TAC eskandar (Arabic, Hebrew, Italian)

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Re: TAC eskandar (Arabic, Hebrew, Italian)

Postby eskandar » 2019-08-18, 14:18

Luís wrote:Maybe I've been lucky so far, but I can't really relate to that.

Sure, the French can be a little impatient if you're a beginner (or if you try to speak English to them), but once your level improves they suddenly become much friendlier. I speak decent French (although I'm sure I have an accent and still make plenty of mistakes) and I've gotten random compliments from people in Paris.

Have you worked in Paris or just visited? For me, the difference between being a tourist there and working there was so big, my experiences might as well have been from two different countries. (So, for all I know, maybe the situation is similar in Italy, and I was just benefiting from being a tourist there...)

Saim wrote:It’s probably different groups of people who have different language skills, as many people might not be particularly comfortable speaking English even if they can understand enough to take orders

Sure, that may be the case for some (although in my experience, people who work with tourists, such as waitstaff, speak better English than most anyone else), but I encountered plenty of people who spoke very good English--far better than my French--but were reluctant or downright refused to speak it.

As for Indians, I think the reaction is a bit different depending on whether you have South Asian physical features or not.

Yeah, I understand that (which is why I premised my remarks with "as a non-Indian"). I experience the same thing with Persian, no matter how good my Persian is; because of my appearance, people giggle if I say anything that sounds even remotely non-native.

In that case I don’t think I would expect encouragement from strangers for speaking their language in their country, because speaking the language is the “expected” thing to do. ...

I also think it’s the case that in France there’s less of an expectation that people should be friendly to customers (ar least compared to many other countries), and the US is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Honestly I’ll admit that I prefer the French attitude.

To be clear, I prefer the French attitude as well in many regards. Certainly in terms of interactions with customers; I've lived most of my life in the US and the fawning obsequiousness expected of waitstaff in restaurants still makes me uncomfortable. A waiter's job is to serve food, not to be your friend. In general, I also think the French attitude that 'this is France, we speak French here, if you are visiting our country you should make an effort to speak our language rather than the reverse' is a very healthy one, certainly moreso than the Indian attitude that devalues local languages so much that anyone 'deigning' to speak a South Asian language rather than English is to be lauded for their 'sacrifice'. But it's these sets of attitudes that put up enormous mental blocks for me to learn French whereas I dove into learning Urdu with great ease. Also,
Luís wrote:As far as I understood, eskandar wasn't complaining about not receiving compliments, but rather that people looked down on him or treated him badly because his French was not perfect, which is a completely different thing.

Yes, exactly. And this was the other incredibly discouraging thing about trying to learn French while living in France and not just visiting as a tourist. I had many immigrant friends and neighbors who spoke far better French than I did, but who still had the same experience of not speaking well enough - not being native speakers - that they encountered problems. So this also contributed to my mental block against French. Knowing that no matter how much I learned I would still never really fit in or be accepted made me wonder why I was bothering in the first place.

Bref, I respect the French to some degree for the way they safeguard their language against the onslaught of global English, but at the same time, their attitudes made me not want to learn French.
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Re: TAC eskandar (Arabic, Hebrew, Italian)

Postby Luís » 2019-08-18, 16:39

eskandar wrote:Have you worked in Paris or just visited? For me, the difference between being a tourist there and working there was so big, my experiences might as well have been from two different countries.


Both, although I never stayed there for more than a couple of months at a time (I work for a French company here and sometimes, depending on the project, they need to send me there for a while). But yeah, it's not exactly the same as actually living there, because I never really had to do stuff like open a bank account, rent an apartment.etc.
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Re: TAC eskandar (Arabic, Hebrew, Italian)

Postby eskandar » 2019-08-18, 17:18

Your French is probably much better than mine, so it may also just be as you said earlier - if my level were higher, my experiences might have been more positive. (Bit of a catch-22 there, I suppose.)
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Re: TAC eskandar (Arabic, Hebrew, Italian)

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-08-18, 18:53

eskandar wrote:On the contrary, with the French (at least in Paris--I think people are nicer elsewhere) it doesn't matter how well you speak French. If you're not a native speaker and make mistakes, no matter how intelligible you are, people look down on you and give you a hard time.

My brother and I both had the same French teacher in high school, albeit at different times since he's five years older than me. She was from Paris (or at least near there). Literally every single person I can think of other than my mom (who met her once very briefly), my brother, and me hated her. Even people who had barely met her hated her! On the one hand, I think this was unfair to her because she knew and had traveled a lot more than your average high-school teacher but happened to have had a very hard life. I think she meant well, too. On the other hand, I kind of understand because she would get frazzled so easily all the time. For example, she had this cardboard replica of a guillotine that she used to teach lower-level students about the French Revolution, and one time, she got so exasperated with one of my classmates that she pointed at it and said, "Sous la guillotine !" She was (usually!) a lot nicer to my brother and me, though. I think maybe that's because both of us spoke French well at the time and strove for perfection in her class(es) no matter what she said.
Saim wrote:As for Indians, I think the reaction is a bit different depending on whether you have South Asian physical features or not. To date the only languages where natives have criticised my language skills to my face are Urdu (tumhari urdu kafi weird hai) and Punjabi (taadi panjaabi kafi ghat hai na?), whereas Poles and Hungarians constantly lose their mind about my level and did so even when I knew almost nothing (although at times at upper-intermediate level there was the irritating phenomenon of complementing me on my Polish in English. So I imagine Vijay may have had similar experiences to mine.

Tbh, not really - I've only ever had negative responses from family members, but only in the sense that they'd make fun of me when I made mistakes, which was often pretty useful because eventually, I'd learn not to make the same mistake again. :silly: Otherwise, the only Malayalees who bother to comment are pretty impressed by my Malayalam because they don't read any literature in Malayalam and I do, even though their own children don't even speak Malayalam. Speakers of other Indian languages are usually thrilled when I try to speak their language, pretty much like native speakers of any other language.

What I said about Indians was based not on how they react to any specific people speaking their language but rather on what they say about the concept of foreigners learning their language in general, which is basically "my language? Who would ever want to learn that? Why would you want to teach that? No one's going to pay for that! No one would want to learn my language! What a waste of time to teach that instead of going into engineering or something!"
I’m in Nice at the moment

Nice! :lol:
I don’t think I would expect encouragement from strangers for speaking their language in their country

I have gotten this before, and it doesn't surprise me in and of itself. What does surprise me, though, is how they're encouraging. I remember when I went to Croatia, even though it was only for a weekend, I made it a point to talk exclusively in Croatian to every single person I met who spoke it even though I didn't even know much Croatian yet. I knew otherwise, I could easily fall into the trap of just speaking English with everybody. A lot of people I met were monolingual in Croatian anyway. When I started talking in Croatian to one lady in particular, she was like "oh, that's so great! I remember having to learn German in school and taking exams for it and it was SO hard" and then she went on this long rant. The whole time, she was talking entirely in Croatian (just like I did to her, except of course, she talked a lot more...) while I just smiled, nodded, and laughed while in fact, I had no clue what she was talking about. I didn't want to interrupt her, though.
I also think it’s the case that in France there’s less of an expectation that people should be friendly to customers (ar least compared to many other countries), and the US is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Honestly I’ll admit that I prefer the French attitude.

I think maybe I do, too? Although I've never actually been to France, so I can't really tell. :P
voron wrote:Last time I remember, I was complemented for my English.

Yeah, one Malayalee guy did this with me right here in my house, too. In my case, it was very random and kind of awkward lol.
Luís wrote:Btw, for me the best compliment you can get is being mistaken for a native speaker (even if just for a while :P)

That must be frustrating if you don't understand what's being said to you, though!


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