Saturday, March 10, 2012

LISTENING TO LANGUAGES-PART ONE : What do languages sound like? I'd like your opinion...and a BONUS feature: Prisencolinensinainciusal!

I'm planning a trip to France to visit a dear friend, and I have suddenly become very obsessed with languages. I'm trying to learn some basic French (I speak intermediate Spanish.) Not really the verb forms or syntax, but the way they sound.

I think as a writer, I'm kind of fascinated by language. I love music, and I think each language has its own special music. But because I am a native English speaker, I cannot hear the way English would sound to someone who does not know English.  Likewise, we have some our own views/ opinions of how other languages sound to us.

Let me say I'm not trying to stereotype anybody, but languages sound different to those who do not speak it.
As pointed out in this clip from "Family Guy"---we do have a perception how another language sounds. Here, I think the point is that Italian is lively, vivacious---and in my personal opinion the perfect vehicle for opera (I felt in love with "La Traviata" and haven't turned back!) Once again, this is not meant to offend.

So I've been in a quest to find out what English sounds like to those who do not speak English as a native. Please, any non-native-English speakers reading this blog, let me know. And do not be offended to say it does not sound pleasant (some phrases I've heard used to describe English are 'dogs barking' and 'music' and sounding like someone is talking with a mouthful of potatoes!)

I also know that accents vary---not just between British English and American English, but in the States, between a Boston accent and a Southern accent (extremes on either end of this are kind of grating)

In my searches I came across this very bizarre---yet impressive---video. This probably gives a good example of what English sounds like to non-native speakers, though I don't think the point of the video was such. It was made in 1972 by an Italian songwriter / comedian, etc. tv host Adriano Celentano. 

I think the point of the video was on communication. I can't look away. Bizarre and yet interesting. Like a cross between Star Trek and Austin Powers. I promise, you'll want to see it twice.

And to those who speak English: the words are all gibberish (well, except for "all right!") . 
To Adriano---you got some smooth moves!

In my next posts, I'll try to describe what other languages sound like to me.
I'd love to hear from non-native speakers what English sounds like to you. And don't be afraid to say it sounds terrible. We know English makes no sense.

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