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Tormenting English.

Even if it might not look that way I did need some time before I convinced myself I won't make a complete fool of myself if I start posting some videos on LJ (and of course, on YouTube) with my hard, heavy accent. While speaking English, that is. But I got over it. I was thinking the other day how interesting accents can be actually, especially when you listen to people from various European countries trying to master their way through English language. I think I have a pretty good ear for determining true nationality when I listen to people.

Some pretty obvious clues.

Italians have that sweet melody of speaking their own language that's almost impossible to miss out when they speak other languages. Along with other typical quirks: they go to zleep, for instance and what I really find funny. You are not supposed to pronounce an "h" at the beginning of the words while speaking Italian, so many are not sure when is that darned "h" supposed to be pronounced or not. So you can easily hear sentences like The weather was very hugly. Which, in a way, does mean the same, right?

Germans can be easily spotted due to their obsession of mathematically forming also English sentences. And, if I take it to extreme, Ton't yoo like my Cherman Inklish? probably embodies it all. And... they simply adore phrases and proverbs and all that has some systematical value in it. So, if a speaker ends an official speech with words "Last, but not least" you can be pretty sure (like 8 our of ten) he comes from Germany.

French - loads and tons and massive amounts of films, songs, books, shows, etc... featuring French people speaking English is probably around with a reason, so I think I cannot really add much here. One funny thing though (when you're dealing with hairy guys who like hairy guys): word BEARD, that in a bear world should be as widely spread as Amen in some other sexually oriented circles, can impose a lot of trouble even to those who are otherwise unbelievably fluent in English. So it sounds like a bird most of the time. Which, in a way, does not really mean the same, right?

Swedes, Finns, etc... - you can probably find the best non-native English speakers in Northern parts of Europe. Ok, people from Finland tend to have a bit "jumpy" melody and people from Sweden can play a bit of "I am Inge from Sweden" melody as well, but one thing is imminent. English can really be polished up and almost dried to perfection, but there's one thing that always gives out Swedes, and it also happened to holy Abba... Just listen to the sentence The winner takes it all, the loser standing small. Is that loser [loozer] or [looser]? It's with an "s"... So, BOING!!!, Sweden!

Dutch, Belgians - also countries with pretty nice English when spoken by a person who care about English. But there's another I-gave-you-out word that's almost 100% certain to reveal a person from The Netherlands and that "idea". Dutch will almost always say I don't have any idee.

Slavic nations - I think you know by now that it's pretty easy to spot a Slavic person trying to speak English. The melody of Slavic languages simply does not match well with English, not to mention the fact that pronouncing different letters and combination of letters is completely different in Slavic language group. But some hints exist even is someone is trying hard. Southern part of Balkans is definitely characterised with "L" so hard it could break glass and an overly expressed desire to eye with English US, which can sometimes sound funny. And Slovenia? Most people will destroy the word love and turn it into lowe and words bitch, beach and beech (and all alike combinations) will probably sound the same in Slovenia. But, if we're willing to try, we can pronounce all sounds and letters and all in French, English, Italian, you name it, because any of those letters probably exist in some Slovene dialect, which is another silly story.

We just have to try, you know.

Any other observations, pecularities, silly things, accent-wise? :)


( 33 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 24th, 2009 04:39 pm (UTC)
Living in a city with a lot of Asian people, I find that the Chinese born speak very haltingly and rapidly. The stereotype of them misprouncing their L's is true. They speak "Engrish".

How did you learn English? Did you take classes? Self-taught?
Jan. 25th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree in Chinese "L". Here they do it also. When you go to a Chinese restaurant they say "spomRadanski" instead of "spomLadanski", which means Spring (Rolls).

Englihs is taught in school here. Kids these days start learning at at the age of 9, we started it when we were 12. I've studied it for 10 years and the rest is... internet? :)
Jan. 24th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
I'm always impressed by your broad range of languages you know and I'm jealous of that. Damn, you can go just about anywhere and speak the language it seems. Then, again, your location puts you in a position where you are exposed to a lot of that compared to the US where knowing Spanish is becoming an asset to speak with people.

Did you say video posts? :)
Jan. 25th, 2009 12:51 am (UTC)
You're right. It's easy to be bombarded by different languages in Europe and especially if you live in Slovenia which is rougly 200x200 miles, so - sooner or later - you need to start learning and using different languages. Luckily our school system supports that idea and kids start learning two foreign languages rather early. So I learned English and German in school, I am learning Italian now, and Serbian and Croatian just "happened" along the way. I wish I knew French, but luckily Igor speaks it, so we're covered... Spanish? Hmmm Maybe in a few years' time.

Video posts...... the first one was your challenge and later on Slovene Lessons followed.

Or, you mean those video posts? Not yet... :)
Jan. 24th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
We have to take you more to Spain so you can tell about ours. Basically, impossibility of saying two consonants together, poor vocalic system and that we say "estop" instead of "stop"
Jan. 25th, 2009 12:52 am (UTC)
I know...... I am pretty green when it comes to Spain and all Spanish. I DO have a plan to change at least some of that in 2009.

I promise! :)
(no subject) - gorkabear - Jan. 26th, 2009 07:47 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 26th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC) - Expand
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Jan. 25th, 2009 12:54 am (UTC)
My My... and my library of Asian interesting language features is completely empty. As I replied to Michael, "spomRadanski" instead of "spomLadanski" /as in Spring (Rolls)/ is the only thing I rememeber. They also torment Slovene quite well in Chinese restaurants, you know. :)
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(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 25th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 25th, 2009 12:55 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 25th, 2009 11:09 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 24th, 2009 09:30 pm (UTC)
Your accent is sexy! :)

My Eastern Bulgarian accent isn't good for my English (although it is very good for my Russian, and it makes my Greek melodious in a way that the native speakers like). We have this palatal pronunciation here in Eastern Bulgaria that you would probably call "soft", and it grates on the ears of the Western Bulgarians, but I find it melodious. It makes my English sound DISTINCTLY foreign, but I can't for the life of me get rid of it when I'm speaking English - and I don't even want to get rid of it when I'm speaking Bulgarian, although it is considered dialectal.

It is difficult for me to keep the long vowels in English really long (I suspect we Slavs have all this same problem).

P.S. And English deserves to be tormented, it is very unsuitable for an international language, especially its nightmare of a spelling.
Jan. 25th, 2009 01:00 am (UTC)
Hope to hear you using your soft Eastern Bulgarian accent tormenting English any day soon. And yes, I still have to remind myself about those long vowels now and then. It's just not in our heads.

But... I disagree on your English/International English statement. I find it pretty easy, ok, but we're talking about my colloquial English. If I had to write something real and serious, I'd probably pee in my panties, right? :)
(no subject) - tilia_tomentosa - Jan. 25th, 2009 01:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 25th, 2009 11:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tilia_tomentosa - Jan. 26th, 2009 01:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 26th, 2009 11:50 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 25th, 2009 01:22 pm (UTC)
"...but tell meh - dhoess she khizssss.. like I used to khizss shoooo... does iht fheel da sahme, when she khallz yar nhaaame????"

heh... I loved Abba growing up and really caught on to the peculiarities of their Scandinavian accents. In addition to the "s" sounding like our "z", there is a subtle, additional consonant sound that creeps in at times. An example American English listeners might pick up on is Agnetha's addition of an aspirate "h" in a lot of places, which may be a peculiar to her but I feel I've heard it in other Swedes I've listened to.

While on this subject, I was working on a video this past week with a chemistry professor - a gentleman born in the US to Italian immigrant parents. He grew up speaking Italian, and of course learned English simultaneously outside the home. Aside from being a hawt daddy(!), he has a beautiful accent and cadence that came from Italian, not American influence, and it made me weak in the knees.
I sat and listened to a couple of his quotes more than a few times while editing!

An aside, yes, tons of Americans have terrible grammar and spelling. They try to teach us in school, but I think part of the problem is that so many of us are ADD and don't bother using spell check or proofing what we write. I'm not perfect, I know, but at times I cringe when I see what some people write...
Jan. 25th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
Are you knees okay now or did that hawt daddy really melted your heart? :) Yes, Swedes can be funny, and yes, I am sometimes a bit surprised when I read some words and sentences. But, hey!, we're all learning. Still.

Right? :)
(no subject) - dan4behr - Jan. 26th, 2009 02:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 26th, 2009 10:32 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 25th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
How about Taiwanese English?? :P
Jan. 25th, 2009 11:59 pm (UTC)
No experience with it.

Yet. :)
(no subject) - bluebubbleblue - Jan. 27th, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 28th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tilia_tomentosa - Jan. 26th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 26th, 2009 10:33 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tilia_tomentosa - Jan. 26th, 2009 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - paterson_si - Jan. 26th, 2009 05:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bluebubbleblue - Jan. 27th, 2009 04:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
Feb. 18th, 2009 09:12 am (UTC)
Spanish accents from South and Central America are very, very varied:

Cuban Spanish is just dreadful, lazy and full of English/Spanish (Spanglish)... really, it's dreadful, and that's the dialect I know best, dammit!

The Venezuelans have a strange way of dropping interior S in a word, so it sounds choppy.

Argentinians lisp like Castillians.

Mexican is what all the Telenovelas (Spanish Soap Operas/Daytime dramas) use, and it's a middle of the road, fairly fast version of the language.

Chilean sounds like Italian in rhythm and intonation!

The big mistakes that Spanish speakers make in English are:

The J sound, juh, is SOOOO hard for them to say! It's an H sound OR a Yuh sound en Espanol, and they really struggle! Jesus is Hay-zoos, Julio is Hoo-lee-o, and when English forces them to a J, they end up saying "yustice" for Justice and then even mixing up J and Y, so "you never know" comes out as "Joo neber no!"

The V is also really hard for them to say in English: "very very good" becomes "berry berry good"!

Edited at 2009-02-18 09:13 am (UTC)
Feb. 18th, 2009 11:27 am (UTC)
hehehehehehehe that's an extensive list. Wish I knew Spanish so I could compare it all to what I can find here. English in Europe is one, most obvious case, because practically everybody speaks it (ok, apart from 80% of Italians), maybe I should deal with Tormenting German or Tormenting French as well. :)
( 33 comments — Leave a comment )