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Subject: Cold weather speak
Question: Hi,

I happened to watch a Scandinavian movie with subtitles and had to remark to an Alaskan friend that it was not a particularly nice language to listen to compared to the Romance languages. He mentioned that when he was out in far northern Alaska for several days without benefit of a cabin to warm up in, he noticed that English speakers began to speak a lot farther back in their throats, becoming similar to Inuit-type voicing. Makes sense in a way that one's mouth doesn't open as far (thus letting cold air in), and the mouth doesn't have to contort as much to speak. Just curious if you have any thoughts.

Thank you!
Reply: I believe an effect like that would be perfectly possible, but I don't know whether it did actually happen with Scandinavian languages.

"Nice language to listen to" is clearly a matter of taste! French is a Romance language, and I couldn't imagine anyone thinking that was pleasant, purely in terms of the sound -- though of course one may be fond of it for other reasons, the attractive culture, etc. At the purely phonetic level I would prefer the Northern European languages I know to those of Southern Europe.

Geoffrey Sampson
Reply From: Geoffrey Richard Sampson      click here to access email
 
Date: 04-Mar-2014
 
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Cold weather speak    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (04-Mar-2014)

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