Re: Languages and Timbre


Subject: Re: Languages and Timbre
From: Greg Eustace (g_eustac@alcor.concordia.ca)
Date: Sat Nov 06 2004 - 20:56:07 EST


"Can a person who speaks two languages perfectly(without a
trace of accent) actually be defined as a person who speaks with two
different timbres?"

I would say yes. I think that for our purposes, learning a new language is, for

the most part, learning to shape or filter the sound energy that emanates from
the vocal chords, in a different way. The complex movements of the tongue,
mouth and lips are the variables that dictate the nature of the filter. I think

that the constant here is the personís physiology, specifically, the nature of
the energy source (lungs) and the vibration medium (resonant frequency of the
vocal folds for example). But learning the accent may also involve some new
aspect of vocal chord control for amplitude/pitch changes... ?

Quoting Jason Smalridge <inadaze@mac.com>:

> Hello,
> I would like some help settling a discussion about timbre in a voice
> made from different languages. I believe that the voice is created by
> lungs, vocal cords, tongue, teeth, lips... and that each language has a
> distinct way of using these parts to create the timbre of their
> language. I thought that this was one reason why if a person who's
> mother tongue is English began to learn Japanese, his accent would be
> noticeable until he learned how to create the specific timbre to speak
> the language.
> I know that timbre is sort of hard to define, but I guess what I am
> asking is: Can a person who speaks two languages perfectly(without a
> trace of accent) actually be defined as a person who speaks with two
> different timbres? Is there more at play then just the way the lips
> and tongue form the different words from different languages? Do the
> vocal chords actually change the (I think their called) formants to
> achieve different languages?
>
> Blah blah blah....
> Thanks
> Jay
>

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