The fastest spoken language

Discussion in 'All Languages' started by HBZ55, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. HBZ55 Senior Member

    Arabic - Tunisia
    I want to know what is the fastest spoken language, meaning with the most syllables spoken in one minute. I only know three languages, but French seems to me as sometimes too fast to even comprehend. When I watch a French TV series or movie with the actual actors doing the talking, I find myself frustrated. I can understand the gist of most what is said, but I don't seem to be able to make out individual words clearly like I can in English.
    It might have something to do with my competence in both languages, or the amount of media I'm exposed to in each language (English wins by a landslide in both), but I have the feeling that the French language is still faster than English or most other languages in that regard.
    What do you think is the fastest spoken language?
  2. ajo fresco

    ajo fresco Senior Member

    Any language I don't understand sounds too fast to me. :D

    This has been discussed before in the WR forums.
    Take a look here and here.
  3. HBZ55 Senior Member

    Arabic - Tunisia
    Ok, sorry, I didn't search good enough. Moderators, feel free to close or delete this thread.
  4. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    I don´t know if there has been a research on this topic. :D
    I agree that French is hard to understand especially for a beginner. I had French (just) 3 years at school and did not understand the people when I was in France or Belgium, although they understood me. To me the problem is not the speed but the connection between syllables of different words. You do not know where one word end and the next starts :D

    What do you think is the fastest spoken language?
    French, Italian. Maybe it does not depend on the language itself but on the charcteristics of the speakers.
  5. Encolpius

    Encolpius Senior Member

    Praha (Prague)
    magyar (Hungarian)
    Hi, I am not sure if I got it right but I think it depends on who is speaking a languages. One thing really bothers me why some young girls from some Western countries (I met only British) tend to speak so fast even a native cannot understand it. I found it even impolite. But when I listen to foreigners Spaniards make me feel they speak fastest, men and women altogether.
  6. Rallino Moderatoúrkos

    I remember reading in My Guiness records book, that an Italian Horse racing narrator got the record of the fastest speaker, by saying 400-ish words (I can't remember the exact number) comprehensibly in one minute.

    I thought you might want to know :p
  7. Volcano Senior Member

    Greek is fast to me
  8. Hakro

    Hakro Senior Member

    Helsinki, Finland
    Finnish - Finland
    For some time I have tried to study Spanish. Actually I can read most of the text quite easily, but in Spain, trying to talk with people, I can't understand a word because they speak too fast.

    Now I have found why the Spanish speak likea a machine gun, 'la ametralladora automática'. It's because the Spanish words and expessions are so long. For example:

    Finnish: yleislääkäri
    Spanish: el médico especialista en medicina general

    Finnish: yleiskone
    Spanish: la máquina mezcladore-batidora-ralladora

    Finnish: yksinhuoltaja
    Spanish: la persona con responsabilidades familiares no compartida

    Finnish: vastapäivään
    en sentido contrario a la dirección de las agujas del reloj

    You see that the Spanish words have to be spoken very quickly or else you lose a lot of time.
  9. Ayazid Senior Member

    I don't know all world languages, but once in a suburb of Lisbon I heard an African guy (possibly Angolan), who spoke so incredibly fast in to me an unknown language, that I can't understand how was his companion able to make any sense of that (maybe he didn't :D). Certain Indian languages also seem to be spoken extremely fast.
  10. enoo Senior Member

    French - France
    Hakro :D :D
    (And even Finnish is too fast for me, but that's because my vocabulary is so... err... close to non-existant)

    I like Rallino example of sport speaker. Maybe there should be a thread, "in which sports speakers speak the faster?" :p
  11. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    A lot of you have said you think Spanish and French sound quick. Perhaps it's because they are syllabic languages that don't respect word boundaries. That would make sense if in your language words are distinctly uttered and you can pick them out. I believe German is this way. Look at French for example

    Il est ouvert (it's open)
    Il est tout vert (it's completely green)

    does sound sometimes like a machine gun
  12. djmc Senior Member

    English - United Kingdom
    I am often told by my French friends that the English talk very quickly and swallow their words (the word they use is avaler), so that even though they may know the words they get totally lost. I think any language can be difficult to understand when spoken to be understood by natives rather than spoken especially slowly so that foreigners may understand.
  13. babosa daltónica Member

    United States of America English
    1. Japanese
    2. Spanish (very close)
    ......slowest: Mandarin

    wordreference didn't let me post the link. Just google "fastest language time" and choose the first link from Time magazine.

    "...researchers from the Université de Lyon recruited 59 male and female volunteers who were native speakers of one of seven common languages — English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish — and one not so common one: Vietnamese. All of them were instructed to read 20 different texts, including the one about the house cat and the locked door, into a recorder. All of the volunteers read all 20 passages in their native languages.

    The investigators next counted all of the syllables in each of the recordings and further analyzed how much meaning was packed into each of those syllables. A single-syllable word like bliss, for example, is rich with meaning — signifying not ordinary happiness but a particularly serene and rapturous kind. The single-syllable word to is less information-dense. And a single syllable like the short i sound, as in the word jubilee, has no independent meaning at all.

    With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language: the average information density for each of its syllables and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information-dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.

    For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable was, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and thus the slower the speech. English, with a high information density of .91, was spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second. Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, was the spoken slowpoke at 5.18 syllables per second. Spanish, with a low-density .63, ripped along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82. The true speed demon of the group, however, was Japanese, which edged past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49. Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information."

  14. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Agree, babosa! Japanese people speak very fast, but fortunately thanks to the extreme easiness of their language's pronunciation it becomes easier to understand than other languages. Spanish is fast and slow depending on the country and region. Venezuelans, for example, tend to speak like a gatling gun. To me, the extreme speed isn't a problem if there is proper articulation. Indonesians from Jakarta speak really fast, and I've heard that Egyptians speak as if they had a rocket on their tongues. Arabic speakers, please confirm this :D. Enoo is right. When it comes to sports, everybody speaks too bloody fast, I've heard some German and English speakers in that field and, man, Flash is a baby compared to them.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  15. babosa daltónica Member

    United States of America English
    What Spanish speakers speak relatively slow to you? Peruvians? Mexicans? I think that Spaniards (and some Mexicans write about this online!) tend to speak very quickly, as the Caribbean Spanish speakers.
  16. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    People from Panama, and some states from Venezuela people speak pretty calmly. I think that people who didn't grow up in the capital tend to speak slower. Peruvians and Bolivians speak pretty slow to me, at least the ones I've heard. Argentinians tend to speak at normal steady pace to me, neither fast nor slowly. That's what my ears think.
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2013
  17. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Mexican speakers of Spanish sound really slow paced to me. Come to think of it, I don't know if I've ever heard a Panamanian accent before.
  18. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    It depends. Mexicans from the D.F. speak pretty fast but they're easy to understand. But, Mexicans, for example, from Yucatán Mérida speak slowly.
  19. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    I guess I was thinking of that rural accent they use on soap operas where vowel sounds are drawn out for ever: Lo sieeeento, mi amooooor. Perdooooname, mi viiiida.
    On the contrary, for me Chileans speak lickety-split. They leave me hanging.
  20. SuperXW

    SuperXW Senior Member

    Didn't realized Mandarin is the slowest until you told me...
    This is probably true. As I've discussed in another thread, Chinese could have the shortest writing form comparing to all the languages.
    Every vowel can be pronounce in at least 4 tones, associated with different meanings. This makes it possible to express meanings without so many syllabus and consonants (Most Chinese dialects, including Mandarin, does not have individual consonants, i.e. "p/b/t/s" after words.)
    So, what's the hurry? :)
  21. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    Actually Egyptians can't speak fast even if we tried to do that :), Arabic is considered a slow language and "Egyptian Arabic" is known for being the most widely and easily understood dialect of Arabic.

    I believe that the fastest spoken dialect of Arabic is the Moroccan one which is not easily understood by other Arabic speakers (except Algerians whose dialect of Arabic is also not easily understood) but Moroccans and Algerians can understand other dialects of Arabic very easily.
  22. 涼宮

    涼宮 Senior Member

    Sbaeneg/Castellano (Venezuela)
    Thanks for the info! I didn't think Arabic was slow.
  23. tFighterPilot Senior Member

    Israel - Hebrew
    A language such as Arabic, where the phoneme /h/ is always pronounced, has to be slow. Hebrew is faster, and thus /h/ is often not pronounced (at least by native speakers).
  24. momai Senior Member

    You're unfortunately wrong Yamaniti Arabic in my opinion is faster than Spanish ,you can check that by watching any yamaiti video on the Youtube . As for why we don't understand Moroccan Arabic is because simply we use different words especially in "everyday speech".
    Don't hesitate to correct me if I was wrong
  25. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    I see a pattern here: the simpler the syllables (the fewer choices for each syllable), the faster they can be rattled off. So I would expect a language like Hawaiian to be faster than Spanish or Japanese.
  26. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Depends exactly what you mean by Speed of a language : source If you're talking the number of syllables per second, or since language is a means of communicating information ; perhaps a better measure would be "density" of information conveyed per second. I had an Irish teacher who spoke very fast, little to do with the Irish language itself, purely down to the individual.

    Vast question, I say...
  27. ahmedcowon Senior Member

    But in Yemen (like in Saudi Arabia), there many dialects not only one, some of them are very fast as you said (specially the San'ani Dialect) which is not even easily understood by other Yemenis but there are also other dialects in Yemen that are slower and closer to Standard Arabic.

    As the topic is talking about the fastest language, I think we agree that Arabic as a language "الفصحى" is not one of the fastest languages.
  28. momai Senior Member

    100% agree with you.
  29. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Speakers of other Arabic dialects routinely tell me that Egyptians speak too fast. We just don't realise because it's natural for us. I guess it's not everyone. But consider what happens when young people chat or have an intense conversation, we raise our voices and speak way too fast.

    i would say Algerian is stupidly fast, though. Because they get rid of so many vowels. And yemeni, good Lord I still barely understand them even after so many years learning other dialects.

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