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futekioosha
18-03-05, 20:54
When you first hear a new language does it sound like the person speaking is just repeating the same syllable over and over again??

When I first heard persian all I heard was a "shhh" sound over and over again, but after hearing it a few times I could hear the different syllables.

When I first heard german I could tell that there were seperate syllables but all I could really focus on was the harshness in the language (as much as I've always adored languages; deutch has always been one of the biggest problems for me as far retention and pronounciation)

Now that I've heard Japanese over and over again courtesy my IY anime, and my Japanese language course book I can distinguish between many of the syllables, and even pick out a few words...

What does a new language sound like to you? For those who don't natively speak English, I'm curious to know what it sounded like to you the first time you heard it.

lexico
18-03-05, 21:23
Good question, Futekioosha. In general terms I would say for a person hearing the sounds of a foreign language, the sounds would be heard more like natural sounds than a human language. WIthout the native speakers' phonological filter, all the sounds would have to be heard more acoustically rather than as distinct phonemes, syllables, words, or wordstrings. Of course all human languages sharing a similar machinery of the lung, the mouth, and the nose, certain sounds may be close enough to be heard like one sound in one's own language.

English is my 2nd language, but I learned it at 7; I can't remember any details. The only detail I do remember is the difficulty I had with assimilating the word camera. In my language Korean which loaned the word from *English via Japanese, it sounded like this /KA-ME-RA/. It took me some serious effort to see the sound image clearly and objectively until I could produce the English sound /kae:[email protected]/.

I've heard one Korean girl comment on English sounds, "There are so many 'S' sounds in English, that it sounds as if English speakers are going "S-S-S-S-S" all the time." From my understanding of Korean, there is a **phonological rule that reduces (collapses) end-of-word consonants 'd, t, s, s?, ts, ch, and h' into a /t/ if there is no vowel following, an /s/ if ther is a vowel following, and an /?/ (the glottal consonant sound made at the vocal cord; often heard by tennis players when they do an itense serve, drive, or backhand) if there is a soft consonant following. Anyway, due to this rule, many /s/ sounds are transformed into other sounds, leaving fewer /s/ sounds than would be naturally expected.

I do believe that my Korean is both a blessing and a hindrance when I am exposed to a totally new language; but I'm also used to the sounds of English, Chinese, and French, which gives me a more balanced repertoire of sounds to compare the new sounds with. It's a quite exciting field of study to see how two different language sounds interact. I am also interested to learn more about this phenomenon. :)

EDIT: *camera probably came from the Italian for "cell, small room" instead of English.
**the phonological rule is traditionally called the law of the 8 finals Iߖ@.

misa.j
19-03-05, 06:08
When you first hear a new language does it sound like the person speaking is just repeating the same syllable over and over again??
It was hard for me to hear the words separately when I heard American English for the first time. I learned British English at school from Japanese teachers, and their pronounciation was horrible, so I wasn't used to listening to American English.

With the intonation and speed, it did sound like the same syllable over and over.

futekioosha
21-03-05, 07:50
@lexico- You have some of the most well written posts I've ever seen on a forum. Thank you for the reply! Because I have limited experiece with the Korean language, your explanation of the phonetic rule really helped to illustrate your point in reference to Korean speaking people listening to English. I originally posted this thread because I love new languages and I'm always curious about a tongue when I hear it for the first time. How does Korean compare with Japanese or Vietnamese (sp?), just curious :-)


With the intonation and speed, it did sound like the same syllable over and over.

LOL-misa.j --> you know exactly what I'm talking about :-) :D