? asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 month ago

Why is spoken English often spoken so slow by native speakers compared to many other languages?

My native language is English, so I could possibly be biased about this. I have been to several other countries (most in Europe), and whenever I heard people speak, I always was struggling to keep up. Here's an example. I am not quite "fluent" in German, but I am fluent enough that I can hold sustained conversations with people for a significant amount of time. I went to Germany, and most people spoke so fast, that I had to tell them to slow down, (which would be: "Könnten sie bitte langsamer sprechen?") Spanish, and Italian were examples of other languages that were spoken super fast. I speak/understand A LOT less of those languages, but they still sounded really fast. Let me add that this is when people who are native speakers speak the language. I know that there are exceptions of people who speak English really fast (the only public example that I can think of is Ben Shapiro).

Is English just a really slowly spoken language or is it simply a perception?

Here are some examples of languages that sound like they are spoken fast compared to English:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obEUrNwZurQ

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7K_Fb2M-hao

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E01JeIclZu8

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9 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

     I'm a native spanish speaker originally from south america... I have heard in more than one ocassion that people on the other side of the atlantic speak way faster than people of the americas.. so languages such as french, spanish, portuguese, and English are spoken at a "normal" speed in the americas but not so in Europe.. 

    Regarding the videos you posted... I don't think the second video (the one in spanish) is a good example of people speaking fast their language... Also, the third video which is in italian shows a man speaking italian at a very low speed!  which is unusual because I always hear italians speaking fast.

  • Foreign languages have no place in polite society.

    Even Welsher speak is unnecessary

  • 4 weeks ago

    I think "Anonymous" put it quite well. Why he went anonymous to give a good response is puzzling to me.

  • 4 weeks ago

    One of the fastest spoken languages is Spanish because it uses breath groups and drops many letters and syllables.While single words are written as sounded that does not apply to fast spoken sentences.

    English unlike Dutch and German is having a spelling problem and yet these 3 languages are spoken more distincly and words are more easily recognized.

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  • 4 weeks ago

    Are you serious? OF COURSE you don't have a problem with English: it's your native language.

    With every language there are people who speak fast and people who speak slowly and people who sometimes speak fast and sometimes slowly and and and ...

    I would really like to think you're just messing with us. 

  • 4 weeks ago

    Slow?  So you've never talked with any Chicagoans.

    Other languages *sound* faster because you're not accustomed to the pronunciation and the vocabulary.

  • Anonymous
    4 weeks ago

    Other languages may sound faster because they're not your native language, so it takes effort to understand what's being said. 

    Also English is a stress-timed language, unlike others that are syllable-timed, such as the Romance languages (French, Spanish, Italian etc.).  So we communicate by selectively altering the stress of certain syllables depending on the meaning we wish to convey, and drop some syllables altogether.  We don't enunciate EVERY syllable like French or Spanish speakers do.  So they may have more words/syllables to get out, compared to the same amount of information in English, which we can express in less time using fewer words or syllables that we drop.

  • 4 weeks ago

    When I started learning German and French, I thought they spoke super fast. After I master those languages better (I'm now in C1 level), I don't find them talking too fast anymore. Your German video, for example, does not sound fast to me :).

  • 1 month ago

    When you are fluent in a language you speak rapidly and understand rapid speech. When you are not fluent, you are partly translating as you listen to someone speak and that slows down your rate of comprehension so it seems they are talking too quickly - which they are, for you, but not for a native speaker.

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