Author Topic: The emotion of a language  (Read 4695 times)

Offline Keysle

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The emotion of a language
« on: April 28, 2014, 09:39:32 PM »
I heard something once from a former coworker.
He said that different languages carry their own emotional connotation.
Where would this come from?
Primarily I would imagine it's the sounds we're making.
Secondarily I would imagine it's the logical structure of the subjects we're speaking on.

Any further thoughts on this?

I'm not bilingual so I don't have any personal experience.

Offline lx

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2014, 11:01:31 PM »
The own emotional connotation is personal to the speaker. It would not be something every speaker of the language physically felt and couldn't get away from. A speaker might absolutely love that he has a specific native language, while another one hates the same fact. They had very different upbringings and use their languages in very different ways. Those languages would not have the same emotional connotation. So, it's not something that can be generalised from individual subjective opinions of various single people.

Offline Corybobory

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 12:32:11 AM »
^Completely! It's not the result of inherent characteristics of any language, but its associations, which are personal and subjective to each person. Often our feelings about how a language sounds just reveals qualities we attribute to speakers of those language ex. German = loud and angry (because we've only been exposed to it through videos of Hitler screaming), French = sexy, British English = posh and educated...
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Offline freknu

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 02:46:16 AM »
What really fascinates me is the "rhythmic feel" of language rather than emotional connotation.

  • Latin can feel fluid and slow ("howwayyou")
  • Spanish can feel broken and rapid ("rat-a-tat")

There doesn't have to be any "objective" difference in "expressiveness" or so on, but merely the patterns and sounds of the language can make it feel very different.

Offline Corybobory

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 10:21:11 AM »
I remember in Japan, I was staying at a bed and breakfast where the lady that ran it, after helping some Spanish guests plan their day, mentioned to me that Spanish sounds like that to her ("rat-a-tat") - at which point I had to bite my tongue because that's what I think Japanese sounds like!! :)
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Offline Daniel

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 10:56:29 AM »
Personally I would say it's based mostly on experience, as well as expectations from languages already familiar. Certainly, though, different languages feel different.
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Offline zaba

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2014, 03:04:49 AM »
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He said that different languages carry their own emotional connotation.

Yes, I guess an individual may think that a language has an emotional connotation -- but, like any emotional connotation, it doesn't COME from anywhere. It is ASSEMBLED in the mind from past experiences, expectations, knowledge, associations, etc.

The (emotional, semantic, etc) content is absolutely not in the signal!

Offline Daniel

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2014, 09:32:02 AM »
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The (emotional, semantic, etc) content is absolutely not in the signal!
Yet from our own subjective perspectives, we can certainly point to what about the signal gives us a certain feeling.
Arguably this is true also for things like phonemes and "meaning" in language. Those aren't in the signal either, technically speaking.
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Offline zaba

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #8 on: June 12, 2014, 06:09:10 AM »
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Yet from our own subjective perspectives, we can certainly point to what about the signal gives us a certain feeling.
Well, nothing about the signal GIVES us a feeling (whatever a "feeling" is). Rather, something in the signal provides a cue that somehow constructs, at least in part, something that we understand to be like an emotional state..

Quote
Arguably this is true also for things like phonemes and "meaning" in language. Those aren't in the signal either, technically speaking.

No. Not arguably true. Just "true"! Meaning is constructed in the mind. There's nothing "IN" the signal (which is "just" a disturbance in the air!).

Offline Daniel

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #9 on: June 12, 2014, 04:31:41 PM »
All true :)



I think the distinction here may be between what is conventional in a speech community and what is unique to an individual. While phonemes are generally conventional for all speakers of a speech community (eg, ~dialect), the impression that different languages have on each of us is not generally defined by a speech community. Of course there may be exceptions to that-- political associations can often make groups believe that a certain language sounds "ugly".
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Offline Bartók

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2014, 09:20:16 AM »
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.

Offline Daniel

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2014, 10:57:16 AM »
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 :)
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Offline Guijarro

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2014, 12:25:01 PM »
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.

Offline MrChiLambda

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Re: The emotion of a language
« Reply #13 on: May 31, 2015, 09:32:37 PM »
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.