What English Sounds Like for Foreigners

There’s an interesting experience you have with foreign languages, which is that you can experience them aesthetically. French, German, Portugese, Japanese … even if you understand a little, when any one of them gets going full speed, the sounds are coming too quickly to process, so you’re left only with the quality of the sound, without being encumbered by the meaning.

(On a related note, when I said I liked a French song, a co-worker once commented someone snidely that it might be because I didn’t know how banal the lyrics were.)

But what if you’re an English speaker? What does English sound like? That’s a problem, because as soon as you hear it, you’re also making sense of it, processing the message, which makes it impossible (or almost impossible) to judge the sound aesthetically.

An Italian singer named Adriano Celentano thought of this too, and wrote a song with gibberish to sound like English. Ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like? Probably a lot like this. And dang, that’s a catchy tune. And good video.

Hat tip to Nancy Friedman for the link.


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