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

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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.
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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...
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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...

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

Postby Babbsagg » 2017-04-08, 21:53

Prowler wrote:From my experience German speakers, Germans in particular, seem a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a foreigner attempting to speak German with them, especially if he's not fluent in it. I've tried to type in German with Germans online in the past... and some either replied to me in English or just ignored me. Maybe I was unlucky dunno, since the Austrians actually seemed positively surprised "oh you speak German? Didn't expect that :) "

I can only tell from my own experience of course... Germans think their language is very difficult ("Deutsches Sprach schweres Sprach", roughly: "Germans language hards language") and usually they are impressed if a foreigner is able to speak it. However if they feel a foreigner may struggle with it they tend to switch to English because they assume the foreigner will find it easier to speak English. As in, they're somewhat afraid that the foreigner feels forced to use the difficult German language and might be happy to speak English instead.

These are only my personal experiences, but if they're anything to go by, no German opposes you speaking their language by any means. Everyone seems to be positively surprised if a foreigner speaks German, and they don't mind if you make mistakes--they expect you to. A foreigner speaking German correctly can even be confusing. By switching to English, they just want to "help you" or make you feel "more comfortable". This may be patronising, but it's not ill will.

I believe Germans are positively surprised just as the Austrians you spoke of, we're just not very good at communicating our feelings.
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Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby Prowler » 2017-04-09, 0:34

Babbsagg wrote:
Prowler wrote:From my experience German speakers, Germans in particular, seem a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a foreigner attempting to speak German with them, especially if he's not fluent in it. I've tried to type in German with Germans online in the past... and some either replied to me in English or just ignored me. Maybe I was unlucky dunno, since the Austrians actually seemed positively surprised "oh you speak German? Didn't expect that :) "

I can only tell from my own experience of course... Germans think their language is very difficult ("Deutsches Sprach schweres Sprach", roughly: "Germans language hards language") and usually they are impressed if a foreigner is able to speak it. However if they feel a foreigner may struggle with it they tend to switch to English because they assume the foreigner will find it easier to speak English. As in, they're somewhat afraid that the foreigner feels forced to use the difficult German language and might be happy to speak English instead.

These are only my personal experiences, but if they're anything to go by, no German opposes you speaking their language by any means. Everyone seems to be positively surprised if a foreigner speaks German, and they don't mind if you make mistakes--they expect you to. A foreigner speaking German correctly can even be confusing. By switching to English, they just want to "help you" or make you feel "more comfortable". This may be patronising, but it's not ill will.

I believe Germans are positively surprised just as the Austrians you spoke of, we're just not very good at communicating our feelings.

Well, in my country, we're not used to non-immigrant foreigners speaking our language either. Hell I've never met a foreign European tourist who attempted to communicate with me in Portuguese, so I'd be surprised too if that happened. But the thing is... German is the 2nd most spoken foreign language in Europe if I'm not mistaken. While in Southern European countries and in the UK and Ireland not many people will speak German fluently nor is German media very consumed, several people in countries like Denmark, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovenia seem to speak German. German was even compulsory at Polish schools back in the 80s. So I find it a bit odd that several German speakers seem surprised by the fact that some people from non-German speaking countries can speak German. That doesn't resemble the "typical big country that dubs everything attitude" in my mind. Spaniards and the French seem to hunt for speakers of their languages everywhere and most of them can barely speak English. Same for Italians. What makes Italians think they ca n easily find an Italian speaker outside of their country? It's weird and kinda annoying for someone to come up to you and assume you understand them/speak their language.

It seems German speakers are more likely to speak English despite dubbing everything. Before anyone mentions the "well English si also a Germanic language" thing... explain Greeks and Finns not having much problems with English, then. And why most Portuguese people find French much harder than English. It's not that simple, even if in theory a language being more similar to yours can be very helpful.

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

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-04-09, 17:51

Malayalees think our language is difficult, too. I agree, but only because there are so few resources for learning it that it's pretty much impossible without doing something more like fieldwork, i.e. talking with native speakers, figuring out what is or isn't grammatical, and listening to words they use. Some Malayalees even object to anyone using our language, and by "anyone," I mean anyone, Malayalee or otherwise. Our inferiority complex is seriously that bad. I don't think it's bad enough to prevent them from complaining about it in Malayalam, though. :lol:

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

Postby Babbsagg » 2017-04-10, 11:54

Prowler wrote:
Babbsagg wrote:
Prowler wrote:From my experience German speakers, Germans in particular, seem a bit uncomfortable with the idea of a foreigner attempting to speak German with them, especially if he's not fluent in it. I've tried to type in German with Germans online in the past... and some either replied to me in English or just ignored me. Maybe I was unlucky dunno, since the Austrians actually seemed positively surprised "oh you speak German? Didn't expect that :) "

I can only tell from my own experience of course... Germans think their language is very difficult ("Deutsches Sprach schweres Sprach", roughly: "Germans language hards language") and usually they are impressed if a foreigner is able to speak it. However if they feel a foreigner may struggle with it they tend to switch to English because they assume the foreigner will find it easier to speak English. As in, they're somewhat afraid that the foreigner feels forced to use the difficult German language and might be happy to speak English instead.

These are only my personal experiences, but if they're anything to go by, no German opposes you speaking their language by any means. Everyone seems to be positively surprised if a foreigner speaks German, and they don't mind if you make mistakes--they expect you to. A foreigner speaking German correctly can even be confusing. By switching to English, they just want to "help you" or make you feel "more comfortable". This may be patronising, but it's not ill will.

I believe Germans are positively surprised just as the Austrians you spoke of, we're just not very good at communicating our feelings.

Well, in my country, we're not used to non-immigrant foreigners speaking our language either. Hell I've never met a foreign European tourist who attempted to communicate with me in Portuguese, so I'd be surprised too if that happened. But the thing is... German is the 2nd most spoken foreign language in Europe if I'm not mistaken. While in Southern European countries and in the UK and Ireland not many people will speak German fluently nor is German media very consumed, several people in countries like Denmark, Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Slovenia seem to speak German. German was even compulsory at Polish schools back in the 80s. So I find it a bit odd that several German speakers seem surprised by the fact that some people from non-German speaking countries can speak German. That doesn't resemble the "typical big country that dubs everything attitude" in my mind. Spaniards and the French seem to hunt for speakers of their languages everywhere and most of them can barely speak English. Same for Italians. What makes Italians think they ca n easily find an Italian speaker outside of their country? It's weird and kinda annoying for someone to come up to you and assume you understand them/speak their language.

It seems German speakers are more likely to speak English despite dubbing everything. Before anyone mentions the "well English si also a Germanic language" thing... explain Greeks and Finns not having much problems with English, then. And why most Portuguese people find French much harder than English. It's not that simple, even if in theory a language being more similar to yours can be very helpful.


Maybe I have to reconsider and be more distinctive. If a Spanish/Portuguese/French/British/American visitor speaks German, we are very positively surprised, and we don't mind if they make mistakes because again, we expect them to. Because we think German is so difficult. We may try to switch to English because we think the person may be uncomfortable/overstressed speaking German. Least of all we want make them to feel forced to speak German, we expect them to have an easier time speaking English. This is kinda patronising, but to be honest not being smug isn't one of our greatest strengths.

With East Europeans it's a bit different. Many of them work here and we expect them to speak German. Especially older monolingual Germans just expect everyone in East/North/South Europe to speak German and they'll just speak German to everyone in Hungary or wherever expecting them to understand it. This seems natural to many monolingual Germans of older generations but is embarrassing to younger/bilingual ones who tend to think it's rude.
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Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby Vlürch » 2017-04-10, 16:22

Prowler wrote:explain Greeks and Finns not having much problems with English, then

Because English has tons of loanwords from Greek? Finns not having problems with English, unless something has changed from when I was a kid, is a result of Finns learning English at school from the third grade until the ninth grade as a mandatory subject. I think it's mandatory, at least, but I could be wrong.

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

Postby linguoboy » 2017-04-10, 16:24

Babbsagg wrote:Everyone seems to be positively surprised if a foreigner speaks German, and they don't mind if you make mistakes--they expect you to. A foreigner speaking German correctly can even be confusing. By switching to English, they just want to "help you" or make you feel "more comfortable". This may be patronising, but it's not ill will.

I have an anecdote which illustrates this perfectly.

I was walking to the StuSi (resident halls) one night to see friends and came across a young man headed the other way. He stopped to ask me directions. I began giving them, but the moment he detected my American accent, he excitedly told me of having studied in England and visited Canada (or vice versa), brightly concluding with, "So don't worry, I speak your language!" "Aber wir sind nicht in Canada oder England," I replied. He smiled at me a little condescendingly and encouraged me to continue telling him in German.
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Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-04-10, 22:38

ceid donn posted this once in the "What made you laugh today?" thread:
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Re: Native speakers that don't want you to learn their language

Postby Michael » 2017-04-11, 0:20

I'm not sure if this is characteristic of all of the peoples of the Balkans, but (in contrast to Germans, Dutch, Swedes and Norwegians) the Albanians I know have been quick to switch to their language once I speak to them in it, even when I was starting out and still relatively new to the language, and they've had a lot of patience with me and will gladly lower the speed of their speech to accommodate me.

I'm not entirely sure that I didn't have an American accent when I spoke Greek in Greece, but as far as I can tell, I was treated like an ordinary Greek speaker and probably only spoke 2 sentences of English throughout the 3 weeks I stayed there. Actually, my accent came across as Cypriot to many people who I spoke to, probably because of the way I palatalized [c] and [ɟ], which I must have inadvertently articulated more like /c͡ç/ and /ɟ͡ʝ/.
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