Specializations > Psycholinguistics

The emotion of a language

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The weirdest thing happens when two very different languages seem to share the same "feeling."
For instance, at least to me and other Spanish native speakers I know, Greek sounds very, very much like some varieties of European Spanish (not only because of similar phonemic inventories with characteristic dental and velar fricatives, but even intonations are similar). When I run into some Greek speakers, it takes me a while to realize that I'm not listening to Spanish at all and, in fact, I'm not understanding a single word they are saying.

Really? That happens for native Spanish speakers too? When I visited Greece for a few days years ago I kept having the same reaction-- felt like my Spanish was terrible because I couldn't understand a word :)

Bartok is right.

Whenever I overhear people speaking Spanish and I don't understand a word, I know it's Greek! It doesn't happen with any other language I have managed to hear.

The same happens to me in Portuguese and Polish: I understand some words of spoken Portuguese, but no Polish word at all. So, when I can't make out what a Portuguese is babbling about, I know he is Polish.

I do wonder if evolution of language is in any way related to the environment of the times.

Perhaps romance languages are a reflection of a culture heavily invested in matters of the heart.

English has one of the largest vocabularies ever, so perhaps that is a reflection of the times focused on a desire to understand, decipher, or even obfuscate.

Something such as a Hackney, which is a working class migratory language may have less of a romantic feel with it, and more of a heart pounding ruffian feel with it.

Then again, that's stretching things a little and overlooking things such as societal privilege and so on, and origins of the various working classes who combined in the area and what the feel of their languages prior might be.

Pramod Kumar Agrawal:
Different nasal sounds create different emotions. Two different species can have two different vocal-cords and they can pronounce emotions differently.  It can be suggested that the difference in the vocal-cord may depend on the environmental conditions of these species, and these environmental conditions have an impact on the emotions too.
Pramod Kumar Agrawal


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