What do other languages sound like to speakers of your language?

ahvalj

Senior Member
It's theoretized that it comes through some early interaction between g-dialects and ɦ-dialects somewhere in the northern part of Old Russian area, with -ɦo as an intermediate stage (and if I am not mistaken, it's directly attested in North Russian dialects). Ultimately -vo became the marker of North and Central Russian dialects, but since Russian orthography was essentially based on Church Slavonic (obviously unaffected by that change), that "г" letter in genitive inflections had to stay. At any rate, that purely morphological irregularity is quite easy to memorize (with "e" it's much worse).
[Sorry for flooding this thread as well… Another existing explanation is that it wasn't g>h, but s>h>∅>w>v. The inherited ending of the genitive singular in this type of pronominal declension was -so, attested in česo. The ending -go is the most etymologically obscure in all the Slavic grammar, and it was suggested to have arisen as a result of an idiosyncratic change s>*h (perhaps somehow related to the disappearance of the final s in earlier Common Slavic, which may have passed via the stage h, that is *-s>*-h>-∅). H did exist in late Common Slavic, it was a marginal consonant found for example in the pronouns in he- (Belarusian гэты, Russian этот, with the absence of iotation due to the former presence of h-). This marginal -h- of the genitive ending would merge with g>ǥ>h in the stripe from Czech to southern Russian, with g in South Slavic, Polish and perhaps partly in Russian, and disappear while leaving a hiatus filled with w>v in northern and central Russian and Kashubian.]
 
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  • swintok

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    After all this learned and considered discussion, it is time to dumb down the conversation again and return to the original question.

    In Ukraine I was told that to Ukrainian-speakers, Russian sounds like Ukrainian spoken by a lazy person (due to the reduced vowels and shortened case endings) and Polish sounds like Ukrainian spoken by someone with a speech impediment. Indeed, I once attended a very solemn celebration in Warsaw at which I had difficulty not to laugh, as to my Ukrainian-speaking ear it sounded like Elmer Fudd reading the US Declaration of Independence (apologies to any Polish speakers here; no offence intended).

    The only observation about English that my Ukrainian friends and relatives make to me is that they find English-speaking people incapable of speaking quietly; they always sound like they are yelling at you or trying to sell you something.

    To my English-speaking ear, Dutch sounds like someone who does not know English trying to imitate the language, I think mainly due to the similarity of pronunciation of many of the vowels.

    I often mistake Portuguese for Polish when I overhear it on the street because of the nasal vowels and all the sibilant consonants.

    A Belgian once told me that to speak Canadian French you had to open your mouth very wide and quack like a duck. To speak Parisian French, however, you had to purse your lips very tightly and pretend you were speaking out of the other end of the duck.

    I'll stop there.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    In Ukraine I was told that to Ukrainian-speakers, Russian sounds like Ukrainian spoken by a lazy person (due to the reduced vowels and shortened case endings)
    Interestingly, I've read a lot of times that Ukrainian and Russian sound similar except for this or that difference, but nobody ever mentioned palatalization in Russian as a distinguishing trait.

    P. S. There are instances when case endings are shortened in Russian (новой vs. нової, новою) and when they are in Ukrainian (нова: новая, нову: новую, нове: новое, нові: новые).
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    There are instances when case endings are shortened in Russian (новой vs. нової, новою) and when they are in Ukrainian (нова: новая, нову: новую, нове: новое, нові: новые).
    Even "unshortened" endings like "-ая", "-ую" etc. actually lack [j], representing vocalic combinations instead, which may be monophtongized under some circumstances.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Even "unshortened" endings like "-ая", "-ую" etc. actually lack [j], representing vocalic combinations instead, which may be monophtongized under some circumstances.
    I can't think of any circumstances when — in the normal speech — these sequences of two vowels merge into single ones. Unless Moscow indeed speaks a language of the 31th century.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I can't think of any circumstances when — in the normal speech — these sequences of two vowels merge into single ones. Unless Moscow indeed speaks a language of the 31th century.
    When both vowels are unstressed, they may merge in fast speech (/-aja/ in particular resulting in an [ɛ]-like sound). Spectrograms seem to verify that, and it concerns not only Moscow speech alone.
     

    Kaoss

    Senior Member
    Spanish-Spain
    To my English-speaking ear, Dutch sounds like someone who does not know English trying to imitate the language, I think mainly due to the similarity of pronunciation of many of the vowels.
    To me dutch sounds like they are trying to clear their throats.
     

    Şafak

    Senior Member
    Russian
    There are registers (not sure if this is the right word) in Turkish and different accents. As a non-native speaker, I would divide the language into 2 groups: people from İstanbul and people from any other place. :D A silly division but generally I've not encountered anyone incomprehensible in Istanbul. When I came to Izmir for the first time, I had no idea what they were talking about.

    Generally, Turkish sounds like an absolutely incomprehensible string of similar sounding words: [complete gibberish] oldululululululunununun [gibberish] kikirininininini.

    However, when you listen to the first group of people, you can at least hear proper words and the way they enunciate helps you to follow the conversation. The difficult part comes with the second group: if I were to write a script of my last conversation with someone from a rural part of Turkey, the transcript would be: yaniashlaonnununnednburdanininiululunumu alla alla? *the man turns around and walks away leaving me puzzled about what just happened*.
     

    overdrive1979

    Member
    European Spanish
    I've heard many foreigners saying that when they hear Greek spoken for the first time, all they can hear is blah-blah-os, blah-blah-as, blah-blah-es, referring to the nominative singular/plural suffix of many nouns and adjectives. For Greek speakers, European Spanish sounds alot like gibberish Greek. There's an interesting YT video (Why Does Greek Sound Like Spanish?!) on the similarity of phonotactics between Spanish and Greek . Italian sounds melodious, while Germanic languages (English included) sound a bit harsh

    I agree. For me as a native speaker from central Spain, Greek sounds like someone saying random words and syllables. Let's see the next sentence in Spanish language:

    "Ayer estaba comiendo en un restaurante del paseo marítimo."

    Let's see the syllables of the sentence:
    "A-yer es-ta-ba co-mien-do en un res-tau-ran-te del pa-se-o ma-rí-ti-mo."

    Well, for me Greek sounds like someone is saying random syllables with clear Spanish phonology but also so randomly that the sentence doesn't make any sense. For instance, as if a Greek person is saying the syllables from the sentence above but with other order.

    I still remember back in 2010 watching online the anti-austerity movement strikes in Athens, so I realised how Greek phonology sounds pretty much like Spanish one, especially the Spanish varieties spoken in central and northern Spain.
     
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    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    I still remember my shock at first hearing a trans woman speaking on Dutch TV and it sounding literally like someone trying not to choke every 2 seconds. I was familiar with Hebrew then, and there was no comparison. I don't think I ever had such a language experience before or after, and I haven't been able to find the clip again to compare my current impressions, but ever since that happened I take every opportunity to bash the northern Dutch /g/ in a futile attempt to contribute to that sound forever disappearing from the face of our planet. Promote Belgian Dutch!! (it sounds aristocratic)

    Everyone seems to agree that Farsi sounds pleasant in a lush and velvety kind of way. There are mentions on the internet of Ukrainian having been chosen as the second most melodious language in the world (after Italian, duh), and it doesn't surprise me if that's true. It's difficult for Russians to judge it on its sound because we already judge it on the basis of its vocabulary, which sometimes sounds hilarious, other times bucolically poetic, and the rest of the time as "that's, like, Polish, but ok" (naturally speakers of closely related languages are very sensitive to differences - some Ukrainians will tell you Russian isn't even a real Slavic language).

    There's one Slavic language that stands out as harsh to me, the BCS of Serbia ("Serbian"). It the striking lack of palatalisation coupled with the short vowels, which sound to me like starting a vowel but then changing your mind; or like stressing an unstressed vowel - very confusing. Czech doesn't confuse me like that because uniquely among Slavic languages, I can't even tell where the words begin or end. This is due to its prosody, where stressed syllables are always initial, but are usually - I kid you not - lower in both pitch and intensity than post-stressed ones!

    British English sounds exactly like the above-linked Polish clip with sound randomly cutting out (the glottal stops). American English sounds aggressively, nasally cool and plastic. English has always sounded plastic to me, and smelled of fresh electronics.

    Catalan sounds like gloomy medieval Spanish with a vowel mannerism (the Majorcan schwa). Occitan sounds precisely like a crusade in the name of love. Lombard sounds like a beautiful Alpine valley with many streams. Swiss German sounds like dancing on a galloping donkey. Logudorese Sardinian sounds now like bursts of machinegun fire, specifically MG-34 (not a sustained PPSh-41 like Spanish), now like tank tracks clanking, with a certain grazing animal vocalizing in the distance. Swedish sounds rubbery and elastic. Danish sounds like a looped vowel pronounced together with a consonant neither of which has a definite place of articulation. Finnish sounds like you have a stutter and are somewhat slow, but you couldn't care less because you have a cottage on a lake and a freezer full of beer. European Portuguese sounds like Russian 5 centuries in the future. Brazilian Portuguese sounds like playfully smiling while speaking. Metropolitan Neapolitan (xP) sounds like using telepathy to repeatedly smack someone across the face and still be friends. Russians sound like we wish there were fewer sounds to pronounce and are sad about it.
     
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    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I still remember my shock at first hearing a trans woman speaking on Dutch TV and it sounding literally like someone trying not to choke every 2 seconds. I was familiar with Hebrew then, and there was no comparison. I don't think I ever had such a language experience before or after, and I haven't been able to find the clip again to compare my current impressions, but ever since that happened I take every opportunity to bash the northern Dutch /g/ in a futile attempt to contribute to that sound forever disappearing from the face of our planet. Promote Belgian Dutch!! (it sounds aristocratic)

    Everyone seems to agree that Farsi sounds pleasant in a lush and velvety kind of way. There are mentions on the internet of Ukrainian having been chosen as the second most melodious language in the world (after Italian, duh), and it doesn't surprise me if that's true. It's difficult for Russians to judge it on its sound because we already judge it on the basis of its vocabulary, which sometimes sounds hilarious, other times bucolically poetic, and the rest of the time as "that's, like, Polish, but ok" (naturally speakers of closely related languages are very sensitive to differences - some Ukrainians will tell you Russian isn't even a real Slavic language).

    There's one Slavic language that stands out as harsh to me, the BCS of Serbia ("Serbian"). It the striking lack of palatalisation coupled with the short vowels, which sound to me like starting a vowel but then changing your mind; or like stressing an unstressed vowel - very confusing. Czech doesn't confuse me like that because uniquely among Slavic languages, I can't even tell where the words begin or end. This is due to its prosody, where stressed syllables are always initial, but are usually - I kid you not - lower in both pitch and intensity than post-stressed ones!

    British English sounds exactly like the above-linked Polish clip with sound randomly cutting out (the glottal stops). American English sounds aggressively, nasally cool and plastic. English has always sounded plastic to me, and smelled of fresh electronics.

    Catalan sounds like gloomy medieval Spanish with a vowel mannerism (the Majorcan schwa). Occitan sounds precisely like a crusade in the name of love. Lombard sounds like a beautiful Alpine valley with many streams. Swiss German sounds like dancing on a galloping donkey. Logudorese Sardinian sounds now like bursts of machinegun fire, specifically MG-34 (not a sustained PPSh-41 like Spanish), now like tank tracks clanking, with a certain grazing animal vocalizing in the distance. Swedish sounds rubbery and elastic. Danish sounds like a looped vowel pronounced together with a consonant neither of which has a definite place of articulation. Finnish sounds like you have a stutter and are somewhat slow, but you couldn't care less because you have a cottage on a lake and a freezer full of beer. European Portuguese sounds like Russian 5 centuries in the future. Brazilian Portuguese sounds like playfully smiling while speaking. Metropolitan Neapolitan (xP) sounds like using telepathy to repeatedly smack someone across the face and still be friends. Russians sound like we wish there were fewer sounds to pronounce and are sad about it.

    :D
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    A Belgian once told me that to speak Canadian French you had to open your mouth very wide and quack like a duck. To speak Parisian French, however, you had to purse your lips very tightly and pretend you were speaking out of the other end of the duck.
    On a side note, there is a French expression that means pursing one's lips: avoir la bouche en cul de poule. Litterally, this means the other end of a hen, instead of a duck.
     

    Nanon

    Senior Member
    français (France)
    Oh, my God, @Sobakus - that northern Dutch G! I can't get used to Gouda sounding like XXXXXxxxxXxXxawda.

    About Finnish - having heard and sung choral music by Rautavaara in Finnish and Swedish, when I actually got to go to Finland and heard spoken Finnish, I felt disappointed - it sounded so harsh.
     

    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Nederlands (België)
    I still remember my shock at first hearing a trans woman speaking on Dutch TV and it sounding literally like someone trying not to choke every 2 seconds. I was familiar with Hebrew then, and there was no comparison. I don't think I ever had such a language experience before or after, and I haven't been able to find the clip again to compare my current impressions, but ever since that happened I take every opportunity to bash the northern Dutch /g/ in a futile attempt to contribute to that sound forever disappearing from the face of our planet. Promote Belgian Dutch!! (it sounds aristocratic)

    Everyone seems to agree that Farsi sounds pleasant in a lush and velvety kind of way. There are mentions on the internet of Ukrainian having been chosen as the second most melodious language in the world (after Italian, duh), and it doesn't surprise me if that's true. It's difficult for Russians to judge it on its sound because we already judge it on the basis of its vocabulary, which sometimes sounds hilarious, other times bucolically poetic, and the rest of the time as "that's, like, Polish, but ok" (naturally speakers of closely related languages are very sensitive to differences - some Ukrainians will tell you Russian isn't even a real Slavic language).

    There's one Slavic language that stands out as harsh to me, the BCS of Serbia ("Serbian"). It the striking lack of palatalisation coupled with the short vowels, which sound to me like starting a vowel but then changing your mind; or like stressing an unstressed vowel - very confusing. Czech doesn't confuse me like that because uniquely among Slavic languages, I can't even tell where the words begin or end. This is due to its prosody, where stressed syllables are always initial, but are usually - I kid you not - lower in both pitch and intensity than post-stressed ones!

    British English sounds exactly like the above-linked Polish clip with sound randomly cutting out (the glottal stops). American English sounds aggressively, nasally cool and plastic. English has always sounded plastic to me, and smelled of fresh electronics.
    Dutchmen think the Belgian g sounds "impossible to take seriously" or even "gay". Luckily the rest of the world is on our side :D
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I still remember my shock at first hearing a trans woman speaking on Dutch TV and it sounding literally like someone trying not to choke every 2 seconds. I was familiar with Hebrew then, and there was no comparison. I don't think I ever had such a language experience before or after, and I haven't been able to find the clip again to compare my current impressions, but ever since that happened I take every opportunity to bash the northern Dutch /g/ in a futile attempt to contribute to that sound forever disappearing from the face of our planet. Promote Belgian Dutch!! (it sounds aristocratic)

    Everyone seems to agree that Farsi sounds pleasant in a lush and velvety kind of way. There are mentions on the internet of Ukrainian having been chosen as the second most melodious language in the world (after Italian, duh), and it doesn't surprise me if that's true. It's difficult for Russians to judge it on its sound because we already judge it on the basis of its vocabulary, which sometimes sounds hilarious, other times bucolically poetic, and the rest of the time as "that's, like, Polish, but ok" (naturally speakers of closely related languages are very sensitive to differences - some Ukrainians will tell you Russian isn't even a real Slavic language).

    There's one Slavic language that stands out as harsh to me, the BCS of Serbia ("Serbian"). It the striking lack of palatalisation coupled with the short vowels, which sound to me like starting a vowel but then changing your mind; or like stressing an unstressed vowel - very confusing. Czech doesn't confuse me like that because uniquely among Slavic languages, I can't even tell where the words begin or end. This is due to its prosody, where stressed syllables are always initial, but are usually - I kid you not - lower in both pitch and intensity than post-stressed ones!

    British English sounds exactly like the above-linked Polish clip with sound randomly cutting out (the glottal stops). American English sounds aggressively, nasally cool and plastic. English has always sounded plastic to me, and smelled of fresh electronics.

    Catalan sounds like gloomy medieval Spanish with a vowel mannerism (the Majorcan schwa). Occitan sounds precisely like a crusade in the name of love. Lombard sounds like a beautiful Alpine valley with many streams. Swiss German sounds like dancing on a galloping donkey. Logudorese Sardinian sounds now like bursts of machinegun fire, specifically MG-34 (not a sustained PPSh-41 like Spanish), now like tank tracks clanking, with a certain grazing animal vocalizing in the distance. Swedish sounds rubbery and elastic. Danish sounds like a looped vowel pronounced together with a consonant neither of which has a definite place of articulation. Finnish sounds like you have a stutter and are somewhat slow, but you couldn't care less because you have a cottage on a lake and a freezer full of beer. European Portuguese sounds like Russian 5 centuries in the future. Brazilian Portuguese sounds like playfully smiling while speaking. Metropolitan Neapolitan (xP) sounds like using telepathy to repeatedly smack someone across the face and still be friends. Russians sound like we wish there were fewer sounds to pronounce and are sad about it.
    This must be one of the funniest and most entertaining posts ever written on WR! :thumbsup: :D
    Any thoughts on Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian or Georgian?

    Luckily the rest of the world is on our side
    I actually enjoyed the sound of Dutch as spoken in Ghent.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    Dutchmen think the Belgian g sounds "impossible to take seriously" or even "gay". Luckily the rest of the world is on our side :D
    No way, Dutch from Amsterdam etc. sounds awful. Imagine going to the Museum Van XXXXXXoXXXXX.
    I also can't stand that r sound at the end of words.
    Listening to the KLM air hostesses, it really sounds like ever word has two XX
    Belgian Dutch should be promoted, it sounds so sweet and majestic. The way people speak in Bruges sounds like poetry. I hope it doesn't become influenced by the way of the north. I hope you don't get much of their audiovideo materials :)
     
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    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Still, the perception of sound of foreign languages is as much an individual trait. Speaking the same language as Sobakus and living in the same city, I have completely different impressions of perhaps two thirds of the languages he mentions ,)

    A couple of personal observations. When I first heard Norwegian on the radio around 1988 I decided it was some babies talk: later I realized Norwegians actually speak this way. Swedish to me often sounds as a dense granular spicy mustard. Faroese sounds familiar but completely unrecognizable (and as un-Germanic as English), as if it were a European language from some alternative history.

    My mom said Swahili is very Romance-sounding.
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    This must be one of the funniest and most entertaining posts ever written on WR! :thumbsup: :D
    <3
    Any thoughts on Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian or Georgian?
    I think my first impressions of Hungarian were "the sonorous clarity of Scandinavian - maybe Swedish - mixed with Slavic softness". Since then I've come to believe it's one of the most soothing languages to listen to, due to its phenomenally flat intonation - but not Finnish jumpy-grumpy-flat. It has rather melodious intonational events that only happen once every sentence, at the beginning or the end. The rest of the time it's chill-out time; kind of like sedated, intonationally upside-down Turkish. The Hungarian back /a/ sounds adorably indulgent to us, since it only occurs in (folk-)sung Russian or in emphatically dialectal speech.

    Latvian is literally an Estonian speaking aggressively dialectal Russian with almost no soft consonants and an -s stuck to half the words. It's half-forgotten now, but in pre-revolutionary Russian there was an infectious (and oft-ridiculed) honorific suffix -s, whose effect was very nearly like adding a sir or milord to the end of every utterance (-с < short for су́дарь < short for госуда́рь).

    The first time I heard Lithuanian, I thought I was listening to an incomprehensible East Slavic dialect from somewhere like Belarus. It probably sounds like folk fairy-tale Russian to heroes of Russian folk fairy-tales (the ones not dead from alcoholism).

    Georgians sound like they speak an indefinitely normal language, but every few seconds their spicy food habits catch up to them and IT''HS-XXXOTT yes as I was saying bURRNLXTSHHH oh jaja don't pay any attention to this please itS''''MKTNothing.

    Hearing Icelandic is like stroking an intensely purring cat, while Faroese is a plastic imitation of it Made in USA, but honestly it's not such a bad idea - the original sometimes bites >,..,<

    All my attempts to categorize Scottish Gaelic have ended in "it sounds like Dutch that a Norseman has polished to a squeaky-clean shine". There's always a chance I'm really listening to West Frisian.

    Incidentally, I think I've heard a Russian say that Swedish sounds like mustard once before, a comparison so singular that when encountered twice, merits consideration as being objective.
     
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    Red Arrow

    Senior Member
    Nederlands (België)
    Latvian and Lithuanian sound to me like Russian with more vowel sounds, especially diphthongs.

    It would be funny if a Russian could record him/herself speaking Russian with a diphthong adding in every word and then post that in the Guess the Language thread. I bet many would think it's a Baltic language :D

    Georgian's consonant clusters are even worse than in the Slavic languages. And it has ejective consonants. For instance, the Georgian word for trainer is მწვრთნელი = mts'vrtneli (s' is an ejective s) and "you peel us" is გვრწვრთნი = gvprtskvni. I got these examples from Wikipedia but that's also what Georgian sounds like. Honestly, I find Georgian one of the least appealing languages I have ever heard.
     

    Awwal12

    Senior Member
    Russian
    It would be funny if a Russian could record him/herself speaking Russian with a diphthong adding in every word and then post that in the Guess the Language thread.
    Russian stressed vowels are often what's traditionally described as diphtongoids (the actual degree of diphtongization may vary). Note how most Russian users on Forvo pronounce "кот" or "пел". Unstressed vowels are mostly very short and centralized, although you still can get some semblance of diphthongs there through positional vocalizations of /v/, for instance.
    Honestly, I find Georgian one of the least appealing languages I have ever heard.
    To me, Standard Georgian is certainly the prettiest of the native Caucasian languages (Turkic languages not included). Its main problem is that it's slightly monotonous due to the lack of expiratory stress. (Some speakers do have pretty ugly pronunciation, but these are isolated cases.) Now, listening to Avar is literally painful (and it will really make you worry about the speaker's health if you're not accustomed to it).
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Latvian is literally an Estonian speaking aggressively dialectal Russian with almost no soft consonants and an -s stuck to half the words. It's half-forgotten now, but in pre-revolutionary Russian there was an infectious (and oft-ridiculed) honorific suffix -s, whose effect was very nearly like adding a sir or milord to the end of every utterance (-с < short for су́дарь < short for госуда́рь).

    There's a variant (or a separate language) with palatalizations, ɨ and more Russian-type intonations, namely Latgalian — here too is a clip with subtitles. The presenter has Ukrainian surname and phenotype, but a local name, so I am not sure if his speech is completely authentic…
     

    twenty6

    Senior Member
    English - U.S., Chinese - Mandarin
    Are there any Klingon speakers here? Esperanto? Double-talk (à la "Professor" Irwin Corey)?
    Klingon (from Star Trek) sounds very guttural, it's full of abrupt stops and generally sounds like someone coughing while speaking of mix of various unidentifiable languages. One gets the impression that it might be some obscure dialect of a long-lost language. I've studied it before (only half-heartedly, haha), and it's like no other language, in the sense that you can't really find any similarities with other languages, nor can you assign it to a certain place or location. Sounds like the alien language it was meant to be.
     
    Mi iomete parolas Esperanton. And it sounds as if Italian was a Slavic language.

    Well, I am not a great fan of my native language (Italian) but I reckon Italian sounds a bit more melodious and cheerful. In the clip, Esperanto sounds so flat and dull! It is probably due to the speaker's Hungarian prosody, which is pretty flat, indeed.
    Esperanto lacks the difference between simple and geminate consonants, open and closed e/o vowels, ɲ and /ʎ/ sounds. To my mind, all these phonological features can tell Italian from Esperanto.
    By the way, being Italian and knowing some other languages, I can understand a great deal of Esperanto. :)
     
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    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    Well, I am not a great fun of my native language (Italian) but I reckon Italian sounds a bit more melodious and cheerful. In the clip, Esperanto sounds so flat and dull! It is probably due to the speaker's Hungarian prosody, which is pretty flat, indeed.
    Esperanto lacks the difference between simple and geminate consonants, open and closed e/o vowels, ɲ and /ʎ/ sounds. To my mind, all these phonological features can tell Italian from Esperanto.
    By the way, being Italian and knowing some other languages, I can understand a great deal of Esperanto. :)

    Other than stress being placed on the next-to-last syllable, Esperanto prosody depends much indeed on the speaker. E's and o's are also pronounced open or closed depending on the speakers, usually based on their first language. You may hear geminate consonants in compounds words as dropping the ending vowel is allowed. Palatalization is indeed rare in Esperanto, usually having to do with diminutive forms or as a result of -l/n + j- in some compounds.

    Of course for anyone knowing Italian, it sounds nothing like it! We could also change it for Spanish if you like! :) But what is usually meant by that is that Esperanto sonority is intentionally 'round' and clear, as in standard Italian or Spanish, languages where the stress of words is usually on the next-to-last syllable. To me, the Slavic touch would come from the frequent use of fricatives and affricates in the language.
     

    AndrasBP

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Latvian is literally an Estonian speaking aggressively dialectal Russian with almost no soft consonants and an -s stuck to half the words. It's half-forgotten now, but in pre-revolutionary Russian there was an infectious (and oft-ridiculed) honorific suffix -s, whose effect was very nearly like adding a sir or milord to the end of every utterance (-с < short for су́дарь < short for госуда́рь).
    :D Yes, I know this "-с" from Russian literature.
    Cпасибо-с!
     

    Linnets

    Senior Member
    Italian and Spanish sound pretty similar, but some Spanish accents are quite harsh. Portuguese is more different but also more melodious (and, yes, it sounds like Español hablado por un ruso). Catalan reminds me some Gallo-Italian language (e.g. Lombard).
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.A. - New England)
    Klingon (from Star Trek)... it's like no other language, in the sense that you can't really find any similarities with other languages, nor can you assign it to a certain place or location. Sounds like the alien language it was meant to be.
    Ha! I think it to be of the same linguistic clade as Dothraki. There seem to be some similarities...
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.A. - New England)
    <3

    I think my first impressions... Incidentally, I think I've heard a Russian say that Swedish sounds like mustard once before, a comparison so singular that when encountered twice, merits consideration as being objective.
    Whatever the case, @Sobakus, your mode of expression in English is beautiful, quite good indeed! Your post left me chuckling to myself in several instances.
     

    Michael Zwingli

    Senior Member
    English (U.S.A. - New England)
    Well, I am not a great fan of my native language (Italian) but I reckon Italian sounds a bit more melodious and cheerful...
    Eh??? Italian is quite appealing to myself... I have never heard anybody say that they disliked the sound of Italian.
    ...Esperanton...sounds as if Italian was a Slavic language.
    I think that is a reflection of its creator. Mr. Zamenhof basically used Latin for his word stock, but to an "outsider" (one who has not studied Esperanto, such as myself) certain phonological aspects, certain features of the alphabet (such as the voiced palatal approximant "j"), and perhaps the derivational and inflectional suffixation seem to show some Slavic influence.

    I love the concept of Esperanto, and especially the simplification of grammar it employs, but I have a couple of problems with Zamenhof's approach. If I were to undertake such a project, I would have addressed some of the basic faults that I discern in the Indo-European languages as a whole, such as the overuse of grammatical gender (I don't oppose grammatical gender per se, but to me, anything which is inanimate as well as anything animate which does not exhibit an easily recognizable sex should be of neuter gender), and the grammatical identifiers of the grammatical genders as well (masculine "-os", feminine "-a", and neuter "-om"), which for human anatomical reasons, I would have changed to (masculine "-o", feminine "-e", and neuter "-a"). in addition, I would have used Greek more in the development of lexemes and in derivation; I would have given Greek equal footing with Latin in that. Basically, my approach would have been somewhat more radical than that of Zamenhof.
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    I wouldn't generalize in referring to Italian. I love the standard Italian you find on RAI tv and radio. It is beautiful and clear. People speak this way in Tuscany but also in northern Italy, Milan and surrounding area. It's easy to understand and wonderful.
    Yet, I have heard people speaking Italian in a very ugly way... but I cannot discern where they could be from. In fact, I have to listen really hard before I realize it's Italian. It's got a dark, murky quality about it.
     
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    Yet, I have heard people speaking Italian in a very ugly way... but I cannot discern where they could be from. In fact, I have to listen really hard before I realize it's Italian
    In my opinion, that could be said for every single language: English, Spanish, French, Russian German and so forth.
    The Italian spoken by Tuscans and "Northern" Italians is so different to my ears. :)
     

    merquiades

    Senior Member
    PA
    English (USA Northeast)
    In my opinion, that may be true for every single language: English, Spanish, French, Russian German and so forth.
    The Italian spoken by Tuscans and "Northern" Italians is so different to my ears. :)
    I know. I don't doubt it. Italians had told me for a long time that people in Milan and Bergamo spoke terribly. But when I went there I found it incredibly easy to understand, and it's not just because they might have been making an effort to talk to me. Riding along in the metro and sitting in restaurants etc.. I heard people speaking among themselves and it was clear correct Italian. I mean it matched what we consider to be Italian and was articulated in a way close to the written language. Unfortunately I have not been to southern Italy so I don't know how they speak there.
     
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    Şafak

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Yet, I have heard people speaking Italian in a very ugly way...
    So true! Yet it applies to every language. I’m a huge fan of Turkish but sometimes it throws me off how horrible it sounds from some native speakers! How come they speak the best language of the entire universe so badly! I have no idea!
     
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