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Do you think languages sound differently?


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Languages within families tend to sound extremely similar to me (romance languages being an exception given my experience with them). I can't tell the difference between Russian or Ukrainian, nor can I tell between Korean or Japanese. That being said, it's quite obvious what separates the families.

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I've never really thought languages sound the same, except marginally so. Even though I can't speak them myself, I can typically tell what language a person is speaking without asking them. Or at least I can place what area of the world they're from. I'm not so sure that my ear is so nuanced as to be able to tell Cantonese from Mandarin, but Japanese sounds totally different from those as does Korean. Spanish, Italian, French, German & Russian are all relatively simple to distinguish. I'm not familiar enough with African and Indian languages to be able to tell which language/dialect is being spoken, but I could probably make a decent guess. Each language tends to have its own rhythm, aside from the sounds, that helps separate it out from the others.

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I think languages sound very different. For example we had two exchange students at the same time. One from Italy and one from Germany. When the Italian was talking to his parents it sounded like music. Soft flow, the words and sentences flowing together. Even when it was unhappy it sounded sweet. The other was German, which sounds much harsher. It could sound like she was mad, even when she wasn't. Each word is more abrupt and closed rather than flowing together. Russian is the same way. Where Spanish, French and Spanish all roll off the tongue really easy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think some languages are harder to separate than others. For example the love languages of Spanish and Italian can sound alike when you are just listening casually. If you listen closely you will hear the differences. Asian languages have their own sound as do the languages like German and Russian.

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I would say that languages all sound different. You can sometimes pick out what language people are speaking by the tone of their voice and how fast they speak. Like Japanese for example, it sounds a little lower in my opinion compared to the Chinese language. English and Hindi, they sound completely different even without the accents.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Yes, I think it's so easy to forget that not all languages, and even culture for that matter, are structured according to what we've gotten so used to. I only got that as I grew older and learned from people from different countries as well, although I'm remissed that I'd never really fully understand the difference in each one without learning the whole language first, which is probably too much of a feat for me at least for now.

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I think almost every different language sounds different in its own way. I don't think no two languages sound the same. Although I think there are languages that have similarities, but they don't sound the same. The reason is because of their words spelling and their pronunciation.

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I think that there may be generalities, such that certain languages may sound harsher to the ear than others.  There is so much nuance though based on the individual speaker.  If you look at the English language, there are great differences between British English and American English.  There are differences in pitch and inflection that even amongst those speaking the same language say it is difficult to understand all the words.  Looking at the United States as a whole, there is clearly a difference between someone from Massachusettes for example and someone from Texas in speaking the exact same language.

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I have often thought about that, and languages sounding difference might actually be one of the major causes of different accents, heavy ones, soft ones, regional differences, troubles with pronunciation, and a ton of other things. Think about a person who is used to using language in one way his whole life, with one way of sound pronunciation, trying to take on a completely new one, half-way across the world. Not even a lifetime of study will correct his pronunciation, I guarantee you that.

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That is why language represents the people who use it. Different ethnics and races have different languages. This difference is how a race distinguishes themselves from others. By learning to differentiate these differences like tones, sound, and way, we can tell what kind of people we are interacting with.

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Yes, I think they all have their uniqueness to them, which is what makes them distinguishable from one another. To the average person, however, they might sound similar. For example, someone less familiar might not be able to differentiate between the many Asian languages, but to an Asian or someone who has familiarized themselves to the cultures, they will each have a distinctiveness to them.

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Languages definitely sound different. The way certain constants are addressed vary depending on the culture. Also, you have to think of the person who is speaking it.

Regardless of the culture, some people (within it) have beautiful voices. So, they could be cursing your out, but the tone of their voice is smooth.

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I do agree that languages do sound differently. Even in each language and country  you will find that there are different pitch, sounds and accents. Some laguages when spoken tend to sound like those communicating it are arguing :wacky:. Others are much softer and clearer. So no two language are ever the same :cool:

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Oh yeah.... Just think about Chinese learners trying to learn English. They usually have trouble with pronunciation because some sounds they don't use in their language.

I agree, the Chinese trying to learn English has great trouble in pronunciation. In Jamaica the native language is patois and the Chinese tend to catch on to the native language better and faster than the English language and its not one or two it is all of them. In every area of Jamaica that you visit and  Chinese occupy that area ,they can relate to the patois in a jiffy.

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  • 1 month later...

Languages are similar with regard to the terms and words we use but just with a different tone. I still say that the tower of Babel was the reason why we have this commonality of vocabulary and the only reason we got separated is because of that event.

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I still say that the tower of Babel was the reason why we have this commonality of vocabulary and the only reason we got separated is because of that event.

Wow, that's interesting!

I agree with most of you, guys. Human being can create an incredible variety of sounds but it's the way you combine them that gives us a language.

Talking about similarity... yes, of course, tribes would live close one to another, they tried to understand each other so the tongues were mixing and spreading until they encountered and obstacle. For example, people from across the sea, the mountains have completely different language while people from the similar area sound alike.

There is also Hungarian :grin:

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Of course all languages sound different, since they have different roots and derivatives from different parts of the world. There are similarities (I'm thinking Romance languages like Spanish and French) but what I call "gutteral" languages like German have completely different sounds.

The smallest sound that has meaning is called a phoneme. When you speak any langauges, your mouth literally makes different sounds, putting together phonemes that make sense as you have been taught as a baby. The listener's brain chains together those phonemes and responds to them as "words" or "phrases" that have meaning.

In some African languages a click somewhere in the throat is a phoneme. When a person combines this click with other sounds, it creates a word that has meaning. I have no idea what that word is, or even what that sound is in language, because that click is not a phoneme in English. Isn't language fascinating!

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