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“The Most Difficult Language”: Jackie Chan Once Had to Struggle for Basic Necessities Due to Problems With English

Published 12/16/2022, 6:30 PM EST

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Martial arts icon Jackie Chan is a tough guy, but the English language often trips him up. According to him English is the hardest language in the world. Building his career was not the only thing he had to struggle with. Being confronted with a whole new language after moving to the States was just as hard for the iconic actor.

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In a 1996 interview, Chan talks about the communication hurdles he had to face during his early days in the United States.


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Jackie Chan ‘s struggles with English

Does Jackie Chan think English is an easy language? “NOOOOO. You know… English is… I think it’s the most difficult language. First time when I came to the United States I just knew Hello my name is Jackie Chan”, said Chan.

Native English speakers might not always empathize with the struggles that a non-native English speaker might face. However, it was particularly hard for Chan to survive in the States without knowing proper English.


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When Chan came to California, he didn’t know a word of this foreign language. This affected his day-to-day life as he struggled to get basic amenities. “I… I… even I don’t know how to order food”, he said.

Chan’s struggles in Hollywood

Basics are not the only thing he struggled with when he was in Hollywood. While he was filming Rush Hour, Chan was still learning to speak English. That definitely gave birth to a lot of bloopers during the shooting of the movie.


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The broken delivery and repeated takes frustrated the actor and martial arts champion to no end. The Kung Fu master says, “To me, action scenes are so easy, but dialogue scenes drive me crazy. The directors and producers want me to speak everything perfectly. I want to ask them ‘Can I speak Jackie Chan English?’.”

The actor definitely suffered drawbacks in Hollywood because of his language barrier. Even though he showcased versatility and promise, he had niche roles that were limited due to his stunted prowess of the English language.


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Watch this story: “Hero of Mine”: Arnold Schwarzenegger bowed down to martial arts legend Jackie Chan during their iconic reunion in 2019  

Do you think Chan’s language barriers limited his choice of roles in the glitzy world of Hollywood? Let us know in the comments.

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Written by:

Apoorva Behl


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Edited by:

Anupama Ghosh