What's the fastest playback speed of your native language that you can follow?

So, you can change the playback speed of a youtube video. I’ve noticed that I can go 1.75x the normal speed for a typical Mandarin interview and understand without any issue. When I go up to 2x then there would be sections of the interview that I couldn’t follow without subtitles.

For English I can only do 1.5x before I start losing chunks of the conversation. Is that because English is my second language? Or is that more related to the tempo of a particular language?

Say, if the tempo of the language is faster in general, say Spanish, then it could be harder to understand on a higher playback speed?

I’d say it’s the opposite for me, I can go up to 1.75 in English and 1.5 in Chinese before I start losing bits and pieces. So I think it has more to do with which language you are better with.

Honestly though, I am not a very good listener because I have been “reading” TV since I was a kid. I can read in English super quickly at this point but I’m just barely able to read Chinese captions in time before they change.

I think it may be too difficult to make a general claim, mainly because people tend to speak at very different speeds regardless of the language they’re using. If I watch a video in English (my 2nd language) I can easily understand up to 1.75x on average, but if the speaker’s natural speed is pretty high I may struggle at 1.5x. Not long ago I was watching a review of some camera gear made by a man in his 70s and at 2x I didn’t miss a single word (he was painfully slow at his normal speed).

I wonder if people who use a fast-tempo language as their native one may have an easier time on average understanding speed up languages? It would be an interesting study, but it would need a software that reads text at a set speed, in order to remove the variable of people’s natural speed. For example, a software reading out sentences from a book at variable speeds (100 words/minute, 150, 200 etc etc).

1 Like