Often the primary motivation to learn a new foreign language comes from enjoying the way it sounds. Previous research has shown that people like those languages more which they know (the familiarity effect). Moreover, people who experience the aesthetic pleasure from listening to foreign language sounds more intensely are also likely to be fluent in more than two foreign languages (plurilingualism). They are also more musical (Reiterer et al., 2020; Kogan & Reiterer, 2021, see links below).
Usually, the Romance languages take the lead when it comes to praising the sound structure ("melodiosity") of a language. We called this "phonetic chill" or "the Latin Lover Effect." However, the reasons behind this phenomenon and why people stick to certain "language myths" or preferences (also stereotypes in language learning education) are not well-known and remain the field of popular science speculations.
With our research, we want to shed more light on phonaesthetic preferences. To accomplish this, we look at rare languages/minority languages - their sound patterns are rarely subject of comparison or debate and are often unfamiliar to the broader public. So far, we have investigated 30 languages from 11 language families within geographical Europe. The forgotten field of phonaesthetics (Crystal, 2008; Köhler, 1929) explained these phenomena with preferences for specific sound patterns (more vowels/sonority, fewer consonant clusters, regular syllable structures, etc.).
We are to follow up in this abandoned research line to know more and investigate various psychological and linguistic aspects of aesthetic judgments of "language beauty" or "attraction by language sound“.
We would like to extend our sincere thanks to everybody who was and is involved in creating this experiment and enabling this research project to be conducted, namely the Phonaesthetics Research Group (Susanne Reiterer, Max Sinnl, Anna Winkler, Lukas Nemestothy) as well as Žiga Bogataj and Vita Kogan for their previous work and ongoing unstinting support as well as very much appreciated expertise. We would also like to express our deepest gratitude to the Faculty of Philology and Cultural Studies’ MediaLab and its staff members (special thanks to the head of the lab, Dr. Jörg Mühlhans), who are indispensable, essential cooperation partners for this project. We are also grateful to each of our native speakers, who lend their voices to us, as well as to those who provided translations of the text we used or supported us with their advice:
Sandrig Ar Gall, Russel Azzopardi, Jorge Balmaseda Hernandez, Alberta Borg, Aziliz Bourges, Josette Bouvet-Le Meur, Ivana Benatinská, Kateryna Bondareva, Camila, Kristine Cardella-Goetz, Lana Černe, Iulia Chera, L. Cheveau, Jeanne Chevrel, Emma Chira, Amanda Christiansen, Christine, Christos, Yuna Cojean, Marta Csire, Laura Dalla Libera, Margherita de Gregorio, Joseph Debono, Gulsah Ekizer, Fanny, Daniela Estevao Fernandes, Froukje, Susan Gabriel-Dennis, Itsaso Garaikoetxea, Jan Geeraerts, Gloria, Regine Guillemot, Darija Halkic, Hanna, Hege, Heikki, Henrik, Ine, Nerys Jones, Joris, Masa Kajtazovic, Aleksandrs Kalejs, Katerina, Irmak Kapusiz, Fatos Kapusiz, Petra Kartela, Eirini Katrantzi, Mark Kerrain, Mona Khader, Dina Khiralla, Alan Kloareg, Zlatan Kojadinovic, Kristina Kuli, Sandrine Laplanche, Rozenn Le Dreau, Olatz Leturiaga Angoitia, Madis Liias, Fiorda Llukmani, John Linder, Linnea, Aitor Lizardi Ituarte, Anna Louvrou, Megan, Melitza, Marjeta Merjasec, Rexhina Merkohitaj, Michelle, Catalina Anna Moragues Costa, Bridget Moran, Barbora Neradová, Maire Ni Charra, Tania Margarida Oliveira Amaral, Uxue Otxandorena Ieregi, Lenka Peugniez, Brisilda Plaku, Pamela M. Pereira, Lidia Zita Pimentel Pereira, Michel Priziac, Erla Ragenheiður, Tina Roenhovde Tiller, Karina Rurarz, Sif Rytter, Anna Sensat, Susan Shea, Alexander Sigmund, Anna Konstancja Skoczylas, Maya Stateva, Dina Talypova, Merit Tambu, Henna Talvensaari, Peter Thompson, Liisi Törmäkangas, Riina Treffner, Ellis Vaughan, Gabriela Vrzalová, Alina Yanni, Eleni Zotou and Sintija Žubure.
We had the privilege to work with wonderful people, who came from a very broad and interesting background, from various fields such as the arts, featuring pianists, composers, actresses or writers, from philosophy and languages, from the radio, university lecturers and scientists or also speakers from other domains, like international diplomacy.
Many thanks to each of these contributors for being part of the project and making it an inspiringly enriching and enjoyable cooperation.