The Rough and The Smooth

Another topic suggested by Maria/Gaelikka for LBC where seven of us write on the same topic.

languageLanguage is the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other. Basically all communication is language but the verbal medium is the most widely used and recognized system. There are hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects and variants.
Language can generate the most wonderful sounds from the throat. The same language can take on different colours as it were when spoken by different people. The male voice can be ‘rough’ with hoarse throats and guttural sounds. Women’s voices can be sweet, shrill, smooth as honey or staccato. Words can be expressed like bullets shot from a machine gun or flow smoothly like liquid gold.
Some languages are rough to the untrained ear. People like to think that German and many East European languages are harsh and rough. The French believe that theirs is the sweetest language ever to be spoken. In fact all the Latin based languages do sound smooth and treacly. If you read Old English it has a rough quality to it. The Scottish burr or the Irish brogue does have a smoothening effect on spoken English. The Americans have added a drawl that has changed the language considerable while the Australians have added the rough outback rhythms to the language. The West Idies have amalgamated the Calypso rhythm to English just as the islands have changed the French language into a local flavour of Creole!!
In India we have so many languages. My own mother tongue is Tamizh…if you pronounce it this way it has a lovely twirl of the tongue that smoothens its consonants. The British Raj changed this pronunciation to Tamil and managed to roughen up the diphthongs. Many other Indians find Tamizh a harsh and rough language that clatters and clangs like stones in a brass pot. Sanskrit is intrinsically tied up with music as the Vedas are chanted and the verses are created with mnemonic sounds that repeat and take off from endings…remember this was a language tht was passed on aurally.
Bengali and Telugu are spoken off as the sweetest languages of India. In fact it is said that Bengali sounds as if the speaker has a round, syrupy sweetmeat, the Rasogolla, stuffed inside the mouth. Telugu has been the popular language for lyrics that are set to music. Hindi is a language that is a dialect that has grown from Sanskrit and other regional variations. It is based on Khariboli, the vernacular of Delhi and the surrounding western Uttar Pradesh and southern Uttarakhand . Urdu was “the language of the court” and with many Persian words came into prominence during the Mughal Empire (1600s). In the late 19th century, there was a concerted effort to standardise a written language from Khariboli, for the Indian masses in North India and Hindi began to be standardised as a separate language from Urdu, the language of the elite.
Urdu is still considered a more flowing and smooth tongue that is used for poetry and romantic songs. The various dialects of Khariboli like Bhojpuri, Bihari, Rajasthani do sound rougher than pure or shudh Hindi and Urdu!!
Here is a wonderful clipping that demonstrates how the rough and guttural sounds can slowly be transformed in the mind’s eye or ear into a beautiful and soulful music.

Awesome Mongolian Throat Singing

Language with swear words can be rough.Rough language

Language spoken to a child or to a sweetheart is sweet and pleasant on the ear…that is why it is called coochie-cooing! 2013-11-27-11_51_32-Sweet-Talk

Finally, any language becomes rough or smooth depending on the tone in which it is spoken, right?

About padmum

You could call me Dame Quixote! I tilt at windmills. I have an opinion on most matters. What I don't have, my husband Raju has in plenty. Writer and story teller, columnist and contributer of articles, blogs, poems, travelogues and essays to Chennai newspapers, national magazines and websites, I review and edit books for publishers and have specialized as a Culinary Editor and contributed content, edited and collaborated on Cookbooks. My other major interest used to be acting on Tamil and English stage, Indian cinema and TV. I am a wordsmith, a voracious reader, crossword buff and write about India's heritage, culture and traditions. I am interested in Vedanta nowadays. I am now an Armchair traveller/opinionator/busybody!
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7 Responses to The Rough and The Smooth

  1. rummuser says:

    When I was in Germany with Gunther and tried to read German, Gunther would constantly correct me to be softer in my pronunciation. I just had assumed that one had to be hard on it and as i noticed people talking to each other in German it did not sound so bad! On the other hand, in France, I found their pronunciation too smooth and oily. I was most comfortable listening to Italian!


  2. Maxi says:

    Omg Padmini, Mongolian Throat Singing is magnificent. To my ear it flows like “Country and Western Throat Singing,” which is a huge compliment from a Southerner here in the States.
    blessings ~ maxi


  3. padmum says:

    Yes!Bhis singing andybthe landscape was stunning!


  4. Dun-Na-Sead says:

    A student of mine once told me he, being from North Carolina, spoke the only correct American- the Queen’s English. I checked, and found he was right. The drawl, and pronunciation farther back in the mouth, was what was spoken at the court of Queen Elizabeth- the first! And since the area was settled by Iro-scottish and English settlers, any change was blocked in the years before television and internet by the high mountains. I myself am from an area that has a slight drawl, and am noticing the loss of this, and a, thank heavens, only slight, change in the sound of our language and attitudes, due to tv and internet. But in other places we Americans are definitely losing the color of our sound. As to the singing, if you drop your jaw, flatten the back of the tongue, and put the tip of the tongue behind the lower front teeth and quick-breath (quick in-long out) while producing a tone, you can then put the tone where you wish it-head mask, breast bone, in the body. The trick is to balance the three. This is the technique used by most stage and concert hall singers, who would be the healthiest people on earth if it weren’t for the stress of the job. Padmum, if you, and most especially Ramana, want to write something comparatively, just ask. And give credit, please. I always give generously to those who ask, and avoid those who manipulate or manage. Life should be friendship. And explanation. At least in my humble opinion. Love your work.


    • rummuser says:

      That is an amazing revelation Lin. I am zapped! It may interest you to know that I got prepared for spoken English by an American who had come to set up an Institute for English in Hyderabad in the mid/late sixties. Without that, I would have been speaking a very different English to the one I speak now. My accent was further refined later by another couple who taught English, which was very important as I was in a British company then. And thank you for the offer. I shall most certainly take you up on it whenever the opportunity presents itself.


  5. shackman says:

    I love listening to Hawaiian -spoken and especially in song –


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