Spanish fast talkers...can you repeat that?

Maria xx9   Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:52 am GMT
well speaking fast aside i would like to know if there is any chnace i can get rid of my english accent i am half spanish and when ever i speak spanish i am embarrased becauseof myaccent my general pronounciation is good bu there is a hint of tourist help!
Mari   Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:47 pm GMT
A lot of my friends think that because Spanish is not my first language I can easily speak each language without an "accent".
I don't believe them and I'm not sure exactly how to "get rid" of an accent myself.
Travis   Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:05 pm GMT
>>A lot of my friends think that because Spanish is not my first language I can easily speak each language without an "accent".
I don't believe them and I'm not sure exactly how to "get rid" of an accent myself.<<

The problem here is that accent is a matter of underlying phonological biases and tendencies which happen to carry over from one's native language into other languages that one learns. Such are not necessarily always immediately apparent, and even when they seem to not be present they may still be present in some modified form, or show up when one is not speaking "carefully". Consequently, to speak of getting rid of them is easier said than done, and just because one thinks one has gotten rid of them does not mean that they truly have been eliminated.

Of course, to speak of completely eliminating such is likely extremely difficult. This is ignoring the whole issue of one learning a language "too well", as in carefully learning a formal and conservative variety that most individuals do not actually use in their everyday speech, which would consequently set one apart as a non-native speaker, not due to not speaking the language "well enough", but rather due to speaking it *too* "correctly". Of course, the way to avoid this is to try to pick up how actual individuals speak on an everyday basis as well as possible, rather than just carefully learning what is taught in the classroom, but this has the limitation in that one practically has to live in an area where the language in question is natively spoken to be able to effectively do so.
egg chaser   Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:57 pm GMT
my mom is spanish and now finally i have decided to learn although i have grwon up going to Spain and i know the culture well o fear it maybe too late for me to start learning the language and also is their significant differences between Latin American Spanish and Spanish European which one wud benefit me most
JR   Thu Mar 16, 2006 2:09 am GMT
It depends on where you leave. If you want to learn a more "complete" version of Spanish, I'd go for European Spanish, as long as you know which words not to use in Latin America. If this is too complex, I'd just learn Latin American Spanish, since you can be understood everywhere.

There's not much difference between the two, especially in the spoken versions. The only difference between the two is in "Proper" Eu. Spanish and "Proper" L.A. Spanish, not to mention the local accents. (Such as how the soft "C" in Spain tends to be pronnounced like "th" in English, while in LA Spanish it is pronnounced as "S")
Johann   Wed Jul 04, 2007 10:04 pm GMT
Make them learn English. My grandparents came from Germany during the war and told each one of their children, "we are Americans now and in this country we speak English- only." They understood what it meant to respect a country. If I travel to France, guess what- I speak French. Amazing how I got off my butt to learn another language.
furrykef   Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:52 am GMT
There's the point that it typically takes more syllables to express a thought in Spanish than in English. At least, that is my impression... but so far I seem to rarely encounter a more compact way of saying something in Spanish than in English. Sure, in Spanish you can delete subject pronouns, but verbs, even common verbs, are often a syllable longer. The number of one-syllable Spanish verbs is small: ser, ir, dar... uh, maybe one or two that I'm forgetting. Some months ago, my mother noticed that under the word "push" on a door was the word "empujar"... she thought it was crazy that it took three syllables to say "push" in Spanish! There are many examples where Spanish words are longer than English words. A dove becomes a paloma, a bear an oso, a frog a rana, a dog a perro, a cat a gato... a star is an estrella, a desk is a pupitre or escritorio, a pen a bolĂ­grafo, trash or garbage is basura, a ship is a barco, and so on, and so on... there are examples where the Spanish word is shorter, but I seem to encounter these much less often.

So it wouldn't surprise me at all if Spanish is spoken at a higher rate of syllables per minute in order to compensate. It's also been pointed out already that Spanish syllables are typically consonant-vowel, whereas English syllables are consonant-vowel-consonant... Spanish is much less tolerant of consonant clusters than English is. So that kind of balances things out a bit. I think Spanish uses more elision than English does, at least when spoken at a normal pace, but I'm only going by what I've heard, as I have no facility in spoken Spanish.

- Kef
windy city   Thu Jul 05, 2007 4:25 am GMT
I used to think that English sounded slower than the other languages I've studied, including Spanish. (At least my Midwestern variety.) Then one time, another American and I were speaking speaking with a guy from Taiwan, whose English was excellent. The Taiwanese guy stopped us, and asked us to repeat some of the things we said. I then started noticing how rapidly we were often speaking English. I think it's something that a native speaker will rarely notice.

By the way: I read once upon a time that the fastest recorded speech was by French Canadian hockey announcers!
JP   Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:38 am GMT
I heard somewhere that one of the reasons Spanish sounds faster than English is because in Spanish there are no glottal stops between words, whereas these are present in English. True?

I wonder if anyone has recorded a typical conversation in each language and counted the number of words/syllables per minute. This might give some objective information about how fast people are really going.

Perhaps the perceived speed of another language has to do with how fast the brain can process it, compared with how fast the brain can process one's native language. And the faster the processing time, the faster someone can speak without the language seeming to move at such a high speed.
furrykef   Thu Jul 05, 2007 7:50 am GMT
Glottal stops? I don't think they're normally used between word boundaries in many English dialects. I think when English uses glottal stops, they usually replace other phonemes... like "button" becomes "buhʻn" (where the ʻ is a glottal stop). That's not really longer than the "t" sound would be.

- Kef
JP   Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:07 pm GMT
All right then, so no glottal stops.

So then does English really have a way to mark word boundaries? To me it seems like it does, but then, I've never really given much thought to how fast I go in English, or what I might be running together.

Does Spanish have a way to mark word boundaries? If it does, this is something I've never been able to pick up on before; when I listen to Spanish, sometimes it feels like an entire sentence is one big, long word :)
furrykef   Thu Jul 05, 2007 3:28 pm GMT
Distinguishing word boundaries in speech is one of the great conundrums in linguistics. How do you even define what a "word" is? Sure, in writing, you can say "It's what you write the spaces around", but that's cheating because speech is mostly independent from writing. Some languages don't even use spaces in their writing system. French uses spaces in writing, but identifying word boundaries in French speech would be all but impossible due to all the elision and liaison!

I think that in normal English speech, word boundaries are generally unclear... we can only pick them out easily because our brains are good at it, and context helps a lot. It'skindoflikehowyoucanreadsomethingwrittenwithoutspaces. Only it's much easier than that, since we're not used to reading without spaces. The same probably applies to every language.

- Kef
windy city   Thu Jul 05, 2007 6:12 pm GMT
It's true that writing systems indicate words, while speech is usually continuous. But as a linguistics professor once pointed out to our class, EVERY language group--even those without writing systems--distinguishes words. There may be some disagreements or uncertainties, especially with new words (e.g., fiber optics vs. fiberoptics), but the concept of individual words seems to be universal.