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As a bit of background: I've native level in English and French, I can understand day to day discussions in German and Spanish and I'm able to understand what's going on in a conversations in Italian, but without the details. In rank of understanding, I'd say: English/French, Spanish, German, Italian

For some reason, the least I am comfortable with a language, the easier it is for me to understand female voices. For some reason, the higher pitch seems more clear to me.

Is this something common? and, if so, is there any known reason for this?

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  • So you're saying you find Italian women's voices easier to understand than French women's voices? Is there a difference in men's and children's voices as well? – jlawler Feb 21 at 23:44
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    No I meant for languages I’m not fluent (German, Spanish and Italian) I find female voices easier to understand. For English and French there is no difference since I learned both as a child. I do find children voices quite easy to understand as well in those langues (but cartoons absolutely not, but that’s different) – Thomas Feb 21 at 23:51
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    It is a sociolinguistic trend that women tend to stay closer to reference/ standard language (more distinct phonemes, less omitted or neutralised sounds, fewer abbreviations or grammatical shortcuts etc.), for complex reasons that have to do with women's position in society. Maybe this is what makes it clearer for you, rather than pitch? – melissa_boiko Feb 22 at 11:06
  • @melissa_boiko this is a very interesting point, I never thought about that. Maybe that would explain why I can understand children too but not cartoons at all despite them being high pitched – Thomas Feb 22 at 11:15

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