The worst sounding natlang ever

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Parlox
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Parlox » 22 Jan 2018 03:05

I'm rather late to this thread. I don't understand all the hate for Thai and Vietnamese/other southeast Asian languages, I think they sound great. I also don't understand the hate for French or Spanish. Japanese sounds like hell on earth, English is terrible, and Slavic languages sound really weird. Oh, and any language with lots of bilabials is on my good side.

(Please note, everything I have written above is subjective.)
  • :con: Cajun, a descendant of French spoken in Louisiana.
  • :con: Bàsupan, loosely inspired by Amharic.
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Vlürch » 22 Jan 2018 10:06

Parlox wrote:
22 Jan 2018 03:05
I don't understand all the hate for Thai and Vietnamese/other southeast Asian languages, I think they sound great.
Personally, I don't like how Vietnamese and Khmer sound because of the implosives. They're funny sounds that are fun when conlanging, but in practice they just sound annoying to a lot of people. The reason why I don't like the sound of Thai and Burmese is harder to pinpoint, but it has something to do with the creaky/stiff voice and stuff.
Parlox wrote:
22 Jan 2018 03:05
I also don't understand the hate for French or Spanish.
Neither do I.
Parlox wrote:
22 Jan 2018 03:05
Japanese sounds like hell on earth, English is terrible, and Slavic languages sound really weird.
I love Japanese and will never understand how anyone could dislike it. English is meh, it can sound disgusting or beautiful depending on who speaks it and what dialect they speak and/or what kind of an accent they have. I don't think Slavic languages sound weird, but Russian definitely sounds ugly in most cases; it can sound nice, too, but that's rare.

Anyway, in my current opinion the worst-sounding language is ███████. [:P]

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 22 Jan 2018 17:39

Honestly, I don't think much about which languages I don't like. I focus so much attention on my favorite-sounding languages (Japanese, Romanian, Latin, Latvian, Finnish) that I don't know if I've ever even thought about my least favorites. And I don't know that I've even come across a language whose sound I truly don't like.

One thing I will say, though: I listen to a lot of music in foreign languages just to get a feel for the sound of the language (though I'm aware that some languages sound better when sung than when spoken), and I've noticed that I get a little sick of Turkish's front rounded vowels and /ɯ/. There's one song I know where it seems like every syllable has either /y/, /ø/ or /ɯ/ and it's not the most euphonic sound to me. But I still like Turkish and I enjoy pronouncing the names of the items on my favorite Turkish restaurant's menu. [:)] Also, I suppose I've never been the biggest fan of the North Germanic languages, but even then I can think of songs in those languages that I love the sound of.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Adarain » 22 Jan 2018 23:38

I find Pirahã to sound utterly repetitive (not surprising with the tiny phonological inventory, but even then seemingly every second syllable has /ai/ as the nucleus.

Never liked the sound of Spanish very much, can't really pinpoint why.

And while I love me some clicks I've yet to find a recording of a Khoi-San language that I found nice to listen to. I much prefer the Bantu languages which have clicks, ad they're a bit more in moderation there.
At kveldi skal dag lęyfa,
Konu es bręnnd es,
Mæki es ręyndr es,
Męy es gefin es,
Ís es yfir kømr,
Ǫl es drukkit es.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Ahzoh » 23 Jan 2018 14:59

I don't really like the sound of French or Portuguese.
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Rum_Ham » 24 Jan 2018 09:24

I'm fine with spoken Mandarin, but I think it's awful when sung. The constantly changing tones completely clash with the music for me.

I'm not a big fan of the Spanish I've heard in America. I don't particularly like Spanish anyway, but at least here it seems like it's almost necessary to whine everything.

Japanese sounds nice to me, but unfortunately crappy anime has all but ruined my ability to take it seriously. I sincerely wish I could hear the prime minister give a speech and not think of Upotte or some other bad show with cookie cutter anime girls.

I just listened to a recording of Pirahã, and I agree with Adarain; obviously the guy was having a perfectly normal conversation, but it sounded like he was just saying the same few things. The actual sound of it was fine, but repetitive.

Hungarian is cool though.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by LinguistCat » 24 Jan 2018 23:54

I like Japanese, Finnish and Slavic languages; I don't like English despite it being my native lang, but I can't put a finger on why beyond it just being boring to me.

I hate French, in part for how it sounds, in part because people always claimed it was "beautiful" and I didn't get it and part because I was forced to learn it when I had other languages I wanted to learn instead. I might dislike it less if I lived in a universe where I wasn't forced to study it and its supposed loveliness hadn't been pushed on me, but I don't think it would ever have been a favorite of mine in any case.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by clawgrip » 25 Jan 2018 00:37

Parlox wrote:
22 Jan 2018 03:05
Japanese sounds like hell on earth, English is terrible, and Slavic languages sound really weird.
These are pretty extreme descriptions (hell on earth??)
Can you describe why you feel that way?

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Parlox » 25 Jan 2018 01:15

clawgrip wrote:
25 Jan 2018 00:37
Parlox wrote:
22 Jan 2018 03:05
Japanese sounds like hell on earth, English is terrible, and Slavic languages sound really weird.
These are pretty extreme descriptions (hell on earth??)
Can you describe why you feel that way?
I see how the Japanese part is a little extreme, but my comment on English and Slavic languages?
  • :con: Cajun, a descendant of French spoken in Louisiana.
  • :con: Bàsupan, loosely inspired by Amharic.
  • :con: Oddúhath Claire, a fusion of Welsh and Arabic.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by clawgrip » 25 Jan 2018 01:26

I suppose we can skip the Slavic one, but "terrible" does seem a bit extreme. Of course you are fully entitled to your own opinions. What about these languages do you find terrible or weird?

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Xonen » 25 Jan 2018 23:36

LinguistCat wrote:
24 Jan 2018 23:54
I don't like English despite it being my native lang, but I can't put a finger on why beyond it just being boring to me.
That might be the exact reason. [;)] I think a lot of people feel that way about their native languages; I remember considering Finnish really basic and simple and being a bit envious of people who spoke all those cool real languages when I was a kid. Then, of course, I found out that Tolkien had considered Finnish extremely beautiful and decided that had to be the correct opinion.
I hate French, in part for how it sounds, in part because people always claimed it was "beautiful" and I didn't get it and part because I was forced to learn it when I had other languages I wanted to learn instead. I might dislike it less if I lived in a universe where I wasn't forced to study it and its supposed loveliness hadn't been pushed on me, but I don't think it would ever have been a favorite of mine in any case.
Well, I wasn't forced to learn it, but yeah, people mindlessly parroting the meme that it's the most beautiful language in the world certainly did no favors to my opinion of it. And again, I had learned from Tolkien that French is ugly, so...

Now that I'm older and a bit less of a Tolkien fanboy, I tend not to have strong opinions on how languages sound. On the level of individual words, some sound prettier than others - and some languages have more of the former - but the overall sound of a language also depends on stuff like prosody and just basically on who's speaking it and how. I'm almost certain Darth Vader could make Danish sound intimidating.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Creyeditor » 26 Jan 2018 13:40

Xonen wrote:
25 Jan 2018 23:36
I'm almost certain Darth Vader could make Danish sound intimidating.
[ʕ̞ʕ̞ʕ̞ ʕ̞ʕ̞ ʕ̞ʕ̞ʕ̞]
(at least that's what danish <r> sounds to me)

I really dislike features in German dialects that I am totally okay with in other languages, so pharyngealization is okay in Arabic but a problem in Saxonian German, weird diphthongs are disgusting something I don't enjoy in Bavarian German, but exciting and beautiful in Austronesian languages. I guess it's mostly learned prejudices.

On the other hand I like languages with a lot of of vowels (especially [a]s) and sonorants, contrasting with a few, but prominent, s and [k]s to increase contrast. So, yeah, you probably already know I am more into maritime languages [:D]
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Pabappa » 28 Jan 2018 00:09

I think Japanese sounds much too guttural to ever be appealing. it's like lukewarm tea where all of the flavor is missing. the most similar European language, Finnish, is much more appealing, esp for singing:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL_HBiJy1ww
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKRvD5i44Ko

the loituma song ...
and a song I cant find on YouTube. wherever male or female singers, Finnish to me is the most beautiful language to sing in,.
o
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by GrandPiano » 28 Jan 2018 20:23

Pabappa wrote:
28 Jan 2018 00:09
I think Japanese sounds much too guttural to ever be appealing. it's like lukewarm tea where all of the flavor is missing.
Are you able to identify what about it sounds guttural to you? “Guttural” languages usually seem to be languages that have velar, uvular, or pharyngeal consonants not found in English, such as /x/ or /ʕ/, but Japanese has no such phonemes.
:eng: - Native
:chn: - B2
:esp: - A2
:jpn: - A2

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Pabappa » 30 Jan 2018 05:08

GrandPiano wrote:
28 Jan 2018 20:23
Pabappa wrote:
28 Jan 2018 00:09
I think Japanese sounds much too guttural to ever be appealing. it's like lukewarm tea where all of the flavor is missing.
Are you able to identify what about it sounds guttural to you? “Guttural” languages usually seem to be languages that have velar, uvular, or pharyngeal consonants not found in English, such as /x/ or /ʕ/, but Japanese has no such phonemes.
/k/ is the most common consonant in Japanese, and /g/ and /h/ are fairly common as well. This is very unlike European languages where coronals are by far the most common consonants (exemplified by Basque where ~75% of the consonants in speech are some type of coronal).* Labial consonants (my personal favorites) are also rare in Japanese by comparison to Chinese, Korean, and the languages typical of Europe. To me this gives the language an "empty" sound.

There's also something else I dont think a lot of other people notice ... I divide languages into "vowel-strong" and "consonant-strong", with some in the middle. Consonant-strong languages tend to have a lot of consonant clusters, and their vowels are affected by the consonants around them. Vowel-strong languages tend to have simple syllables, and the consonants are strongly affected by the surrounding vowels, either in one direction or in both. Japanese is an exemplary vowel-strong language. Looking at a ROmanized orthography, one might think a vowel strong language would sound melodious and sweet, but in practice, because the syllables are so simple, the vowels are spoken very quickly and the language paradoxically sounds like it consists mostly of dense consonant clusters. e.g. the English borrowing of Jp /sukoshi/ as "skosh". For this reason, all of my conlangs are consonant-strong.

Korean seems a good contrast to Japanese , as it has a more balanced phonology, a wider vowel inventory, and seems to be spoken more slowly. When I get a chance I will listen to the Japanese version of the song "Gee!" by Girls' Generation, which I wasnt aware of until just now when I was searching for the original.
÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷÷
*estimate based on old Basque phonology being /p t k s l n r z h/, 6 coronals and only 3 others. And h disappeared.
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Vlürch » 30 Jan 2018 15:38

Rum_Ham wrote:
24 Jan 2018 09:24
Japanese sounds nice to me, but unfortunately crappy anime has all but ruined my ability to take it seriously. I sincerely wish I could hear the prime minister give a speech and not think of Upotte or some other bad show with cookie cutter anime girls.
Even as someone who hasn't watched anime in years apart from the occasional clip from something on Youtube, I pretty much agree with this. For me it's not a negative thing, though, and doesn't hinder my ability to take the language seriously in most contexts if the context or content is serious enough; it's just that there are often some random ass anime girls being kawaii~ uguu~ somewhere in the back of my mind when I hear it. Exorcising said anime girls takes great effort and has to be done repeatedly in order to be successful, and even then they start creeping back in at the first opportunity. [xD]
LinguistCat wrote:
24 Jan 2018 23:54
I don't like English despite it being my native lang, but I can't put a finger on why beyond it just being boring to me.
Whenever you feel like English is boring, remind yourself that to express simple concepts like "may" can be much more difficult in other languages. I mean, shit, I don't know if there even is a specific term that covers everything that "may" may mean. I don't know of any language with a simple perfect equivalent of "may"; often the different subtleties are split up into various terms that leave the nice ambiguity of "may" unobtainable, and at least my quick attempt at finding out whether any language other than English has an exact equivalent failed.
LinguistCat wrote:
24 Jan 2018 23:54
I hate French, in part for how it sounds, in part because people always claimed it was "beautiful" and I didn't get it and part because I was forced to learn it when I had other languages I wanted to learn instead. I might dislike it less if I lived in a universe where I wasn't forced to study it and its supposed loveliness hadn't been pushed on me, but I don't think it would ever have been a favorite of mine in any case.
For me, it depends on a lot of things. If the /r/ is pronounced [ʁ~ʁ̞] rather than [ʁ~ʀ], that's a huge step up in terms of how good it sounds. There's something about the vowels too, but I have no idea what exactly. Of course, the same truth applies to it as well as every other language: when spoken by someone with a pleasant voice, it's much more pleasant-sounding than when spoken by someone with an annoying voice. If a beautiful French woman with a soft voice recites poetry, that's Instant Erotic Level 9001. If, on the other hand, an old dude from Quebec with a creaky nasal voice talks about taking out the garbage... well, you know.
Xonen wrote:
25 Jan 2018 23:36
I remember considering Finnish really basic and simple and being a bit envious of people who spoke all those cool real languages when I was a kid.
Finnish is really basic and simple, though, at least in terms of phonology and regularity. Even Estonian has like twice as many phonemic consonants... but at least it doesn't have vowel harmony, so we win there. I do like Finnish, though, and it's only the insane amount of Swedish loanwords that really annoys me. [:P]
Pabappa wrote:
28 Jan 2018 00:09
Finnish to me is the most beautiful language to sing in
I'm not sure if I agree in general, but it definitely can sound ugly. That's the most mainstream example, of course, and it does have a lot to do with Cheek being a rapper first and foremost, but still. It's just that Finnish songs as a general rule have lyrics that intentionally avoid "ugly" words. You wouldn't expect words like kärpäslätkä (flyswatter), rahka (quark (the edible thing)), keuhkoputkentulehdus (bronchitis), räkä (snot), etc. to be used in lyrics as much as words like huulet (lips), mieli (mind), Jumala (God), aava (vast (kinda archaic in speech)), etc.
Pabappa wrote:
30 Jan 2018 05:08
/k/ is the most common consonant in Japanese, and /g/ and /h/ are fairly common as well. This is very unlike European languages where coronals are by far the most common consonants (exemplified by Basque where ~75% of the consonants in speech are some type of coronal).* Labial consonants (my personal favorites) are also rare in Japanese by comparison to Chinese, Korean, and the languages typical of Europe. To me this gives the language an "empty" sound.
While it's definitely not as common as in Japanese, according to this site /k/ is the fifth most common consonant in Finnish, only behind /t/, /n/, /s/ and l/. I'm surprised it's not more common, honestly. It's also frequently geminated; there are words like kakka (poop (childish)), kukka (flower), karkki (candy), kokki (chef/cook), makkara (sausage), rakkaus (love), etc. And yeah, most of those are Indo-European loanwords. [>_<]

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by KaiTheHomoSapien » 30 Jan 2018 17:09

Pabappa wrote:
30 Jan 2018 05:08
but in practice, because the syllables are so simple, the vowels are spoken very quickly and the language paradoxically sounds like it consists mostly of dense consonant clusters. e.g. the English borrowing of Jp /sukoshi/ as "skosh". For this reason, all of my conlangs are consonant-strong.


Even though I love the sound of Japanese, I agree with you there. I'm not such a fan of the way the Japanese /u/ and /i/ are often pronounced as "silent vowels" in rapid speech. Then again, my introduction to Japanese was in songs and in Japanese singing, vowels are usually enunciated and it sounds much better than speech.

There's also a Korean and Japanese version of the song "Bo Peep" by T-ara. The song itself is kind of silly and repetitive, but as much as I like the original Korean version, when I heard the Japanese version, I was like "yep, this is why I love Japanese". At least I do think it's the best sounding language when sung.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Pabappa » 30 Jan 2018 20:25

Vlürch wrote:
30 Jan 2018 15:38
Pabappa wrote:
28 Jan 2018 00:09
Finnish to me is the most beautiful language to sing in
I'm not sure if I agree in general, but it definitely can sound ugly.
Very deep, masculine voice. Though I cant say how much of my impression is because I like his voice and how much is because of the words Im listening to.


Pabappa wrote:When I get a chance I will listen to the Japanese version of the song "Gee!" by Girls' Generation, which I wasnt aware of until just now when I was searching for the original.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7mPqycQ0tQ <---- Korean
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpoKx48WmEM <---- Japanese

OK my impression of these songs is that the Korean & English blend together very well. Until now I didnt even really know for sure which words in the song were English and which were Korean words that happened to sound like English at least in song. The Japanese sticks out a lot more. So in a way, I think what I like about Korean is that it sounds more like English, at least in song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLBdv5Pi09U <-- Mandarin Chinese Jingle Bells, another song which to me sounds supremely soft and beautiful. I havent heard much Mandarin Chinese, but from what I gather I'd put it in the same category in that it can sound beautiful or aggressive equally well dpending on the speaker and tehir emotions.
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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by Xonen » 30 Jan 2018 21:04

Pabappa wrote:
30 Jan 2018 05:08
There's also something else I dont think a lot of other people notice ... I divide languages into "vowel-strong" and "consonant-strong", with some in the middle. Consonant-strong languages tend to have a lot of consonant clusters, and their vowels are affected by the consonants around them. Vowel-strong languages tend to have simple syllables, and the consonants are strongly affected by the surrounding vowels, either in one direction or in both.
I'm not entirely sure what you mean here, but at least some people have noticed that different languages have different syllable structures. As for how consonants affect neighboring vowels and/or vice versa in different languages, that's also something that has definitely been studied, but I'm not enough of a phonetician to really comment on that.
Looking at a ROmanized orthography, one might think a vowel strong language would sound melodious and sweet, but in practice, because the syllables are so simple, the vowels are spoken very quickly and the language paradoxically sounds like it consists mostly of dense consonant clusters. e.g. the English borrowing of Jp /sukoshi/ as "skosh".
I don't think this has anything to do with vowels being spoken "quickly", and it's certainly not an inevitable consequence of a language having a simple syllable structure. It's just a peculiarity of Japanese that short high vowels are devoiced in some positions.

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Re: The worst sounding natlang ever

Post by clawgrip » 31 Jan 2018 01:46

If you watch bad anime and then dislike Japanese because it sounds like bad anime, then I think you just need to listen to Japanese in more contexts (or stop watching bad anime).

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