What would a native Greek speaker differ in if they spoke French, dialect, tone, or accent? Would there be a difference?

By: | Post date: 2017-07-06 | Comments: 1 Comment
Posted in categories: Linguistics, Modern Greek

… You know, I’ll take the challenge.

I have a PhD in linguistics and I know the IPA backwards, but my accent in foreign languages is horridly Greek.

From Nick Nicholas’ answer to What does Genesis 1:1-3 sound like in your language? : Vocaroo | Voice message

Don’t assume that polyglots always have a great accent. I know a polyglot prodigy who has recently showed up on this site, so I won’t name him: he knows a dozen languages, and he sounds Bulgarian in all of them. You have to be immersed in a country for a fair while to pick up the accent with some fluency.

As both other answerers have pointed out, there would be shibboleths. The uvular [ʀ] would end up a velar [ɣ] or a trilled [r] (the former is likelier unless the speaker had never heard anyone speak French). The rounded front vowels, the [œ, y], would be way too close to /e/ and /i/. They’d have trouble with the [ɥ]. (Doesn’t everyone?) I think they’d do a passable [ʃ, ʒ], but their nasals would be hit and miss. And of course, they’d have the rat-tat-tat of a language without vowel length distinctions.

You know how Spanish speakers speak French? It’d be close to that.

Answered 2017-07-06 · Upvoted by

Steve Rapaport, Linguistics PhD candidate at Edinburgh. Has lived in USA, Sweden, Italy, UK.

One Comment

  • John Cowan says:

    he sounds Bulgarian in all of them

    Or as Mark Liberman says, Bulgarian was one of the couple of dozen languages that Roman Jakobsen spoke Russian in.

    You know how Spanish speakers speak French?

    Comme une vache espagnole, natürlich!

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