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Old 09-17-2012, 09:01 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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I'd say most foreign probably Vietnamese. It just sounds like weird sounds. Hmong, Cantonese, Tamil, Khmer are also among them. Also many of the ethnic minority tongues in South East Asia. They just sound nasal and weird.

Mandarin, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, Malay, Tagalog.etc probably medium.

Japanese, Persian.etc sound a bit less foreign to me.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:34 AM
 
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All the Minnan dialects, Hainanese especially, are strong contenders for being foreign.
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:49 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Haowen Wong View Post
All the Minnan dialects, Hainanese especially, are strong contenders for being foreign.
I vote that Southeastern Asian languages, which includes the Southern Chinese dialects/languages, sound the most alien to western ears. They are often very tonal, strong emphasis on syllables, odd sounds, and quite nasal sounding. Some linguists place Korean in the Altaic family tree, making it a distant relative of Turkish, and I can actually see the resemblance.
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Old 10-03-2012, 07:52 PM
 
Location: San Francisco Bay Area
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They are all tough for a native English speaker, like me.
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Old 10-04-2012, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Anytown, USA
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All Asian languages will sound foreign to the non-speaker.

Its not like English, Spanish, Italian etc. which have similar roots....and share many words.

I will put this out there that I think Thai sounds the "nicest and smoothest" out of all the Asian languages, kinda like how they say French "sounds romantic"
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Old 10-04-2012, 02:43 PM
 
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i think Japanese is easiest for westerners. People said Japanese are very close to German or/and Finnish.

Naomi, Yagami can be a Japanese or german name.
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Old 10-04-2012, 03:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I'd say most foreign probably Vietnamese. It just sounds like weird sounds. Hmong, Cantonese, Tamil, Khmer are also among them. Also many of the ethnic minority tongues in South East Asia. They just sound nasal and weird.

Mandarin, Korean, Hindi, Arabic, Malay, Tagalog.etc probably medium.

Japanese, Persian.etc sound a bit less foreign to me.
Persian better sound less foreign. It's an Indo-European language with the same roots as English.
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Old 10-04-2012, 05:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
I vote that Southeastern Asian languages, which includes the Southern Chinese dialects/languages, sound the most alien to western ears. They are often very tonal, strong emphasis on syllables, odd sounds, and quite nasal sounding. Some linguists place Korean in the Altaic family tree, making it a distant relative of Turkish, and I can actually see the resemblance.
I think that applies to the Mainland Southeast Asian languages like Thai, Khmer, Vietnamese, etc. But the Austronesian language (in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines) don't have the features you're describing.

Even Thai, which IMO sounds the least "alien" of the Mainland SE Asian languages, still has the features you're describing. I think the main thing that makes it sound foreign is that it's mono-syllabic, like Khmer, Vietnamese, Chinese, and many languages in Asia


Thai News Talk about Laos - YouTube

Compare that to some Austronesian languages like Malay & Tagalog (Filipino)...

Tagalog

Drop-out rates climbing - YouTube

Malay

GMJ Flash mob news on Bernama (BM) - YouTube


They sound less foreign for a Western. Although, I can see how Filipino would still sound alien/harsh to a Westerner. But Malay sounds Western for some reason. Maybe Arabic and Indian influence.

Last edited by Smtchll; 10-04-2012 at 05:14 PM..
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Old 10-06-2012, 04:37 PM
 
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Japanese is "least foreign" to me probably because it isn't tonal, and they have the same vowel sounds as Spanish, which makes pronunciation and Kana readings easy. Languages and dialects of China, Vietnamese, Thai, Arabic, and many others are more difficult to grasp for me.
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Old 01-23-2015, 11:01 PM
 
Location: Myrtle Creek, Oregon
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Originally Posted by taydev View Post
Japanese is "least foreign" to me probably because it isn't tonal, and they have the same vowel sounds as Spanish, which makes pronunciation and Kana readings easy. Languages and dialects of China, Vietnamese, Thai, Arabic, and many others are more difficult to grasp for me.
Japanese is a snap for English speakers to learn to speak, but learning kanji is another matter. The spoken language has a simple subject-verb-object syntax and there are no irregular verbs. The only tricky things are learning to master relationals, which don't exist in English, and breaking the accented syllable habit. Learning to read and write kanji requires memorizing up to 50,000 symbols, but if you don't master that you are not alone. Many native Japanese never manage it, and get along fine with the hiragana and katakana syllabaries.

I share your aversion for strongly tonal languages, where 'ma' can mean half a dozen different things depending on intonation and context, but have to admit that Japanese is the only Asian language I have studied. Maybe if I studied other languages they would not appear so difficult.

Off topic, but I would nominate Norwegian as the language most similar to English. If you understand Scots you have a big leg up on vocabulary and the syntax is identical to English. Some simple sentences in Norsk just sound like accented English.
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