There’s no question that some languages sound more attractive than others. Indeed, French enjoys a long-standing reputation as the ‘language of love,’ but is that reputation really deserved? And is being the language of love different from being the world’s sexiest language?
French troubadours played a key role in the language’s association with love and romance. These noble, high-minded poets would travel the land, using lyric poetry delivered in Old Occitan to express wondrous and glorious tales of love (of the high-minded, respectful, wistful kind, naturally). Their messages were extremely popular and leant the French language a certain reputation as Occitan gradually blended with the language of the north of the country to move close to the French that we recognise today.
In more modern times, Google Translate has highlighted French as the language of love, reporting that it is the most frequently used European language for translating romantic expressions. Indeed, “je t’aime” came second only to “bonjour” in terms of French translation requests.
Overall, 34 of the top 1,000 most translated French phrases were about love. That was followed by Spanish, with 33 out of 1,000 phrases relating to love, while Russian, Italian and German brought up the ranks.
Demand for translation is far from the only way to judge a language’s sexiness credentials. Dating site PlentyOfFish recently revealed the results of its analysis of the 50 million messages sent on its platform during the month of January 2017, as well as surveying 325 of their US-based users. The results found that men are most attracted to women who speak Dutch as a second language, while women are most attracted to men who can speak German.
Another dating site – MissTravel – has just released its own survey results. Rather than focusing on second language speakers, the site looked at those who speak languages other than English as their first language – and thus have an accent when they speak English. In total, 1,164 American men responded to the survey.
The MissTravel survey found that Hebrew came out on top in terms of the sexiest accent. Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s rise to fame as Wonder Woman is thought to have had quite an impact on the ranking.
The Colombian accent took second place, having become familiar in many American homes thanks to Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara. Australian came next, with French ranking down in fourth place.
The appeal of accents relates to the hint of worldliness that they bring with them. The speaker’s accent implies that he or she has seen and experienced things that the hearer has not – it delivers a thrill of the unknown.
It’s not just the world’s sexiest languages that have been ranked. How Africa has listed the top ten ugliest languages in the world. Vietnamese took the top spot as the world’s least attractive language, with the site claiming (rather harshly) that it “sounds like a duck being brutalized.” Somali came next, followed by Chinese and Turkish (apparently due to its lack of melody and monotonic sound).
Such harsh criticisms do little to honour the ancient linguistic origins and unique quirks of Vietnamese and the other languages singled out. Most of those working in the field of professional translation would no doubt be able to appreciate the complexity and beauty of any language, as well as its unique sound.
Which do you think is the sexiest language? Does French or Hebrew top your list? And which is the ugliest language? Or do you think it is unfair to call any language ugly? Share your comments below – we look forward to hearing your thoughts.