Is English a Soft or Harsh Language for Communication?

In summary: Sorry, that is zero help. We cannot help you unless you address this:What do you mean by "soft voice?" Can you link to a video that has an example?Please post examples.
  • #1
fxdung
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English is a soft language. How to make the language soft? Is the tongue relax, not tense...?I ask this question because my voice is hard.English also rounded, less angular language than example Germany.Does soft voice lead to rounded, less angular voice?
 
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  • #2
fxdung said:
English is a soft language. How to make the language soft? Is the tongue relax, not tense...?I ask this question because my voice is hard.English also rounded, less angular language than example Germany.Does soft voice lead to rounded, less angular voice?
These descriptions of English pronunciation as 'soft' seem subjective and comparative. Among Frisian derived languages, spoken English probably contains fewer 'hard' sounds than high German. Even when accounting for regional differences in spoken English, different communities within those regions may pronounce words with variances attributable to social status, education, listening audience, subject matter and other factors.

When addressing students, I pronounce words clearly and distinctly speaking in complete sentences in Standard English. While joking and relaxing with family and friends, speech becomes colloquial, pronunciation 'softer' and less distinct.

Your second question concerning voice raises an interesting perspective on teaching English as a second language. As a native North American English speaker, I was taught as a child to pronounce French with a nasal intonation, Spanish with a relaxed 'liquid' tone of voice. Spoken Spanish includes many elisions and slurred consonants such as double 'rr's either minimized or lacking in formal English pronunciation. Colloquial English contains numerous elisions that we avoid while writing comments on moderated forums such as PF.

No doubt UK and EU members, for example, retain different perspectives on spoken language.
 
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  • #3
I was in a meeting recently with a VP who came to America 30 years ago to work for a large company here in Silicon Valley. He mentioned that when he first got here (from Israel), the company offered "Accent Reduction Classes" to help foreign employees learn to pronounce English more natively and make them easier to understand when communicating in English.

I'd never heard of this before, but as he explained some of the mechanics, it started to make more sense. Subtle things like the shape of the tongue when contacting the roof of the mouth for making different sounds can have a dramatic effect on what the spoken word sounds like.

Here are some links to such classes that are offered currently. The links might be a bit spammy, but they were the first ones that popped up in my Google search:

https://english.accentadvisor.com/?...Fv4zQZOYXtbT0A9P8-W4n2dRyfaUvZMBoC_fEQAvD_BwE

https://www.lessaccent.com/accent-r...bYBnyZ7EOXsrm2JZ5pJUCKFAdwqO28bxoCnZYQAvD_BwE

https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/how-to-improve-your-accent-in-another-language
 
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  • #4
If you spend enough time in Cuba, you will notice that their flavour of Spanish is 90% vowel and hardly any consonant. Plosive consonants are virtually non-existent. That's way softer than English.
 
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  • #5
I read the response posts and I still believe i misunderstand. One way to think of the question about English being "soft" could be about the way our vowels are. Many many more blended vowelings in English compared to some other languages like Spanish. (Diphthongs?)
 
  • #6
Hawai'ian is all soft sounds. Japanese has lots of k's and z's. German has lots of harsh sounds, especially in the south.
 
  • #7
Two threads on the same question merged by the Mentors
How can I speak soft voice English?Do we relax our tongue when saying consonants if we want to say soft voice?
 
  • #8
What do you mean by "soft voice?" Can you link to a video that has an example?
 
  • #9
I hear English is softer than example German. I have hard voice. I like to know how to speak this soft voice in English.
 
  • #10
fxdung said:
I hear English is softer than example German. I have hard voice. I like to know how to speak this soft voice in English.
Sorry, that is zero help. We cannot help you unless you address this:
jtbell said:
What do you mean by "soft voice?" Can you link to a video that has an example?
Please post examples.
 
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  • #11
fxdung said:
I hear English is softer than example German.
You might get some insight from books etc. intended to help native German speakers improve their English pronunciation, or the other way around. These are probably easier to find than for English vs. your native language (Vietnamese?).

A Google search for "english pronunciation for german speakers" turns up some hits, including this:

https://www.uni-due.de/ELE/German_Pronunciations.pdf

See particularly Note 2 on page 2, which deals with consonants at the end of some words. One might describe the erroneous German pronunciation as "harsher" than the correct English one.

Fifty years ago I studied German in college. After the standard four-term introductory sequence (grammar, vocabluary, basic pronunciation) I took a course called "Advanced Conversation and Phonetics" which aimed to improve our pronunciation and reduce our American accents, among other things. I still have the book that we used for studying the technical differences between German and English sounds, William G. Moulton's The Sounds of English and German. Amazon has a number of used copies of it:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0226543099/?tag=pfamazon01-20

I found it to be very helpful, along with our German-speaking professor of course.
 
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  • #12
I hear that soft voice is more airy, less distinguishable
 
  • #13
Do we relax our tongue when saying consonants if we want to speak soft voice(English)
 
  • #14
jtbell said:
What do you mean by "soft voice?" Can you link to a video that has an example?
After further thought, I think it would be better if you could show us an example of someone speaking English in an (incorrectly) "non-soft" way. Then we can hear for ourselves what you are trying to correct.

I still don't know what you mean by "soft" or "less angular", etc. There's a whole field called "phonology" or "phonetics" which tries to describe precisely how spoken sounds are produced, using specific terminology, which is reflected in e.g. the book that I linked to earlier.
 
  • #15
fxdung said:
I hear that soft voice is more airy, less distinguishable

fxdung said:
Do we relax our tongue when saying consonants if we want to speak soft voice(English)

You keep using somewhat subjective words/phrases that are impossible for us to comment on because you keep REFUSING to give us examples of what you mean. PLEASE --- provide examples (sound bites) of what you are talking about.
 
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  • #16
Here is an example: a Vietnamese speak hard English:
 
  • #17
fxdung said:
Here is an example: a Vietnamese speak hard English:
OK, I see what you mean, but if you speak English like he does you would have no reason at all to change anything. He articulates quite clearly and it easy to understand. If you want "soft" English, you should study "Southern drawl" but that dialect is less well understood in some of the country. The way this kid speaks will be understandable anywhere in the country.
 
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  • #18
It seems that the women saying with more relax tongue when speaking consonants?
 
  • #19
fxdung said:
It seems that the women saying with more relax tongue when speaking consonants?
It's a child and he is still learning how to articulate. He is doing a good job though!
Ladies have higher softer voices, it is part of female secondary characteristics.
What do you want to sound like?

If you want beautiful? For that is a guy called Christopher Hitchens. His speeches are not suitable for this forum in terms of content but his oratory delivery, light and shade, articulation is something to look at.
 
  • #20
While English consonants are soft, the English vowels are hard?Example English vowels are harder than that in French(?)In this audio the speaker saying with hard vowels(?)or the tongue is backward than French in saying vowels? I do not know why French vowels are easier to listen than English vowel.I do not know it is because English vowels are more backward than French vowels of the tongue or English vowels are more harder than French vowels?
 
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  • #21
French has a different set of vowels. There's no single rule that would make vowels of either language 'hard' or 'soft'. Whatever you mean by that.
Seriously, don't try to figure out the rules yourself. Learn the IPA vowel chart. It tells you exactly what to do with your mouth.
 
  • #22
Bandersnatch said:
French has a different set of vowels.
You need the complete set to select exactly the right level of disdain.
 
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  • #23
Vanadium 50 said:
You need the complete set to select exactly the right level of disdain.
I think that is a facetious comment.
 
  • #24
pinball1970 said:
I think that is a facetious comment.
Bah! Zat you would say zeese! Again, bah!
1655498123101.png
 
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  • #25
Just the order of vowels
 
  • #26
  • #27
I have just heard that English vowels are not harder than French vowels but French vowels are closer front of mouth comparision with counterpart English vowels.Is that correct?
 
  • #28
fxdung said:
I have just heard
Um, you have been here long enough to know that this is not a valid reference... :wink:
 
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  • #29
In #20 I mean English consonants is softer than normal,while some English vowels are hard and some other is soft. Of course vowels are softer than consonants. I guess it is difficult to listen English vowels because the tongue is further the front of mouth in English. It explain I easier to listen French.
 
  • #30
fxdung said:
I have just heard that English vowels are not harder than French vowels but French vowels are closer front of mouth comparision with counterpart English vowels.Is that correct?
Some of them are, some of them aren't. (front of the mouth is to the left of the chart)
American (California) English:
1655539018962.png

(Parisian) French:
1655539168149.png
 
  • #31
Is there a tendency in saying English that the back part of tongue is swollen?Example the audio in #20
 
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  • #32
I don't know what you mean by swollen. When producing vowels, you move the central part of the tongue to positions indicated on the charts. Wikipedia's article on vowels has excellent explanations which part of the tongue moves, including Roentgen pictures.
You'd move the tongue towards the back when pronouncing 'back' vowels. Those on the right-hand side of the graph. As you can see, both languages have such vowels (and French has more - but then again, it has more vowels overall).
 
  • #33
English is not a soft language. When it comes to communication, English is actually quite straightforward and direct. There is very little room for ambiguity, and most things are said exactly as they mean. This can be a good thing, as it eliminates confusion and miscommunication. However, it can also be seen as a negative trait, as it can make English seem harsh or blunt. In reality, though, English is just a language like any other, and it has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Those who learn to speak it fluently will find that it is a powerful tool for communication.
 
  • #34
mlakonsky said:
English is not a soft language. When it comes to communication, English is actually quite straightforward and direct. There is very little room for ambiguity, and most things are said exactly as they mean. This can be a good thing, as it eliminates confusion and miscommunication. However, it can also be seen as a negative trait, as it can make English seem harsh or blunt. In reality, though, English is just a language like any other, and it has its own quirks and idiosyncrasies. Those who learn to speak it fluently will find that it is a powerful tool for communication.
The English language has enough ways to let a person alter how something is expressed, so that what is expressed is actually very murky and imprecise.
 

Related to Is English a Soft or Harsh Language for Communication?

1. Why is English considered a "soft" language?

English is often referred to as a "soft" language because it has a large number of irregularities and exceptions in its grammar and spelling rules. Unlike other languages that have more consistent patterns, English can be difficult to learn and master.

2. Is English really a difficult language to learn?

While English may have its complexities, it is not inherently difficult to learn. With practice and dedication, anyone can become proficient in English. It is important to remember that every language has its own challenges and nuances.

3. Are there any advantages to learning English as a second language?

Yes, there are many advantages to learning English as a second language. English is the most widely spoken language in the world, making it a useful tool for communication in both personal and professional settings. It also opens up opportunities for travel, education, and career advancement.

4. What are some common mistakes made by non-native English speakers?

Some common mistakes made by non-native English speakers include incorrect word order, mispronunciation of words, and incorrect verb tenses. These mistakes are often due to differences in grammar and sentence structure between English and the speaker's native language.

5. How can I improve my English language skills?

The best way to improve your English language skills is through practice and immersion. This can include reading books, watching movies or TV shows, listening to music, and conversing with native English speakers. It is also helpful to take formal classes or work with a tutor to learn proper grammar and pronunciation.

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