German is not Necessarily more Difficult than English: Evidence from a comparison among English, German and Hanyu Pinyin

Jian-xiong WU


In the area of foreign language learning in China, it is a widely-received view that German is more difficult to learn than English. Few people have realized that the factors that make German difficult to learn can in fact make it easier to learn. This article argues that it is not necessarily the case. Through comparing three pairs of relations in German, English and Hanyu-Pinyin, the author shows that there is a similarity between German and Hanyu-Pinyin in terms of pronunciation and spelling. The relations set up and observed in this article are those between vowel letters and their names, between the names of vowel letter and their sounds in words, between the sounds of vowel letters and their written forms in words. The conclusion at the end may to a certain extent change the generally received claim.
Key words: phoneme, grapheme, orthography
Résumé: En Chine, dans le milieu de l’enseignement des langues étrangères, nombreux sont les chercheurs qui disent que l’allemand est plus difficile à apprendre que l’anglais, mais peu d’entre eux essaient de trouver les choses « faciles » dans cette langue « difficile ». Nous essayerons dans le présent article de trouver des choses plus faciles à maîtriser en allemand qu’en anglais, en faisant des comparaisons entre le Pinyin et ces deux langues. Ces comparaisons portent principalement sur trois relations : relation entre les voyelles et leur nom; relation entre le nom des voyelles et leur prononciation dans un mot ; relation entre la prononciation des voyelles dans un mot et l’épellation de ce mot. Le but de cette recherche est de changer en quelques sortes le préjugé qui dit que « l’allemand est plus difficile que l’anglais de tous les points de vue».
Mots-Clés: phonème, graphème, orthographe

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