What does english sound like?

So, in American Lit class last week we were reading a short story about a guy who brought back a Korean wife after being a translator during the Korean war. It was basically about isolation, relationships, motherhood, culture shock, etc. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the story but it isn’t important. Anyway, when she is basically betrayed by her friends at the church who were teaching her English (they were mortified by the food she brought to a potluck) she, while angry, told her husband that she wasn’t going to learn English and that is sounds like “dogs barking”. Which I found very interesting, I never thought of what English sounds like to people who don’t understand it (especially people who don’t speak any of the Germanic or Romantic languages).

I was wondering what you guys, who currently or previously lived in Taiwan and other Asian countries, have heard people not fluent in english say what English “sounds like”?

I’m sure any American has heard the ignorant and borderline racist mimic of Chinese as being “Ching-Chong Ding- Gong” what sounds do they make to mimic English?

Indians say it sounds like ‘git pit git pit’. :neutral:

Well, like, when I hear young Americans speak it like, it sounds like, full of likes, so like, to me it sounds like ‘like,like,like’


I can’t even imagine that! Heh, pretty funny though.

:doh: I guess you got us there.

Though, I think that really is only among the stupider Americans, me and my friends don’t talk like that I can assure you. (we are in our early 20s). More common to girls than guys as well.

All I hear when I speak to a British person is “Chip Chap Cheerio! God save the queen” (kidding, I, like most Americans, actually like the British accent for some reason, must be that damned Merry Poppins movie our parents made us watch as a kid, also, you might not even be British :doh:)

Thanks for the info Divea!

You’re welcome. Me thinks, in the days of the Raj, Indians couldn’t understand a word of Queen’s language and could only get the ‘t’ sound in words like :it, little, get, wet etc.and hence the ‘git pit’ :laughing:

English has a lot of dipthongs, whereas many languages only have the five clean short vowels, so I imagine this makes it sound very mushy and complex in the vowels.

British English probably does sound a lot like ‘it pit pot hat’ … our ‘t’ is always said pretty strongly.

I’m going to have to ask people this, I’ll report back later :slight_smile:

Well, one way a lot of American English sounds to me is that all the pronouns are incorrect.

Seriously though, I’ve often wondered how English sounds also, though I suppose it depends upon the accent. Actually, one way to tell perhaps is based upon people who have learnt English as a second language because they tend to over correct. People learning American English tend to “chew” their words and really hit the r sound to my ear. Many female native English speakers from America sound kind of squeaky to me. People who have learnt London English really hit the glottal stop in a big way. I find this really irritating from native speakers, but actually kind of sexy from European girls, but maybe I’d find anything they said sexy. People who have learnt Australian English tend to turn every long a sound into a long i sound. I don’t do this very much, but my wife really does it now. In a few little ways, she has a stronger (stereotypical) Australian accent than I do. I actually find it comical listening to really strong Australian accents now because every sentence sounds like a question because of rising intonation at the end. Australian English also sounds really nasally to me.

Well, one way a lot of American English sounds to me is that all the pronouns are incorrect.


True, when I hear that, I have an impulse of wanting to say it’s “my friends and I” but being online and wading through American spellilliteracy :laughing: has cured me quite a bit.

That’s what New Zealanders sound like.

Fortigurn: That’s unsurprising given that New Zealand accents are closer to those of many of the Home Counties and middle to upper class English accents because the same sorts of people settled New Zealand or were sent to work in administrative roles in other parts of the empire.

Well, one way a lot of American English sounds to me is that all the pronouns are incorrect.


:doh: :blush:

I can’t believe I did that while somewhat trying to defend American English. For the record I am aware that it should be “friends and I” but, you know, writing quickly and all that. :blush:

quickly looks over GiT’s post to see if he can make fun of a grammatical error


Keep the “This is what English sounds like” info coming! :slight_smile:

TheAmericanNomad: I’m happy if people can correct me. I’d rather be corrected than have a reader or listener let bad English slide.

:laughing: I didn’t even really check. I was just trying to make a joke. I didn’t mind that you pointed my mistake out. I was a little embarrassed that I made such a stupid mistake while in a conversation about English though. :slight_smile:


Fox: So I can avoid making the mistake again.

I once heard a local mimic English by saying “ganbi-wanson, wanbi-panson.” I asked him what he was saying. He said, “A tank is deeper than a bowl, a bowl is deeper than a dish.”

Hmm, maybe this should be put under learning Chinese for people to get the joke.

I’ll just leave this here…

The stuff about Chinese sounding like “ching chong” aside, I think Beijing Chinese sounds more like “rurr rurr rurr”.

I could imagine English sounding like “blah blah blah”.

Oh come now, I wasn’t going to post it again, but you had to do it. :bravo: :laughing: If there are any Italians here, I’d like to thank you for the Renaissance, and then for prisencolinensinainciusol. It is superb, and every time someone posts it I have to watch it another dozen times.