Most Popular Posts

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What English sounds like to foreigners



Have you ever wondered what English sounds like? This short film, Skwerl, shows you exactly that. Take a look!

111 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is hilarious! Years ago I once saw an old tv show where the comedian did fake french, german and english accents . I always wanted to see it again, but didn't remember who did it or what show.

Valerie said...

I liked this video, but the link below is definitely the best 'fake English' I've ever heard...and, the guy is singing! It's delightful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZXcRqFmFa8

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I'm French, and for me the couple in the video look like Americans speaking too quickly for me to understand

erin! said...

I like that he ended a sentence with "Elton John." Hahah

Bárbara said...

Yes! That's how it sounded before my english classes! :)

etoilee8 said...

This is hysterical. My best friend is from Sweden and we love talking about how she used to watch American shows growing up and make up her own imaginary words to go with the opening sequence. She's so funny.

Tasha said...

That's cool. I also wondered what we sound like to non-english speakers...

Jennifer said...

I've always wondered about that! Awesome video. It always seems like other languages are spoken really fast, but this make english sound like that too.

~Jennifer
horaceandmae.etys.com

Zoë said...

I was listening to this without watching the video--if you're half-zoned out, you can't even tell it's fake English! I, at least, to really concentrate in order to recognize that what they were saying didn't make any sense! Thanks for sharing, Joanna. Made me laugh.

Joanna Goddard said...

yes, isn't it fascinating? english sounds more like german that i would have thought.

Miss Molly said...

awesome! haha

http://missmollyfashions.blogspot.com/

Joanna Goddard said...

valerie, that is HILARIOUS!

Brooke said...

this is too funny!

SARAH said...

This is incredible! Like a foreign film in English (sort of). Great acting too - it must be hard to emote while also speaking nonsense.

Amanda (Wit & Whistle) said...

Hilarious! I am fluent in fake German and fake French, and I always wondered what fake English would sound like. I kept turning up the volume because I thought they were speaking real English, and I just couldn't catch what they were saying.

Alejandra said...

My family is Puerto Rican and mom always said that when she was growing up, she and her little brother would pretend to speak English and would just go "Warhsha warsha warsha warsha" because that's what it sounded like to them.

Lindsay @ The Everything Project said...

Trippy! It is funny that I kept trying to make sense of it, when obviously there is no sense to be had!

I never can listen to the videos you post while I'm at work, but I'm glad I brought my headphones today!

Lindsay
www.wearingitall.blogspot.com

Nina Nagy said...

OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a shock, I know this boy, he was my friend's flatmate in Paris. He is australian. I missed him, so thank you for reminding me of him! How great is that shortfilm?!
xx

erin said...

amazing.

Gaia said...

This is brilliant.

LeeLee said...

Wow, this is interesting. Sounds like a completely different language.

Chrissy said...

Haha, this is hilaroius!! Love it! xxx

Melissa said...

This is hilarious! It sounds like they're speaking English, just mumbling.

Bambi said...

I always wonder what swiss-german sounds like to english speakers? :-)

Romina said...

I´m from Argentina, and I speak a veeery poor English.
This sound exactly like you to me :)
I would love to hear something like this in spanish, specialy in argentinian spanish.

Love!
Romi

fidlerflute said...

Sadly, this is what people sound like to me most of the time!!

Joanna Goddard said...

nina, no way!!! he is super cute:)

abigail said...

wow, so trippy, it really tricks me into thinking I might know what they are saying only to admit to myself that I do not! Sort of what happens when I try to listen or watch Spanish tv, etc I think I get it but I don't!

btw that link that Valerie posted above- is HILARIOUS! love the dancing!

~abigail
akak tiptoethrough.blogspot

M&C said...

Hahah! That's awesome.

http://swoonhunting.blogspot.com

MJ said...

In Le petit Nicholas (a french children's classic), the English boy is described as sounding like "Inshouanshouan"... funny.

Hannah said...

I have TOTALLY wondered this! How funny.

Kirsten @ Triple Max Tons said...

Wow, I never really thought about our language from that perspective! I suppose when you are an 'outsider' listening in, everyone sounds like they talk too fast and slur their words, haha!

Kate said...

So hilarious. This guy is very Joel McHale-like, no?

Aretusa said...

Lol!!!
http://petitepoohmonamour.blogspot.com/

Liv said...

They are really convincing!

Eli said...

Glad to know I'm not crazy then, I turned up the volume twice! This summer my family and I visited Puerto Vallarta while on our trip to Mexico (our parents are from there so we are fluent in Spanish and English), and the resort we stayed in had these "cast member" type people that would mingle with the guests, play games, and some other nonsense. Some of them spoke English, but it sounded SO weird! My sister and I tried to figure out why they were talking like that, and came to the conclusion that they were trying to mimic the American accent. It sounded like some crazy surfer game show host!

Lindsay said...

When I was in Italy I had an Italian friend who said his favorite languages to hear were German and American english, because they were cute/made him laugh. His least favorite was the UK English.

Sara Szatmary said...

duuuuude... this is tripping me out! Do we really sound that nonsensical?!

Kj719 said...

I am a language teacher (English and Spanish) so I'm very aware that this is what I sound like to my students! When I took French (I only lasted a few months sadly) this is what my instructor sounded like to me!

Nomadic D. said...

That is awesome. I totally felt like I was on the verge of understanding what they were saying half the time. And Valerie's link is great too!

http://nomadic-d.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

I am an American and I totally thought I just couldn't hear the video, I just kept turning up the volume! I wonder if non-English speakers think American English is pretty like i think other languages are? I have this feeling no.

Jenny Attwater said...

I was *just* about to comment on how germanic the intonation sounded - but I see you already got there! That is definitely what struck me first. Thanks Jo, I found this video really really interesting.

Angela Lynn said...

I always wondered about this! So funny haha :)

Teri B. said...

we love making our foreign friends play this game! so funny.

teri
www.bockting.blogspot.com

The Wild Fairy said...

After a long day at work, I felt I was on drugs listening to this! Very trippy indeed! ~Siobhan

Anathalia said...

Yep, even after 3 years in the US, sometimes English still sounds like that to me! ;D

FanFamFun said...

i think i had that exact conversation with my 1.5 year old today! x

Sam said...

This video reminds me of when I sing along to Sigur Ros songs!

Charlotte K said...

That is WEIRD for a native American speaker. It's like being in Bizarro World. It sounds right but it makes no sense at all. I had to turn it off.

Kelsi said...

HAHAHA I feel like I'm on drugs now. I could pretty much make out the bad words and a few others here and there... So funny!

eRin said...

That's so great! I was definitely fluent in fake French when I was little, it never occurred to me that others would pretend to speak English the same way. Duh!

I have been obsessed with the video Valerie posted for a few years, I wish I could get a good mp4 copy of Prisencolinensinainciusol. I think I might also have to learn that dance...

Cassandra Marie said...

So weird! I have always wondered what we sound like to non-english speakers!

Joanna Goddard said...

haha, Lindsay, that is so cute:)
"When I was in Italy I had an Italian friend who said his favorite languages to hear were German and American english, because they were cute/made him laugh. His least favorite was the UK English."

Lindsay R said...

this is too funny. thanks for sharing. i have wondered what us English speakers sound like to non english speakers.

Lindsay

Elaine said...

Hahah, that's hilarious!

Dani F. Boyd said...

This is so true! I'm brazilian and that's exactly how English sounds like when people speak too fast.

cat said...

I LOVE that you shared this as I was JUST talking about this very idea with a friend recently whose first language isn't English. Thanks!

Tammy said...

hahaha my mom has trouble following english conversations in movies-- she always says they speak to fast! I always wondered what she was hearing; I'm pretty sure this is it!

Anonymous said...

gosh, not impressed. having watched the entire video, trying to give it a chance, i actually feel like i just lost a few precious minutes of my life that i'll never get back.

(men on film voice) "hated it!"

NorG said...

I didn't get this at all in the beginning, just thought they were speaking English! Then I started listening, and it did'nt make sense. This is exactly what English sounds like to me.

I'm Norwegian, wonder what Norwegian sounds like for foreigners..

And I love French, Spanish and Italian which I do somewhat speak. Also love the sound of Chinese which doesn't make any sense at all!!

thirdculturekid said...

you should check this out joanna
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZXcRqFmFa8&feature=related

Magdalena's Madrid said...

This was especially interesting to watch as an American living in Madrid and teaching English. And yes, German and English are often comparable. I've also noticed just seeing German tourists here that it seems as though their tone and expressiveness also seems similar to Americans.

MaviDeniz said...

Thanks so much for posting this!! i've always wondered what english sounded like to foreigners. English is my mother's 4th language after french, turkish and spanish and she said that english sounded like a lot of W's and "sh" sounds lol. For this video I kept making the sound louder b/c although it sounded like english words I couldn't make out what they were saying. Surprisingly, it kinda sounds a little german.

Anna Claire said...

Awesome! When this video first started, I thought somehow you had accidentally linked to a version of the video that had been re-dubbed in actual English...until I kept listening, of course :)

When I went to Paris a couple of years ago, we had a waiter at an outdoor cafe who didn't speak much English (and we spoke almost no French) and when he realized we were American he said, "McDonald's! Obama! Yes we can!" And I thought it was so interesting that those were the first American words/phrases that he could think of.
PS Valerie's link is hysterical, and really does sound like English :)

Anonymous said...

Ha! And she's Australian not American. She studied at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. I know this because I was studying there at the same time...small world

Joy said...

This is so strange and interesting at the same time.

Catherine said...

Wow! This really does sound like Enlgish! Becuase they kep throwing words in there like "sure" and "way" I kept straining to understand what they were saying. Lol!

Kelly said...

I speak English but since I'm very hearing impaired, this is what people always sound like to me--especially in movies/tv shows. It's almost impossible to figure out what's being said without captions. So this would probably be a good way to show people what it's like to be hearing impaired, as well.

Anonymous said...

I'm American and half the time I can't understand them when they speak so fast...

Liz said...

That is so fascinating! We sound weird.

I read somewhere that Kate Winslet (I think) described doing the American accent as speaking words like you were "chewing them." I had to think about it a bit, but she's totally right! Brits let words trail off but we Americans have lots more hard stops. To say the word "car" in a British accents is to let it linger, and keep driving through the air. To say it like an American is to put on the brakes and "bite" down on that 'r.' Ha, am I making any sense?

Elaine said...

This hurts my brain.

Mieko said...

My aunt always teases me when she hears me speak English (I'm Japanese) by trying to mimic my speech in fake English. This cracked me up!

Tara Galuska said...

Hehe I am having dinner at this house on Friday night it's so exciting to now know a you tube celeb :)

wildchild said...

huh i never thought about this. interestinggg. i like seeing what i actually understand. ha

andy said...

Have you seen this video? It's an old song using Italian gibberish to sound like American English.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz04IBZqfFE

brittany said...

ahhh, i LOVE stuff like this! it's so strange. and kind of makes me feel like a small confused child. it's like that made up italian music video! freaky.

hello, Friday said...

Hilarious!! I'm laughing so hard. xoxo

http://hellofridaybypaik.blogspot.com/

Stephanie @ Blawsom said...

OMG... I did not understand a word they said!

Anonymous said...

This is awesome, it sounds exactly like my meetings with foreign colleagues - which are held in English.

Blandine in Paris

Judith said...

I teach English in Japan, so I'm always wondering what I must sound like to my kids. It's kinda funny to think that English sounds just like Japanese does to me right now, a bunch of sounds blurred together. I am curious if English sounds different to speakers of different languages...

Ana Alegria Says.. said...

Hilarious!!! :)

Charlie said...

That's really cool! I have always wondered what English sounds like, too. Foreign languages always sound really fast when you don't understand them, but English sounds just the same! Great post!

this chicken said...

This is really weird. And also clever, but I will never know how realistic it is being a native English speaker...

Anonymous said...

whatever they were saying, it totally sounded english to me :D
Greetings from Austria,
Stefanie ;)

Maryli said...

Everyone probably posted this already, but just in case..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz04IBZqfFE

Leslie Todd said...

When he was a toddler my son spoke fake English all the time. None of the words made any sense, but the cadence, rhythm, and sound was like English. It was his own little private language. He was clearly carrying on a conversation. It sounded like this.

Sabriel said...

we sound so scandanavian! I thought it was norweigen or something with american accents. They kind of sing their words and that's what it reminded me of. Also, do we really use the "sh" sound so much? Crazy.

Rita Bee said...

Well, American. The different English, Welch, Irish, Scottish, South African, Australian, Kiwi, and other english language accents would make many other interesting movies. But yeah, this is pretty much how American sounds.

shoegirl said...

I too kept turning up the volume and straining to understand! This is often how I feel (as an American living in Germany) when someone talks too fast and doesn't enunciate their words - the German just sounds like gibberish and I'm left staring at them like an idiot!

Missy said...

Fascinating. I have ALWAYs wondered this...

olivia said...

this was throwing me off so bad.
my brain felt like I was supposed to understand.

Lizzy said...

On a related note, have you seen Kathering Tate's language translator video? She's hilarious.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INOL2zVv7mw

thinkpriddy said...

it sounds terrible! haha i wish i spoke french

Rachael said...

It's so hard to stop trying to figure out what they're saying! This is terrific.

Ellie D. said...

ahhhh. this is a little too close to home. I'm living in Japan, but I don't really speak japanese, I can pick up a word or two while straining to find understanding throughout the whole conversation. strange to feel that way listening to english tho.

I'm Ali said...

LOL omg I'm sharing this!

smashleighmm.com said...

I had to pause this a couple of times because I was laughing so hard! I like how you can still kind of figure out what they are talking about because they are acting it out so well. I think she wants to have a baby and he thinks it will ruin their lives.

Rachel said...

This video made me so happy! AND it does sound sort of German/Dutch. It surprised me. I feel special, English does sound foreign after all.

UglyDuckling said...

I have always wondered this. Might have to post this on my blog too, enlighten a few other English speakers!

Thanks for posting, very funny and interesting too!

Amelia @ UGLY DUCKLING
http://iwasanuglyduckling.blogspot.com

4rx said...

what a great video, It always seems like other languages are spoken really fast, but this make English sound like that too.

Anonymous said...

As a Brit, this sounds Scandinavian to me as they're pronouncing their 'R's in a hard way!

Anonymous said...

I immediately thought, "Not Americans!" because they are holding their silverware upside down. We don't eat like that! :)

Phoebe said...

My brain was trying so hard to understand the gibberish. They did throw in a few words though that were intelligible, which made it even worse, haha. When I hear non-English languages, though, I don't feel like my brain processes their languages like this.

Kate F. said...

Another POV: I asked a British friend (w a straight-up posh accent) what Americans sound like to him, since he sounds completely fabulous to us. He said we all sound like movie stars!

Little Hiccups said...

Isn't it funny that even though they the actors are mostly just speaking gibberish they still sound so completely American! There's no hiding those accents.
As an Australian living in California I quite often wonder what I must sound like to other people. My accent is hardly ever recognised as Australian as I don't sound like the Crocodile Hunter - note to Hollywood: hardly any Australians actually sound like that so please, please stop with the over the top accents Australian characters are given!
I have always wondered if non-English speakers can hear the difference in our accents and work out where we're from. Even though I get asked where I'm from almost on a daily basis, it's very rarely people who speak English as their second language asking me. Maybe they don't pick up the tiny nuances that make our accents sound so different to other English speakers. A Spanish friend here has told me that she can't tell the difference between the way her Australian husband and I pronounce certain words and how our American friends pronounce the same words. Of course to us there is a huge difference but apparently she just can't hear it.

Rachel said...

How did they figure out how to make this? I am FASCINATED!

way2 college said...

I'm happy to find numerous useful info here in the post. I would really like to come back again right here for likewise good articles or blog posts. Thanks for sharing...
distance learning mba from iim

Sharon de Jager said...

Well firstly, it's American English, which is very different to British English and the way we speak..I managed to understand a few words...I thought it was the American accent I wasn't understanding...

RJ said...

I understood a bit until I did not understand it anymore or maybe its my ears stop listing because they where talking rubbish lmao.

The Business Angel said...

Is it this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1v4BYV-YvA

Buzzers Kuber Natarajan said...

Studying English at elementary school has some benefits because the speech muscles of children are more flexible and still easier to get new words.
spoken english dvds

Site design by Apartment One
Federated Media Publishing - Style