In the Ears of the Beholder

It might come as a surprise for me to pick German to learn.  German gets a lot of slack for not being a Romantic language.  When asked to mimic a German accent, most people emphasize the harshness of the language, making it out to be the varieties of sounds a particularly vicious animal can make when it’s being choked.  It seems to be angrier than the typically chipper East Asian languages  like Japanese and the polar opposite of the beautiful, well-loved French.  So why German?

German, though deemed an “ugly” language, is more than meets the ear.  Though German undoubtedly does not flow off the tongue, what shapes peoples’ impression of German is what they hear in German.  I don’t know about most people, but I’m willing to wager that the most German the typical teenager has heard doesn’t exceed Hitler’s many speeches, a clip or two of Triumph of the Will, and the angry German kid Youtube video.  In which of these works is German not presented as biting and militant?  However, if we take the time to look at German Disney songs for example, you run into a whole ‘nother ballpark.

I don’t think we can say that German is a hands-down hideous language when it can be this pretty.  We all know what they say when it comes to beauty.

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In the Ears of the Beholder

3 thoughts on “In the Ears of the Beholder

  1. Maybe German language is deemed harsh because of the guttural vowels and throaty j’s and g’s… But in my opinion, the language reflects what the ear likes to hear. So what if I don’t want to hear German all the time? What if I want to listen to the elegant French accent or the politeness of the British tone? I think it’s because the German language is not smooth, and many other languages are. Beauty is subjective after all, so great insight on this topic Maggie.

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    1. I think it’s fine if you like the sound of other languages; each to his own. I think a big factor in our appreciation of language is how it appeals to our values; though the British accent is indeed charming, I happen to like the American accent better, not just because I am American but I feel that its clarity provides for practicality, a characteristic I admire.

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