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. 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. : )

  2. 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.

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

    Native language is the fastest.

  4. 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.

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

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

  6. 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

  7. 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.

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

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

  9. 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.

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

    wat good lol

  11. 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.

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

    First comment

  13. 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 [...]

  14. 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/ [...]

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