Are some languages faster than others?

Reporting on some very interesting research from Université de Lyon, covered by Jeffrey Kluger in a Time Magazine article that is a joy to read.

When you hear a language you do not understand, it seems like it is spoken incredibly fast and almost without any chance to distinguish syllables. Is it just because we do not understand the language or are some languages really faster than others?

But if the latter is the case, then there may be issues with dubbing movies where there would be great gaps between seeing actors speaking in the language of the movie and hearing the dubbed language. Or listening to speeches from two politicians, one taking much longer or shorter to convey the message.

Two critical values for each language have been identified through this research:

  • The average information density for each of its syllables
  • The average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech

So how do these values help answer the question? And what is the answer?

» Read the article and find out the results here.

 

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