?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

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?

Comments

( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
consortofvenus
May. 25th, 2009 08:49 am (UTC)
Those other languages tend to flow better, by their very structure, I think. I've spoken sentences in other languages and found it much easier to speak faster whereas I get tongue tide trying to form my tongue around all these odd English words any faster than normal. Of course, I have spoken English fairly rapidly, but I've been know to perform amazing feats via the affect excess adrenaline, or the energy provided by sheer force of (strong, strong) will.
consortofvenus
May. 25th, 2009 08:53 am (UTC)
Also, consider rappers. It's the rhythm that allows them to spit lines as fast as they do. Or an external guide like a beat if the words themselves aren't perfectly worded, which compensates for our language issues.
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 11:10 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - consortofvenus - May. 25th, 2009 11:44 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 01:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
consortofvenus
May. 25th, 2009 08:50 am (UTC)
Did you dl those files I sent all right?
fayanora
May. 25th, 2009 09:22 am (UTC)
I got the Korn album, the Mezmerize album by SOAD, and "The Age of Nero," the last one I haven't unzipped yet. Thanks! It's been so long since I'd heard Korn's debut album or SOAD's Mezmerize, it's almost like hearing them for the first time!
(no subject) - consortofvenus - May. 25th, 2009 09:43 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 01:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
fayanora
May. 25th, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
English tends to not have declensions (suffixes and prefixes that tell you things like gender) and has the largest number of words of any language. The Romance languages, like Spanish and French, are based off of Latin, which means they have three extra cases that can also make sentences shorter, because the words are doing more "work." Chinese uses tonal variations which, again, shorten sentences by packing more information into individual words.

Ah yes, one of the key principles of information theory. The larger the variety of units there are in a system for communicating information, the fewer units need to be used. Which is why binary is so hideously long. ("Hi" in binary is "0100100001101001")

I hadn't thought to apply Information Theory to this question. Cool. :-)
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 11:16 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - May. 25th, 2009 11:41 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 01:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 01:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - May. 25th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 26th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kengr - May. 25th, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christinaathena - May. 25th, 2009 06:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
elven_ranger
May. 25th, 2009 10:09 am (UTC)
I have noticed this too.
underlankers
May. 25th, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)
It's because you're a native-born English speaker (at least in my assumption, if I'm wrong, do correct me) surrounded by other native-born English speakers. If you're a native-born Navajo speaker, or a native-born Russian speaker, English is going to sound rapid-fire and entirely incomprehensible.

And trying to learn a language in that way is a flawed idea, even close relatives such as Frisian, German, and Dutch can't be learned like that, let alone Latinate languages, Slavic languages, or Celtic languages. And you can forget entirely learning the Indo-Iranian languages that way.
fayanora
May. 25th, 2009 01:07 pm (UTC)
Well the reason I was trying to learn Spanish via Telemundo was because I'd heard immersion is the best way to learn a new language.
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 25th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 25th, 2009 11:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - underlankers - May. 26th, 2009 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 26th, 2009 02:29 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - darkoshi - May. 25th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - christinaathena - May. 25th, 2009 06:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fayanora - May. 26th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC) - Expand
ysabetwordsmith
May. 26th, 2009 05:34 am (UTC)
Thoughts
Some of it is geographical. Southern English is spoken much slower than Northern English. In Mexico, in the big cities, Spanish is spoken very fast. But in rural areas or towns it is slower. Cuernavaca had a wonderful slow, sweet sound to its language. I don't think I've ever heard Japanese spoken slowly, except when someone was speaking to dumb foreigners. Russian tends to be fast and loud. Some Native American languages tend to be spoken fast, but others have a great deal of deliberation.
fayanora
May. 26th, 2009 05:37 am (UTC)
Re: Thoughts
I am reminded of Entish.
Re: Thoughts - fayanora - May. 26th, 2009 05:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thoughts - underlankers - May. 26th, 2009 03:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
simim23
May. 26th, 2009 06:34 am (UTC)
Have you heard other dialects of English?

Mannn, I've heard some seriously fast talkers. I talk very, VERY fast.

But Brits talk faster than Americans, from observation.
fayanora
May. 26th, 2009 06:50 am (UTC)
British doesn't sound any faster to me than American. Nor Australian, Scottish, or Irish.
ghost2501
May. 26th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC)
It's funny that the language that I speak, Romanes is a lot faster and more distinctive here in the US and other western countries than it is in the middle east or europe and English is different. I have heard British people speak a lot faster as well. It's weird hearing Spanish being spoken slowly.
cajunfleur
Jun. 4th, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
I speak very fast, but I encounter problems because most people can't understand me. It's not that I slur, or fail to enunciate, they just can't follow spoken English at that speed. ::shrugs:: I hate having to slow down my flow of words just because the other person can't keep up with what I'm saying.

:)
( 44 comments — Leave a comment )

Profile

mourning
fayanora
The Djao'Mor'Terra Collective
Fayanora's Web Site

Latest Month

August 2019
S M T W T F S
    123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
25262728293031

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Taichi Kaminogoya