Specializations > Psycholinguistics

The emotion of a language

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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.

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.

^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...

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.

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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