Are some languages really faster than English? Does that mean slower languages are less effective?

Think of when you’ve listened to someone speak Spanish or Japanese. Does it seem the words flow out very quickly, faster than other languages? Academics would agree with you. For the last decade, linguists have speculated that different languages are spoken at significantly different rates. The challenge has been how to measure the respective speeds.

Recently, linguist François Pel­legrino along with his team at the Univer­sity of Lyon in France tried to break down the rate differences between seven languages: British English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish. They compared two different components of language: speech speed and density of information. Speech speed is measured by syllables per second, and density of information is measured by how much information is encoded per syllable. What does that mean? Let’s take an example from English. The one-syllable word “calm” is information dense because it expresses a complex state with only one-syllable. However, “easy-going” uses four syllables to express an idea easily conveyed with fewer syllables. By averaging the information density across a language, the linguists determined the density of information per language.

How did the linguists conduct their experiment? First, they looked at how many syllables per second speakers articulated when reading 20 sample texts. They had 60 native speakers of the languages each read the 20 texts in order to gather an accurate average speed for the language overall. Out of the seven languages, Spanish and Japanese turned out to be the fastest, Mandarin the slowest. However, the second variable – density of information – complicated their results. The languages that were spoken more quickly were less dense with information, and the languages that were spoken slowly were correspondingly denser. So, the information rate for all the languages turned out to be relatively similar across the seven languages.

Linguists have speculated that this average information rate correlates to an innate speed at which the human brain comprehends the world. That, of course, is only speculation. There is no concrete evidence to support that yet.

Do you tend to talk quickly or slowly? Do you wish the language you speak would slow down or hurry up?

Scientific American

Two Ventura County, Calif., hospitals honored for cardiac care.

Ventura County Star (Ventura, CA) July 8, 2005 Byline: Allison Bruce Jul. 8–Two Ventura County hospitals have been recognized by Blue Shield of California for high quality cardiac care facilities.

Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura and Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks were selected by the healthcare company along with 26 other facilities based on certain measures of quality, such as the number of procedures performed, outcomes and care. go to web site los robles hospital

Hospital officials said third-party recognition brings public awareness of what they have accomplished and helps patients make more informed decisions.

“We think patients do want to know, in a transparent manner, ‘How good are these hospitals?’” said Dr. Michael-Anne Browne, regional medical director for Blue Shield of California. The not-for-profit corporation has more than 3.3 million members in the state.

The intent of the list is to highlight hospitals that provide a high level of cardiac care and to compel hospitals that did not make the list to have some serious discussions about making changes, she said.

Participation in the survey was voluntary. Ninety-five hospitals requested surveys, 75 completed them and Blue Shield selected 28 as top facilities for cardiac care.

Dr. Lamar Bushnell, a cardiovascular surgeon at Community Memorial Hospital, applauded efforts that provide patients with information that gives them a sense of the actual quality of a program.

“More and more consumers and patients have this information available to them, and that’s good,” he said.

Too many patients come in and don’t ask any questions, he said. “They research less the hospital and program than the new washing machine they’re going to buy,” he said.

Bushnell said patients need more objective information, like the Blue Shield list, to help them make informed decisions. A third-party report also can help patients get past information they may receive through hospital advertising when making their decision, he said.

The state is now requiring mandatory reporting that soon will mean more information for the public, said CMH cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Dominic Tedesco. That also should drive more hospitals to do better tracking against standards, he said.

“If you don’t follow results, track patients, there’s no way to determine if you’re doing a good job,” he said. “If you’re not doing it — you have to do it.” The Blue Shield list also builds up public confidence, said Kris Carraway-Bowman, vice president of marketing at Los Robles Hospital.

“It’s saying to residents, ‘You don’t have to leave this area for quality cardiac care,’” she said. “It’s right here in your own backyard.” Jan Olivas, registered nurse and cardiovascular product line director, said Los Robles Hospital focuses on bringing procedures to the community hospital that are usually found in a university setting. It already has set high standards. go to web site los robles hospital

“When Blue Shield comes knocking at our door and requesting information we welcome it, because we have a good story to tell,” she said.

Both hospitals emphasized the teamwork that goes into a quality program.

A cardiac clinical advisory committee developed the criteria Blue Shield used to select the facilities on the list. The committee is made up of cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons from academic and community medical centers throughout the state.

Blue Shield plans to extend the model to other treatment areas, moving next to bariatric surgery.

Browne said hospitals are often judged as a whole, but a strong cardiac unit does not necessarily translate into a strong maternity unit.

“By taking a service line approach, we can differentiate which hospitals are truly good in which services,” she said.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.


  1. jmtech -  July 10, 2014 - 2:55 am

    The speed and the position of the stress could affect how the listener or the reader interprets the message but that does not automatically mean knowing the necessity of those automatically make a language more difficult.

    EPiC Online ( http://www.epiclanguage.com )

    • Camille -  January 9, 2016 - 11:28 am

      I am learning Spanish and i am pretty good at the grammar and vocabulary. Basically, I am very good at languages without studying for 1 test. I can speak it but i can’t speak the language at the rate of the Hispanic people in my borough. They go really really fast. Only words i can pick out are ‘pero’ and ‘y’. My goal is to become bilingual or trilingual. Does anyone have any tips or tricks to speak a little faster.

      • David -  January 16, 2016 - 9:55 pm

        Please remember to capitalize your I’s. From: i to: I

  2. Shota -  October 2, 2012 - 10:54 pm

    Georgian speech speeds vary so much that it’s almost usual when some people talk 3 times faster than the others. The speed is dependent on the regions the people live in.

    I’m from Kakheti and that means I’m a slow speaker and when I was younger it always surprised me how people from Guria could progress a sentence before I could say a word. : )

  3. someone -  August 29, 2012 - 7:39 pm

    i speak english and urdu. my language according to speed is pretty even. but i don’t really believe in this article. i mean anyone can talk fast if they need to but i just like my language how it is.

    • Alice Butler -  August 19, 2016 - 8:02 am

      I can’t speak fast, even in English, my native language. When speaking slowly I am clear to others, and I know what I’m saying. If I try to speak fast, I cannot get the words out, and become tongue tied.

  4. sHini -  August 1, 2012 - 4:57 pm

    Native language is the fastest.

  5. sHini -  August 1, 2012 - 4:54 pm

    Well, it depends because most people can speak the language that they’ve used to speak (native language) faster than the language that they’ve just learned (second language or foreign languages), and the process of acquiring the 2nd language is more different from acquiring the 1st language.

  6. Name not mentioned -  June 6, 2012 - 7:24 pm

    @Ann Lee same……….even if they are days apart…… :P

  7. Name not mentioned -  June 6, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    :O I knew English had so many sounds in a word….i also speak Vietnamese :P

  8. Rafael -  June 3, 2012 - 8:00 am

    I’d never thought about it..pretty interesting this article…. I don’t know about speed but certainly some languages are clearer to understand than others… I for instance grew up in Toronto, Canada so English is my first language of course, but I also speak Portuguese cuz dad’s Brazilian and now I’m living in Rio de Janeiro… and Portuguese is much clearer than English, I get that especially when I compare English songs with Portuguese songs you can understand 99.9 % of the songs sung in Brazilian Portuguese but that’s not true when we think os English songs. But when I think of people speaking I think both languages can be understood almost at the same level, with Portuguese being a little bit clearer.

    • Lorus -  February 21, 2016 - 9:44 am

      Hah! That’s a laugh. The lack of clarity of Portuguese is only surpassed by that of Gaelic. When I hear Portuguese spoken I feel like I’m hearing someone talk with a mouth half full of water.

      • João -  June 15, 2016 - 11:28 am

        But you are talking about the european portuguese (from Portugal) or brazilian portuguese? There is a BIG difference between Portugal portuguese and Brazilian portuguese in pronunciation… As brazilian, I don’t understand very well portugueses speaking.


  9. Stella -  May 29, 2012 - 11:07 pm

    I wish Mandarin Chinese would hurry up. I’m an impatient person.

  10. mflwr -  May 17, 2012 - 7:06 am

    I met a girl from Scotland who thought that Americans spoke excruciatingly slowly. So, there goes this theory. Same language, 2 very different speeds.

  11. jabardingle -  May 16, 2012 - 1:34 pm

    wat good lol

  12. Anders Lotsson -  May 11, 2012 - 8:20 am

    Shorthand experts, who can write down what people are saying at the speed they’re saying it, using specialized manual writing systems, seem to think that it’s mostly individual, not down to the language.

  13. Mitchell Rilatos -  April 26, 2012 - 12:18 pm

    First comment

  14. HWP: 11 « louisgonick -  April 23, 2012 - 8:33 pm

    [...] believe this article adds to our greater topic of languages: http://hotword.dictionary.com/fastlanguage/ Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   Leave a [...]

  15. HWP: 11 « louisgonick -  April 23, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    [...] I believe this article adds to our greater topic of languages: http://hotword.dictionary.com/fastlanguage/ [...]

  16. SuperSpanishSpeakerSeventySeven -  April 23, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    Seeing all these comments, I see how others view it, giving me an idea. So far, Spanish is the fastest in the race. =)

  17. BC -  April 23, 2012 - 8:18 am

    Every language seems fast when you’re trying to learn them because as they suggest, all languages convey around the same amount of information per second; and you’re busy trying to make sense of what the person is saying. But syllable-wise, languages whose words are arranged in a CVCV consonant-vowel manner, like Spanish, Japanese and Tagalog (oh you have to hear an angry Filipino mom speak, it’s like a machine gun), speak much faster than languages with consonant clusters, like English, Russian or German; or tonal languages, like Chinese and Vietnamese.

  18. sexy beast (~*A*)~ -  April 22, 2012 - 5:32 pm


  19. sexy beast (~*A*)~ -  April 22, 2012 - 5:31 pm

    i guess that it’s true but when ma friend speaks cantonese she says it slow…
    BTW,,,who made all those exclamation marks that made the page wider
    geezz louise.

    …paano yung mga tagalog na tao??? mabilis ba sila o parehong biis ang tagalog at engles…

  20. yayRayShell -  April 22, 2012 - 3:53 pm

    I usually speak too quickly because i think I can’t get all the information on my mind all at once. I wish language would speed up as in information-wise so that people would understand things faster. It may save lives sometimes like if you’re on a secret mission and using a less dense language would give less information and may confuse a person into not doing that last-second move that saves the world.

  21. Ali -  April 22, 2012 - 11:34 am

    I think it’s not easy to decide unless you know how to speak fluently the languages which you want to test which is faster, however I beleive that the best language might be the one which could use less number of letters and shortest time to let the meaning be precise.

  22. mary torres !so chula! -  April 21, 2012 - 8:37 am

    @faded heeeeeyyyyyyy

  23. Chris -  April 20, 2012 - 8:19 am

    It is interesting that some people have said that second languages often seem really fast to a learner since I have a linguistics professor who tells me that of the German professors he seems to speak the fastest, though he’s not a native speaker and the others are. There’s also a Spanish professor whose native language is Portuguese, but who talks faster than the native Spanish speakers. Perhaps the psychological concern of talking fast enough to be considered a near-native speaker of a second language influences how fast we try to speak in that language. I have also noticed as another poster mentioned that Spanish and English versions of the same book are not usually the same length.

  24. Andrew sosa -  April 19, 2012 - 4:49 pm

    Great, I’m native speaker Spanish and I think that Portugues (the spoken in Brazil) is faster that Spanish. Even the spoken Spanish in South America, the spoken in Chile is fastest.

  25. Moon -  April 19, 2012 - 2:53 pm

    I disagree with the Captain, because while I do believe that individuals speak at different rates, I have also noticed that, ON AVERAGE, people speaking low-density languages tend to speak faster. This has held true for all the Romance languages that I am familiar with (Castillan, Mexican Spanish, French, and Italian)

    I also have noticed that people who speak lower density dialects of a given language tend to speak faster than higher density dialects of the same language.

    I think it’s funny that people dismiss studies like this when the studies contradict their own personal experience. An individual person’s experience tends to be pretty narrow when one compares it to the large amount of data a study like this can access. Just because a particular person or group has been exposed to different conditions doesn’t invalidate the conclusions of a well-conducted study.

  26. Deepika -  April 19, 2012 - 2:31 pm

    I have to agree with you, Ace. I speak Hindi too and I think most languages sound fast, but when you type, it gets longer.

    (Some people call me Deepu, Deepiku, Johnny Deep……LOL)

  27. Alex -  April 19, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    A more useful comparison is which language can get the most information across in the shortest amount of time (such as in urgent/time pressured situations). So the fastest speaker of a language will be chosen and average native language people will still be able to understand the speaker. In this contest, the information density is an advantage, as the slower speaking language have a lot of room to increase the speech rate while the faster speaking language are limited by physics — speed of muscle and distances of movements (tongue,lip,jaw,etc) and complexity of coordination of muscles. Loudness is also a factor in speech rate. In Mandarin Chinese (and in all spoken language), you can significantly increase the speech rate by reducing the range of jaw/tongue/lip movements which also reduces loudness of a speaker. So with the assistance of a good microphone, a Mandarin Chinese speaker can significantly increase the speech rate, while the Japanese speech rate have limited room to increase. In another word, a Mandarin Chinese speaker can relax with slower speech rate and get the same information across, while a Japanese speaker has to move tongue/jaw/lip very fast (much closer to its theoretical limit).

  28. sherryyu -  April 19, 2012 - 1:57 pm

    hey u ppl im back, anyway Japanese is as fast as i expected

  29. Rachel-Arianna -  April 19, 2012 - 12:50 pm

    @Ann lee,
    Example: YAAAAAA

    can get sooooooo……annoying! um, so, i really gotta study for my science test now….LOL but i don’t want to…

    well bye guys and keep smiling like this :)

    :) peace :)

  30. John -  April 19, 2012 - 11:27 am

    I’m first but as I’m translated from Old Entish (low speed low density) it took a while to get to “submit comment”

  31. Isaac d agyiri -  April 19, 2012 - 9:20 am

    Wow let me say this i am ghanaian and we have difference type of languages and so far i have to say we dont really have a speacific fast languagge

  32. P-Paul -  April 19, 2012 - 8:09 am

    Dear Stutterer (now it sounds like I’m stuttering):

    First, you wouldn’t stutter if you had a higher self image. I know your self image is low because you didn’t capitalize your i.

    Second, a stutterer was asked why he stutters. He said, “I-I-I figure if – I figure if s-something is -something i-is worth saying, i-it’s worth – worth r-repeating.”

    Third, you don’t stutter when you type, though I knew a man who did. And he was a writer.

  33. Dean -  April 19, 2012 - 4:31 am

    I talk slow hear slow and comprehend things slowly, so I have no idea want the article is about,

  34. Sheesh -  April 19, 2012 - 12:10 am

    You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.
    yOU mUst UndErStanD, yoUnG hOBbit, iT T@kE5 @ lONg tImE TO saY AnyThInG iN OlD eNTIsH. aNd we NeVer s@Y AnyThING uNleSs It iS worTh TAkiNg A LoNG tIME tO s@y. HWSUHUH7&7GHhHFH&Hhfh&@($($*@jJDfjJc>>.f.>///?/++__=-”}|}]\\]}[|[{pfjJHDheu 1337 |=7\/\/

  35. Sheesh -  April 19, 2012 - 12:05 am

    FiRst ComMenT 0N hAHAhahAhaAHAhA sPAm iS AWeSomE

  36. sad-chap -  April 18, 2012 - 9:18 pm

    i agree with you gmelean!
    my language is urdu…..and i can talk in this language faster than i can do in english…..

  37. U Hurd Wright -  April 18, 2012 - 8:46 pm

    To all of those who criticize the hot topic, if you don’t like to make light conversation, then why do you bother to comment at all? It was not meant to be earth shattering conversation. Just a place to chat it up. Perhaps you would be more comfortable in a lecture hall? Just sayin’.

  38. Babyluna -  April 18, 2012 - 8:38 pm

    I think that this study is great. It takes into consideration, the relativity between the amount of content and actual expression, which works out in the end to be quite equal. It is certainly not a wasted effort as it adds to our understanding of our human capabilities for thought and expression. I particularly enjoyed ca’s reply, which delved into further other contributing factors for the speed of a language.

  39. Lany -  April 18, 2012 - 8:03 pm

    So does that mean Mandarin is easiest language among the seven ones? lol

  40. 15B -  April 18, 2012 - 6:20 pm

    No wonder it seems like you have to say more syallables for the same sentence in Japanese than in English. However, the sentences really don’t seem any longer or shorter to say!

  41. yuki -  April 18, 2012 - 5:47 pm

    oh yea what i ment by “mine and my best friends” (typo) was mine and my best friends(2 seprate ones) anime and manga websites on here ( comments) at a later date. kk:D I LOVE ANIME

  42. yuki -  April 18, 2012 - 5:44 pm

    i speak eniglish and am trying to learn jappanes. i speak really really fast. to the point where peaple cant understand what im saying. so my question is, will it be easy for me to learn japppanese. also do you know any good ways to do that. in case your wondering im doing it so i can go to jappan and fofilll my dream. my dream is to travel to japan and either become a manga author and illistrator, or to be one of those peaple who draws the manga for them to animate for anime:) i love manga and anime. oh yea read and watch fairytail and fruits basket. fruits basket is by natsuki takaya. dont know who fairytail is by though) i’ll post mine and my best friends( 2 seprate ones) later.k :D

  43. Jarplusnas -  April 18, 2012 - 5:36 pm


  44. JJ in Chula Vista, CA -  April 18, 2012 - 5:35 pm

    Obviously all languages can be spoken at varying speeds. In American English, there are plenty of examples of when the language is spoken faster and when it’s spoken slower, but it depends on the situation. Take stand-up comedians for example. There are some comedians who speak very fast, some who speak very slow, but the fast talker isn’t any less understandable than anyone else.

  45. THe Person -  April 18, 2012 - 4:48 pm

    I can speak both japanese and english and i find it interesting that japanese is faster then english but honestly this is B.S.

  46. Alexa -  April 18, 2012 - 2:56 pm

    No Cyrillic languages? That’s bad. They should’ve put someone who speaks Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, Czech, Croatian etc. I bet they’d have a very fast rate.

    They have Asian, Roman and Germanic languages – there should’ve been a Cyrillic too!

  47. gmelean -  April 18, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    I guess the study is right because the researchers planned their work. When I place Spanish and English translations side by side, the translation in Spanish is usually longer. This is because many common Spanish words are longer as ‘nosotros’ (three syllables) that is ‘we’ (one syllable), or ‘poder’ (two syllables) that is ‘can’ (one syllable). But I can find many exceptions. If I write in English ‘I go to the doctor’ (six syllables), I can write in Spanish ‘Voy al doctor’ (four syllables). In this case I can omit the pronoun ‘yo’ because the verb has more information in Spanish than in English (in English I cannot omit ‘I’ because it might be ‘you’, ‘we’ or ‘they’). I can also join ‘to the’ in one word ‘al’ if I know that the doctor is a man (if a woman, it would be ‘voy a ver a la doctora’). But in English I do not know if ‘doctor’ is male or female. This confirms that it is true that it takes fewer syllables when the content has more information.

  48. Ace -  April 18, 2012 - 2:31 pm

    English is a slow language… To Speak! Not to Type :D

    Many other language’s like mine, Hindi are really fast to Speak, but it is slower to type the words because the words end up becoming longer in English.
    I agree and Disagree with this :D

  49. Ty -  April 18, 2012 - 2:20 pm

    I agree with Ann Lee on her “first comment” commentary, although I’m more of perplexed than amused. Maybe they open the page, make a cup o’ joe and have a salad so they see the comments still empty when they get to the bottom of the page.

  50. Rustgold -  April 18, 2012 - 1:43 pm

    The suggested conclusion reached is clearly wrong. You think faster than you speak, and you often know what a person is saying long before they’ve finished saying it. So the conclusion that our language speed is limited by our brain’s ability to comprehend words is wrong.

    Another fail.

  51. FASTLANGUAGE | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  April 18, 2012 - 12:26 pm

    [...] ‘Fast Language’ at Ridgemont High — to deliver The News on some commercially broadcast Network — and get Paid. — Even in English they chatter — as though some tomorrow doesn’t matter. — Squeeze as much in between commercials — as though the imprint is delivered by the Hatter. — Believe it or not it’s politically ingrained — with Buzz Words, a Song and a Dance. — Conditioning — with no respect, subliminal, restrained — Perchance. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]

  52. Jason -  April 18, 2012 - 10:32 am

    As a native speaker of four languages – English, Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese Chinese and Malay – I find that different languages (at least for the four I knew) require different manipulation on word choice and talking speed. For instance, saying something faster in English may not carry the same meaning by speaking faster in Chinese. Like stated in this article, some languages also carry more density to information. In my experience, some languages have words with “higher density” but shorter in “length.” Also, some words/sentences in a language, when spoken in different context, can have different meanings.

    I think it is ignorant to say that this study is a joke or waste of resources just because it doesn’t really relate to your life. Coming from a scholar’s perspective, learning how other people in our community communicate with one another (in this case, talking speed) is the first step to understanding others’ cultural background, which leads to better integration of multiculturalism within a society and the world at large.

    Faster or not, I don’t think it’s the main concern – it’s whether or not we are able to present our thoughts in words. By the way, I could have “said” this entire explanation in Cantonese Chinese in less than one minute.

  53. Kurt Cobain -  April 18, 2012 - 9:31 am

    Hey, I’m an English speaking american from up north, in Seattle, I speak English quite slow, but nobody complains.
    Whatever, nevermind.

  54. Meiko -  April 18, 2012 - 6:03 am

    I’m Japanese native tongue, and have been living in English speaking Canada last 40 years. The study make sense in my experience. I think why Japanese is faster than English, based on the rule of comparison of the study, is that Japanese are not spoken with detailed descriptions as English would need to describe in their speaking (conversational) languages. Japanese may use 2 words with flat tone while English may need to use 5-6 words with different up and down intonation (accent) for the same meaning, so as the conversation gets longer the speed difference would be quite apparent.

  55. Gabriella -  April 18, 2012 - 4:38 am

    I think that it is very good that Dictionary.com gave us some of this information. I never would’ve known that. I do know that Spanish speaking people do talk really fast. I remember that because I took Spanish classes when I was little.

  56. Lulu -  April 18, 2012 - 3:57 am

    Has anyone watched anime? I suggest you do then you would realize that Japanese is really fast. The test in itself is wierd, but when I watch subbed Hetalia I have to pause a ton of times to keep up. It sucks becuase I only know a handful of words in Japanese. Yet a whole sentence in english is slower than in Japanese.

  57. Cyberquill -  April 18, 2012 - 2:04 am

    They should do a study on typing speed and its effect on the comprehensibility of written material.

  58. Marcia -  April 18, 2012 - 1:25 am

    I want to learn German

  59. The Quality Guy -  April 18, 2012 - 12:51 am

    I had an insight from a Chinese friend when he told me why the Chinese are perceived as good in mathematics. According to him, mental arithmetic done in Chinese is faster because we still tend to think in terms of words. So as an example, 70,000 would be seventy thousand (5 syllables) in English & Qī wàn (2 syllables) in Chinese. See where I”m going? If the number is bigger or more complex, the time taken to even say out the numbers mentally would take longer.

    I used to think that language is pretty much the same. However, this study is a real eye opener, at least for me. Speaking faster, as “The Captain” does, doesn’t really mean anything in this study, from a linguistic point of view.

  60. Tayo -  April 17, 2012 - 7:51 pm

    After studying Japanese on my own for over 4 years now, I’m come to notice that normal Japanese is not exactly as fast as I used to think. Especially whenever I watch TV shows in Japanese. Sometimes it’s a bit fast, like on the news, but so is English when a lot of info needs to be conveyed.

  61. Curtis -  April 17, 2012 - 2:38 pm

    So which language is the best for people who talk incessantly and say absolutely nothing at all?

  62. Rachel-Arianna -  April 17, 2012 - 12:08 pm

    @Ann lee,
    I know right? It’s like I want to type a comment saying, No, you did not get first comment. No, you did not.

    But i think the website doesn’t show the other comments until a while,so people think they have first comment.

    Anyway, my BFF is indian and speaks a language called Telugu. and i think that this language is very moderate to me. english is just perfect for us because we speak it.
    SO…..just refer to Rachel M. at the top cuz i don’t feel like typing the whole thing again. plus that would be annoying to see the same thing again. soooo bye….

    peace :)

  63. Lindsey -  April 17, 2012 - 11:28 am

    I’m 13 and speak English, and I don’t really talk to people as I only ever speak to my mum. I’m home-schooled and therefore have no friends. I speak French and Korean, but I’m not fluent in either. I think French is quite slow, while Korean seems quite fast. They only studied a few languages, so they can’t really say the same for all languages. Koreans seems to speak really fast, although their sentences are also quite short. It maybe be from the Japanese rule over Korea, yet a lot of the language is taken from Chinese. It may be the exception that proves the rule. I don’t think I find it fast because I’m not fluent, they do actually seem to be pretty fast speakers, although they are extremely slow when putting emphasis on words. They’ll have a second, if not more, of space between each syllable.

  64. Farooq M. Hashmi -  April 17, 2012 - 11:24 am

    The whole argument is absurd and vagrancy of some idle minds.The simple truism is that the information rate of all the languages hinges upon the speed at which they are spoken.

  65. Nadia -  April 17, 2012 - 11:23 am

    @Ann Lee
    So true… LOL.

  66. WeAll McGurk -  April 17, 2012 - 11:16 am

    @Ann lee, The funniest part is that the topic and the main point of the article went completely over the readers’ heads. They are hung up on the word “fast.” As soon as the word fast came up, everyone went straight for the comments. Fascinating.

  67. Ann lee -  April 17, 2012 - 9:21 am

    I find it amusing that many people say they have the first comment, and they’re not even close. Something I chuckle at every time I visit this website.

  68. FADED -  April 17, 2012 - 9:00 am

    8) hey mary.

  69. Kt -  April 17, 2012 - 8:59 am

    Who really cares? This doesn’t do anything for anyone and it’s really just a waste of taxpayer money.

  70. Green -  April 17, 2012 - 8:41 am

    I’m Brazilian and we know that Portuguese people tend to understand better us than the other way round because our accent is pretty slower, specially the ones spoken in the southern states (São Paulo, for instance). On the other hand, it’s actually a bit hard for us to comprehend sometimes what a person from Lisbon means.

    As a matter of fact, I don’t know a single language that can be slower than Brazilian Portuguese. I also speak English, Spanish and Italian and I must confess my common weak point on these three languages is listening and understanding – all the words just arrive to ear very fast! Spanish, for me, is a particular problem: I used to see many Peruvians and Bolivians speaking it and it’s really something of a challenge to get an entire phrase from them. Or perhaps it’s just my brain that isn’t working out…

  71. FADED -  April 17, 2012 - 8:22 am

    huh o.o

  72. Alex -  April 17, 2012 - 7:56 am

    Yeah right, I speak English and Spanish, there’re indeed a little more syllables on Spanish words than on English. However, if you want to type faster you should go for Mandarin (supposedly have more density of information in less syllables) not Spanish. It’s very unusual in Spanish for one word to have one syllable in Spanish (usually only things like , you,he,the,a,in,etc..).

  73. Isselmou -  April 17, 2012 - 7:40 am

    I think it’s all is the ‘ears’ of the beholder! The lesser we’re familiar with a language, the faster it sounds to us, I think. My native language is Hassaniya, a variety of Arabic. I used to think English is super fast, but now I don’t think so, coz I learned it…

  74. Andy -  April 17, 2012 - 7:20 am

    I thought that Chinese would have been the quickest spoken language considering that they do not conjugate verbs.

    Do you wish your language would hurry up!? That question sounds a bit strange to me as a native english speaker! When does anyone ever say a phrase in their native tongue and wonder whether they could have said it quicker?

  75. YAAAAAA -  April 17, 2012 - 7:08 am

    first comment

  76. ed -  April 17, 2012 - 7:00 am

    I live in San Diego. Here there are many native Spanish speakers and YES they talk a lot faster. This is true even when they are fluent and speak their second language English. I noticed this for years.

  77. Adam Neira -  April 17, 2012 - 6:56 am

    Excellent article. Good therapists and teachers know that each person has their own frame of reference through which they interpret the world, so language pace, structure, density and content is very important in learning and human development. Human history is as much about the growth of concept handles, i.e. language as it is about anything. Julian Jaynes touches on this in “The Evolution of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind”. I also believe that G-d is not aphasic and does intervene and connect to human consciousness via the auspices of language. This is why narratives are so important.

  78. Юрий -  April 17, 2012 - 6:50 am

    I actually found the article quite intriguing. I grew up speaking Russian and when I learned English, some part of me was always very noticeable of how slow the English speaking speed was. Although Russian words, on the average, are longer, they also incorporate meaning as all languages do. Russian, however, has to use several words to justify and clarify the meaining of more modern words. This could be problematic in the future as we are constantly adding new vocabluarly to all languages. I teach linguistics at the University of Harvard and I just happened to stumble upon this find when searching on my IPad. The study in general needs more “back-up” support as the lay people call it. You simply can not make those type of accusations aobut languages. The trump factor in this equation that the linguists have always wanted to know is the density of the comprehension of syllables. Languages are spoken at the same apparent speed. It is instead, the human perception and mind that disrupts this blantant fact and assumes one is quicker than the other.

  79. Tad -  April 17, 2012 - 6:49 am

    So many of these comments are inane- no understanding of the article at all!

  80. Nidnat -  April 17, 2012 - 6:34 am

    Thank you for the captivating research…it really is an eye-opening window for an eager learner like me….thank you linguist François Pel­legrino along with his team at the Univer­sity of Lyon in France

    The tendency of talking too fast or too low depends upon multiple factors:
    The first factor is, is your first or native language English (mother-tongue)?
    The second, it depends upon neurological factors such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalcucia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cluttering. if you have problems with this disorders then the speech speed would be hampered.

    for me the English is a third-language…so i cannot speak as fast as the native speaker..but very fast speaker is also detrimental for foreign learners – they really don’t make sense.

  81. Nidnat -  April 17, 2012 - 6:33 am

    Thank you for the captivating research…it really is an eye-opening window for an eager learner like me….thank you linguist François Pel­legrino along with his team at the Univer­sity of Lyon in France

    The tendency of talking too fast or too low depends upon multiple factors:
    The first factor is, is your first or native language English (mother-tongue)?
    The second, it depends upon neurological factors such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalcucia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and cluttering. if you have problems with this disorders then the speech speed would be hampered. but very fast speaker is also detrimental for foreign learners.

    for me the English is a third-language…so i cannot speak as fast as the native speaker..

  82. Rara222 -  April 17, 2012 - 5:30 am

    I speak Turkish,spanish and english is my native tongue
    I’m not sure but when listening toTurkish spoken
    It sounds faster due to its long words and my ability to digest
    And understand those words in a sentence. Spanish is easier
    To understand for me so seems slower.

  83. Donnyboy -  April 17, 2012 - 5:29 am

    I have noticed these results also when comparing Spanish to English. Spanish speakers seem to go on and on using many more words to say the same thing that fewer words say in English. English is also more nuanced in that native English speakers use gestures and different emphasis in the speech that lets one change the meaning or clarify the meaning of the same words in order to convey feelings.

  84. Charles -  April 17, 2012 - 5:04 am

    They might be able to get more accurate information by referencing true multilinguals (bilinguals aren’t that difficult to find nowadays). This way you won’t have to worry about the variation in “raw processing speed” for each person. You can test the validity of the method by comparing the speed ratios (where speed = syllables per second) of two different languages spoken by the same person, between many persons.

    Of course, this is all based on the assumption that this so-called “innate speed” of human comprehension exists. And even if it does, one person might think faster in one language than another, essentially dividing him or her into two entities (i.e., the English speaking me and the Japanese speaking me).

    I admire linguists; I even aspire to become one, but some of this stuff that they’re doing is really out there. What good can come from proving that all languages contain the same amount of spoken information/s on average? Will it foster world peace?

    Personally I would be more interested in which languages can convey information more quickly and efficiently in a given context. Imagine chaining together the best of what each language in the world has to offer into one massive international language!

  85. khaj -  April 17, 2012 - 4:55 am

    nope, it always depends on the person

  86. ilde -  April 17, 2012 - 4:42 am

    Plus, the thing is that some people might *talk* fast, but they don’t necessarily *read* fast, so reading text is not a good measuring tool. This experiment has too many variables.

  87. Luther -  April 17, 2012 - 4:31 am

    There is one American expression that is really dense in one syllable: “chill,” as an imperative. You can’t get more direct than that.

  88. krishna -  April 17, 2012 - 4:16 am

    don’t think soo

  89. lisa -  April 17, 2012 - 4:06 am

    Interesting that the content determines the speed. Great info. I am learning Indonesian and they often drop a lot of words used in English (e.g. is, am, the, going) yet they still seem to talk quickly. Probably this is because I’m new to the language and I can’t keep up.

  90. Themba -  April 17, 2012 - 1:27 am

    Yes, verbal velocity can be acc- or decelerated depending on the individual speaker. One of the important things missed is that semantic “density” exists not just at the word level but also at the syntactical stage. I always painfully am reminded of this when I go from English back to my native German, where sentences can be so exquisitely boxed into each other that you end up reading them two, three and four times.
    On the whole, to me, the speed of talk is not the central issue…but I often wish people would utter less content and more sense, that would be real density: to say a few things but those that are deeply meaningful, to treat language like a precious tool.

  91. Syed Ahamed -  April 17, 2012 - 1:16 am

    Wonderful information!
    Well concluded result from the research
    “the information rate for all the languages turned out to be relatively similar across the seven languages”

  92. Saul -  April 17, 2012 - 12:42 am

    Mandarin was the slowest!?!? lmao…I live in Beijing rightnow and I would find this to be astonishing

  93. silindile -  April 16, 2012 - 11:56 pm

    boring and more boring

  94. silindile -  April 16, 2012 - 11:51 pm

    well let me say this,I’m an African from South Africa and we have all types of languages and so far I have to say we don’t really have a specific fast language,,

  95. silindile -  April 16, 2012 - 11:49 pm

    that at things by the way

  96. silindile -  April 16, 2012 - 11:39 pm

    It all depends on how you want to look ay things,that’s all I’ve got to say

  97. king brown -  April 16, 2012 - 10:55 pm

    I thpeak with a lithp, tho (not though) I am not very fatht at thpeaking !!

    But I have notithed that the Thpanish laugh very fatht too, itth like:
    Ha ha ha ha hahahahahaha,

    whereath the English a thort of:
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha !!!!

  98. K -  April 16, 2012 - 10:35 pm

    It’s interesting that Hindi, Korean, Arabic, or Swahili were not in the study. It would not have been hard to find speakers of these languages, especially when you have Italian on that list.

  99. Open stethan -  April 16, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    아졸라 뭐하냐 병신들아

  100. Open stethan -  April 16, 2012 - 9:59 pm

    byung shin seh ggi del

  101. ca -  April 16, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    How many syllables a second are spoken in a language also depends on the consonant density. It takes about as long, perhaps longer, to say the English word “strength” as the Japanese word “chikara”, in spite of the fact that the English word is one syllable, and the Japanese word is three. This is because there are many consonant clusters in “strength” which slow down the speech, while the Japanese word is consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel. Interestingly, when one measures the phonemes per second rather than the syllables, one gets less of a speed difference. For example, “strength” is cccvc(c)c and “chikara” is cvcvcv, where c = consonant and v = vowel. The Japanese word has 6 phonemes while the English one has 6 or 7 depending on whether you count the epenthetic /k/. Although languages vary greatly in how many syllables a second the average speaker says, they are all pretty similar in the number of phonemes spoken a second. I agree with this article that Japanese has less information per syllable than English, for Japanese often has three syllable words where English would use one or two to convey the same idea, but the amount of information per phoneme would be about the same. Tones are counted as phonemes, which is one reason why speakers of Mandarin speak so slowly and carefully. Whether they measured speed in terms of syllables or phonemes, their conclusion that information is conveyed at about the same speed in most languages agrees with my observations.

  102. Ray -  April 16, 2012 - 9:00 pm

    Optical bandwidth ‘limitation’ is a well-established phenomenon, which might tend to lend evidence in support of the overall theory….

    On the other hand, written, translations, of similar texts, are definitely more-variable in length, when constrained to Roman letters….

  103. Meh -  April 16, 2012 - 8:42 pm

    Dear Sheesh,
    Your comment is by far the greatest.

  104. Cheyenne -  April 16, 2012 - 8:13 pm

    lol this is all a load of crap. you are all right it all depends on the person, the culture and the language. people are different and not everything about a person has to to be studied. why can’t we all just speak?!

  105. Susan -  April 16, 2012 - 7:27 pm

    Sounds like a lot of double talk to me. As an interpreter, I find that comparative interpretations vary in length, because each of the two languages has distinct idiomatic expressions and grammatical structures that don’t translate smoothly.

  106. J-Wu33 -  April 16, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    Ok. So what? Why does this matter?

  107. Thanh Danh -  April 16, 2012 - 7:25 pm

    You people don’t understand the basis of the experiment. They have all the native speakers whom they choose to be average speed in their own language. If you are considered a fast talker in your own language then you are a special case which can’t be used for generalization test. The study makes sense to me thou.

  108. someone -  April 16, 2012 - 7:12 pm


  109. Meghan -  April 16, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    I take French, and I have notices that it flows. Unlike Spanish or Japanese, it is not choppy. The language speed may have to do with articulation and pronunciation.

  110. David -  April 16, 2012 - 6:47 pm

    Nice inconclusive study that tells us absolutely nothing about anything.

  111. ??????????????????????? -  April 16, 2012 - 6:19 pm


  112. brenda -  April 16, 2012 - 6:16 pm

    wow i speak english and i speak somewhat fast but it seems faster when i talk in french and slower when i talk in german…

  113. Dale -  April 16, 2012 - 5:35 pm

    Japanese only becomes dense with information when borrowed Chinese vocab are used, original Japanese words don’t carry much information.
    For example, many years ago when I first was in Japan a song that was popular at the time started with the line “anata ga watashi ni kureta mono”, and
    it’s pronounced “a na ta ga wa ta shi ni ku re ta mo no”, so it sounds like quite a mouthful, however, in English it means “(the) things you gave me”, and the sentence
    continues on the next line of the song!

  114. carissa -  April 16, 2012 - 5:33 pm

    i am chinese-american and i can speak english, cantonese (chinese dialect used in hong kong and surrounding areas), and mandarin chinese. while different levels in fluency may have a slight effect, i have noticed that i speak cantonese the fastest and mandarin the slowest. personally, i think the fact that the “r” sound doesnt exist in cantonese makes it easier for me to speak because i have trouble curling my tongue. but then the article says that spanish was spoken rather quickly…so i guess it’s mostly up to a person’s own interpretation and exposure to a language….

  115. Vanessa -  April 16, 2012 - 5:33 pm

    I must agree with Sheesh.

  116. Anis -  April 16, 2012 - 4:55 pm

    I Think most of it is fake!!!

  117. Cyraus -  April 16, 2012 - 4:42 pm

    Those of you who think that this study is flawed, try to think of this: the experimenters aren’t measuring how fast the person who is speaking speaks but rather how much information is conveyed per syllable. That’s what they mean when they are talking about density.
    I can understand why Spanish and Japanese has one of the highest speeds because you have to use more syllables to convey more information. That’s why it needs to be spoken faster.
    For example, the word for “pen” in Spanish is “boligrafo.” As for Japanese, the word for simply “I” is “watashi wa.” Both examples use four syllables to indicate the same thing in a one-syllable English word.

  118. TheAdmiral -  April 16, 2012 - 3:32 pm

    @ The Captain: it is pointless how fast you talk if the person you are trying to communicate cannot assimilate all the information at the same rate as you spew it out. Communication requires an Emitter, a Message, a Medium and a Receiver, if any of these elements are disturbed in any way during the process of communication, the information that is tried to be conveyed will be inefficient, degraded or lost altogether.

    So what the point of speaking fast if the person you are talking to asks you to repeat yourself or talk slower?

  119. Lota -  April 16, 2012 - 3:28 pm

    I agree with the Captain. It depends on the individual.

    Also, it depends on the situation. For example, newsreaders and other announcers in the audio-visual media tend to do it slowly and enunciate a lot. A stage announcer would also slow down. Then there is the age factor. Younger people tend to speak faster in all cultures. Older people slow down as their memories and words start escaping.

    So, there are too many variables to make any such judgement.

  120. Victor -  April 16, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    That’s really interesting. I know something about Mandarin that poses some questions. When I’ve been around Chinese people in scenarios where they must read aloud with an audience, I’ve noticed that they do indeed speak slowly. However, if you listen to a group of friends speaking Mandarin, they speak much faster than they read. It’s not because reading characters is a slow process. I think it’s because the structure of Mandarin insists that when reading a text that may be out of context for the audience, and possibly to the reader, they speak slower to ensure that people get the right word in mind since Mandarin has so many homophones. Reading a text as quickly as you speak might be confusing to listeners who don’t know the context of the document.

  121. Tal of Israel -  April 16, 2012 - 3:16 pm


    As far as I can tell Hebrew, at least, is spoken at the same speed as English. Or at least should be… Younger people these days tend to cut out entire syllables out of a word, leaving only the consonants (if those!)
    Arabic should be similar to this from what I can tell by listening to the Arab students at my school talking among themselves.

  122. Jack -  April 16, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    I was just talking to my Chinese wife about this today, and why she can read a book so quickly. She said Mandarin is denser than English. If you look at the characters in a Mandarin-translated book, it’s much smaller in comparison to the characters of each letter in English. One character in Mandarin usually represents one or more syllables, whereas in English two or more letters only represent one syllable.

    So I can’t agree that Mandarin is the slowest language.

  123. Fried Waffles -  April 16, 2012 - 3:12 pm

    Great. I’m teaching myself Japanese and it’s nice to know that I won’t be able to understand native speakers easily.

  124. Nada -  April 16, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    its sort of in the middle but i wish it can slow down a bit i utter a lot

  125. Felix -  April 16, 2012 - 2:32 pm

    I’m always amazed by how Spanish speakers can speak at that speed without having their tongues twisted. I speak Vietnamese and English, and I notice that I tend to speak fast when I speak Vietnamese and more slowly when I speak English. It just depends on the language. For some languages, for example English, speaking too fast could be a little annoying to the listeners.

  126. Aylin -  April 16, 2012 - 2:29 pm

    First comment! lol
    I speak Spanish and I suspected it would be the fastest because I speak Spanish really fast and English is a bit hard to speak at a great speed for me.

  127. SuperSpanishSpeakerSeventySeven -  April 16, 2012 - 2:26 pm

    I agree. I learn Spanish in my school, so I can relate. Sometimes when I speak Spanish, it has to come out a little faster, or a little slower. Sometimes it depends on the expression as well.
    ~ S.S.S.S.S.

  128. qr3 -  April 16, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    first comment? :o

  129. qr3 -  April 16, 2012 - 2:12 pm

    So, what language is the fastest?

  130. Ahjung -  April 16, 2012 - 1:40 pm

    how about korea would u say it is fast or slow? It’s kinda in between i guess…

  131. Sheesh -  April 16, 2012 - 1:29 pm

    You must understand, young Hobbit, it takes a long time to say anything in Old Entish. And we never say anything unless it is worth taking a long time to say.

  132. Lisa -  April 16, 2012 - 1:15 pm

    This is very interesting – I wonder how fast Semitic languages are and if language speed in general has to do with the culture/lifestyle of a given linguistic population.

    As more of a visual person, I actually found this infographic on the Speed of Language to be pretty useful in understanding this concept. http://visual.ly/speed-language

  133. Rachel M. -  April 16, 2012 - 12:55 pm

    Usually, when the language is not your own, you think it’s a lot faster than it actually is. This causes a lot of language learners to try to speak faster than they actually do, which is a mistake.

    I find it interesting that the same language can go at different speeds depending on the accent. People up north in America talk in English a lot faster than people down south.

  134. TheCaptain -  April 16, 2012 - 12:52 pm

    This study is JOKES. It all comes down to the individual. Language has nothing to do with it. I am a pretty fast talker myself in english, much faster than when I hear people talk spanish or japanese.

  135. Marco -  April 16, 2012 - 12:49 pm

    Hi! I’m brazilian and my language is Portuguese. I have noticed that Brazil’s Portuguese is different from Portugal’s. Ours is slower, but the accents are a little bit different too, and this is something that should be considered. In this context I wish the language I speak would hurry up, though I actually find it beautiful this way.

  136. [-] -  April 16, 2012 - 12:45 pm

    i stutter, what does that mean?

  137. Mike -  April 16, 2012 - 12:22 pm

    Boo ya first comment!
    These guys were not first: up and down

  138. jrilett -  April 16, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    So can I type faster in Spanish?

  139. elvian -  April 16, 2012 - 12:09 pm

    great, though propbly not all true


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