The sound of English

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by hsam, Oct 28, 2005.

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  1. hsam

    hsam Senior Member

    Nr. London
    British English
    Hello all,

    A question that has always intrigued me is "What does English sound like to a foreigner?" I realise that there are many accents and I'm interested in all of them but I'm primarily interested in the sound of British English.

    It's an interesting idea for a native as it is always just going to sound normal for them. I was hoping for answers like for example "to me French sounds very feminine" or "to me German sounds very macho" or something like that.

    If possible I'd like to get lots of opinions on this from different nationalities.

    Looking forward to your answers as usual,

  2. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    Here is a previous thread that addressed the same curiosity.
  3. hsam

    hsam Senior Member

    Nr. London
    British English
    That made very interesting reading but I was kind of thinking how does the English language sound to someone who isn't native (like for me I French is very feminine and German is quite harsh and macho.)

    That was something I was going to ask about next so thanks.

  4. Nocciolina Senior Member

    Hmmm, I think that hsam is more interested in knowing what foreigners think when they hear English speakers speaking English. Correct me if I am wrong. For example for me, when I hear Italians speaking it sounds as though they are singing. It's such a melodic language. When I hear Chinese people speaking chinese they sound angry or very excited. Spanish speaking seem to talk extremely fast and rarely need to come up for air. Am I on the right line hsam?
  5. Nocciolina Senior Member

    Ok, you were quicker! I would also be interested to know. Especially the what foreigners think of the different variations, ie English English v Scottish English v Australian English v Canadian and so on.......
  6. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    Sad but true I suspect that goes for the majority of us. Where I live is fab for this. On my street alone you can easily hear more than 60 different languages spoken as people take their kids to school.

    I have a really funny memory of fiddling with the radio when I came back from Colombia I hadn't heard English English on the radio for two years. I was convinced that either my ears were still back on the plane or there was something wrong with the radio. It sounded like there was a glottal stop between each and every syllable. "he lo here is the news. to day in lon don..."

    As for where are the others, I suspect they either have a life or are still at work.
  7. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Here's one :)
    But sorry, I have never associated any language with any feeling or psychological trait. I've really tried hard to consider your question and asked myself "what does English sound like?" but the only answer I got was "English sounds like.......English" :eek::D
    Not much of an answer, is it ?

    However, even if this isn't exactly what you're asking, I'm very interested in all the various accents in the UK. And there's something I've noticed.
    To my foreign ears, women and girls sound different than men. I don't know why. Take a young man and a young woman (yes, it's more different with young people, don't ask me why) from the same region in England. The woman's accent sounds different to me, more "jerky", like.(more glottal stops maybe ?)

    And I haven't noticed the same sexual difference among Americans. :confused:
  8. Laia

    Laia Senior Member

    Catalan, Spanish
    English... mmm...

    British English sounds elegant, very very high-pitched, sometimes slow, difficult to speak (a lot! because words are written in a different way than they are pronuncied), etc.

    On the other hand, American English is easier to understand than British English for me, because americans open more their mouth when they speak.

    Please correct my mistakes... (but be good with me... I only have the level of the First Certificate... :) )
  9. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    It's exactly the other way round for me. To be honest, I just love the British accent. For instance, the way the Brits say "at the moment", stressing the diphtong very much as if it were really two vowels just makes my delight. :)
  10. Nocciolina Senior Member

    Very interesting. I always thought that foreigners understand North American Eng better because it dominates the media. They also use fewer vowel sounds, and don't pronounce a lot of the consonants.
  11. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    I was searching at the bottom of my mind :D how English sounds
    to me. Well, couldn't remember nothing. It was centuries ago the
    first time I heard it , so can't remember my perception. Although
    I can remember what En/British sounded to me when I first went
    to Britain in 1997. I thought people spoke like they had mashed
    potatoes in the mouth. Sorry, I couldn't find another metaphor.
    No offense.:) Anyway I'm not referring to the pattern English
    from BBC on cable TV though. I mean the English spoken by
    regular people.
    I'll make a research among my students and discover what
    they think about and promise to come back with fresh ideas.
    As someone has already mentioned above, if you ask about
    other languages I have "finished" answers... Eg.: men would
    say French is for women, not men (all macho) . Japanese
    and Chinese people sound angry, Italian sound fighting all
    the time and German very guttural.

    As for me I'll try to "feel" my reaction to English, beginning
    tonight when I'll stop to see "Frasier" on cable.
  12. Nocciolina Senior Member

    lolol, hilarious. Reminds me of the scene from My Fair Lady where, in order to improve her pronunciation, Professor Higgins forces Elisa to speak with a mouth full of marbles.
  13. Mita

    Mita Senior Member

    Chile - Español
    With few words, this is what English sounds to me like:

    British English: elegant, polite, pleasant, beautiful!... :D
    American English: sounds more informal, spontaneous, nice but not as nice as British English does. :p

    Regards, :)
  14. Edher

    Edher Senior Member

    Cd. de México, Spanish & English

    I remember the first time I heard English been spoken next to me. I was only a child back then. To me it sounded way too nasal and a bit robotic. Hehehe. But back then I thought it was really cool since the person that this language was coming from was a soldier (all dressed up and everything) visiting Mexico City with his extremely gorgeous girlfriend. However, I did notice the stereotype; they ended many words with " -ation" as well as their very modest and soft "r" sound.

    British English does sound more elegant, however, there are times that it sounds as though they are trying way too hard to sound more "sophisticated" than the rest.(Like when people emphesize "not a TALL") Also, at times it seems as though they talk extra and louder because they love to listen to themselves.

    American English sounds quite common now, nothing out of the ordinary, just neutral. But what I can't stand is what here is known as the "valley accent." The pretentious, egoistic, "popular-girl" accent. Ehehe, just thinking about it gives me the chills. haha. It sounds so awful, especially when I see foreign girls trying to adopt it.

    I still would like a British accent for Christmas though.

  15. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Houston, TX USA
    American English
    I think I'll agree with the census here, and say that British English is much more pleasant on the ears than American English. I spent 4 years in England when I was young, and when I had been back in the "States" for a few years, it occured to me that I really missed the accent. And for the record, most dialects of American English sound very nasal to me...obviously more pronounced in the North Cost and Midwest areas of the USA. I have also noticed that Americans of European descent are this way more than not. By that I mean of European descent and having had their families spend 2 or more generations here. I prefer hearing almost anyone (except Eastern Asians...their English sounds a bit choppy) speak English than "born and raised" Americans...(could not say native Americans, or that would refer to what we used to call American Indians). I find that Middle Asian Indians (from India) speak the most interesting sounding English. It combines the musicality of British English with the stacatto of Spanish. Not to mention their proclivity for using the present progessive tense a great deal. "I am wanting to know if you are having any fresh milk today." :) The sad part is when the children who are born and raised in this country become "Americans" who sound just like all those other (nasal) Americans

    Now African Americans, other than those raised around those who speak in nasal accents, tend to have their own timbre, which is a little more rich in tone, though I couldn't tell you exactly why.

    Now, the most interesting sounding American accent is that old New York or Boston "Brahman", which, oddly (or not) enough, sounds a lot like British English, especially upper class British English. So, I guess, at the end of the day, the Brits win!:thumbsup:

    Rule Brittania, for the accent is mightier than the sword. :D
  16. hsam

    hsam Senior Member

    Nr. London
    British English
    Wow thanks for all these great replies!

    So in summary I can think that English is reasonably glottal and more specifically BE is quite elegant whereas AE is more nasal. I like Vanda's idea that we sound like our mouthes are full of mashed potatoes!!

    Another sub-question, what is the nearest language (sound-wise) to English (BE to be specific)?

    Thanks again everyone.

  17. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    Just an afterthought. Reading the thread again I realize some people have said that British English could sound posh or sophisticated.
    This doesn't strike me. I mean you should listen to people from Bermondsey or Newcastle or Liverpool : to me, they don't sound sophisticated at all :).
  18. hsam

    hsam Senior Member

    Nr. London
    British English
    A very good point, London/Southern BE is so different to Northern/Scottish/Irish/Welsh BE.

    Thanks for pointing that out.

    What do you think of my other question: "What language do you think is closest to BE?"
  19. jess oh seven

    jess oh seven Senior Member

    UK/US, English
    i think english probably sounds very ugly and disorganised to a foreigner.
  20. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Houston, TX USA
    American English
    You are right.

    I was thinking of sophisticated London aristocratic, or at least, middle class English. There are many more unsophisticated accents, like the "Cockney" accent (from East London) and all areas that you mentioned. Same with AE: there are "country" accents that sound almost comical is their atrocious diction and accent (be it drawl or twang)! :D

  21. bartonig Senior Member

    UK English
    As a Brit I heartily concur with Jazz's sentiment.
  22. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    As I promissed I'm back. This morning I've asked some students this
    question and had some interesting replies.
    Some mentioned the fact of it being nasal (in this case they were
    being specific about USA English - here we have more contact with it; besides movies, TV, also more North Americans come to our city);
    others mentioned that it sound to them as if the persons speaking
    it sound confused. I asked in which sense, if it had to do with the
    fact that they couldn't understand what was being said and they
    said no, it doesn't have to do with their understanding or not just
    sounded it to them , but they weren't able to explain further.
    One said an interesting thing: that it sounds like people are in stage, reciting, acting.... (new perspective for me.). In Portuguese we say
    with a empostada voice (don't know the related word in En).
    Someone above on the thread, commenting on my comparison with
    the mashed potatoes, mentioned Pygmalion and that funny part of
    Eliza Doolitle trying to speak posh English - I hadn't remembered that
    fact when I wrote that, but yeah, that was the picture I had uncounsciously in mind. ...:)
  23. Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish

    Mi turn:

    When I was yonger (so much yonguer than today ;) ) and I heared English people talking it seemed like they were chewing a gum (is this correct? It sounds so bad for me!)... :eek: ... the italian sounded fun to my hears because I could understand some word and the rest words were familiar...


  24. VenusEnvy

    VenusEnvy Senior Member

    Maryland, USA
    English, United States
    Some correccionitas, girlfriend!
  25. Christoph Member

    Switzerland, German
    It seems to change depending on your experiences. British English seemed to me the proper, easily understandable English when I was in high-school and American English was the chewing-gum English. They just swallow half of the pronunciation. After I've been to the US for several years, I adopted the chewing-gum English, but I do not perceive it as such anymore (snicker). British English seems just a little bit clear now to me. I've got slight troubles with the Australian accent. I got used to the Asian-Indian English quite a bit, it's staccato-like as someone said above.

  26. Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish
    Thanks Lady! :)
  27. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    English, Hodgepodge
    I think we forget we can hear a lot by listening to different accents within our language. Fargo English is English, though it is alien to me, and would often sound only slightly different to a beginner in English. For me I have trouble digesting accents from Birmingham, whereas accents from parts of Appalachia and Ireland sound absolutely divine to me.

    I love the sound of English, more than I do the sound of French because English can sound so soft to me in a way French cannot. I think this comes from the relaxed mouth in English. One of my French friends jokes that his accent in English is best when he has had a few drinks, because only then can he relax his mouth (not true in practise, but you get the idea).

    So I understand the "open" comments--but does this sound nice?

  28. Rach404

    Rach404 Member

    I have a english accent, (I'm from London) but I don't have a "cockney" accent...more like the Essex accent, if people know what I'm talking about hehehe...but anyway, it's really interesting when people say that our accent is like we are talking with our mouths full of mashed potato...ever since this thread started I have been listening extra carefully to the accents around me, and can't see how people can think that, it's very interesting...then again I am a native of England....but still, it's confusing to me!!!
    I find that some American accents (and some English too) can sound very common, but some of them sound very nice.
    I have found this thread very interesting to say the least!
    Rach :)
  29. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    The original question was about standard British English, I take it.

    It's almost as difficult to describe what a language sounds like as it is to listen to your own language as though you were not a native speaker. I would agree with others that standard English sounds "elegant", and add "refined" and "precise".

    But I must ask: to what extent do these metaphors translate anything real, and to what extent do they just reflect cultural stereotypes? After all, when I think of standard British English the first images that come to my mind are queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher. No wonder it sounds "elegant" and "sophisticated".

    That's an even harder question to answer, especially since I don't usually listen to some of the best candidates: Dutch, Frisian, the Scandinavian Germanic languages. I honestly can't think of any language that I would describe as "close to BE".
  30. lingo95 New Member

    USA, Standard American English
    Hmmm....some of my students in Brazil thought English sounded like dogs growling!! They said speaking English made their throats hurt, and I told them speaking Portuguese made my lips and tongue hurt :).
  31. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Second languages often have that effect, especially when we don't practice them much. :)
  32. nanel Senior Member

    Madrid (Spain)
    Spain (Spanish)
    Yes, British English sounds to me like a river, fluently and with no stops. American English sounds like someone with a chewing-gum for me, Irish is easier for me because they have a similar accent to Spanish, Scottish English is difficult for me because it sounds to me like someone speaking English but closing his mouth too much.

    Yo también, jeje

    The closest language to English? Maybe German. It is something between English and French to my ears which I can't understand.
  33. ddddan Member

    Canada -- English
    I have to agree that the Irish lilt is my favourite English accent by far (might be influenced by my Irish heritage, who knows?)
  34. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    Hsam ,
    Did you observe that the perception Europeans have
    of English is a bit different from us living in the wrong :)
    half part of the world?
    I read all posts again and observed this feature. I'm
    going to research more about and learn what influences
    the differences: closer contact from Europeans ? other
    cultural differences? Well, there's plenty to know about,
    don't you think so?
  35. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    British English sounds so classy and elegant.
    I always tried to master the British accent, and I thought that producing the same sounds would be easy since the process of producing Arabic sounds is much more difficult (at least theoritically). However, all my efforts were in vain. When I joined college, I realized that the problem is that the British not only nasalize the basic nasal sounds /n/, /m/ and /ng/ but also a bunch of other sounds. Actually that was a hindrance to me, so I shifted to the American accent which is easier for people whose mother tongue is not the English language.
  36. pink84 Member

    Just an afterthought. Reading the thread again I realize some people have said that British English could sound posh or sophisticated.
    This doesn't strike me. I mean you should listen to people from Bermondsey or Newcastle or Liverpool : to me, they don't sound sophisticated at all :).

    I would just like to disagree with the above thread. I believe that the many regional accents that we have in England are wonderful and add a certain colourfulness to our language and culture. To say they certain accents don't sound very sophisticated is probably not solely to do with sounds but with social prejudices that we have within our country. Someone can have a regional accent and speak with some colloquialisms yet still be proficient in the English language, speaking correctly grammar wise.
    I would say that my scouse accent is not particurly strong, I have a twang of it one would say, that is until I go baclk home! However, I would not change my accent for anything as it makes me so proud of the area I come from. I feel proud to be an ambassodor for Merseyside everytime I open my mouth. I do agree however that any accent in its extreme can sound very harsh and incorrect. But this is just how English adapts itself and works in different areas. I remember reading that non RP English is much closer to Shakespearean English. However, because of our social prejudices today to read Shakespeare in any other accent then RP sounds like it is being said as a joke.
    So, I was wondering what foriegners make of our many accents in Britain without these social prejudices. Something, I read once said that the Scouse accent was very popular when played to foriegners but vice versa when played to British people.
    So what do you foriegners think? I imagine it is very hard to understand strong colloquial accents and especially when I think of all the different words we have for things and phrases etc.
    My point in this thread by the way was simply to point out that British English has many different accents and dialect that make a person who they are.
  37. Vanda

    Vanda Moderesa de Beagá

    Belo Horizonte, BRASIL
    Português/ Brasil
    I can tell you that. The day I arrived in London and went to the house
    I was supposed to be hosted while in London, the ladyland was receiving
    a friend of her daughter from the Wales. Can you imagine? After
    one day and one night travelling , being totally worn out, listening
    English in loco for the first time, what was that for me? The landlady
    asked me: Can you understand the girls? I was lost and thought that
    I had spent my whole life learning another language than English!
    Then, she told me not to worry, neither could native understand
    them , they were using the Welsh language.... It was a big relief!
    Ah, and I had had before that another experience in a subway station.
    I was coming from the airport to the city and had to change train
    in one station. I had no idea if I were in the right place to
    do it and asked an old man who worked in that station if I had
    got the right platform. Can you imagine his accent? Cockney!
    I managed to do everything by myself, because for real i couldn't
    understand him. Just take note that I was arriving for the first time
  38. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    You mean the above post ? The one you quoted ?
    Don't get me wrong. "Not sophisticated" is far from derogatory in my mouth. On the contrary, my purpose was to counterbalance the slightly depreciatory undertone I found in the adjectives "posh" and "sophisticated".
    And I wanted to point out that as a prejudice; that the English accents were much more diverse than what is sometimes thought by the foreigners.
    And I like the accents I mentionned as much (more, to be really honest) as standard English RP. May be I don't understand the actual meaning of sophisticated and so I used it inappropriately. My mistake probably came for the fact that "sophistiqué" in French is often used negatively.

    And of course, as an unflagging Beatles'fan, Scouse is one of my favorites. :)
    (though I've never found that the four of them sounded exactly alike).
    As you can see from 1st paragraph above, I couldn't agree more.
    I'd deleted one of my posts (because I thought it was offtopic) where I pointed out that the Shetland accent (Shetland being part of Scotland I take it we can consider it as one of the British accents) had nothing to do with, say, the Southern accent and where I wondered to what extent people from those respective areas understood each other.
  39. pink84 Member

    I forgot to, rather importantly, say that I wasn't sure of the tone of your post as written words can so often be misinterpreted. Perhaps, I was wrongly mistaking sophisticated for intelligence. As a suit can be seen as 'sophisticated' and a tracksuit (I am being ironic!) as not so. But, this doesn't make the person wearing the tracksuit unintelligent and the person wearing the suit intelligent. If that makes any sense? Anyway, I am glad we have cleared that up.

    Chao x
  40. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    I personally cannot make the difference between the accents of different regions, perhaps because I have never been to England and most of the British English I have heard was on television:) . Few British people live where I live in my city, and most of them are from London or somewhere near it.

    Watching an interview with a singer from Manchester (Cavana from the late 90s), I noticed that his accent is not as hard as that of people in London and easier to understand. Perhaps I noticed the difference coz I was told were he was from. But in general, I do not tell the difference. All the accents sound sophisticated.
  41. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    How about Welsh accent and dialect ? They should sound different and do sound different as Welsh dialect is of Celtic origin, if I'm not mistaken. Whereas English is rather a Germanic-rooted language.
    I sometimes listen to Radio Cymru on line (anybody heard of that station?) and I can't understand a single word. :)
    How far is it, do you think, from "breton"? I mean the dialect they speak in French Brittany and which is Celtic as well.
  42. Heba

    Heba Senior Member

    Coventry, England
    Egypt, Arabic
    I never heard Welsh, so I cannot personally judge.
    However, one of my professors have been to Britain and told me that Welsh sounds completely different from English
  43. Yang Senior Member

    Taiwan /Traditional Chinese
    Hmmm...English sounds like a foreign language and is the most familiar foreign language to me.

    Taiwan has three main languages, besides that, English is the one I have heard most often, from TV, movies and radio. Well, not that so often, actually.

    I knew we had been taught AE in school but hadn't noticed the difference of accent between AE and BE. Up until one day morning, about six o'clock, I turned on a radio station ICRT, which was formerly the Armed Forces Network Taiwan (

    ICRT has been the only all-English radio in Taiwan since 1979. I listened to, though couldn't understand them much, their morning news sometimes, which began at seven. However, I turned on it beforehand that morning and heard someone was speaking (English). I totally could not understand what he was talking! Although it sounded like @#&%@ox#*^#x%$... to me, I knew it's English and, Occasionally, I could distinguish some simple words, such as 'I', 'you', 'and'...etc.

    I was so surprised. The English was not the one I used to hear. I focused my attention on and tried to catch what the man said. In the end of the program, I finally knew that it's BBC News! ICRT broadcast a real-time BBC News. The next morning, I prepared a tape and recorded BBC News while I was listening to it. Then I listened to the tape repeatedly. I recorded every day's BBC News and listened to them repeatedly.

    The second day, I could feel the special tone of them. I could distinguish them almost word by word after about two days, though I didn't know most of the words, and found them fascinating. Several days later, I thought they (BE) were elegant, graceful. I didn't know why but you just could feel it. And I could find the words that I didn't know in the dictionary by the broadcaster's pronunciation. One male broadcraster was my favorite, his voice and pronunciation and, especially, the way(tone?) he sounded made me thought of a gentleman. In short, the way he spoke was beautiful.

    From seven o'clock, after BBC News, was the usual news program of ICRT, whose broadcasters mostly were Americans. After being acquainted with BE, I could tell the difference of accent between AE and BE, though I still can't not speak BE accent.
  44. ddddan Member

    Canada -- English
    I am not British myself but I understand that for some Britons, their particular accent is cultured in order to identify them with a certain social group, real or imagined. Perhaps this is more evident when families immigrate to other places, such as here in Canada, and want to preserve their cultural identity.

    Thus I know a family where the parents continually corrected their children's accents.

    In addition, it used to be quite common for some Canadians to try to imitate a British-sounding accent in order to sound aristocratic.
  45. LV4-26

    LV4-26 Senior Member

    This question hasn't been answered much, it seems, so I'd like to come back to it.

    If you take a French (and probably any European for that matter) who's rarely ever heard or spoken a word of English, BE sounds almost exactly like AE obviously. Same words (almost), same set of sounds, even if they're pronounced differently.
    It takes a few months (years?) of learning English to clearly hear the difference between BE an AE accents. So I guess to a French newbie the closest accent is the American accent. Of course they'll soon be aware that American sounds more nasal but that doesn't mean they'll be able to tell one from the other instantaneously.

    If you take me, it's different because English is my second language and I've already heard it a lot, spoken by people from various areas of the world. It's been rightly pointed out that there are several British accents. So I'll restrict to what's called "Received Pronounciation".
    To me, I can't really relate this accent to any other, no matter how hard I try.
    It just sounds like BE to me - full stop.

    However, some other British accents, from the top North of Scotland for instance, rather make me think of Northern Europe, like the Netherlands (mostly) or Scandinavia.
  46. JazzByChas

    JazzByChas Senior Member

    Houston, TX USA
    American English
    Got to agree with you LV...

    Acquiring an ear for the nuances in dialects of the same language, esp AE and BE takes a while. And THANK YOU!!! ...a Frenchman also agrees that American English, for the most part, sounds nasal! (I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks so!)

    And as for "Received Pronunciation", which is defined as "A pronunciation of British English, originally based on the speech of the upper class of southeastern England and characteristic of the English spoken at the public schools and at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Until recently it was the standard form of English used in British broadcasting." ... I am going to have to say that this is just the old fashioned notion that everyone must a) sound the same, and b) sound like a snob, in my opinion. The same phenomenon occurs here in the USA, where they teach broadcasters to speak with the same dialect, a sort of flat, lifeless, form of English.

    In Great Britain, as well as in the United States of America, there are many different dialects, depending upon where you are, so "enfin, vive la différence!"

    My $0.02(USD), anyway

  47. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    Crug Hywel
    UK English
    This should probably be a different thread. I am not surprised you can't understand. It comes from a group of languages called brythonic. It is in effect what was spoken here before the Romans came and then the Angles, Saxons, Danes and Normans and whoever else happened to be passing.

    Welsh people wouldn't take kindly to their language being referred to as a dialect. It is a language in its own right. It reminds me of the remark attributed to Napoleon - a language is a dialect with an army. You're right that is related to Breton, and for that matter, Irish, Gaelic and Manx. When you are in Brittany you can often work out what the place names mean if you understand sufficient Welsh.

    The following link gives more information:

    In terms of how it sounds, the English used in Wales is heavily influenced by the intonation and syntax of Welsh and it sounds quite different in the south compared to what it does in the north. It is interesting that this seems to apply whether or not people actually speak Welsh.
  48. Tamlane Member

    South-Western Ontario
    English, Canada
    I'd hate to mention any taboo about a certain unpopular linguistic theory, but as one person hears one language as being 'angry' may not be what another person hears, especially if that person is speaking another language. I just don't see the importance of knowing what any spoken English sounds like to the native speaker of any other language, especially considering that it only demonstrates something we ought already to know -that the social factors affecting a language will alter the perception of what is heard when listening to another language, be that angry, loud, slow, or whatever. Unfortunately demonstrating at least some proof of that rather unpopular lingiustic theory.
  49. Québecissime

    Québecissime New Member

    Francais/Anglais Québec
    Hi all, im from Québec and my first language is French. I was raised surounded by hundreds of millions of english speaking people so i became pretty bilingual even without speaking it actulay in my daily life. I may sound a bit "childish" in my vocabulary as my knokledge of English word univers is way smaller than in French. lets say i understand it better than i speak/write it.

    About the main question, I have also asked myself the same question about French.. specificly Québec French. one time a british guy in a movie was imitating french and it was pretty funny.

    As for English, I am mostly use to North-American English wich i think sound exacly the same in Canada and northern USA(exept for the "About" lol). I can get Southern USA English pretty good but I have WAY more trouble understanding british english but i still get it if its a normal person (meaning he talk normaly). they use very different word from American english and often talk with mouth half-closed... hard to describe but SOOOO different than USA.

    As for the Autralian English..... I tried to watch the "Chopper" movie (wich was realy good) in original version but... no way, it was like chinese. Scotish English is also very hard to understand, Harder than British but less than Ozzies....

    In French theyr is also alot of different way of talking. Each Québec region as is own the same way each french region got is. The Marseille old accent is barely understandable for a common Montréal citizen...

    BTW : English sound only like english to me.... some word look alot like German or Dutch but the sound is unique. The "TH" is one of the bigest challent for French people. Three, Three, Three.... biggest fear of quebec people.. im not so bad at it :)

    2-BTW : French from France is hardly compatible with english... no offense to the French but your English sounds very very bad. Maybe cauze im french to but Spanish to English sounds way better in my ear... The Québec accent is strongly influenced by English and we can almost get ride of our "French flavour" when speaking english... for those who call themself bilingual of course.
  50. Amityville

    Amityville Senior Member

    English UK
    Enjoyed your post Québecissime, fascinating to hear how things sound to you.
    Tamlane - nothing to do with any theory or taboo, it's just interesting to hear how others hear things.
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