The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective (fayanora) wrote,
The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective

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English = The Slow Language?

You know what I've noticed? I've noticed that native speakers of most languages I've heard (especially Spanish and Japanese) tend to speak very very rapidly. I remember I once tried to learn Spanish by watching Telemundo with the subtitles on - it was like trying to count the feathers on a hummingbird's wings while it's flying around.

What's more, I rarely hear English spoken with anywhere NEAR the rapidity of other languages. A conversation between two Hispanic women in Spanish often looks to me like those scenes in that ST:TNG episode where the Bynars were speaking in rapid binary, where a conversation between two women in English - even at its fastest - is leisurely and sedate in comparison.

So now I find myself wondering why this is. I considered it might be a bias caused by the fact that I can understand English and can't understand other languages, but then I thought about it more and found that the words-per-minute in fluent Spanish really does tend to be much higher than the WPM for fluent English. So now I'm trying to decide if it's cultural or an inherent quality of English. I'm leaning toward the latter, because English is a hybrid language: part German, part Latin, part Greek, with bits and pieces of dozens of other languages in it because it's the language that robs other languages in dark alleys for spare vocabulary. I think the chimera nature of English, along with its wacky syntax rules, just makes it harder to speak, even for fluent native speakers, which in turn equals a slower conversation speed. And more evidence for this just occurred to me: some people CAN speak English as rapidly as many Spanish speakers speak Spanish... but when they do, no one can understand what they're saying because very few people can process English that fast. For example: 1. Those commercials from the 80's with that guy who talked a mile a minute. 2. The character "Six" from "Blossom."

What do y'all think?
Tags: english, language, linguistics, thought of the day
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