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What do foreign languages sound like to you?

  1. Jan 24, 2016 #1
    On 9gag I saw an interesting discussion about how people perceive foreign languages.
    You can write here how these languages sound to you, even when you don't understand them
    Hopefully no one will take this personally :) No offence intended

    So for me
    British English: aristocratic and melodic if spoken by an "old school" speaker
    American English: Ok, but Texas English is just bad, sorry :)
    Australian English: tAke it easy, mAte! Let's lie on the beach for a while
    German: my vocabulary is about 100 words but it sounds very familiar, I almost have a feeling that I understand, even when I don't
    French: too complicated.
    Spanish and Italian: coolest languages for me. These are the languages of holiday, music and good food :)
    Japanese: sounds like they are arguing all the time
    Chinese: like Japanese, but softer
    Russian: oh I love it! It's a language of extremes, same as Russians themselves. Can be hard as a rock and soft as falling snowflakes at the same time. Fantastic for expressing one's emotions.
    Arabic: lots of kh sounds, rather hard sounding. Mysterious and exotic

    I wonder how my language sounds to you guys. Just a random clip from a random TV show- New Year's edition, start watching after ca. 2nd minute
    Be honest, I won't take it personally :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2016 #2
    Ohohohohoho! To me Japanese sounds normalized. Now that I understand it better.
    *telepathic high five for you*

    For me:
    All English - Normal, but I've always thought it's like they are dragging and grazing their tongues too much in their mouths instead of moving it up and down.
    US English - Normal
    UK English - Cool and fancy
    Australian English - First it was the most cool English, now not so much.
    Chinese - Rubbish, can't separate the sounds in my head.
    Russian - Deep tones, love how they pronounce the R.
    French - Nice for a while, then it tires me out.
    Italian - Normal
    Spanish - Normal
    German - Leaves me like: Eh?

    I think I've posted this video elsewhere, but I encourage people to watch it and the comment (multi-language):

    (Italian and Japanese for the win!)

    EDIT: I can't identify the name of your language, but it doesn't sound hard to master. I could clearly identify and separate the sounds in my mind. It has clear sounds.
  4. Jan 24, 2016 #3
    The TV show sounds like Russian to me. I can't tell eastern European languages apart. Except for Hungarian, which uses the same sounds as Mandarin Chinese.

    Lithuanians can understand Sanskrit.

    Finnish is a descendant of Mongolian, but Turkish is not.

    The languages of Madagascar, New Zealand, Okinawa, and Hawaii are related, but Japanese and Chinese are not.

    To me German is comical. Ukrainian and French are exotic and pleasant to listen to. Swedish sounds like a recording being played backwards. Indonesian sounds like it came out of the jungle, which it more or less did.

    To me the most melodious languages are Arabic, Spanish, and the South African languages of Xhosa and Zulu. Japanese is great for punk rock. Tamil and Korean are good for rap.
  5. Jan 24, 2016 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    I couldn't tell the difference to Czech.
  6. Jan 24, 2016 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Here is how they sound to me.

  7. Jan 24, 2016 #6
    Portuguese sounds like Spanish spoken with a Russian accent.
  8. Jan 24, 2016 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    Nobody shouts like this. And (almost) all examples here have been Roman, i.e. not out of the language's core which is Germanic. Have you ever listened to a Scotsman saying: door, house, day or similar?
  9. Jan 24, 2016 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    I always thought it's like Spanish + many, many 'sh'.
  10. Jan 24, 2016 #9


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    Gold Member

    English English normal, Welsh like Micky Mouse on speed, Scottish like a man who has had to much to drink.
  11. Jan 24, 2016 #10


    Staff: Mentor

    It's more than this. If I listen to John Higgins in an interview it's far more than tough for me to follow him.
  12. Jan 25, 2016 #11
    Yes, they are very similar.
  13. Jan 25, 2016 #12


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    Some few years ago I moved to the UK (to steal their jobs). I was armed with a language certificate and a bloated sense of my linguistic ability. Alas, once I got there, every native speaker sounded like this to me:

    Also, on a different note - for some reason, Dutch reminds me of the Swedish Chef much more strongly than actual Swedish ever does.
  14. Jan 25, 2016 #13


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    Education Advisor

    You are quite mistaken about Finnish being descended from Mongolian. According to linguists, Finnish is a member of the Finnic branch of the Uralic family of languages, whose members include Hungarian, Estonian, the Sami languages (spoken by the Sami people, the aboriginal people of northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and parts of Russia) as well as various languages spoken by indigenous peoples of northern Eurasia, especially near the region of the Ural mountains.

    Mongolian, on the other hand, is part of the Mongolic family of languages. There used to be a theory that Mongolian, along with the Turkic and Tungusic languages, along with Japanese and Korean, were all part of a larger "Altaic" family of languages, but that view has been controversial within linguistic circles.



    You are right though, about Malagasy, Maori, and Hawaiian all being related, as they are all part of the Austronesian family of languages, along with Malay, Indonesian, Tagalog, and various other languages spoken in Southeast Asia and various Pacific Islands. You are wrong though about Okinawa -- the people there speak Okinawan, a language which is part of the Japonic family of languages along with Japanese.



    Side note: I find it amusing that you think Japanese is suited for punk music, because in my mind, the punk music goes best to working class Cockney English.
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016
  15. Jan 25, 2016 #14


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    Hi Sophia. I hope you don't take offense, but I have to confess that your language (Slovak) sounds virtually indistinguishable from spoken Polish, Ukrainian or Russian (I used to live in a neighbourhood with a large Polish and Ukrainian immigrant population).
  16. Jan 25, 2016 #15
    Of course it's OK, they are from the same family. We all came from today's Russia some 1,500 years ago :)
  17. Jan 25, 2016 #16
    True, I do find the French language sounds most beautiful and lovely in Europe.
    I can't fully understand what the Australian or the British say; their pronunciation is too awesome, full of either /ou/ or /o/.
  18. Jan 25, 2016 #17


    Staff: Mentor

    I know, I once have read the Wikipedia article on Slovakian. I wanted to know what the differences are and to better understand the separation, i.e. to which extend it was economically driven in comparison to cultural. However, to hear it is an interesting addition.
  19. Jan 25, 2016 #18


    Staff: Mentor

    And a Slavonic language, Sorbian, is a protected and official minority language in Germany.
  20. Jan 25, 2016 #19
    I thought the video sounded like a bunch of Russians speaking Norwegian.
  21. Jan 25, 2016 #20
    First question- did you read about Slovak or Slovenian? because they are two quite distinct languages. (you mention "Slovakian")
    I'll write about Slovak as I live in Slovakia (but in fact, my grandpa was Slovenian)
    So there are not many differences between Slovak and Czech. In fact we could say they are just dialects of one original Western Slavic language. As you go from east to west, that means from Ukrainian to German border, it gets harder and a bit slower when people talk. There are some sounds that are not shared, like Slovak ľ and ô, the Czechs have ř. We also have some differences in rhytmical rules (long and short syllables). There are some minor differences in declination, as well.
    I don't think there were any economical issues when these two languages separated. They were more cultural. the Czech people had their own kingdom, while Slovaks were a part of Austro-Hungarian empire until 1918. Until that time, the Czechs were culturally closer to Germany. After WW1, these two united and created Czechoslovakia which was one of the most modern and economically advanced nations of that time. But than came WWII when things changed, Hitler got the Czech part and we, what a shame! created our own fascist republic. After WWII Czechoslovakia was united again, but this time, under communist rule. This is when our common culture with Czechs was formed and our languages influenced each other most. To be honest, the Czech influenced Slovak, because there was 2x more Czechs than Slovaks.
    How and why we separated in 1993? I'm really not sure why. It was basically agreed by Havel and Meciar. each of them wanted power so they decided they will create their own countries to rule in. But there was some tension even before that, basically from Slovak side who wanted more independence. Anyway, for my generation (born 1987) the reasons are still a mystery. No one talks about that, we didn't learn about it at school. It's only stated that on January 1st 1993 independent republic was created. That's all I know. I studied in Brno, Czech republic and we talked about the separation with my Czech friends and they didn't know the reasons either. We only thought it was a great pity and we would like to have a common country again.
    We share a lot of cultural heritage and living in Brno felt like living in any Slovak town. I could speak Slovak freely, even write my thesis in Slovak at Czech university. When Czechs come here, they have the same privileges. We still don't consider each other to be "foreign" countries.

    PS: I really deeply apologize to all history-wise readers who probably found many mistakes in this short blurb. I really suck at history plus I'm trying to simplify things for international audience. Fell totally free to correct my mistakes.
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