Learn Japanese with JapanesePod101.com

View topic - Lisps!

Lisps!

Japanese, general discussion on the language

Lisps!

Postby keatonatron » Thu 10.22.2009 9:37 am

I've come across a VERY interesting realization recently; lisps don't exist in Japan.

Well, they do exist... but are treated completely different than in the west.

There is a guy I work with (my superior, in fact), who has a pretty strong lisp... and I find it hard to take him serious whenever he talks. I was wondering if anyone else felt the same way.

And the other day I was shooting a concert for a singer who also had a lisp. I was wondering how he could be taken seriously as a musician. Then I heard one of his staff members talking on the phone, and he too had a lisp!!

Then it dawned on me: maybe Japanese people don't even notice lisps. It makes perfect sense. In English, there is a big difference between "sing" and "thing"... but in Japanese, both "s" sounds and "th" sounds are considered identical (like R and L), so using a "th" sound instead of an "s" sound isn't any weirder than speaking English with a Boston accent while everyone around you talks with a New York accent.

Coming from a Western background, I'm conditioned to think people with lisps are not very smart (or are flamboyantly gay). I'm guessing the idea is that if you hear everyone around you talking the correct way, yet you can't fix your own way of speaking, you must not be very smart (disabilities aside!). That's why it's not uncommon for someone to have a lisp when they are a child and then grow out of it.

In Japan, however, when everyone can understand you just fine and you are never ridiculed for having a lisp, there is no motivation for change and so it's more common for the lisp to continue into adulthood.

This is something I will have to get used to... I need to learn to respect adults with lisps :|
User avatar
keatonatron
 
Posts: 4838
Joined: Sat 02.04.2006 3:31 am
Location: Tokyo (Via Seattle)
Native language: English
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby NileCat » Thu 10.22.2009 9:52 am

Wow, it seems very interesting to me too! :D
I have no idea what you mean by lisps in Japanese. Please give me some specimens!


EDIT:
I've noticed it is very difficult to show specimens using letters.
Here's my example. Wasn't that like this?

In from 80s to early 90s, in the TV industry, people used to talk like this:

(A producer talks to an agent of an singer)
『ねぇ~ちィバちゅわわ~んさぁ~、ぅおたっくっちのタぁレントのギャ~ランちーの件ねぇ、「ゲーマンゲーセンとっぱらい」っつこってかなぁ~なーんっちったりぁ~んかて?』

It is a kind of jargon. (including the accent and lisps)
It may sound similar to children's lisps. But the differences are obvious to us.
Last edited by NileCat on Thu 10.22.2009 11:23 am, edited 8 times in total.
User avatar
NileCat
 
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Japanese

Re: Lisps!

Postby JaySee » Thu 10.22.2009 10:23 am

I find it hard to believe this is something that has to do with the fact that the 'th' sound doesn't exist in Japanese, and that the Japanese aren't able to hear the difference between someone with and someone without a lisp. 'Th' isn't part of the phonology of Dutch either (in fact, it's quite uncommon in the world's languages in general), but I can clearly hear a difference, and in Holland a lisp is also very much stigmatised.
JaySee
 
Posts: 314
Joined: Sat 08.04.2007 12:04 am
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Dutch
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby keatonatron » Thu 10.22.2009 11:35 am

NileCat wrote:Wow, it seems very interesting to me too! :D
I have no idea what you mean by lisps in Japanese. Please give me some specimens!


I knew it might be hard for you to understand :D

In English, the most common type of lisp is when a person's tongue stays close to their top teeth (or they have something in their mouth, like dental work or oddly shaped teeth), which causes any "s" to sound more like a "th".

Here is a video I found on YouTube. The girl holding the camera has no lisp, and the girl being filmed has a mild lisp. See if you can hear the difference!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5DAO5JOhTs

Especially note when she first says "seashore". It doesn't sound like an "S" at all!

The people I was talking about have the exact same problem when they make "s" sounds (i.e. さしすせそ). For example, when someone with no lisp says さ it sounds like English "saw," but when these people say it, it sounds like a mix between "saw" and "thaw".

JaySee wrote:I find it hard to believe this is something that has to do with the fact that the 'th' sound doesn't exist in Japanese, and that the Japanese aren't able to hear the difference between someone with and someone without a lisp...and in Holland a lisp is also very much stigmatised.


Can Dutch people make a "th" sound? Because most Japanese people I know simply can't. The ones that make a serious attempt at studying English can distinguish between "s" and "th" (when listening; even advanced speakers have a hard time pronouncing "th"), but a lisp is kind of in between, and so I don't know if they could pick up on it.
User avatar
keatonatron
 
Posts: 4838
Joined: Sat 02.04.2006 3:31 am
Location: Tokyo (Via Seattle)
Native language: English
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby NileCat » Thu 10.22.2009 12:16 pm

I watched the video. Yeah, I think I know lisps in English.

What I don't understand is that if the "lisps" you found in Japanese were actually lisps or not. I know your Japanese is at native-level. Still, I'm skeptical about that they are lisps. Because in any culture, lisps are stigmatised, I suppose.

As I wrote, especially in our entertainment industory, we deliberately alter sounds including さしすせそ.
Or, do you know 江戸弁? Bluntly speaking, their さしすせそ are totally different pronunciation from standard Japanese. Traditional 京都弁 also differs from standard さしすせそ and たちつてと. But it's a "difference". We don't call it a lisp.

Hmm... maybe you're right. Your "lisps" don't exist in Japan, maybe. But if you say so, "thank you" doesn't exist in Japan as well. "Prayer" doesn't exist in Japan. テレビ is different from "television". We don't have "L" sound, we don't have "v" sound...

EDIT:Of course I know some people who have lisps in Japan. It's a disability. 障碍です。能力ではありません。日本ではね。
User avatar
NileCat
 
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Japanese

Re: Lisps!

Postby NileCat » Thu 10.22.2009 3:00 pm

Btw, I know a guy who has a strong lisp. He is a president of a film shooting company. His initial is J.K. Does it ring a bell?
User avatar
NileCat
 
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Japanese

Re: Lisps!

Postby keatonatron » Thu 10.22.2009 3:10 pm

NileCat wrote:Still, I'm skeptical about that they are lisps. Because in any culture, lisps are stigmatised, I suppose.

As I wrote, especially in our entertainment industory, we deliberately alter sounds including さしすせそ.
Or, do you know 江戸弁? Bluntly speaking, their さしすせそ are totally different pronunciation from standard Japanese. Traditional 京都弁 also differs from standard さしすせそ and たちつてと. But it's a "difference". We don't call it a lisp.

Hmm... maybe you're right. Your "lisps" don't exist in Japan, maybe. But if you say so, "thank you" doesn't exist in Japan as well. "Prayer" doesn't exist in Japan. テレビ is different from "television". We don't have "L" sound, we don't have "v" sound...


You sound really defensive :shock: Are you angry?

I didn't mean to imply that there is anything wrong with Japan! In America, it is quite common for children to have a lisp and then lose it when they get older. It is often seen in popular media (in the video I posted, the girl talked about "Cindy" from the TV show "The Brady Bunch"). It is considered cute, but when adults have a lisp it sounds strange to us.

It is my theory that lisps are not noticed in Japan, which is an interesting difference from America. I don't think that compares to pronouncing words differently due to language or using different idioms for thanking someone.

I spent a long time writing this reply, trying to explain my feelings on your reply. Then you wrote this:

Btw, I know a guy who has a strong lisp. He is a president of a film shooting company. His initial is J.K. Does it ring a bell?


Are you upset that I said that having a lisp makes one not look smart? Perhaps I should have used different words. I was mainly talking about the general image we are exposed to in America. The popular TV show "South Park" is a good example. Look at any of their episodes that feature Al Gore -- They make him talk with a strong lisp, because it makes him look foolish. I didn't mean that I personally think people with lisps aren't smart, I just meant that because they have such a bad image in America, they are not so common because people put a lot of work into correcting them.
User avatar
keatonatron
 
Posts: 4838
Joined: Sat 02.04.2006 3:31 am
Location: Tokyo (Via Seattle)
Native language: English
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby NileCat » Thu 10.22.2009 3:32 pm

Hey keatonatron,
I'm not upset. I'm not angry. I was just in...what I call it "discussion mode". :mrgreen:
I just wanted to "evaluate" your Japanese skills. Oh, I'm kidding. 8)

I think (maybe) I know your definition and perception about a lisp in English language. And I know Japanese language sometimes sound as if they have a lisp. However, there exist the real, genuine, authentic (lol) lisps in Japan. I just wanted to make sure if you could differentiate them. Do you know what I mean? :evil:
User avatar
NileCat
 
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Japanese

Re: Lisps!

Postby NileCat » Thu 10.22.2009 4:34 pm

眠くなっちゃったので、日本語で書いておきます。(最初からそうしろって? :lol:
以前、知り合いの、日本にはじめて来たアメリカ人に「日本語ってどう聞こえるの?」って聞いたら、彼が「スツパツブムツブ・・・」と真似をしたの。彼は俳優なので上手なの。で、私は「なるほど」と思ったの。で、それを「lisp」と呼ぶんだと知ったわけ。わかるでしょ? でも、日本語が話せる貴方が、「日本人はlispを区別できないんだ!」って書いたら、私は「?」となるでしょ? え? 英語の話? それならわかる。我々は、英語のlispを区別できない。でも、なんで日本語の舌っ足らずが日本人には区別できないと思ったの? それがまったくわからない。じゃあ、なぜ貴方は区別できたの? 正しい音と違う音だから? 1000年以上同じ言葉を使っている我々に識別できない音の違いが、貴方にはどうしてわかるの? 「日本人の子供の使う音」を「日本人の大人」が使ってるってことでしょ? 違うの??? 本当に違うんだったら、教えて! お願い!
User avatar
NileCat
 
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Japanese

Re: Lisps!

Postby kurisuto » Thu 10.22.2009 5:51 pm

I'm a bit skeptical too. Like Dutch (or, well, Japanese :wink: ), French doesn't have "th" either, but I don't know anybody who can't see the difference between "s" and "th". Maybe what you meant, or what you should've said, is that it's less stigmatised, in free variation or simply very common -- I don't know if that's the case, it's just that I find it hard to believe that nobody notices it, because natives know how their language sound.

For instance, most French, when they hear an American speaking, don't even notice that the "p" in "pool" is aspirated, but of course they would immediately hear the difference if someone pronunced it that way while speaking French (that's the key point : not actualy noticing the difference in foreign language is quite normal ; it's a completely different issue when it's in your native language). At first, they maybe wouldn't even know what's weird, but they would at least "feel" there's something wrong. That's what constitutes an accent ; the same goes for "s/th" (in languages where the distinction isn't phonemic of course).
User avatar
kurisuto
 
Posts: 413
Joined: Sat 12.13.2008 11:40 am
Location: France
Native language: French
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby keatonatron » Thu 10.22.2009 6:32 pm

First of all, I think I should make it clear that I wasn't revealing some thesis I had done extensive research on; I was merely presenting a theory and wanted feedback on it. I apologize for making my original post sound more concrete than it should have!

One similarity, I think, to what I'm trying to explain is the "R" and "L" problem. I have often heard it said that the Japanese "R" sound is more like a mixture of "R" and "L", and where it falls between the two depends on the speaker. Some people pronounce it just like the English "R", and some people even pronounce it very close to the English "L", but either way, Japanese speakers don't distinguish between the two and don't differentiate (that doesn't mean they can't hear the difference; it simply means nothing to them so they ignore it).

Now, does anyone agree with me this far? :P

So, if Japanese people can use both "R" and "L" for the same thing without noticing the difference (because it doesn't affect meaning one bit), what's to say they couldn't use both "s" and "th" without noticing a difference?

Still in agreement?

If you go that far, then it's logical to say that a lisp, which is just using "th" instead of "s", would not be noticed by Japanese people, even though it is noticed by us. I never said Japanese people can't hear a lisp, I said they don't notice it without some prodding.

NileCat wrote:じゃあ、なぜ貴方は区別できたの? 正しい音と違う音だから? 1000年以上同じ言葉を使っている我々に識別できない音の違いが、貴方にはどうしてわかるの?


NileCatさんの(日本人の)知り合いの中で、RとLを正しく区別出来る人は何人ぐらいいますか?日本人同士で、"家に帰ったら、lennrakuをください"と言ったら、相手が「なんか変!」と思いますか?私の経験によると、気づく人が非常に少ないでしょう。

さて、どうして日本人が区別出来ないのにアメリカ人の私は「rennraku」と「lennraku」を区別出来るんですか?

日本人は区別しなくていいから気づかないと言えますでしょう。

Lispに関する「s」と「th」も同様です。日本語を使うと、その二つを区別する必要はまったくありません。ですから、「th」を使っても誰も気にならないと私が思いました。ちなみに「聞こえない」とは言ってません。「気づかない」や「区別しない」だけです。

この理論はいかがでしょうか?
User avatar
keatonatron
 
Posts: 4838
Joined: Sat 02.04.2006 3:31 am
Location: Tokyo (Via Seattle)
Native language: English
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby kurisuto » Thu 10.22.2009 7:42 pm

keatonatron wrote:First of all, I think I should make it clear that I wasn't revealing some thesis I had done extensive research on; I was merely presenting a theory and wanted feedback on it. I apologize for making my original post sound more concrete than it should have!

One similarity, I think, to what I'm trying to explain is the "R" and "L" problem. I have often heard it said that the Japanese "R" sound is more like a mixture of "R" and "L", and where it falls between the two depends on the speaker. Some people pronounce it just like the English "R", and some people even pronounce it very close to the English "L", but either way, Japanese speakers don't distinguish between the two and don't differentiate (that doesn't mean they can't hear the difference; it simply means nothing to them so they ignore it).

Now, does anyone agree with me this far? :P

So, if Japanese people can use both "R" and "L" for the same thing without noticing the difference (because it doesn't affect meaning one bit), what's to say they couldn't use both "s" and "th" without noticing a difference?

Still in agreement?

If you go that far, then it's logical to say that a lisp, which is just using "th" instead of "s", would not be noticed by Japanese people, even though it is noticed by us. I never said Japanese people can't hear a lisp, I said they don't notice it without some prodding.


Some parts of it make sense (notice the spirit of conciliation :D ).

If you tell me some pronounce "r" as the english "r" and others like "l", then I have to trust you because you're obviously a lot more experienced than I am. But you're talking of two very different things : would you say that a Japanese who pronounces "r" as "l" does so because he has a speech defect ? Would you say that, other than in order to sound "cool" (well, you never know), lisping is a matter of choice or environment ? Or, put in another way, which one is "abnormal" and/or foreign sounding ? If the only natives who lisp do so because they have a speech defect then it's highly improbable that it isn't, first, noticed, and then, rightly considered as a speech defect (therefore most probably stigmatised to a certain extent ; were you waiting for someone to shout "you LISPER !!" or something ? :wink: ).
User avatar
kurisuto
 
Posts: 413
Joined: Sat 12.13.2008 11:40 am
Location: France
Native language: French
Gender: Male

Re: Lisps!

Postby coco » Thu 10.22.2009 9:29 pm

英語母語話者のlispというのはよくわかりません(ご指摘のように聞いても区別できません)が
サ行が妙な日本語母語話者は、たまにいますよね。
極端に言えば
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41pqFIPNBW0&hl=ja
こんな感じに聞こえます。
coco
 
Posts: 3061
Joined: Mon 05.30.2005 12:43 am
Location: 東京都
Native language: 日本語(Japanese)

Re: Lisps!

Postby Harisenbon » Thu 10.22.2009 11:55 pm

coco wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41pqFIPNBW0&hl=ja
こんな感じに聞こえます。


Thank you so much!
I had no idea what was meant by a Japanese lisp until I saw that.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone talk like that outside of variety bangumis though...
Want to learn Japanese the right way? How about for free?
Ippatsu // Japanesetesting.com
User avatar
Harisenbon
 
Posts: 2964
Joined: Tue 06.14.2005 3:24 am
Location: Gifu, Japan
Native language: (poor) English

Re: Lisps!

Postby NileCat » Fri 10.23.2009 2:40 am

NileCatさんの(日本人の)知り合いの中で、RとLを正しく区別出来る人は何人ぐらいいますか?日本人同士で、"家に帰ったら、lennrakuをください"と言ったら、相手が「なんか変!」と思いますか?私の経験によると、気づく人が非常に少ないでしょう。

あのう・・・それは・・・十中八九気づきますけど・・・
専門的に言うと、「発声学」というのがあるんですけど・・・えーと・・・
「雷鳥寒かろらりるれろ蓮華が咲いたら瑠璃の鳥」という言葉をご存じですか?
日本語におけるlispの場合、「S音」でしたら「大角豆に酢をかけさしすせそその魚浅瀬で刺しました」で明白に識別できます。
日本語で言い負かすつもりはないんですよ・・・また英語で書いてみますね、今夜 :D
User avatar
NileCat
 
Posts: 1168
Joined: Sat 08.01.2009 2:11 pm
Location: Tokyo
Native language: Japanese

Next

Return to Japanese General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests