How would one construct a language that, to native X speakers, sounds the same as X does to native English speakers? I.e. how can one take the sound difference between English and X, and apply that difference to X itself, in the same direction?

EDIT: For clarification, borrowing from brythan's comment below,

"How would you create a new language, Double G, that Germans would say sounds to them the way that native English speakers say German sounds to them. So a brand new, foreign language."

I.e. is there a way to characterize and quantify the ways different languages sound, in such a way that the "vectors" describing the difference could be doubled? I was previously using German for concreteness, but the question is abstract.


closed as unclear what you're asking by AndreiROM, Aify, TrEs-2b, Brythan, HDE 226868 Dec 19 '15 at 22:47

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    $\begingroup$ Have you thought that maybe our accent is as strong to Germans as their accent is to us? $\endgroup$ – charliefox2 Dec 19 '15 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not quite going to close this by mod hammer, but really... I can barely tell what you are asking here. And it smells broad. Please review What topics can I ask about here? and How do I ask a good question?, then you will likely want to edit your question to prevent it from being closed. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Dec 19 '15 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ How does German sound to native English speakers. I think I understand what you want, but doing the research to state it might make it easier to get useful answers. Harsh, guttural, long-winded are all words that I've heard used to describe German. It's noteworthy that your only answer seems to be misunderstanding what you want. Or I am. Please clarify. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Dec 19 '15 at 22:04

That is logically not possible. German sounds foreign to English because it is foreign. How could one achieve that with the same language?

What you can do is exaggerate. Standard German (Hochdeutsch) is a pretty bland dialect. You can use strong local dialects or variants that are still mutual intelligible but have a strong and strange accent. Prime candidates are Bairisch (Bavarian/Austrian), Sächsisch (Saxonian) or any low German variant (Plattdeutsch, or even Dutch which is basically a very early low German dialect). Those variants will not sound "more German" to a speaker of standard German but will have a similar effect.

Another possibility is the exaggeration of properties. In every language there are things that slur over time in colloquial use. You could use old-fashioned out-of-use words (Hagestolz), grammatical constructs (sometimes it is enough to just use the Genitiv instead of Dativ), or nit-picky pronunciation.

Fun fact with the last point: Some people sometimes try to use overly "correct" pronunciation ... and instead use an incorrect one. E.g. the suffixes -ag, -og and similar are all pronounced hard in standard use and hushed in colloquial. Only exception: -ig, this one is hushed in standard use. Pronouncing -ig hard may look correct, but the standard pronunciation is soft (i.e. -ich). (There are dialects in southern Germany where the hard pronunciation is normal, but the standard usage is soft.)

Both variants, using a dialect or exaggeration, are commonly used in dubbed movies. Movies in Germany are dubbed normally. So when an (American) movie deals with interaction with German speaking people and the language barrier can't be neglected you can either use a third language if the story allows it, or you use a dialect or exaggeration. Most of the time a Bavarian dialect is used in serious contexts, a Saxonian for comedic effect.

  • $\begingroup$ Dutch is not a German dialect, it is a separate language. However both languages share the same root of West Germanic languages. Actually Dutch is closer to English than German. +1 anyway. $\endgroup$ – Bookeater Dec 19 '15 at 21:46
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see this as asking how to make German sound German to Germans. I see this as how would you create a new language, Double G, that Germans would say sounds to them the way that native English speakers say German sounds to them. So a brand new, foreign language. $\endgroup$ – Brythan Dec 19 '15 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Bookeater I didn't write that Dutch is a German dialect. I wrote that it is a very early low German dialect. Of course it developed independently after the split (the first vowel shift) and independent on the specific criteria for differentiating a language from a dialect it is a language. $\endgroup$ – his Dec 19 '15 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Brythan Yes, the latest question edit clarifies this. Thanks. I don't think that question is answerable though. "German sounds x lingo-units harsher than English for an American so Double-G needs x extra units of harshness"? $\endgroup$ – his Dec 19 '15 at 22:14

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