My question is rather easy, but I would be really happy if I receive an answer from a native speaker, or someone who really understand my point or has nice examples.

The question is, when I'm watching a movie, or listening a music sometimes I just can't understand some things, but I think it isn't because of my skills, at least from my point of view.
It's just that some things are really low, or there are some other sounds that make it difficult to understand.
I know it's a silly question but...
In a movie or music, How much can a native speaker understand?
0% to 100% please, and if possible some explanations about this if anyone has anything to say.

(by the way, sometimes I even think "No way someone can understand this, this is totally unclear.")

Thank you all in advance..!

1 2
I've been wondering the same thing, and the only thing I know is that "they definitely understand more than me" Emotion: wink
I've asked the same question more than once, but it's difficult to get a clear answer. I know that native speakers don't understand difficult lyrics in certain songs, but I don't know where the comprehension limit is (for example, what songs are understood 100% by most native speakers, what songs 80%, what songs 50%, etc.)
I remember I once recorded a speaker saying either "this is NPR" or "this is MPR". Native speakers had to guess whether it was NPR or MPR. I never found out whether it was possible to distinguish them, since it looked like no one was willing to answer my question.

I'm still very interested in this, especially when other dialects are involved. The only way to find out the truth is to create some kind of test though, like the one I once came up with (npr vs mpr). I might soon think of something like a youtube video to test native speakers' ears... Most native speakers can "understand" only because they guess from the context. If you pick some lines out of context, it becomes harder or impossible, I think... and that's what I'd like to find out.
That's a very interesting question.

I often watch english movies , documentation and all that stuff. It's easier to get the context through pictures or little film sequences. Of course native speakers understand more than we can. In movies, songs the comprehension often depends on background noises, the way it's pronounced, how clear the speaker talks, whether he mumbles or not... and last but not least whether he has a strong accent. There are several indicators.
I know plenty accoustic songs, which are mostly very slow and easy to understand without having the lyrics in front of you. On the other hand there are many rap songs with slang words and a fast speaking.

If a film was created in your region. You will be capable to understand more than other native speakers can do.
It gets more difficult for everyone to understand, no matter if native speaker or not, when the film has a strong accent.

I think that one can't say, native speaker understand 70 %, you have to do a survey or find it out through a youtube video like Kooyeen suggested it. It depends on several factors. This is a question that can be discussed and can be continued through more opinions.
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Thanks for you both!

By the way, I'm happy just because one of you guys just said that are also wondering about this... It means that I'm not alone in this one... Emotion: smile
This question seems to be rather easy, but the truth is that we just can't understand like a native do.
Probably, when they hear something, even though it is not clear, they can understand because they try to guess through the sound of the whole sentence, not just word by word. But that's just a guess.

And as the second reply says, we can't say that a native speaker understand x%. Because it depends not only on the person, but also in the dialog, clarity and surrounding sounds.

I've been asking myself this question because sometimes I find myself troubled with my overall understand of a speak. It's like I'm hearing a music, It's all good, there are no problems so far, and then suddenly they speak too low or there are some background noises and then, they say something, and I can understand only one or two words, in a little sentence.

Let me highlight something that is also quite interesting, when I can't hear something, or can't understand something, usually if I stop the video, and put a loop on that sentence (Put that sentence to repeat automatically a lot of times) I often understand the meaning or what they're saying. Although when I do that, I have to listen to like six or more times, so I can understand it. Sometimes, no matter how much I listen to that sentence, I just can't figure it out.

Thanks again guys! Sorry for this long post.

(Sorry if I made any mistakes, I've been studying English for 2 years alone.)
There are so many expressions that we native speakers have heard thousands of times that we can guess the whole expression even when only a very small part of it is clearly audible. Our brains tell us "That's what must have been said" even if we don't really hear all of it. The more familiar you become with which words go with which other words, the more you too will be able to guess correctly what was said even when it is obscured by interfering sounds.

The same is true for everyone within their own native language. You just don't realize how much guessing your brain is doing until you find yourself deprived of all those built-in statistical rules because you're operating in a foreign language!

In studying French I once tried to say a sentence from a book in which some sort of weekly salary was mentioned. My French tutor knew the exact number of francs mentioned in the sentence before I even got to that part of the sentence. Apparently, that particular salary is typical in France. So be aware that certain cultural items are also very significant in being able to guess what is being said. Similarly, I can finish any of the following without hearing the rest of the expression:

That was the straw that ...
There's no use crying ...
You can't get blood ...
Out of sight, ...
If we're not careful, we'll be up the ...
A bird in the hand ...


... broke the camel's back.
... over spilt milk.
... out of a beet.
... out of mind.
... creek without a paddle.
... is worth two in the bush.
Jim is right, that's exactly why native speakers understand more, and why they can understand.

You can even be a linguist and an expert on phonetics, and yet you won't be able to understand the language if you don't know it well enough (that is, if you are not very familiar with its vocabulary, grammar, idioms, etc.)

It happens in every language. You watch TV and you think you can understand because you are actually hearing all the sounds, but that is not true. The truth is that even in your native language you often miss a lot of sounds, especially consonants, when the volume is low, there is noise, you are distracted, etc. It's not easy to become aware of that, because we are all used to hearing what we think we are hearing. It's even worse than optical illusions...

I just did an experiment... I wanted to show that it can be impossible to understand and guess what someone says out of context. I'm not sure it's a good experiment, but here it is:

You'll hear something taken from a sentence, which could be a word or a piece of a word (since it's only one syllable). That short syllable is repeated some times, and then you'll hear the complete sentence where it was taken. Once you hear the source sentence, your perception is likely to change. That's why I'm curious to find out what you think while you are listening to the syllable, and what you think after you have heard the complete sentence. The funny thing is that I can't really predict what your reactions will be, since I am the one who designed this experiment and therefore I'm biased. That's why I can't even be sure it's a good experiment...

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CalifJim, Thanks a lottt for your answer!

Oh, I'll tell you what was my reaction.. haha

I was blown away!

It's indeed pretty intriguing how a language works in our Brain, I just couldn't understand what that was, I even tried to guess but believe me, it wasn't even close to the correct word.

It's just crazy, how we actually use the entire sentence to build a meaning of just one word in the middle.
It was a really good experiment Kooyeen!, Congratulations for that... but the thing with experiments is that we just can't make one or two, we have to do a lot of them to make sure that our results are pointing to the right direction.
Anyway, I have to tell you that so far, even though it was only one test, it just showed me that even though I'm not a native speaker, I'm highly influenced by the entire sentence rather than just by "word after words" as I was thinking before.

I also think that you have picked the best sentence so far.. haha It's a fast dialog, and indeed it has a part when the speaker say the "date+event", which is really fast, and I would say that at first I couldn't understand what he said, so I just played it back, and then I got it.

I haven't said anything related to your recording, so we can keep hearing from our fellows the results of their trials.

That way other people will be able to hear that and try it out without being influenced.
Well, as a native speaker, I could not for the life of me figure out what was supposed to be so difficult or surprising about it. I heard a very common English word repeated several times and then used in a sentence. Did I not do the experiment correctly? My perception did not change in the slightest when I heard the final sentence. What else was I supposed to have heard?

Do you mean to say that you two did not know what the word was until you heard it in that sentence at the end? If so, I am astonished to hear it. I don't think a simpler listening task can be constructed.

Wow, that was a good exercise Kooyeen.

Was it really so easy for you CJ? I tried to guess the word, and suprisingly I was right. But that was just by chance I think.
I think it would be easy to construct a simpler one! For me and other non-native speakers it can be really difficult. This task explained a lot. There can be just one word in a sentence that we didn't understand and we don't get anything.
If you grew up with english,it might be easy. But if you aren't surrounded by native english (only in news, movies etc...) it's pretty tough.
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