Does how a language sound represent the character of the nation?

By: | Post date: 2016-10-17 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: General Language, Linguistics

When I was lecturing historical linguistics, I addressed this notion as follows:

“Just picture the 19th century German linguist, captured by cannibals and boiling away in a cauldron, saying: [German accent] ‘Hah! Zis is ein joke! You people are all pussies! You do not even haff ein alveolar affrikat!’”

And beware of cause and effect in cultural judgements. It’s not necessarily that the sound of French motivated the French to be connoiseurs and romantique. It’s more that the cultural stereotype of the French as connoiseurs and romantique has led to people think of French that way. If you’re not getting a similar vibe out of Turkish (which to my mind sounds pretty similar), then it’s not the sounds you’re reacting to.

That, and I’m pretty sure the recruits in the French Foreign Legion don’t find anything romantique about their sergeant screaming at them en français.

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