The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

Learning for love: is your language hot or not?

Posted on May 12, 2015 by

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I think Nelson Mandela said it best:
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
I suspect he had loftier ambitions than holiday romance, but good advice is good advice.

Here at Babbel HQ, we like the sentiment but we wanted to expand on it a little. Clearly it pays to speak the language of love, but which is it? We thought about giving our anecdotal tips for success in multilingual matters of the heart, but it didn’t seem quite right. Beauty, after all, is in the eye of the beholder.
Our opinions alone weren’t going to cut it – we needed a method as scientific as it was sexy.
So we asked a few Babbel-using friends to help out. After over 14,000 of them got back to us with their opinions on love and language, we crunched the numbers to bring you the hard facts of interlingual love.

Quelle surprise

In truth, we saw it coming: French speakers have by far the sexiest language, the sexiest accent, and a sizeable chunk of the sexiest words too. A full 90% of our users say they’d learn a language for love, and it seems a lot of them were thinking about French.
In terms of numbers, 34.7% of people that took part in our survey think that French was the sexiest language on offer. And in Spain, nearly half of our respondents agreed. In each of the countries we surveyed, French was either the most popular or second-most popular foreign language.
Encouraging news for French learners then, but if you’re a native speaker it gets even better: the French accent proves to be hugely popular, no matter which language is being spoken. In fact, 53% of users in Germany picked the inimitable (-ish) qualities of their francophone neighbors’ pronunciation as their absolute favorite.
The French vocabulary also seems to be infused with a certain va va voom. Common answers to our questions about the sexiest foreign words and phrases included several variations on amour, je t’aime and chérie. Our Italian users in particular had some very – shall we say – creative uses for the French they’d already picked up.

Runners up

In the sexy language stakes, a trio of aptly named Romance languages – French, Italian, and Spanish, in that order – proved far and away the most popular. Maybe it’s something to do with the fiery Latin temperament, those long summer nights on the Mediterranean, La Dolce Vita
For all we know, it’s something in the water. Whatever the cause, there’s something seriously sexy about those languages. And they’re all paired with equally attractive accents, it seems. When we looked at what our users have to say, however, a new contender emerges – English.
Whether that’s English like you might expect to hear in the east end of London or from the deep south of the USA, we can’t say yet. But we do know that the accents people most associate with their idea of English speakers are sexy. Sexy enough, in fact, to knock Spanish off the podium and claim its spot as the world’s third sexiest accent.
If French is the language of love, then perhaps English is its lingua franca?

It’s the taking part that counts

Of course, any effort to find out which languages are sexy is bound to reveal, to some extent, which ones aren’t. We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but some of you are just going to have to rely on your looks.
We’ll keep it brief: the languages and accents our respondents deemed ‘most unsexy’ (that’s like ‘least sexy’ but worse) are as follows: Chinese, German and Russian. Again, in that order.
We’re not sure what links these languages, or what people have against them, but we’re sorry.
If it’s any consolation, you can still learn a sexier language with Babbel.