Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

This is our main forum. Here, anything related to languages and linguistics can be discussed.

Moderators: Global Moderators, Forum Administrators

User avatar
linguoboy
Posts: 19102
Joined: 2009-08-25, 15:11
Real Name: Da
Location: Chicago
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby linguoboy » 2017-01-12, 22:56

Prowler wrote:Well yeah it depends on the person. From my experience, Canadians are more likely to know more about their origins than Americans are. Although many of them seem to just identify as Canadian and nothing else.

Canada has a higher rate of immigration than the USA and a larger foreign-born population (20% vs 13%). Both countries have sizable non-English-speaking populations, but the largest single bloc in Canada (Francophones) is larger (21.5%) and more compact than the largest single bloc (12.4%) in the USA (Hispanophones). This doubtless affects the relative proportions of people from each country you meet who feel strongly connected to their ethnic origins and/or speak an ancestral language.

Prowler wrote:Just anecdotes but it seems Americans of German and British origin don't care much for their heritage in the sense of identifying as such as much as others. I guess because the descendants of the founding fathers have been there for so long they cant' feel anything other than being American.

Keep in mind, too, that due to our history, American identity was defined in opposition to being British. It's very different for Canadians. Some parts of Canada were still part of the UK until after World War II.

Prowler wrote:As for Germans, many Americans of German origin seem to have anglicised names(Brown instead of Braun). I guess probably because they feared discrimination during WW2(internment camps).

Very few (11,000 in a population of more than 12 million) German-Americans were interned, virtually all of them German nationals. But they were greatly pressured to assimilate, beginning not with WWII but WWI. My great-grandfather owned a German pub on the South Side of St Louis. When the war broke out, he took down all the red-white-and-black bunting and other Teutonic paraphernalia and stowed it in the attic. My infant grandfather got into one of the boxes, pulled out a German flag, and went running through the saloon with it. His father blew a gasket. Grandpa never spoke a word of German and never engaged in any German cultural activities. As far as I know, only one of his children has visited Germany, and then only because he was stationed there during the Vietnam War.

Prowler wrote:The Americans of European origin I see bragging about their origins the most are Irish and Italian ones. As for Asian Americans, I dunno, many from my experience can't speak their ethnic group's language at all or just have a completely different attitude than a born and bred East/South East Asian person. And many also kind of complain about how they don't really fit at home when they visit the country of their ancestors "I look like any other Japanese person but I'm a gaijin" and such.

As I said, it's tough for Asian-Americans. They get treated like foreigners in both places. People here express surprise that they speak English without an accent and people there are scandalised when they only speak English.

Prowler wrote:When I went to Ireland in 2005 their stores had lots of t-shirts with slogans in Irish/Gaelic. usually "kiss my ass". Also, I remember flicking through channels and seeing some cartoons dubbed in Irish/Gaelic.

It's kind of this fetish object, something they cling to since it's such a potent national symbol. But many hate it and/or have a bad conscience about not being able to speak it worth a damn. It's a situation without close parallel elsewhere in Europe.
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

ling
Posts: 828
Joined: 2012-05-03, 9:09
Gender: male
Country: TW Taiwan (臺灣)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby ling » 2017-01-12, 23:35

Prowler wrote:Not many people outside of South Korea(bar many Korean immigrants obv) speak Korean

Well, they also speak it in North Korea...
Native:  (en) Advanced:  (zh) Actively studying:  (th) (id) Passively dabbling:  (lkt)

User avatar
Prowler
Posts: 1302
Joined: 2013-07-19, 5:09
Gender: male
Country: PT Portugal (Portugal)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby Prowler » 2017-01-13, 0:37

ling wrote:
Prowler wrote:Not many people outside of South Korea(bar many Korean immigrants obv) speak Korean

Well, they also speak it in North Korea...

Oddly enough, I forgot about that place when I made that post of mine.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 14513
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-13, 1:36

Why is that odd? I thought most people forgot all about North Korea. I'm not sure I know of many people who think about it more often than I do. :P
linguoboy wrote:
Aurinĭa wrote:
vijayjohn wrote:
linguoboy wrote:You know, I never had this trouble--not in France, not in Québec. They just seemed happy I was making an effort--you know, like every other place I've ever been.

Maybe this works differently if you're a fellow Canadian as opposed to a complete foreigner?

That wouldn't surprise me.

Oh, I'm sure that's the case. Here in the USA you see this a lot with members of certain ethnic groups. Like Koreans will fawn all over me for speaking even the most basic Korean, but if you look Korean and you don't speak the language well? Brace yourself for some shaming.

My sister-in-law's family is from just east of New Delhi, so when she and my brother meet other Hindi-speakers (usually from my parents' generation, I think), they're like "how come your wife's Hindi is so good and yours sucks?" He says there appears to be a tendency among Indians in California to assume that any Indian they meet speaks Hindi. North Indians in general assume this about South Indians very often. (We Malayalees, by contrast, don't really even expect our own kids to speak Malayalam). Little do they know that my dad can't even make a sentence in Hindi more complicated than "noun1 noun2 [he]" and my mom once got into an argument with me right in front of my sister-in-law and her parents because she just absolutely refused to believe that voiced aspirates were a Thing.

User avatar
mōdgethanc
Posts: 10027
Joined: 2010-03-20, 5:27
Real Name: Μέγας Αλέξανδρος
Gender: male
Location: Toronto
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-01-13, 19:28

Prowler wrote:Yeah what the hell?! If anything, many French speakers assume people in many countries speak French.
The stereotype is that Quebeckers (and possibly the French themselves, I'm not completely sure if this applies to them too) are perfectly happy to speak to you in French as long as your French is flawlessly native-like. The second you make the slightest grammatical slip-up or betray the faintest hint of an accent, they will then switch to English (no matter how broken and accented their own English may be) because it's "easier".

To illustrate, one time when I worked at a call centre, I got a call from a man from Quebec who was looking for the French helpline, but ours was English-only, so I explained to him in my basic French that this was not the French line and that I would transfer him. He got confused and asked me repeatedly if this was the French line, to which I replied in the negative (in French), which confused him even more until he finally listened to the content of what I was saying rather than the language. He simply couldn't compute that someone with a decent French accent was not fluent in French. In hindsight it would have been much faster if I had just starting spewing random crap in a heavily accented Prairie twang.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 14513
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-13, 19:41

:lol: I've read that about les Québécois (I also remember reading a National Geographic article that used "Quebecker" to mean Anglophones in Quebec and Québécois for the Francophone majority). I don't think I've ever heard that about the French. :hmm: The stereotype I'm familiar with for the French is more like the opposite, that they'll insist on speaking French with you even if you don't speak any because they think you should know it.

User avatar
mōdgethanc
Posts: 10027
Joined: 2010-03-20, 5:27
Real Name: Μέγας Αλέξανδρος
Gender: male
Location: Toronto
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-01-13, 20:44

vijayjohn wrote::lol: I've read that about les Québécois (I also remember reading a National Geographic article that used "Quebecker" to mean Anglophones in Quebec and Québécois for the Francophone majority).
Normally they would be called "Québécois". I just translated it.
I don't think I've ever heard that about the French. :hmm: The stereotype I'm familiar with for the French is more like the opposite, that they'll insist on speaking French with you even if you don't speak any because they think you should know it.
If anything I would think this to be a stereotype about English speakers.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 14513
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-13, 20:56

mōdgethanc wrote:If anything I would think this to be a stereotype about English speakers.

Both, apparently.

Also:
linguoboy wrote:As I said, it's tough for Asian-Americans. They get treated like foreigners in both places. People here express surprise that they speak English without an accent and people there are scandalised when they only speak English.

I think my experience is sort of the opposite. Personally, I find that some Americans treat me like a foreigner, but they're a minority out of the Americans I've met so far, while Malayalees are justifiably surprised that I speak Malayalam (even more so that I can and do read and write it).

User avatar
Prowler
Posts: 1302
Joined: 2013-07-19, 5:09
Gender: male
Country: PT Portugal (Portugal)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby Prowler » 2017-01-14, 0:48

mōdgethanc wrote:
Prowler wrote:Yeah what the hell?! If anything, many French speakers assume people in many countries speak French.
The stereotype is that Quebeckers (and possibly the French themselves, I'm not completely sure if this applies to them too) are perfectly happy to speak to you in French as long as your French is flawlessly native-like. The second you make the slightest grammatical slip-up or betray the faintest hint of an accent, they will then switch to English (no matter how broken and accented their own English may be) because it's "easier".

To illustrate, one time when I worked at a call centre, I got a call from a man from Quebec who was looking for the French helpline, but ours was English-only, so I explained to him in my basic French that this was not the French line and that I would transfer him. He got confused and asked me repeatedly if this was the French line, to which I replied in the negative (in French), which confused him even more until he finally listened to the content of what I was saying rather than the language. He simply couldn't compute that someone with a decent French accent was not fluent in French. In hindsight it would have been much faster if I had just starting spewing random crap in a heavily accented Prairie twang.

The autism in this is strong.

vijayjohn
Language Forum Moderator
Posts: 14513
Joined: 2013-01-10, 8:49
Real Name: Vijay John
Gender: male
Location: Austin
Country: US United States (United States)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-14, 1:27

Prowler wrote:
mōdgethanc wrote:
Prowler wrote:Yeah what the hell?! If anything, many French speakers assume people in many countries speak French.
The stereotype is that Quebeckers (and possibly the French themselves, I'm not completely sure if this applies to them too) are perfectly happy to speak to you in French as long as your French is flawlessly native-like. The second you make the slightest grammatical slip-up or betray the faintest hint of an accent, they will then switch to English (no matter how broken and accented their own English may be) because it's "easier".

To illustrate, one time when I worked at a call centre, I got a call from a man from Quebec who was looking for the French helpline, but ours was English-only, so I explained to him in my basic French that this was not the French line and that I would transfer him. He got confused and asked me repeatedly if this was the French line, to which I replied in the negative (in French), which confused him even more until he finally listened to the content of what I was saying rather than the language. He simply couldn't compute that someone with a decent French accent was not fluent in French. In hindsight it would have been much faster if I had just starting spewing random crap in a heavily accented Prairie twang.

The autism in this is strong.

Huh?

User avatar
mōdgethanc
Posts: 10027
Joined: 2010-03-20, 5:27
Real Name: Μέγας Αλέξανδρος
Gender: male
Location: Toronto
Country: CA Canada (Canada)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby mōdgethanc » 2017-01-14, 9:54

Prowler wrote:The autism in this is strong.
Are you drunk, or do you just think taking cheap shots at the mentally disabled is hilarious?

User avatar
Vlürch
Posts: 382
Joined: 2014-05-06, 8:42
Gender: male
Location: Roihuvuori, Helsinki
Country: FI Finland (Suomi)

Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby Vlürch » 2017-01-18, 8:56

Well, he didn't explicitly say he didn't want me to learn Altai, but the only native Altai-speaker that I've ever had any kind of contact with said he'd email me some basic stuff but never did, only responding that he would eventually. The impression I got was that he didn't want me to learn it, though, even if it could just as well be that he was busy with actually having a life. :P

A few random Hungarians on random chat sites and whatnot have told me not to learn Hungarian, and one even basically threatened to kill me if I didn't stop learning it because apparently Finns learning Hungarian is going to lead to a Hungarian genocide or something. Another Hungarian kept messaging me on Facebook telling me I should move to live in a bunker with him to hide from people with strangely shaped heads or something, and if I understood his ramblings correctly, he wanted to become Finnish because "Finns are whiter than Hungarians" and because Finland had ties to Nazis in WW2... :para: There was also one Hungarian on omegle that I first chatted with in English about linguistics and when I told him I was trying to learn a little Hungarian, he no longer used English at all and expected me to understand Hungarian perfectly, though...


Return to “General Language Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest