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Speech Differences in Bilinguals and Monolinguals


In this paper what will be examined are the differences in speech between bilinguals and monolinguals through the use of the following YouTube videos:

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The videos show two distinct population sets, one being Filipino and the other American. The Philippines is a bilingual society where English is spoken as much if not more so than the native Filipino language and its various dialects (i.e. Tagalog, Cebuano, Visayan etc.). By comparing this primarily bilingual population set with the predominantly monolingual American population, the differences in methods of speaking can be seen.

Analyzing the Differences

The first difference that is noted is in the inflection heard when speaking, for the Filipina in the video it is apparent that her method of speech utilizes the front of the tongue to help form words and phrases more so than the back of the tongue. This creates a difference in intonation and pronunciation wherein English words seem higher pitched. Such a method of pronunciation is common in the Filipino language wherein a large percentage of the local words such as “dito” (here), “halika” (come here) and “kamusta” (hello) which have high pitched sounds. In other words, it can be seen that there is a certain “bleeding effect” wherein the primary language has an impact on the way in which the secondary language is stated. On the other end of the spectrum, we can see in the video of the American that the pronunciations of the English words have a lower tone to them. Do note that both are women and, as such, tone differences between different sexes have been taken into account in this paper. Further examination of the video reveals that there is a definite impact in the way in which phrases are created between monolinguals and bilinguals. In the case of Filipinos it is interesting to note that there are few pronouns or adjectives which connote gender. For example, in American English there are words like his and hers, while in the case of the Filipino language they are replaced by a general term such as “kanya” (his/hers). This is important to take note of since it was noted in the video of the Filipina that there is a pause in the flow of the language when it came to gender specific pronouns which did not exist in the American video wherein a smooth transition was evident. This is indicative of the fact that when it comes to transitioning from one language to another, different syntaxes and pronoun usage impact the speed in which a person is able to freely flow from one rule to another. This can actually be seen in reverse in the following video:

As it can be seen, an American is trying to speak Tagalog (a dialect of Filipino) and her pronunciation of the various words (based on an examination of other types of Filipino speech online) has certain pauses and overly loud methods of pronunciation which are distinctly different from the manner in which such words are normally stated in their native tongue.


It is based on this that it can be stated that there are distinct syntactic, pronunciation and word choice differences between monolingual and bi-lingual speakers as a result of one language impacting the manner in which another language is phrased and utilized.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Speech Differences in Bilinguals and Monolinguals." February 16, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Speech Differences in Bilinguals and Monolinguals'. 16 February.

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