rosinarowantree (rosinarowantree) wrote in linguaphiles,

The Sound of Speaking Foreign Languages

I am not engaged in translation or tattooing, or anything difficult like that, but I am about to start on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo):

And I thought that with your help I could make it better, even though I am doing it purely for fun, with no chance of publication.

You know how when you are in an international hotel, or tourist site, you can identify different nationalities just by the way they sound (and recognize different regional accents of your own country).  I find it very difficult however, to think of the right words to use for those different sounds.

My novel will be set in the Champagne Fairs in the thirteenth century, but unless anyone has special information on mediaeval languages, I'm easy with what they sound like now.  The trading language is French - probably Parisian or local to Troyes.  Parties of merchants from all over Western Europe and beyond have gathered.  What I need are some (stereotypical) ways of describing the speech of these different parties, whether they are speaking their own language among themselves or talking in French).   This would be from the point of view of someone whose native tongue is Parisian French.  The sort of words I mean are <i>lilting, clipped, gutteral, musical, flat, stacatto, slurred...</i>

People will be there from within (modern day) France - Flanders, the Rhineland, Brittany, Normany, Gascony and Provence.  

And from Italy - is there an audible difference between Sicilians, Venetians, Tuscans and the Milanese?  I know that then they didn't all 'speak Italian' but I am working on the idea that regional differences in dialect are also reflected by accents - by today's accent, in fact.  

The same for Germans - Platdeutsch and Southern German are the two I know, but how would they sound to a Frenchman?  

Spanish and Portuguese, and Moorish merchants will also be there.  

English - how does English sound to French ears, and does that apply when speaking French (we can assume that the 'shout louder' rule was as valid then).

Are there any words that would help convey the impression of people talking in a multitude of languages (I'll possibly have to refer to the tower of Babel at some point, but I'd like to be more specific if possible.)

Thank you so much - and will I be seeing any of you during NaNo?

Thank you

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