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Originally posted by emucentral at 2007-5-15 17:16
What a great post szswings.
A very interesting perspective on spoken language and its effect on listeners.
As a native English speaker in Australia, I do not get much opportunity to listen to Chinese language voices in daily life, however I have occasionally watched the CCTV News which is re-broadcast here.
Reading your comment above, I am inclined to agree, while spoken Putonghua is very foreign to me (I don't understand it) and the particular sounds common to the language are very unfamiliar to a native English speaker, the combination of the tones used and the sibilant consonants do work well for female speakers as they sound attractive or "cute".
Your thoughtful post has got me thinking more about this characteristic of various languages, dialects and accents.
Once again, good post.
Thank you for you praise :) I AM very glad that those thoughts can be interesting to others.
That post is in fact two articles I once tried to contribute to an English-language newspaper intended solely for Chinese learners of English, run by China Daily. But its editors showed no interest in them, so I have put them here. That is why they were originally written with a Chinese audience in mind.
Originally I intended to write a part (3) where to talk about voices of both native Chinese women and native English speaking women and also about somthing else, but since those editors rejected the articles, I didn't continue.
As I have observed, native Engish speaking women under the age of 33 or so, especially those from the US and Canada, speak with a higher voice pitch than native Chinese women of about the same age. This point can, I believe, be proved with scientific rigor. Because young women's voice pitch is by nature quite high already, the pitch of the former group's voice is made a bit higher by the English language as their mother tongue, and their pitch range narrowed to a certain extent. By comparison, the voice of the latter group sounds softer, and perhpas more tender, than that of the former. This is one of the reasons why the voice of female native speakers of Chinese tends to sound more attractive than that of female native speakers of English. (Again, my personal view.)
Then the question arises whether the reason for this difference in pitch is biological (that is, white native English speaking women have such vocal organs as physically produce sounds of higher frequency than those of native Chinese women) or linguistic (that is, it is the two languages' different ways of articulation that cause the pitch difference). (As a matter of fact, in the articles starting this thread, a similar but much more general question should have been asked - about the differences in voice, not just voice pitch, between native speakers of different languages.)
It is linguistic. There is at least the following evidence. Chinese-Americans that were born in the US and have grown up there have voices that are genuinely 'American', intead of voices typical of native Chinese speakers. And there is a white American woman, named 爱华 in Chinese, that has grown up in China, and whose parents are white Americans that have come from the US and worked here; so she is a native speaker of both English and Chinese. The surprising thing is that when she speaks English, her voice is that of a female native speaker of North American English, of a relatively high pitch, whereas when she speaks Chinese, her voice is that of a native Chinese woman, of a lower pitch.
[ Last edited by szswings at 2007-5-17 12:36 PM ]