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Monotonous Czechs and insincere Americans: the way we talk
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Sigma



Joined: 07 Apr 2003
Posts: 106

PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 7:37 am    Post subject: Monotonous Czechs and insincere Americans: the way we talk Reply with quote

"Every language has its own rhythms and melodies, and these influence the way we speak foreign languages too. However hard we try, we nearly always end up imposing the melodies of our native tongue onto the language we’re trying to speak. Would Greta Garbo saying “I want to be alone” or JFK’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” be the same without the accent? This question is not just a curiosity. With so much of the world’s communication going on in English, a group of academics at the Institute of Phonetics of Prague’s Charles University is researching into how English spoken with a Czech accent influences its impact on native speakers. David Vaughan has been investigating."

Full article - http://www.radio.cz/en/section/books/monotonous-czechs-and-insincere-americans-does-the-way-we-talk-influence-our-prejudices
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Coolguy123



Joined: 10 Apr 2013
Posts: 132

PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting - I heard that people think that Czech people can seem "rude", but I feel that they are simply don't have the "friendliness" that Americans have, which to them can seem "fake" (which possibly offends them and might cause a bad reaction if you're overly polite to them).
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9904
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting; mostly confirms what many long-timers have noticed.

I have Czech friends who have the firm impression that Americans are often insincere (thankfully they see me as an exception in this respect). Since they are judging mostly expats who speak only English (frighteningly many even longer-term expats in Prague never make much effort to come to grips with learning more than very basic Czech), it may be that Czechs are unconsciously 'reading' the sound of English by Czech standards.

I agree with Coolguy also that public friendliness can come across as insincere, though I hadn't connected it with stress patterns from English being transferred to Czech.

As for the perceived public and service sector rudeness, it's more about culture than language, I think. I know expats living in the CR who are quite ok with the service-without-a-smile (myself included) and others who never really get used to it.

The saving grace is that when Czechs get accustomed to someone, they often thaw at least a bit, even those in service positions.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 10312
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm. Sounds like extra fodder for my hypothesis that Czechs are really just west Russians : )
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fingers crossed that hypothesis isn't on Putin's 'test' list!
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 10312
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Come on! It'll be like returning home! To the true Motherland.

I'm thinking springtime... Has a ring to it...
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Prague looks like it's been taken over already, to a great degree...my tram's overrun with flashy Russians, as is much of the centre of the city. Stealth occupation.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 10312
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maskirovka. And mascara : )
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 149
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hmmm. Sounds like extra fodder for my hypothesis that Czechs are really just west Russians : )


Well President Miloš Zeman is a prime candidate http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30086495, although not so sure about the rest of his compatriots.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I was on hand to throw at least figurative eggs myself. But not solely due to his 'sympathy for Russia.' There are literally thousands of reasons to egg that guy.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 10312
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Fri Feb 06, 2015 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looks like quite a few people there who are all confused and sincerely in need of a stint in a re-education centre...
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There are huge differences WITHIN one language. Intonation and lexis vary incredibly between English speakers. There are national, regional and class variations. When I hear Carruthers Hyphen Smythe with his RP, I reach for my AK-47. He is probably a bit wary of me with my Sean Connery/Alex Salmond tones.
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water rat



Joined: 30 Aug 2014
Posts: 954
Location: Northwest Gansu

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This article helps me also to understand why it is I find other native English speakers easier to understand when they speak, say Indonesian or Chinese. I often learn far more listening to such people and asking them questions than I do from native speakers who speak English well enough to explain to me what they have said .
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 10312
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That may have more to do with other non-native speakers of a target language utilizing a more limited range of lexical items than with prosodic features.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
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Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I often find non-native speakers easier to understand than native speakers who use unfamiliar intonation, lexis and structures. Most difficult for me are some American accents - especially from the former Confederate States !
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