The Most Beautiful Spoken Language?

Recently, a study was conducted on the Internet to determine the “most beautiful spoken language in the world“. The winners were:

1 Italian
2 French
3 Spanish
4 Portuguese
5 Chinese (Mandarin)
6 English
7 Russian
8 Finnish
9 Japanese
10 Arabic

All languages have a different sound and this is due to tones, trills, guttural sounds, use of vowels, different pitches, amount of morphemes, etc. While I don’t agree with all the languages listed, I decided to come up with my own personal favorites.

French is commonly thought of as the most beautiful sounding language, as it is singsong, fluid, romantic and just plain “pretty”. But why is this? Which components make up French to make it sound so charming? The lack of guttural sounds, I believe. How lovely is it to say “L’amour toujours”? It just rolls off the tongue. Two of my favorite quotes about the French language are below:

“Le français est le langue le plus limpide et le plus précis du monde.” -Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Translation: French is the most clear and precise language in the world.

“La langue française est une femme. Et cette femme est si belle, si fière, si modeste, si hardie, touchante, voluptueuse, chaste, noble, familière, folle, sage, qu’on l’aime de toute son âme, et qu’on n’est jamais tenté de lui être infidèle.”-Anatole France

Translation: The French language is a woman. And this woman is so beautiful, so proud, so modest, so bold, touching, voluptuous, chaste, noble, familiar, crazy, wise, that one likes it of any sound soul, and that one is never attempts to be unfaithful.

My personal favorite is Italian. It sounds happy, cheerful, positive and gorgeous. During my research for this blog, I discovered that many dialects of what we now know as Italian had sprung up but the Tuscan dialect was picked as the Italian language we know today, due to the beauty of its sound. It was also inspired by the arts dominant in that area in the 14th century.

Of all the Asian languages, I think that Japanese is the most beautiful, although having studied it for many years, I may be partial. I often refer to Japanese as the “French of the Asian languages”. The Japanese language contains all morphemes (which are sounds like KA, KI, KU, KE, KO and are defined as meaningful morphological units of a language that cannot be further divided). There are only 50 of these morphemes and they don’t have a pitch difference.

Ukrainian is another very pleasant-sounding language.. It is quite different in both grammar and vocabulary than Russian and much more melodic.

Danish is another beauty and it is my favorite of the Scandinavian languages. Even their word for “love” is beautiful-kærlighed.

All in all, each language offers its own kind of beauty, flow and sound. It would very hard to list the most beautiful languages in the world as it is very subjective.

The United States Foreign Service Institute and its language categorization

According to its official Facebook page, the U.S. Department of State: Foreign Service Institute “develops the men and women our nation requires to fulfill our leadership role in the world affairs and to defend U.S. interests.”

The FSI was founded on March 13, 1947, in compliance with the Foreign Service Act of 1946 passed by Congress. The Director of the Foreign Service Institute is equivalent in rank to an Assistant Secretary of State, and is appointed by the current Secretary of State.

United States Federal Government’s primary training institution for officers and support personnel of the U.S. foreign affairs community, the FSI prepares American diplomats and other professionals to advance U.S. foreign affairs interests overseas and in Washington.

At the George P. Shultz National Foreign Affairs Training Center, the FSI provides more than 600 courses in approximately 70 foreign languages to more than 100,000 enrollees a year from the State Department and more than 40 other government agencies and the military service branches.

Organized like a university, it consists of five schools: The School of Language Studies, the School of Applied Information Technology, The School of Leadership and Management, The School of Professional and Area Studies and The Transition Center.

The FSI has sorted non-English languages into three categories based on the average time it takes an English speaker to achieve general proficiency/fluency in the language.

Category I languages: These languages are the most similar to English and the least difficult to learn, requiring anywhere from 23-24 weeks to learn (Spanish) to 30-36 weeks to learn (German).

Examples are:
French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese, Danish, Catalan, Dutch, Norwegian, German

Category II languages: These languages contain significant linguistic or culture differences from English requiring 44 or more weeks to learn.

Examples are:
Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Polish, Russian, Finnish (which is one of the more difficult Category II languages)

Category III languages: These languages are considered the most difficult languages to learn, requiring about 88 weeks of study with about half of that time studying in-country.

These languages are:
Arabic, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Taiwanese and Wu.

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