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Old 03-14-2014, 11:38 AM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smtchll View Post
^Thai, Vietnamese, Khmer, and Lao all have that similar sound. I'm not really a fan either. Malay/Indonesian sound completely different and are very pleasing IMO
Yes, I notice a lot of South-East Asian and Southern Chinese languages are just very nasal and even more tonal than say Mandarin (well having more tones I guess).

Yes I'm used to the sound of Malay, and find it aesthetic and sort of homely, I guess. My parents can speak it too. It's pretty easy to learn as well. A lot of words are borrowed from English too but they change the spelling.
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
From most pleasing to the ear to most jarring:

These are the 10 most spoken languages in Asia:


Japanese
Malay/Indonesian
Mandarin
Korean
Burmese
Bengali
Hindi
Thai
Cantonese
Vietnamese
***. is OK. "KImi wa..." - all i know in japanese.
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:23 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
^ have to admit I'm not a fan of Thai at all. It's very nasally (especially when women speak it) and actually kind of harsh to my ears. Try being in an internet cafe with lots of screaming kids...I swear, haha.
I think being a "fan" of the language, or not, is really more a matter of personal preference, as well as what a person may be accustomed to hearing. When I hear someone that I consider to be speaking nasally, I have hard time understanding some of the things they're saying. It's not just the nasal sound, but also the dialect or the way some people pronounce words. The dialect of some people take shortcuts with words and tones. Personally, I find a lot of rural people seem to speak with more of a nasal sound. I'm fairly fluent with Central Thai, which is much easier for me, but less so with other dialects. Like I said, it's probably more a matter of me hearing the difference. I'd be almost willing to bet that in cities of Central Thailand, especially BKK, speakers who speak with a very distinct nasal sound are probably from provinces in other regions, or from rural areas, or their families are from those regions and areas.
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Old 03-14-2014, 12:38 PM
 
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It's not really the nasal sound that bothers me. I dont even notice that. It's the choppy sound. Lots of monosyllabic words. Same with Vietnamese and Khmer
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Old 03-14-2014, 01:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smtchll View Post
It's not really the nasal sound that bothers me. I dont even notice that. It's the choppy sound. Lots of monosyllabic words. Same with Vietnamese and Khmer
There are certainly monosyllabic words in Thai, but lots of them? Do you mean more than words with multiple syllables? Would you mind giving some examples? Skip any Vietnamese and Khmer. I don't know anything about those languages.
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Old 03-14-2014, 02:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightBazaar View Post
There are certainly monosyllabic words in Thai, but lots of them? Do you mean more than words with multiple syllables? Would you mind giving some examples? Skip any Vietnamese and Khmer. I don't know anything about those languages.
Maybe monosyllabic wasnt the right word, but choppy does describe the sound to me. Languages like Japanese and Malay have more flow because they're consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smtchll View Post
Maybe monosyllabic wasnt the right word, but choppy does describe the sound to me. Languages like Japanese and Malay have more flow because they're consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel
LOL! I'm not sure "choppy" is quite the right description either. While Japanese and Malay (I don't know either one) may be consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel giving them more flow, I'm not so sure that necessarily means that Thai speech sounds like it has less flow. Thai uses consonants and vowels in the same fashion. Not identical, of course, because they're different languages.

Here are just a few examples:
Spaced to show syllables, although in speech they flow pretty smooth. (Unconventional spelling for the sake of pronunciation )
Sah-nam-bin (airport)
Way-lah (time)
Sah-rah-boo-ree (name of a province and city)
Soo-khoh-thai (another province and city)
Rong-pai-yah-bahn (hospital)
Nah-lee-gah (watch or clock)
Guy-yang (Thai-style grilled chicken)
Moo-an-gan (Similar)

To be fair, there are some words that do sound a bit choppy though.
Spaced to show syllables, but the sound of each syllable often tends to be short and abrupt (choppy).
Khao-pat-moo (fried rice with pork)
Khao-mon-gai (a rice and chicken dish - yummy)
Mae-sai-yohn (April)
Dawk-mai (flower)
Yee-**** (Japan)
Sah-pah-roht (pineapple)

I do understand what you mean though. I kind of wonder if the choppiness of the sound is more related to the tones. High, low and mid tones can be distinct because of the vocal change they can make. Rising or falling tones sort of slide. I also wonder if tag words like Khrawp (or kop) and Kha might also lend a certain choppiness to the language.

In the video I posted, tones are used when they're speaking. Not sure if you can hear it or not though. But in the singing, tones are not apparent because it's music. That's an example of where you can use context to figure out what a person means.

If we compare syllables of Thai words to English words, while English tends to sound more smooth and flowing, it really isn't. It's because a native speaker is used to it. Most English words that have more than one syllable can also sound a bit choppy, in a way. Like I previously said, I think most of it depends on what your accustomed to. For someone who might not be that familiar with the Thai language very much, it's going to sound noticably different in a lot of different ways from that person's own native language. One big difference though, is that tones in English are usually to emphasize a word, whereas tones in Thai are actually part of a word. It might also be that the Thai could be saying two separate monosyllable words. Examples in English: Top hat, slow down, go right, big house, hot dog. Do those sound as choppy to you as they do to me?

Try saying these words slowly and you'll see what I mean:
- Syllable
- Choppy
- English
- Somebody
- Emphasis

I've been around Thais and the Thai language for more years than I can remember, and having been around it for so long, it doesn't sound so unusual to me. That's one factor. But I also know that it can indeed sound unusual to someone else. And I think it has to do with the degree of familiarity a person has with it. Apart from maybe not knowing what certain Thai words mean, hearing a difference in how it sounds could be related because all a person who doesn't know the language is bound to hear are sounds that have no particular meaning to a listener. You know the Thai is saying something, but have no idea what it is.
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:39 PM
 
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When I go to the local Chinese restaurant the owner lady is really nice to the customers, then goes back in the kitchen and yells at her husband in Chinese. That language can be pleasant yet incredibly terrifying. O_o
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Old 03-14-2014, 06:46 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,256,138 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by baileytinn View Post
When I go to the local Chinese restaurant the owner lady is really nice to the customers, then goes back in the kitchen and yells at her husband in Chinese. That language can be pleasant yet incredibly terrifying. O_o
In Chinatown London I was just snapping some pics and snapped a photo of a woman standing in front of a stairwell with a red light coming out of it - a middle aged Chinese lady. Well she took offence, made a beeline for me and started berating me in Chinese and even grabbing me. Luckily my mum who can speak Mandarin was with me so could explain I was just a snap-happy tourist not an undercover cop or journalist or something lol.
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