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The Sound Of English To Foreign Ears  
User currently offlineTranceport From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 282 posts, RR: 1
Posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 7148 times:

Okay, right off the bat let's establish that this is an inane, mindless thread. With that out of the way, here goes a question that as a foreign language enthusiast I have wondered about for many years: What does the English language sound like and how does it flow to people who do not speak it or learned it as a second language?

For example, to the majority of English speakers, there are distinct sounds and rhythms to certain foreign languages: Spanish is a soft, beautiful, melodious langage; Italian is reminiscent of a stacatto, driving force; German has a hard, exotic industrial sound which makes for great vocals in certain styles of techno music; Chinese often sounds high pitched and insistent; Japanese comes across in rapid fire bursts with periodic pauses; and Dutch.....well.....is hideous (this conclusion is drawn from sitting beside two Dutch speakers on a two hour flight from MEM to MCO aboard a NW A320).

I feel a bit amateurish posting this sort of thread, but this is probably the best access I have to a worldwide audience.

49 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineUal747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 7121 times:

When I did a foreign exchange program in France, I lived with a family from Lorient. They said when they hear a bunch of Americans speaking English, it sounds to them like, "Rar rar rar rar rar rar." Don't ask me why, just what they said.

UAL747


User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8090 posts, RR: 24
Reply 2, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 7108 times:

Spanish is a soft, beautiful, melodious langage

Not when it's used on a Soap Opera, that's for damn sure  Big thumbs up.



This Website Censors Me
User currently offlineUal747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 7089 times:

Yeah, Spanish, (Mexican Spanish) has to be one of the ugliest languages on earth. Second would have to be a Mexican speaking English.

UAL747


User currently offlineTranceport From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 282 posts, RR: 1
Reply 4, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 7093 times:

While I would agree that Mexican Spanish may not be the creme de la creme of Spanish accents, I still contend that Spanish is a soft and melodious language. It is a vowel based language, unlike English which is based on consonants. The words all flow into each other and there is a smooth cadence to the language. There are no hard sounds and no gutteral sounds except for the j, which is not really gutteral but sounds slightly so.

It may vary widely across Mexico, but earlier this year I spent some time working in the Yucatan Peninsula. There was a marked difference between the Spanish used by those of European descent and that used by the Maya Indians and those out in the bush where I worked. I'll agree the latter wasn't really a treat to hear.

In their favour, Mexicans probably speak the closest to textbook Spanish that I have encountered. If you learn it out of a book and in a classroom setting, it is not difficult to pick it up quickly there because they speak relatively slowly and 'correctly' unlike, for example, the Dominican Republic where you can study Spanish until your hair turns white and then go there and not understand one damn thing.

Of course, as an eleven year student of Spanish, I'm probably highly biased.


User currently offlineLubcha132 From United States of America, joined Feb 2001, 2776 posts, RR: 7
Reply 5, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 7077 times:

the truth is, even within the language i've wondered how british people look at american english.

User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8090 posts, RR: 24
Reply 6, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 7075 times:

According to the two Australian exchange students I had last month, the American accent is "Annoying to the guys, but the chicks love it."


This Website Censors Me
User currently offlineTranceport From Canada, joined Jul 2003, 282 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 7073 times:

I never knew we as Americans had an accent. Egocentric thinking no doubt. However, after my first trip out of North America to France, I learned we did. After nearly a week without hearing any Americans speak, I was riding the subway to Franklin D. Roosevelt stop in Paris. All of a sudden, so distinctly I heard a somewhat nasal, twangy speech pattern that was so familiar my head jerked around to look and I chuckled to myself as I suddenly 'got it' that Americans indeed do have a distinct accent.

User currently offlineKolobokman From Russia, joined Oct 2000, 1180 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 7072 times:

English sounds like: woowooowooo


Of course the softest and most enjoyable for the ear is my native tongue



I can neither confirm, nor deny above post
User currently offlineNKP S2 From United States of America, joined Dec 1999, 1714 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 7059 times:

--"Yeah, Spanish, (Mexican Spanish) has to be one of the ugliest languages on earth. Second would have to be a Mexican speaking English."

I agree. Always sounded very "dirty" to my ears.

Russian intrigues me the most: On one hand the spoken part seems much closer to the written language, with not too many exceptions...yet the rythm of it throws me: The 'lilt" of a sentence often keeps me wondering if there's more, as the ending of a sentence in Russian often sounds like the middle of a sentence in English. Sounding out of consecutive hard vowels was also hard for me to learn...and I still can't roll my "Rs" worth a damn. Love to hear it spoken though.




User currently offlineBartiniMan From Australia, joined Jul 2001, 315 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7059 times:

NKP_S2 if you like the sound of Russian I suggeset you download the song "Red Army Choir - The Hunt For Red October" . It's the song at the starting credits of the film of the same name. I d/l it a few days ago and am constantly listening to it. A beautiful hymn.

The song is also sometimes titled "Russian Navy Hymn"

Cheers
BartiniMan


User currently offlineMD-90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 8494 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7022 times:

Of course it's been said, Southerners trying to speak spanish sounds a lot like cussing (from our 2002 mission trip to Mexico).

Italian has to be one of the most beautiful languages out there. I wouldn't call it soft, but definately melodious. English is pronounced mostly from the throat, Italian is deeper, more from the heart and belly.

German does sound very different, sort of technical you could say. Lots of stops.

I'm taking Latin in college. We haven't really gotten far enough yet that I really can describe what it sounds like. Sort of limited, to me, compared to English though (for example, all C's are hard like a K, no soft c as in celebrity).


User currently offlineJcs17 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 8065 posts, RR: 40
Reply 12, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 7019 times:

German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian all sound very choppy, hard, and as someone else put it, technical, compared to English.

Finnish sounds interesting because their are so many repeating sounds.

I think French sounds really good, if spoken by a native French person.

However, the hottest accent for a female is a British, Welsh, or Irish accent. Too bad the females in all those places despise American guys!  Sad




America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
User currently offlineUal747 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (10 years 6 months 4 weeks ago) and read 7010 times:

MD-90,
While certain letters make certain sounds, Latin doesn't have an accent.


User currently offlineRindt From Germany, joined May 2000, 930 posts, RR: 13
Reply 14, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6987 times:

JCS,

"However, the hottest accent for a female is a British, Welsh, or Irish accent. Too bad the females in all those places despise American guys! "

It only applies to you if you buy into it, if you don't, then it doesn't.

I happen to know the Australian women (who have a similar accent to the British) love the CDN/US accent  Big grin So don't beat yourself up over it...

-Rob



What other people think of you is none of your business!
User currently offlineQANTASFOREVER From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6978 times:

I happen to know the Australian women (who have a similar accent to the British..

With respect there is a major marked difference between the British and Australian English accents.

The Modern Australian accent is a perfect fusion between North American and English English. Trust me on that. When I hear an American who has spent some time in the UK or vise versa - I confuse them for Australians.

never knew we as Americans had an accent. Egocentric thinking no doubt.

Egocentric indeed. Are you joking though? Surely when you saw people from UK or Australia you noticed a difference in the accent. Did you just think: "Why aren't they speaking proper English like I am?" If so - It makes me a little worried.

But yes, I love the American accent - when spoken well. Katherine Hepburn and her: "Tha Cannalillies aaaare in bloom Agen" accent does it for me every time. New England accents rock! But when ANY accent is taken to a colloquial extreme, it is really off-putting. Just look at Steve Irwin for Australia, Eastenders in the UK and the Beverly Hillbillies in the USA.

But gimme a French accent anyday. My wife has one - and it was love at first syllable.

qff


User currently offlineMx5_boy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6986 times:

Interesting topic.

I like the Southern American accent when well spoken.

I personally feel that any national language spoken well sounds quite pleasant.. It's when you have trash who are not well versed that ruin a language's resonance with native slang and hideous drawls.

Australians accent is regional just like the UK / USA. I have found that Americans and French Canadians in particular confuse my accent with that of English.

I really like Thai and Malay as it's very melodic too.

Cheers,

mb

*toybox II* *daytime is playtime*


User currently offline707cmf From France, joined Mar 2002, 4885 posts, RR: 30
Reply 17, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 6991 times:

I think French sounds really good, if spoken by a native French person.

That can't be ! Jcs actually said something positive about the French !!!

707


User currently offlineUTA_flyinghigh From Tunisia, joined Oct 2001, 6495 posts, RR: 51
Reply 18, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 6975 times:

That shows that you have never heard a Marseillais or a Quebecer speak  Laugh out loud
Will



Fly to live, live to fly - Air France/KLM Flying Blue Platinum, BMI Diamond Club Gold, Emirates Skywards
User currently offlineSebolino From France, joined May 2001, 3675 posts, RR: 4
Reply 19, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 6972 times:

The most difficult for a French in English is the R. This famous R is even more difficult than the TH.

In English you don't pronounce the R in an aggressive way like we do in French, but you do it very "roundly" without angles, it sounds nearly like a French L or more like a mix between W and L.

This is how it sounds to me: WA WA WA LA WA WA WA  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Except in some English movies where people roll the R !!

Difficult to say:

- Rawhide (WOW WIDE)
- Matter


User currently offlineUssherd From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2000, 328 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6953 times:

I'm a native English/Spanish speaker.

In English, I particularly like the slightly posh (as opposed to upper class) south-east England accent. I don't really like my own English accent (Northern Irish) which is a cross between the southern Irish & Scottish accents and can be the most cringe-inducing accent on earth, especially in the hands of some of our ghetto dwelling compatriots. It amazes me how many local accents exist here in the British Isles. Northern Ireland has a population of about 1.5 million and there are at last half a dozen distinct accents. Probably they would all sound the same to an outsider, but the local can quite readily tell where certain people come from and in some cases, make an educated guess at to their religion. I've found that a great many English speakers are completely amazed at the idea that other languages also have regional accents and variations. I suppose that's probably because native English speakers tend to be monoligual?

In Spanish, I much prefer the Latin American version of the language, particularly the accents from the countries in and around the Caribbean. I don't like the European accent. No offense, but I always think that a Spaniard sounds like a badly tuned radio, with a lot of static and interference!

To me, Brazilian Portuguese is the best sounding language of them all. It's liquid and sexy and fits exactly with the romanticised idea of Brazil I have in my head. Italian also sounds good.

German, Dutch & the Scandinavian languages sound harsh. I'm ambivalent about French. It's flows well, but it seems to me that it has no body (if that makes sense!)



Cada loco con su tema...
User currently offlineBanco From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2001, 14752 posts, RR: 54
Reply 21, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6938 times:

I suppose it's true that most people tend to think, at least early in life, that they do not have an accent whilst everybody else does. For us Brits, most would say that it is French that sounds the nicest, a mellifluous language that is beautiful on the ear. Of course, this perspective is usually wrecked as oon as you start to understand them - a language sounds far more beautiful if you do not comprehend it. I have heard that the English speaking French (well, not badly) sounds pleasant on the French ear - but she may have just been trying to chat me up.  Big grin

I have to agree with Qantasforever on the differences between Australian and English accents though. It is a curiosity that so many Americans mistake the British (particularly the English) for Australians. It's a bit puzzling, particularly as there as so many more of us than them. Some of the posher Australian accents are akin to the posher English accents, but that's also true of some of the accents you hear in a place like Vermont as well. I suppose that not noticing the differences between Canadians and Americans over here is equally common.

In terms of the the development of these accents, the North Americans are probably a little more consistent historically than the rest of the English speaking world. The hard "r" was prevalent throughout much of England four hundred years ago, and the long "a" was an affectation from the 18th and 19th centuries. Whilst it is not true to say that Americans speak English in the way that the English did in Shakespeare's time, it probably is true that the North American accents are rather closer than the Englsih or Australian ones.



She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
User currently offlineGKirk From UK - Scotland, joined Jun 2000, 24810 posts, RR: 56
Reply 22, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 6924 times:

Its known worldwide that the Scottish accent is the best  Big thumbs up


When you hear the noise of the Tartan Army Boys, we'll be coming down the road!
User currently offlineRacko From Germany, joined Nov 2001, 4856 posts, RR: 20
Reply 23, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 6917 times:

American English sounds way cooler, but British English is far easier to understand. When watching an American TV station, I have to pay attention to understand everything while when watching the BBC it just flows into your ear. Also AE is more masculine and sounds not-so-hot when spoken by a woman, BE sounds nice when spoken by a female but a bit gay-ish when spoken by a guy. The most extreme example for this is French, so hot when spoken by a female, but it sounds strange when spoken by a guy. German is more masculine like AE. I prefer German girls with a slight accent (e.g. Bavarian, Austrian or French) to a girl from Hannover  Big grin

User currently offlineJcs17 From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 8065 posts, RR: 40
Reply 24, posted (10 years 6 months 3 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 6904 times:

That can't be ! Jcs actually said something positive about the French !!!

Ahhh, dont take that comment too seriously  Big grin I was just referencing the fact that only a native speaker makes French sound good. Otherwise, its like fingernails across a chalkboard.

To me, Brazilian Portuguese is the best sounding language of them all. It's liquid and sexy and fits exactly with the romanticised idea of Brazil I have in my head. Italian also sounds good.

Brazilian Portuguese is one of the worst sounding dialects ever. To me, at least, it sounds like a mix between Spanish and Chinese.

It only applies to you if you buy into it, if you don't, then it doesn't.


Go to London, and youll buy into it. The only people that you'll ever see male American ex-pats dating is American female ex-pats. I actually dated an Irish girl in high school, she had moved to America when she was three...so there was no accent  Sad ....but she was a redhead  Big thumbs up

I really like my grandparents remaining South African accents. You can barely hear them now, since they left 50+ years ago, but its very distinctive.



America's chickens are coming home to rooooost!
25 Post contains images BarfBag : Tsk tsk.... 24 posts on the sound of English and not one mention of the sound of the English spoken by the second largest population of English speake
26 Tranceport : Egocentric indeed. Are you joking though? Surely when you saw people from UK or Australia you noticed a difference in the accent. Did you just think:
27 Ussherd : Now lets hear some impressions about English as spoken by Indians It very much depends on the speaker. The musical inflection of fluently spoken India
28 Sabena332 : American English sounds way cooler, but British English is far easier to understand. I agree but I must say that the California accent is also very ea
29 Tranceport : In Vancouver we have a sizeable Indian population. As I understand, many of them are Sikh from the Punjab region. Although Punjabi sounds bad enough i
30 Kilavoud : It sounds nice, and when it is spoken by Americans (USA), I can appreciate the certain something which make all the difference. Regards. Kilavoud.
31 PROSA : Now lets hear some impressions about English as spoken by Indians As an English-speaker from the United States, I find the variety of English spoken b
32 Scorpio : American English sounds way cooler, but British English is far easier to understand. I disagree. Oxford English, or 'The Queen's English' is easy to u
33 Aloges : "To me, Brazilian Portuguese is the best sounding language of them all. It's liquid and sexy and fits exactly with the romanticised idea of Brazil I h
34 N766UA : Tranceport: You hit the nail right on the head about southern accents. Some I find sound very educated, while others (probably most, really) make me w
35 777kicksass : I also find it fascinating how many variants of English there are!! My favourite has to be South African! Its just really cool can't think of any posh
36 Milemaster : I've heard the same thing about men with american english accents being a verbal panty remover to Australian women. I don't understand it really.. I'v
37 Docpepz : Well coming from Singapore, a former British colony, the government forced everyone to learn English as a first language, and use it as a medium of in
38 Cancidas : do you mean american english or proper english? i think that american english is diffucult to understand to a lot. it's hard for me to understand some
39 Flyboy36y : Spanish can be one of the sexiest languages on earth... if spoken by a sexy person. When my friend speaks it the words flow from her lips and dance ar
40 Krushny : Spanish is a soft, beautiful, melodious langage; Well, not the Spanish I speak... The "correct" Spanish has its jotas, erres & zetas and no musicalit
41 David_itl : Oy Scorpio less slagging off of the Mancunian accent; the Gallaghers are not representative of it! Think of John Thaw (Inspector Morse) instead for w
42 Post contains images Bobrayner : John Thaw's accent is hardly Manc! Think of Terry Christian
43 RNOcommctr : UAL747-- if you think a Mexican speaking English sounds ugly, I can only imagine how ugly YOU would sound trying to speak Spanish! I never used to car
44 UPSfueler : I wana learn how to speak italian. Is there anyone here who knows how and is it hard to learn?
45 Lan_Fanatic : Krushny: You forgot the chilean accent and also the peruvian-bolivian accent. If I had to choose between any spanish accent, I would choose the argent
46 767-332ER : My g/f is from Spain and the one thing that turns her on is when I speak english (U.S.A.) to her. She only likes the American english. She would rath
47 Krushny : Lan_Fanatic, I did not try to be exhaustive in my enumeration of Spanish accents. In Spain there are much more than I said, for example in the souther
48 Lan_Fanatic : About "coger"... my sister had a teddy bear that spoke when you hugged it...and the only phrase it said was:"vamos,cógeme...cógeme bien fuerte" with
49 Post contains images Kilavoud : When British are speaking I hear turkeys When US are speaking , what should I say, yes some animal with a chewing gum in their throat, but I like it.
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