Monday, December 21, 2009

The Sound of English

I've always been curious about how English sounds to people who don't speak it. My daughter and I have had lots of conversations about what sort of sounds tend to stand out to us in certain languages. This morning, La Diosa tweeted a link to a video created by an Italian singer. Next to the video, there was an explanation of it that read,

"An Italian singer wrote this song with gibberish to sound like English. If you've ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it."

If English isn't your first language, if you didn't learn it until some later point in life, I'd love for you to listen to it and tell me if it sounds like English to you.


7 comments:

Penny L. Richards said...

We saw that yesterday too. They seem to be trying to get an American-English, not English-English, sound. I think I hear our broader vowels, and a twanginess, and it's somehow less musical than spoken Italian.

Lucie said...

Funny! As a long-time ELL teacher I've always wanted something like this to use in class to encourage students to get the intonation patterns of American English and this would have been perfect. Why does all the good stuff happen after I retire?

Safiya Outlines said...

Occasional lurker commenting to say I've always wondered that too.

The song does sound like American English, but I can't quite put my finger on why.

It's a catchy song actually.

alexandralynch said...

I once had an odd experience (it was, however, with BBC pronunciation of English, not American English). As I fell asleep, I realized I could hear the radio commenter speaking, then being answered by the person he was interviewing, but I wasn't processing meaning, just sound.

English sounds like German softened down with odd French vowel and dipthong sounds here and there. Which, given English's history, makes perfect sense. :-)

Alex G said...

This is now stuck in my head CONSTANTLY.

Rootietoot said...

My 20 yr old is so taken with this video he's working on memorizing it.

Penny L. Richards said...

Just a note to say I ran across the name of the singers and the title of the song--it was a hit in 1972 in Italy, it seems--the current video is a new mix with clips from two different performances. The male singer is Adriano Celentano
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adriano_Celentano
The female singer is Raffaella Carra
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raffaella_Carr%C3%A0
and the song title is...
Prisencolinensinainciusol
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisencolinensinainciusol