Mobile menu

Problems with fast spoken languages - like Spanish, Greek
Thread poster: Stephanie Wloch

Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:12
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Jan 23, 2006

For a someone with a slower mothertongue like German and English learning Spanish could be very frustrating, because some speakers are rattling through enormous word cascades with a breakneck speed.:eek:
I wanna learn Spanish just for fun. Though I don't wanna miss something.
Do you have a hint for me? Maybe I have to change my general attitude when listening and you know a dodge.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_spoken_language
"The languages which are most frequently heard to be spoken as several syllables per second are the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Sardinian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croat, Romanian, Swedish and outside of Europe, some of the eastern languages, namely Pashto and Urdu. India's first national language and joint official language with English, Hindi, is probably the most consistantly spoken fast language."
Then they are giving reasons (why for Italian) and thats all. No hint how to deal with it. ???


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:12
Flemish to English
+ ...
Go to Spain... Jan 23, 2006

Go to Spain as much a you can. That is not so expensive anymore as it used to be. Don't know if Ryanair has flights from Eindhoven to somewhere in Spain.
Especially a linguistic holiday in Andalucia would help.
High speaking speed assured. I learnt the language at a school for T&I, but went to Salamanca (the craddle of Spanish) as much as I could.
Or listen/look at TVE's news broadcasts. every day..


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 13:12
Member (2005)
English to German
Just do it Jan 23, 2006

I learned Italian and I had absolutely no problems with the speed. It just comes to you by itself while learning.

Although I do know a Brit whose German is so perfect that I wouldn't know he's a foreigner if he didn't speak so slowly that it exasperates me (or as my colleague would say, you can put new soles on his shoes while he is walking) - and what is worse, what he considers a pause between sentences or even between parts of sentences, is the amount of time that I consider the signal that he has finished speaking, so I keep "interrupting" him even when I try very hard not to. Can't generalize here, I don't know all that many German speaking Brits. But then if you speak Spanish too slowly, it will be the Spaniards' problem not yours

Ricki


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:12
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
TOPIC STARTER
Italian not that fast for me Jan 23, 2006

Ricki Farn wrote:
I learned Italian and I had absolutely no problems with the speed.
I speak Italian quite well.But Italian speakers are not that speedy. I have heard speakers form various regions and had never problems with listening. But in Spain there are great differences in speed. I watch Spanish tele. Maybe listening to fast spoken Spanish is more exhausting because there are more consonants in the end of Spanish words than you have in Italian words.


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxPuicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:12
Swedish to English
Fast speaking Jan 23, 2006

Tuliparola wrote:


"The languages which are most frequently heard to be spoken as several syllables per second are the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Sardinian, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croat, Romanian, Swedish...


Hi Tuliparola,
To learn one of these fast-spoken languages (as a Swedish speaker of many years now I don’t think Swedish belongs to this group at all!) as is the case with learning any language, you have to imitate, which is done by listening, observation and by practice.
One of the things you have to do, if you are not accustomed to it, is develop ‘lip power’ (analogies with sports: one talks of ‘cue power’ in snooker, ‘fast hands’ in basketball, etc.) You can see this in trumpet playing, where air is pressed between pursed lips.
For language, a good exercise is to compress or purse the lips and utter the sounds, ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘k’, in as tense an action as possible, so that it seems that the lips, highly tensed, are trying not to release the sounds.
In Spanish, the mouth region is relaxed, so that when speaking very fast, the mouth maintains a horizontal, open position (different to French, with its pouting action), very relaxed tongue and well supported breathing.
Speaking of French, it’s interesting to observe French speakers in Languedoc, some of whom speak French (with the southern accent) every bit as fast as the fastest speakers of Spanish. They can only do this because their accent allows them to.
Mike


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 14:12
Italian to Danish
+ ...
Speed is in the ear of the listener... Jan 23, 2006

I've never considered Italian to be such a speed-language, but it is certainly perceived as such by the part of my non-italian speaking family. Maybe it's because the words are so long? You simply cannot linger to much on words like "esplicitamente", "vattelapesca", or "addomesticabile", just to pick a few examples. Besides that, the ordinary question from people listening to me speaking with my daughters is: Why do you always have to argue? But we don't, we just speak in Italian!

I'm starting to learn Greek now and I don't get the impression of a very speedy language, not to listen to and certainly not to learn. As a comparison, try listening to an American rapper...

Good luck with your Spanish lessons, it's a beautiful language... and enjoy your holidays in Spain.

Dinny


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 14:12
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Lost in translation Jan 23, 2006

Perhaps its also a question of content vs. volume. Southern people talk much and fast, but often its enough if you understand only the key words to understand it all.
To my ear the fastest speech is the Russian news on Finnish radio.
Regards
Heinrich


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:12
Italian to English
Perceived speed can be a matter of stress/syllable-timing Jan 23, 2006

It's not just a question of how many words a minute are produced, which can of course vary tremendously among speakers of the same language.

Many Italian speakers, for example, perceive English as a "fast" language even when it is spoken quite slowly simply because English is usually stress-timed and Italian is generally syllable-timed. They expect to hear every word pronounced clearly, as it is in Italian, whereas stress-timing involves a certain amount of rushed, indistinct production when there are relatively long gaps between syllables that carry discourse-significant notions.

Conversely, syllable-timed Italian may be perceived as fast, "machine-gun" language by English speakers expecting stress-timed production with a variable number of syllables between tonic accents.

FWIW

Giles


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:12
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not as it seems Jan 23, 2006

As a conference interpreter, the one speaking really fast Spanish is me, trying to keep up with an English-speaker. Then when a Spanish-speaker gets up there, I'm speaking slow English.

This always involves people from the USA and Mexico, and of course individual differences can always be significant, but what I describe is the usual situation.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Rafa Lombardino
United States
Local time: 04:12
Member (2005)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Movies and radio shows Jan 23, 2006

Tuliparola wrote:

For a someone with a slower mothertongue like German and English learning Spanish could be very frustrating, because some speakers are rattling through enormous word cascades with a breakneck speed.:eek:
I wanna learn Spanish just for fun. Though I don't wanna miss something.
Do you have a hint for me? Maybe I have to change my general attitude when listening and you know a dodge.


I'd recommend movies in Spanish with subtitles in your language. This would help you recognize some words and separate those who sound like they have been crumbled together. I'm pretty good at understanding movies from Spain and/or with Spanish actors and enjoy those productions from the "South Cone" (Argentina and Uruguay, mostly) so I can compare the Spanish vocabulary used in those countries and its similarities with Brazilian Portuguese. But I have to confess that I'm still working on improving my listening skills related to other areas such as Mexico and Central America countries.

It would also help if you could listen to radio shows. Maybe there are no Spanish-speaking radio stations available in your area, but I suggest you could turn to podcasts for that. Podcasts are simply radio shows distributed for free on the web, either as digital versions of existing radio shows (such as La Linterna de la Cadena COPE) or talk shows presented by individuals (such as Comunicando, a wonderful show about technology). All you'll need to do is download iTunes (for free) and start adding your favorite shows to the podcast area.

I basically listen to podcasts all day while I'm working, but I understand that some people cannot concentrate unless there's absolute silence in the room... Anyway, if you need any help, just send me a message and I can help you walk through iTunes and start downloading your podcasts for free.

Have fun!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
Javier Herrera
Spanish
Strongly agree Jan 23, 2006

Giles Watson wrote:

It's not just a question of how many words a minute are produced, which can of course vary tremendously among speakers of the same language.

Many Italian speakers, for example, perceive English as a "fast" language even when it is spoken quite slowly simply because English is usually stress-timed and Italian is generally syllable-timed. They expect to hear every word pronounced clearly, as it is in Italian, whereas stress-timing involves a certain amount of rushed, indistinct production when there are relatively long gaps between syllables that carry discourse-significant notions.



Giles



I quite like the explanation about stress-timed (English) and syllable-timed (Romance) languages. The rythm is just different, there are a lot of subtle phenomena that always cause confusion is they don't occur in your own language.
When I learned English I thought it was very fast, words running into each other, you never knew when one ends and the other starts. When I taught Spanish to English-speakers they felt exactly the same.
I would just advice to get an awful lot of theory and practice about phonetics.
Learn about phonemes, allophones and why they are different in each language, and listen a lot to the language concerned.
J.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 13:12
Italian to English
Stress/syllable timing and languages Jan 24, 2006

Javier Herrera wrote:

I quite like the explanation about stress-timed (English) and syllable-timed (Romance) languages.



It's not quite as simple as that, Javier. The contrast between stress and syllable timing is simply one element of spoken production that can be used to modulate what you are saying in many languages. English uses it a lot, Italian very little. Sadly, many language courses fail to point that the phenomenon exists, creating unnecessary problems of comprehension for learners whose native language makes little or no use of the distinction.

You can of course speak syllable-timed English, in which case you may sound slightly stand-offish or emotionless - a bit like a Dalek or a computer-generated message - because you lose one of the spoken language's key nuancing devices.



I would just advice to get an awful lot of theory and practice about phonetics.
Learn about phonemes, allophones and why they are different in each language, and listen a lot to the language concerned.



That's excellent advice!

Giles


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ana Naglić  Identity Verified
Croatia
Local time: 13:12
Member (2005)
English to Croatian
+ ...
Serbo-Croat Apr 21, 2006

Serbo-Croat was the common name for Serbian and Croatian, now treated as 2 separate languages.
I'm not so sure that they are "fast spoken" - I think that in the everyday usage they are not faster than most Europen languages. They are faster in news or in some ssituations (e.g. arguments), but they do not seem too fast in most cases. Chinese, Italian and French are much worse in that respect.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Problems with fast spoken languages - like Spanish, Greek

Advanced search






TM-Town
Manage your TMs and Terms ... and boost your translation business

Are you ready for something fresh in the industry? TM-Town is a unique new site for you -- the freelance translator -- to store, manage and share translation memories (TMs) and glossaries...and potentially meet new clients on the basis of your prior work.

More info »
Anycount & Translation Office 3000
Translation Office 3000

Translation Office 3000 is an advanced accounting tool for freelance translators and small agencies. TO3000 easily and seamlessly integrates with the business life of professional freelance translators.

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs