Your linguistic disasters

Callaina

Feles Curiosissima

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Perhaps it's the near-total lack of any sort of accentual stress.
 

Pacifica

grammaticissima

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French does, I think, have a sort of oddness to its pronunciation that isn't shared by other European languages (or even other Romance languages).
English is rather... unique too, though. ;) I haven't heard any other language sounding remotely like English.
 

Pacifica

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Perhaps it's the near-total lack of any sort of accentual stress.
I guess that's weird, but stress isn't very hard to learn, so that isn't what makes us suck, surely?
 

Callaina

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English is rather... unique too, though. ;)
Haha, I definitely can't dispute that either. :D

I guess that's weird, but stress isn't very hard to learn, so that isn't what makes us suck, surely?
I think that's part of it -- a lot of native French speakers who learn English end up having a very "flat"-sounding sort of contour to their sentences. Stress is something that is present in pretty well every sentence, and it's (I think) harder to learn than one might think -- I mean, there are no really hard and fast rules for it, like for grammar; one just has to "pick it up".

I also suspect that the weirdness of French vowels, combined with (I'll admit it) the utter bizarreness of English vowels, may be part of the problem.
 

Pacifica

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I think that's part of it -- a lot of native French speakers who learn English end up having a very "flat"-sounding sort of contour to their sentences. Stress is something that is present in pretty well every sentence, and it's (I think) harder to learn than one might think -- I mean, there are no really hard and fast rules for it, like for grammar; one just has to "pick it up".
I've heard many French speakers fail to stress English correctly (or at all), and I probably don't always do it well myself, but if you learn about it, it shouldn't be too difficult to do it acceptably at least. After all, we do have stress in French: we can use a rather big stress when we mean to emphasize a word, so we're physically capable of producing a stress and we just need to learn to apply it more systematically and in the right places.

And there are some rules to it. Perhaps not totally "hard and fast", but still.
I also suspect that the weirdness of French vowels, combined with (I'll admit it) the utter bizarreness of English vowels, may be part of the problem.
I think French's lack of many of English's weird vowels is more of a problem than the few weird vowels it does have.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

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I guess that's weird, but stress isn't very hard to learn, so that isn't what makes us suck, surely?
It's what make Simone de Beauvoir so opaque. Someone must have told her that there is such a thing as stress, so she just chucks some randomly into her sentences.

Having said that, I know any number of competent French speakers, at least in the UK. Pacifica has never been spent any time in an anglophone country, and I'm guessing the French speakers of English she hears might be in the same situation, or one not much better.
 

Pacifica

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It's what make Simone de Beauvoir so opaque. Someone must have told her that there is such a thing as stress, so she just chucks some randomly into her sentences.
I remember you posting a recording of her once. That was impressive in a negative way. Stress was far from being the only issue with her pronunciation.
Having said that, I know any number of competent French speakers, at least in the UK. Pacifica has never been spent any time in an anglophone country, and I'm guessing the French speakers of English she hears might be in the same situation, or one not much better.
Most French speakers I've heard speaking English have been strangers on TV, mostly politicians. I don't know how much time they've spent in English-speaking countries, but I'm guessing politicians must have to speak English now and again.
 

Pacifica

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Someone must have told her that there is such a thing as stress, so she just chucks some randomly into her sentences.
I'm not sure that's the reason. Maybe she simply stresses things like in French, which will sound random in English.
 

Pacifica

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In the recording I heard, she simply didn't seem to be making any effort to pronounce things in a more English, less French way. So it's maybe unlikely that she added random stresses in a failed attempt to make her speech sound more English.
 

Callaina

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Well, maybe "weird" is the wrong term regarding French vowels, but French does seem to distinguish between certain subtle nuances of vowels which are not distinguished in English (and probably English does the same thing relative to French). Of course, this applies to languages like German as well, with its umlauts...but I, at any rate, find French vowels particularly hard to "hear". So perhaps French and English vowels are sort of mutually incompatible?
 

cinefactus

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I read an article somewhere some time ago (unfortunately, I can't find it) that said it had been proven by some studies that French speakers were predisposed to suck at pronouncing foreign languages
Interesting. I have noticed that it is almost impossible for a native Anglophone to pronounce a foreign language correctly.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

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Speakers of both English and French have always been notorious for not learning foreign languages, and while both languages have their peculiarities that theoretically could make the activity more difficult than it is for speakers of other tongues, this isn't really the reason.

French speakers in Europe (as I don't think this applies to those elsewhere) are a bit more developed, though, as they understand that other languages exist. They don't know why people would want to speak them when they could be speaking French, but foreigners are incomprehensible, and they probably wouldn't do it very well anyway. Nowadays they may even learn this sort of thing themselves, just to see what those sneaky bastards are up to.

Anglophones, however, don't really understand that not everyone speaks English, and assume that shouting will assist the procedure when there are hitches. They complain when the television in Spain is in Spanish, and Miss America has recently had to apologise for mocking her fellow contestants for their failures in this respect. I'm sure this is why so many Brexiters were happy to throw away their freedom to live abroad – all those pesky foreigners pretending not to understand, just to wind the master race up, and who needs that sort of thing?
 

Terry S.

Quaestor

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Anglophones, however, don't really understand that not everyone speaks English, and assume that shouting will assist the procedure when there are hitches.
This isn't the complete truth. Sometimes saying the same English words really slowly as if speaking to a slow child is held to effect the desired result.
 

Hawkwood

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And then there's those who don the 'twang' (a generic embellishment to our native speech that applies to all discourse with non-brits regardless of their nation).
 

Pacifica

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"In a French accent"? That doesn't sound very French to me. It sounds a bit weird, but I'd have assumed it was just a native English accent I wasn't familiar with.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

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Do you think someone who believes he's being courteous to foreigners by speaking in their accent is likely to be good at it? This is taking stupid several degrees beyond the norm, and explains Brexit in a nutshell, incidentally. Every country had its idiots, but we deify them.
 

Etaoin Shrdlu

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Indeed, but he didn't win the popular vote; the American system overweights the inhabitants of the flyover states, and there are some very strange people there.
 
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