What does English sound like?

hwanmig   Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:16 pm GMT
I've been listening to English since I can remember so I can't comment on how it sounds like. But I can comment on langauges I don't speak

German - that sound in Ja seem to be everywhere
Russian - zh sounds, very masculine but could sound demure when a young woman speaks it
Dutch - When I heard it for the first time I thought it was an English-German hybrid.
Swedish - just like Dutch
Chinese - whiny
maria   Tue Jan 09, 2007 11:54 am GMT
It's funny....Arabic is a very guttaral language but it's also very very beautiful to my ears (Also it is said to be probably the most poetic language in the world).....whereas another guttaral language like german i don't find very pleasant at all.

Regarding the Australian accent....that can sound very different depending on which Australian you talk to...especially the young generation are starting to sound American! Whenever i hear the Australian accent on international Television it always seems to be the very pronounced outback sounding accent....some people do talk like that here but most people don't sound anything like that.....but i'm not quite sure how to explain how they sound.
Also there is a particular accent which many of the children of european and middle eastern immigrants speak with which is different again.
sam   Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:34 pm GMT
im a native english speaker but i asked a french acquantaince this question once and he told me english does sound quite musical, and made an example by translating a few famous songs into french and demonstrating how it sounded worse!! the rolling R which is atonal being an obvious differe nce. Also if you think about english compared to french the vowel sounds seem to be far more drawn out, and the ay and ee sounds are far more common.
Guest   Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:40 pm GMT
>> by translating a few famous songs into french and demonstrating how it sounded worse!! the rolling R which is atonal being an obvious differe nce. Also<<

Don't they usually trill the r when they sing though?
sam   Fri Jan 19, 2007 11:47 pm GMT
just realised the english s sound is atonal too, but the french guy reckoned english sounds very musical and of course continental and scandinavian bands singing in english is due in part to a desire to gain international recognition, but also because they think it sounds good. he also compared the sound of english to a long wave with low peaks and troughs, and french and german to a much shorter wave, and said english sounds very relaxed to him
in[dying fashion]   Mon Jan 29, 2007 6:12 am GMT
ive recently become really good friends with an italian, who has told me the english 'th' sound is hella hard to do.
and that there are alot of s's.
Guest   Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:07 am GMT
russian sounds musculine but i love the way it sounds
Guest   Sun Feb 11, 2007 10:24 pm GMT
what would an imitation of english sound like?
Guest   Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:31 am GMT
what would an imitation of english sound like?
er er er tha er er er tha.
Murph   Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:19 am GMT
I`m a native speaker of AE, and also have difficulty figuring out what English (any form) sounds like.
One thing I`ve done is to find a program on TV which has a speaker of BE (seems to work better with Brits; don`t know why). I then turn the volume down to a level where I can`t hear what`s being said, but can still hear the "sounds". ONE thing that stands out is the "S" sound. The rest just sounds like a garble of "T`s", "D`s", and "P`s", with some spitting thrown in for good measure. American English isn`t much different, but the rhotic "R" is quite noticable.
I`m also interested to know if English sounds like its Germanic relatives. I`m assuming it must, because to me other language groups (such as Romance, Slavic, etc.) have many similarities (within the group, of course!), even though they don`t sound identical. Thanks in advance to anyone who responds.
Italian   Thu Feb 15, 2007 1:26 am GMT
Hi, I'm Italian, and I have to say that much depends on what variety of English we are considering. I'm learning American English, it sounds best to me. Here's the "Italian point of view", then:

British varieties: they could be considered "formal, stiff, precise, not really masculine."

American varieties: they could be considered "like music, wild, informal, smooth."
Uriel   Thu Feb 15, 2007 8:13 am GMT
I thought Dutch sounded pretty much like American English, but other people say it's pretty gutteral. I don't think German sounds very much like English. The Scandinavian languages sound too sing-songy to pass, either.
Linguist   Thu Feb 15, 2007 12:42 pm GMT
For me English sounds as if a person chews something and tries to speak at the same time something intelligent :D quite messy impression I'd say, though language is not ugly but not beautiful as well, it sounds much better in songs for me.
I prefer British English because it's much easier to understand it, people's mouth aren't really full of food like in US ;-)

>>I`m also interested to know if English sounds like its Germanic relatives

it doesnt sound like a Germanic language, it has its own sound IMHO.
Deutsch   Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:24 pm GMT
>> I don't think German sounds very much like English. <<

I think that German does sound like Upper RP for some reason. I remember listening to a German couple talk at Buckingham Palace, and they just sounded so similar to the HM the Queen for some reason. Like when they pronounce certain words like: besser (bessuh).
Travis   Thu Feb 15, 2007 4:08 pm GMT
I myself would say that, all things considered, Standard German definitely sounds closer to English than, say, Romance languages (in general) do, due to having a similar stress pattern, aspiration of prevocalic fortis stops, a similar set of vowels (aside from its rounded front vowels), similar syllable structure, and other features such as syllabicization of /@n/ and /@l/. This is especially true in the case of Received Pronunciation due to its non-rhoticness, vowel phoneme inventory (combined with preservation of historical vowel length), and lack of features like lateral vocalization or /t/ flapping or glottal-stopping. On the other hand, some other English dialect groups, such as North American English, generally sound less like Standard German due to things such as vowel mergers, changes in the nature of vowel tenseness and length (such as the replacement of phonemic vowel length with vowel length allophony in North American English).

Dutch IMHO sounds less like English due to its lack of aspiration, its less English-like diphthongs, and the presence of [G] in it (which to me at least stands out more than [C] and [x] in Standard German). Similarly, the North Germanic languages are less English-like sound-wise due to tone stress in Norwegian and Swedish dialects (besides Finnish Swedish), the stød in Danish is not particularly English-like in itself (but does have superficial similiarity to postvocalic fortis plosive glottalization in English dialects) and the significant lenition of historically lenis stops to approximants is unlike English besides the lenition of /t/ and /d/ to [4] after a sonorant and before a vowel in NAE, and as for Icelandic and Faroese, well, I doubt I need to say more.