How does German sound?
How does German sound?
A few international ( Polish, Japanese, Greek, Turkish, US, French, Indian from India and some other) views:
Aggressive, rather deep, to spit, barking, yapping, not melodic, rough, commanding, peremptory, not emotional, dashing, boring, expressive, cold, from body not from nose, better differentiation between man and women which have beautiful and resonant voices, song-like, French for artist and woman, English for businessmen, German for real men, stable, typical click sounds, angular, strict, dry, sober; a minority said sweet ,elegant and melodic.
Very dominant with a strong leaning towards loud-voiced speeches, overbearing, arrogant, often interrupting, yelling as if they would be angry.
German using English: very direct and impolite.
Brits do not like Germans speaking German accent.
OK, what do you think?
I hope that your account is based on some sort of scientific research - otherwise I would call you a rather ignorant and very, very small-minded person. Nonetheless, I do not think so for the moment and try to comment on your statement:
I am German, but I speak some foreign languages as well (English, French and Japanese - a little knowledge [very little] of Russian and Spanish), so I think I can compare the sounds of these.
In my opinion, the "sound" of a language is quite subjective an issue. Firstly, this depends largely on the individual speaker: I speak very fast and except for formal conversation, I tend to pronounce German words a bit improperly. Thus, judging my speaking German, I would say that it does not sound very nice. Lots of friends of mine (mostly the female speakers), however, pay more attention to their pronunciation and consequently, their German sounds very beautiful. The same seems to be true of Japanese (by the way : as a matter of fact, I know that the German language is well-esteemed in Japan. Our literature has a much higher reputation over there than English or French): Men try to sound more aggressive, more like "real man" (otoko rashii hanashikata), whereas women want to sound like small, sweet children.
Secondly, the way you judge the sound of a language depends on your own mother tongue : To me, personally, most Slavic languages (except for Czech) sound rather strange and not so nice (due to the sibilants, the "r" sound and the dull monotony as far as intonation is concerned), just as Arabic which to my ears sounds very aggressive and not nice at all. In contrast to this, I love the sound of all Romance languages. Speakers of Spanish, however, simply dislike the sound of Portuguese, which I cannot understand.
What I do admit is the fact that languages which have less complex consonant clusters as German (and English, for example) and instead have more vowels are a bit smoother to the ear : Italian, French, the Polynesian languages...
Well, Germans speaking English with a German accent - well, I think that most Germans who have learned English at school do not have a very strong accent but rather a very characteristic German intonation. If you have time, read Heinrich Heine's "Florentinische Nächte" - in this piece of literature he refers quite excessively to the English and their language and he says that he is disgusted by the pronunciation of English - a very simple language which just consists of a number of syllables you swallow, then chew in your mouth and finally almost throw up when you speak. Well, that's not my personal view; I just wanted to show that it's always a subjective thing. As far as English is concerned, I have to say that it is probably the language best-suited for modern pop-songs and rather simple TV commercials because it sounds modern and trendy. But one could never use English for the Opera or classical music, chansons , i.e. in domains which are a bit deeper in sense. I prefer German, Italian and , of course, French. Even in poetry, I prefer German to English because you can express deeper meanings better than in English - it's not a question of vocabulary (English has more than German : more than 1mio words), but rather grammatical structure. In this sense, English cannot be as complex and elegant as German.
To come (at last) to an end : Judging a language by its sound is very subjective. You have to take into account the idiolects of the individual speaker, the class he or she belongs to, the dialect predominant in his/her region, the gender, the education, and the will to speak good German. What may sound ugly to someone, maybe wonderful to someone else's ears.
"Sind die Menschen alle Brüder
Wie die Wellen in dem Meer,
Warum rauschen dann die Wogen,
Warum stürmt es dann so sehr?"
It is a summary, and this are some international statements. You can call these people what you like.
The point is, should a German speaker change his way of speaking because of some unintended negative effects caused by their sound and their language-culture ( e.g. using imperfect...)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Many Germans speaking English seemed to be impolite. Why?, one example is that they use can instead of could. Can I talk to Mr.Smith, instead of Could I talk to Mr. Smith, please.
It is, of course, not about judging a language. If you look a bit more carefully to all words above you will find some contradictions.
As I mentioned above, I did not accuse you of being anti-German or whatever, I just did not exclude this possibility.
In German, it is not very polite to use "can" instead of "could", either :
"Kann ich Herrn Smith sprechen" vs. "Könnte ich bitte Herrn Smith sprechen". But this has nothing to do with the language as such but merely with the person who uses it. I would never use "can" instead of "could" when addressing someone else, but this is probably due to my upbringing with my parents paying attention to politeness. But I personally experienced that in everyday language, especially in shops etc. British speakers are politer than Germans, i.e. it is possible that you mostly hear "kann" (can) and not "könnte"(could).
As for question whether German speakers should change their way of speaking because of some unintended negative effects you mentioned, I say no. We speak a very old language with a history one can be proud of and which is manifested in pieces of literature endless in number. People who do not appreciate the language just shall not speak it or listen to it. In Britain, speakers of English will not have to suffer much from us given that most Germans prefer to spend their holidays in nicer countries. There may be some possible encounters abroad but one cannot avoid it.
I didn't understand your point concerning the use of the imperfect (especially all these exclamation marks!!!). In case you referred to Germans using imperfect instead of perfect tense, then you're probably wrong as in colloquial (not proper and written) German, one hardly uses the imperfect, only the perfect. Hence, Germans speaking English are most likely to use the perfect in English as well.
Speaking about the sound of English, I have to say that the only form of English I consider nice and which I like to hear is RP. Most dialects and even accents spoken in England sound harsh and very vulgar (esp. Cockney). Australian English does not sound very well, either. Just as with American English, I have the impression that frogs are speaking and not human beings. That's what English sounds to most Germans and also the French : you're "r" (the rhotic one) is very ugly sound to my mind. But as I said quite a few times : it's only subjective. Lots of Germans might love it , perhaps.
This negative attitude is partly due to the films where you can here German : Films about WW1 or WW2, with hyper-nationalistic officers yelling at their men and Nazis killing poor Jews and Russians. This also "contributes" to this negative attitude. German is a beautiful language and people who learn it despite its difficult grammar, punctuation and pronunciation will be able to appreciate the beauty of Germany#s literary and creative achievements apart from the worn-out clichés of "Mein Kampf" or phrases as "Halt! Oder ich schieße!"
Don't Germans pronounce the "r" at the end of the word like "Herr?" What's the difference between this and an English accent with a rhotic R? I wasn't aware that German was non-rhotic at all...
Well, actually no. The "r" (especially in word-final position) is uvular like the French "r" in "reine". But anyway, I mixed up "rhotic" with "retroflexive". There are accents which have this rhotic "r" like Bavarian and in the 1930s most Nazis used to pronounce the "r" in that way because it sounds more aggressive and determined. But people don't like it - generally
I like German and it sounds nice to my ears. Softer than Dutch.
Perhaps you do not catch what I intend to ask?
“As for question whether German speakers should change their way of speaking because of some unintended negative effects you mentioned, I say no. We speak a very old language with a history one can be proud of and which is manifested in pieces of literature endless in number.”
Nevertheless Germans could try to speak less offending (abroad!) and Germans could learn this extrem English politeness together with English as a foreign language. Do you think it is necessary or are this just prejudices.
“Speaking about the sound of English, I have to say that the only form of English I consider nice and which I like to hear is RP. Most dialects and even accents spoken in England sound harsh and very vulgar (esp. Cockney). Australian English does not sound very well, either. Just as with American English, I have the impression that frogs are speaking and not human beings.”
Well this is partly my opinion too, concerning this special (rather American) accent. Sometimes they cackle and quack like ducks. That is why it is very hard to take them seriously if they are furious and talk with this kind of sound. You hear that they are aggressive, but that is all, nothing authoritarian. But at least they speak like human beings. This was a really bad joke from you.
I would not say Cockney accent sounds harsh or vulgar. I like it. It is OK. Otherwise I know a German accent which is spoken in Berlin and it sounds as if it comes from the gutter and it is very vulgar.
I do not like the accent of Berlin either. It sounds very aggressive and vulgar. So, you are not alone with this feeling - most Germans think that way. Besides, it is full of grammatical mistakes : i.e. the artickes and also the case system is completely wrong. The elevated form of this accent is what the Prussians used to speak. As they used lots of French words and a very formal and impersonal way of speaking, this sounded rather distant but still harsh and was very good for giving orders.
Now, I see what you mean. Well, first of all, there is no such extreme politeness English speakers use (in Japanese, e.g. you have the choice between : honorific politeness, humble politeness, and neutral politeness). Judging from my experience with British people abroad, they are generally quite polite and friendly. But again, this depends on education and social class : If you go to Mallorca or Ibiza frequented mostly by the German/British underclass (??) or lower middle-class, you will certainly see that there is not much of a difference. I can tell from my experience, I have encountered several types of British tourists.
When you learn a language then you always learn how to behave. At my school , the teachers always paid attention to this, e.g. saying : would you mind,... instead of "give me ..., please." Nevertheless, teachers cannot correct what parents do wrong (and don't tell me that an unemployed mother/father from Belfast without education knows more about politeness/can teach their child more about it than the unemployed, uneducated couple from Chemnitz in Eastern Germany).
But you are right in that teachers should not just teach what you ought to say but also how you say it.
But on the other hand, I could also blame the British for demanding too much. English is not a very difficult language, ok and you have the opportunity of learning of speaking it almost anywhere, but nevertheless, learning a foreign language is always very difficult and mistakes should not be criticised (if you are not even able of rewarding the attempt to speak a foreign language). English speakers, e.g. always address me with "du" instead of "Sie" (because English does not distinguish between the two; French does : tu vs. vous) - if a German whom I do not know called me in that way, I would feel mocked at! But I would never reproach a foreigner with this, What I mean is simply : Isn't it already worth appreciating to see a foreigner trying to speak one's language? If someone, say a German, speaks perfect English but still uses quite impolite expressions, then you've the right to blame him, otherwise not
p.s.: I have noticed that my posts sound rather nasty in contrast to yours, but I do not intend to do so. When your English is not sufficient, you sometimes can only choose between the words and constructions you know whereas you as a native speaker have a broad choice allowing you a subtleness which I am denied. So, even in this case, I sound impolite and offending though I do not mean it (perhaps it's the same with Germans). Or - though I do not want to torment you with this same story over and over again - is it perhaps that you react more drastically to mistakes when they come from German mouths (for some historical reason?)
Have a good night! In German you can even say : Nacht - without the "good" and this harsh [x] sound , buuuaaaah :-)
"English speakers, e.g. always address me with "du" instead of "Sie" (because English does not distinguish between the two; French does : tu vs. vous) - if a German whom I do not know called me in that way, I would feel mocked at!"
Probably, it's because English is older. They had the word analogous to those "sie", "vous", and "vy" (Russian). My point is that possibly languages tend to simplify (in a certain sense) with time. Complex (e.g. Russian has six main cases) languages are good in describing specific matters, while the languages like English are generally good (concise and precise) at abstract staff.
The English language used to use "thou" for its familiar 2nd person and "you" for its formal or plural 2nd person. Historians speculate it was the influence of the Quaker church and other egalitarian movements, in which everyone was addressed as an equal, which eventually spelled the death of "thou," and its object form "thee," in standard English. "Thou" is still used by some dialect speakers in Yorkshire, England, but I'm not sure if they differentiate it from formal "you." I think some Scots speakers use it as well.
Also, the Canadian English accent has a much more prominent retroflex R than the American one. Indeed, many American accents are completely non-rhotic, including New York, New England, Boston and Philadelphia. So I think you people should dislike the Canadian accent more than you dislike the American one. But I think the real reason you dislike the American accent has to do with American foreign policy and nothing at all with the sound of American.
hola, como estas? Buenas tardes, habla usted alemán ?