Wow, you speak French! What languages (other than English) impress people most?


You wouldn’t learn a language just for the sake of impressing people, or would you? After all, many of us dress to impress, so why shouldn’t we learn a language to impress.

There are many reasons why you may choose to learn another language other than English, and in most cases, it’s because you have an interest in that language, encouraged by your own experiences.

For example, you may have gone to Paris and discovered you have a thirst for the French language. You learnt Japanese in high school and decide to pursue it further in college. Or, you discovered you had a great grandmother who spoke German and were eager to reclaim what you saw was a part of your cultural heritage.

The possibilities are endless – people who have mastered a language have their own story, their own experiences. The point is, you now speak another language, and a common reaction expressed by many of us monolingual English folk is, wow, you speak ______!
This reaction often occurs because we acknowledge that knowing another language is impressive. Charlemagne eloquently remarks,
“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

In any case, we may have our own ideas about what is it that makes it impressive, whether it’s because it’s different from same old English, we’ve always wanted to know a second language ourselves, it shows a person’s intellectual capacity, or simply because we like the sound of it.
Anyway, some languages tend to impress people more than others when they find out you speak it. Here is a list of our pick of some of the most impressive languages across the globe:

1. French

The popularity of French as a language is almost unrivalled. Historically, it was the “lingua franca” of the European world long before English came along, and now it enjoys the status of being the second international language. It’s the official language of France, and is also spoken in 28 other countries; among them include Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Lebanon and many North African countries.

About 190 million people speak French as a second language. It’s known as the language of love and romance, which is just one part of its appeal, albeit a big one. Many people absolutely adore the French language and culture. This may well be evident in the fact that France has the greatest number of tourists compared to other countries – 83 million in 2012, according to the World Tourist Organization. What can be said, this the language that makes people look the most sophisticated.

2. Spanish

Okay, the Spanish language deserves to be up there with French, so placing it second is not intended to rob it of any glory. Like French, Spanish is considered a Romance language, which means that is was derived from the language of the Roman Empire. Spanish is one of the world’s popular languages and it definitely has the wow factor. If French is the language of love, well then, so is Spanish.

Spoken in Spain as well as Central and South America, and being the second most spoken language in the world, many of us recognize that Spanish is a highly desirable language. In the United States, it is the most commonly taught language in high school and universities, and is the country’s second most commonly spoken language. On the plus side, Spanish is one of the easier languages to learn.

3. Mandarin Chinese

In the Western world, learning Chinese at the start of the 20th century was virtually unheard of. But since then, a lot has changed, with China emerging and becoming more dominant than ever on the world stage. With these changes, the millennial-old Chinese culture and heritage has come to the forefront, and is something that many are enchanted by.

The increasing practical importance of the Chinese language cannot be denied, and with some saying China is set to become the next global power, who knows, it could be the language of the future. While there are many different Chinese dialects, the most common one by far is Mandarin, and it’s not such a difficult a language as some might think. Future language or not, knowing Mandarin Chinese places you in the cool category.

4. German

You may have thought it was French or English, but in the European Union, the most commonly spoken language is German, with about 100 million speakers. So yes, it’s spoken in countries besides Germany, including Belgium and Switzerland. It’s among the most commonly taught languages in America and Europe. What makes the German language so impressive? The way it sounds, for one.

But conversely, many might say that the language sounds like you’re always arguing. That aside, the German language has a rich cultural heritage. German is the language of Beethoven, Goethe, Mozart, Kafka, Bach, the Brothers Grimm, Schiller and Einstein. In any case, there’s just something about German that impresses us.

5. Italian

The Italian language is filled with fun, passion and excitement. Italian food is much loved (who doesn’t love pizza and pasta?) and knowing the Italian language is great when it comes to their spectacular cuisine. Not to mention, people find that Italian is beautiful to listen to and sounds very sexy. Some might say that Italian makes everything sound better.

This even includes common words and turning them into something that sounds less ordinary, like fazzoletto for handkerchief and spazzatura for garbage – it just gives them a burst of life. Italian is also the exclusive language of opera, giving the language a cultural edge. It’s the fifth most widely learned language in the world and it rivals French and Spanish as a language of love, culture and sophistication.

6. Arabic

With over 422 million speakers, the Arabic language is primarily concentrated in the Middle East and Africa. Coming across a native English speaker in another part of the world who knows how to speak Arabic is certainly impressive. But apart from that, many find the Arabic language interesting since it has been around for a very long time, presently being one of the oldest languages in the world. It is the holy language of the Quran, and is a language steeped in history and culture.

The Arabic language has preserved many great medieval philosophical texts by greats such as Ibn Khaldun and Averroes. Many English words have Arabic roots, such as coffee, algebra and orange. It’s a difficult language to learn, which is partly why we are wowed by those who have mastered it as a second language.

These languages are all high on the wow factor scale. They are desirable in many respects and are impressive in their own ways. Whether it’s the sound of the language, its cultural heritage or its popularity, you’re ability to speak it earns people’s admiration. It’s a combination of awe for the speaker and the language. Needless to say, there are many other languages out there that impress us.

In general, there’s just something enchanting about speaking a different language. And let’s not forget what it does for the speaker. As Federico Fellini says,
“A different language is a different vision of life.”

Question of the Day:

What language do you think impresses people the most?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below!