is a mixture of Chinese, Russian and Finnish. Yes, the most “impossible” languages on earth are making this “ultimate” language. Mongols use the Cyrillic alphabet now, which was not the case back when the empire was in its full power. Because of this feature, Mongolian is one of the hardest languages to work with for Europeans.