What is deep language
Linguistics: Why German sounds tough - and Arabic brisk
After a game by the Italian national soccer team, the players fire their sentences at the interviewer, apparently without a period or comma. I beg you, as a German viewer, can an interpreter just keep up? French, on the other hand, has almost musical features to our ears with its leisurely singsong.
And the German? Sounds rather harsh and a bit complicated to the rest of the world. But why exactly do we perceive the languages around us in such different ways?
Melodic sound makes languages appear expressive
Linguists blame for the sound of language, among other things, the stress pattern and the speech melody. “In Spanish and Italian we have an emphasis system with few ups and downs. It can create a staccato-like impression, which makes the languages appear a little less dull and thus perhaps also faster, ”says Sabine Ziegler from the Chair of Indo-European Studies at the University of Jena.
French and English, on the other hand, have a very distinctive speech melody in which the voice often changes pitch while speaking. It gives them a sonorous and expressive character. In order to understand how a speech melody comes about, one has to delve a little deeper into linguistics: In all languages there are consonants (noise sounds) such as “t”, “k” or “p”, in which the breath airflow during pronunciation is inhibited in the mouth and thus have a small acoustic range. It is different with vowels (“a”, “i”, “u”), which are pronounced without obstructing the air flow and can therefore be heard more clearly.
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