Do some languages sound better than others?

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Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby ユ_キ on March 12th, 2011, 5:29 pm 

I think some languages simply sound better than others, this is not to discriminate anything, it's just a feeling.
So, I've heard a lot about how French is the most beautiful language, they might refer to the grammars or other deeper aspects but French doesn't sound all that good to me, I'd give it a 5 on a scale of 0 to 10, which is neutral.
Most European languages sound more or less the same to me, like French. There was a time when I could understand a fair bit of French but I forgot almost everything . The point is that a language which you know or especially fluent in, you can't tell if it sounds good or not. Or, one might insist that their native language is the best sounding language in the world, because it never sounds wrong.

One of the worst I can think of is Cantonese, again, not discriminating but it just sounds terrible. Maybe Mandarin is the same but I can't tell because I am fluent in it. So some of you will have to tell me if they sound the same, or equally bad to you.
There is at least one Chinese dialect that sounds even worse. It always sounds like a fight regardless of how peaceful the conversation actually is. These I'd give them 1 and 0.

Korean is kind of weired but not bad, so 5. Arabic I would say is 4.

Maybe I'm biased on this one by the moe girls, but the best one is Japanese, 8 out of 10(2 off for bad Japanese English). I do have my excuses to back it up though.
First, Japanese is all morphemes, like ka ki ku ke ko. There are only like 50 of them, they don't even officially have a pitch difference. This is somehow supposed to make it sound better, don't ask me why.
Second, because it only has 50 (rather than 21^5 mix and match in English) morphemes, and no pitch( rather than 100x4 pitchs in Chinese). Japanese is really really long. It takes a lot of time to say relatively few words. The word "I" takes 2~3, "you" takes at least 2. If you wanna be polite it takes like 5 or 10.
Thirdly, it's probably just due to pure chance that Japanese tend to use the morphemes that sound good to me?
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby VoudonLipstick on March 13th, 2011, 12:27 am 

I think the English language with different accents is attractive.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby owleye on March 13th, 2011, 1:32 pm 

I personally like to hear French speakers, and especially their singers, believing their vocal language to be more sonorous.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby Whut on March 13th, 2011, 2:21 pm 

Living in London, i get to hear all sorts of different accents, my personal favorite has to be Jamaican! don't know why though. I guess its not a language, but i know very little about other languages. Then again, Jamaican people have made many intresting changes to English that it almost is a different language in a sense.

EDIT: Intrestingly, i just looked up and found this:

and it says that the Irish accent had a big influence on the Jamaican accent, and all my family is Irish, so that might have something to do with why i like it lol, also, an observation ive made, is the way alot of people my age of all backgrounds talk around here, guess you could say the working class generation born after multi culturism, is heavily influenced by the jamacan accent, infact its almost like some wierd hybrid of east-end cockny and the jamacan accent, with a bit of american hip hop thrown in, though im glad i dont speak like that anymore xD was a tough habbit to kick, using forums like this reeally helped develop a more widely accepted way of speaking :) "get me bruv"
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby Deftil on March 23rd, 2011, 5:19 am 

There's something brutal sounding about the German language to me, and I like it.

Italian is nice.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby Lincoln on March 25th, 2011, 5:09 pm 

The only problem with Italian is the conversation often sounds like they're just about to go for their pistols.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby gloriacollins on July 9th, 2011, 1:47 am 

i love English....:)
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby gsalih on July 9th, 2011, 8:44 am 

It actually depends who you ask. If you ask a mandarin speaking chinese he would probably say mandarin sounds the best.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby cindythompson on October 6th, 2011, 5:51 am 

definitely. For me, French sounds the best. Then Italian and Chinese.. Though it's like listening to gibberish if you're not familiar with them, it's still nice to listen to
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby carlmr on January 29th, 2012, 9:37 pm 

I stumbled upon this thread when Googling it. I also feel that some languages sound better, or more appropriate for certain things than others. I was born in the States and I grew up in Germany, therefore English and German are my strongest languages, I also speak French and Spanish and I'm currently learning Mandarin (although that's very much work in progress).

I always felt that German wasn't bad sounding, but I felt that it didn't sound as "cool" as English for example. When I hear movie titles in English they almost always sound better to me than when they are translated to German. The same goes for Music; there are German bands I like but I find that English sounds better for music.

I also like the sound of the French language, Italian sounds even better to me. I took Spanish classes, but I never felt like the language sounds very good, but after I took classes it started sounding better to me. The same goes for Mandarin Chinese. I always felt that Chinese sounds very harsh, I think that is especially due to the sounds used (pinyin si, shi especially) and the 4th tone (the falling tone, which is similar to the tone of shouting in English). After starting to learn Chinese I felt I found it to sound less harsh, but I still don't especially like the sound of the language.

I agree with you that Cantonese sounds awful, it has a very whiny tone to it, like they are always complaining. Japanese and Korean both sound better to me than any of the Chinese dialects I know of.
Arab has a very harsh sound to me which I don't like. I don't know enough about any African languages that I could judge how any of them sound.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby toucana on January 30th, 2012, 7:23 am 

The way you respond to how a foreign language sounds depends to some extent on how well the phonemic system of that language maps onto and is recognisable from within that of your own native tongue.

Some languages rely on meaningful patterns of phonemic contrast that simply don't exist in others. If your ear is not tuned to the significant contrast in use, then the other language will always sound rather odd. Cantonese and Mandarin for example both rely on 'pitch phonemes' (aka 'tones'). Cantonese has a system of nine tonal registers consisting of a system of 'level', "rising', and 'falling' tones in each of three different frequency bands. Mandarin Chinese by contrast has a four tone system, 'level', rising, 'wavering and 'falling'. Speakers of tonal languages have to pay exact attention to enunciating the tonal glides clearly in order to say the right word! Small wonder these languages sound 'whiny' to those who are not used to hearing them spoken.

Some languages such as Arabic and Hebrew make extensive use of phonemic contrasts between different types of glottal and velar stops which sound like gargling or retching sounds made at the back of the throat to the uninitiated. Many of those contrasts do not exist in English or other European languages, although sometimes they do. Scottish Gaelic has a sound written 'dh' which is often pronounced as a voiced velar fricative ( a bit like the soft 'ch' of 'loch' but with the buzz of the vocal chords added). The same phoneme is found in Arabic, but not in English.

English by contrast has a number of phonemes which do not exist at all in Japanese and are a great trial for native Japanese speakers attempting to learn spoken English. They have to be taught how to pronounce a 'V' (bite the inside of your lower lip and hum), and they also have to practise hard to learn the contrast between 'L' and 'R' because it doesn't exist in Japanese.

I'm a native English speaker who doesn't have any special favourite foreign language, but I do enjoy eavesdropping on foreign conversations overheard around me on trains and buses or in shopping malls, and trying to identify the language in use.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby carlmr on January 30th, 2012, 6:36 pm 

I should add I don't find Mandarin to sound whiny, it sounds rather "aggressive" to me, it's Cantonese that has the "whiny" sound in my ears. I think it is specifically because they tend to stretch some syllables longer, because there are more different tones than in Mandarin.
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby mogmog12345 on October 1st, 2015, 12:15 pm 

I don't understand why people think French is so beautiful. To me it sounds almost exactly like someone is speaking Cantonese while getting punched in the throat. I hate French, makes me angry.

Top 3 WORST sounding languages in the world

1. Vietnamese (BY FAR)
2. Cambodian
3. French / Cantonese

Top 3 BEST sounding languages in the world

1. American English
2. Russian
3. Don't know, there are a lot I like.

Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby TheVat on October 1st, 2015, 12:38 pm 

I have to wonder how assertions like those above really say much beyond "perceptions are subjective." As a semi-fluent French speaker, I cannot say I have ever sounded like a Chinese person being punched in the throat. Not really sure what that sounds like, actually. It is very rare that I hear Russian or American English called the best sounding, I will say that. Many would say Italian, with which I agree. And Swahili is often mentioned as notably beautiful. Also Polynesian.

De gustibus non est disputandum. :-)
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Re: Do some languages sound better than others?

Postby vivian maxine on October 1st, 2015, 4:42 pm 

British English
American English

Because I understand them - usually. Do NOT like the sound of French or English spoken with a French accent.
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