How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers

Apparently a few phrases here and there get through, most of them profanities. You’re welcome, world.

8 Comments on "How English Sounds to Non-English Speakers"

  1. More appropriately, generic Midwest style US English. No dialectic inflections. No Canadian, Brit, Aussie, etc. Headline from a parochial mindset. ‘Tis a bigger world.

    • Matt Staggs | Jun 9, 2013 at 8:42 am |

      You might like to take that up with the video’s creators: They titled it. Are you like this at parties?

  2. Hershel Don | Jun 8, 2013 at 11:49 pm |

    Something a bit older created along the same lines:

  3. BuzzCoastin | Jun 9, 2013 at 5:33 am |

    this is an astute observation about language
    inflection, tone and gestures are also part of language
    I often hear Chinese phrases in simple cliched situations
    that almost sound like their English equivalent, but only in tone and inflection
    I’ve also had experiences spending long periods without a common language
    and inflection, tone and gestures work

    I think it also shows how “normal” conversation
    is a cliched choreograph of more than just words
    or maybe it’s just “movie acting” is cliched

    once in Cambodia
    I met an Irish dude living with a Vietnamese girl
    neither spoke each others language but had lived together about a year
    when I saw them last

    • LucidDreamR | Jun 9, 2013 at 10:00 am |

      I always found it interesting that as a species we have put ourselves upon a pedestal thinking our use of language was so much more sophisticated than say, that of many of the other mammals. It seems to me their much more diverse and honed use of all aspects of language, from sounds to body language to pheromones, is far more effective; especially when considering their ability to communicate so well across different species. While we humans of course have all of these abilities as well, it’s rather clear they have become extremely weak to nonexistent in some. We also pride ourselves in our ability to put our language down in forms of pictures to pass along whatever knowledge contained within; but perhaps this is actually a sign of our inability instead? Perhaps the animals are not as ‘forgetful’ as we?

      Reminds me of when I was in Malta some time ago: I had a Polish flatmate that was on the island learning English, who had a friend of hers come visit from Poland while we were living together. He did not speak one word of English, nor I of Polish. As the week went on and my flatmate Tatiana translated for us he and I got along quite well, so he decided that before he returned home he and I would have a night of “drinking vodka like they do in his country”. I’m quite sure this was an even mix of a friendly gesture, as well as a bit of devious fun thinking the American wouldn’t be able to keep up at all… A fine dinner of calamari, followed by two bottles of some of the cheapest, nastiest vodka one could buy, (the first of which miraculously disappeared within the half-hour) and I amazingly was able to keep up with him for the second bottle, which was also finished by just the two of us, though in a bit more time than the first. “A fine representation of my country!” ..or something along those lines. If it had not been for the opiates in my blood at the time, there’s no doubt in my mind I’d have been done halfway through the first bottle. ….did I have a point before I started this ramble…? 😛 Tatiana translated for us through dinner, but having class in the morning subsequently went to bed before the vodka was poured. I was amazed really how well we were able to communicate and understand each other for not knowing a lick of the others’ language. And there is no doubt that the understanding only solidified as our drunken state progressed! I have had many times in my travels where I was really surprised as to just how well two people can communicate without using the same letters and words.

      Sorry for the rambling story… sometimes it happens when I get to typing away

      • BuzzCoastin | Jun 9, 2013 at 10:05 am |

        Westerners tend to be more literate in their understanding of language, that is, they tend to think that words are the exclusive basis of communication. This due to a literate bias.

        Non-alphabetic cultures tend to be more aware of the various elements involved.

        I read about a couple that was having an inter-language relationship using Google Translate.

        • LucidDreamR | Jun 9, 2013 at 11:20 am |

          From what little experience I’ve had with google translate, they must be having a very interesting time of it! Seems like going in the opposite direction of what we are talking about doesn’t it?

          I would absolutely love to sit down and break language barriers with a tribal, non-alphabetic culture one day; it would be amazing to learn a thing or two about the various languages of Nature, directly from a people that speak it so well.

Comments are closed.