Social Question

Jeruba's avatar

Speakers of other languages: do you notice as much incorrect and ignorant use of those languages (please name them) by native speakers as you hear and see among native speakers of English?

Asked by Jeruba (55569points) September 29th, 2011

Lorem ipsum.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

18 Answers

GabrielsLamb's avatar

I have always said of myself in my feeble attempts at best at being multilingual…

“I can screw up grammar, syntax, and punctuation in about 6 languages.”

Especially english, which is my native language.

morphail's avatar

All languages have more than one register and more than one dialect.

JLeslie's avatar

My husband does. He is fully bilingual Spanish and English. He has one mistake he consistantly makes in English, an understandable one made by many Spanish first language people. I don’t know the correct name for this type of past tense, but a couple examples are he did go, or, he did say my husband will say he did went or he did said. Many many ESL from Spanish make this mistake, but would use it correctly in their own language. Another is using a double negative, which is correct in Spanish.

What I think is interesting is in the written word, people tend to have the same mistakes in both languages with punctuation. I was excusing my husband’s sister for writing poorly in English, verbally she has an excellent command of the English language. His thoughts on the matter was “she writes like that in Spanish too.”

Wait, I just reread the question. And, I think maybe I am not answering the question you wanted to ask? Are you asking if people screw up other languages as much as English speakers do? I think in most countries, no matter the language, the lower socioeconomic areas use more slang and mess around with the mother language more than higher economic communities. Although, that is not a hard fast rule. There are colloquialisms and dialects in most countries.

28lorelei's avatar

Yeah, in Finnish they don’t always use the technically correct case in slang, which really ticks off people like Finnish teachers…
However, they only replace some cases with others, and even that has rules, and speaking sound horrible if those rules are broken.

majorrich's avatar

English is a second language for me although I can’t read nor write in Japanese, my first language, due to the circumstances of my childhood. I get a charge out of English subtitles in japanese cartoons. A sub note might be, my japanese is some 40 years out of date since we came to live in the USA. In conversations with Japanese people that come to visit is my vocabulary is out of date and is that of an 8 year old child (ergo cartoons). I sometimes have to explain some of the older words and idioms I use, and the feminine tense (My Mother speaks Japanese around the house.)

rebbel's avatar

Spoken Dutch is full of errors not spelling errors obviously, but choosing a word that sounds alike but has a completely different meaning, mixing different idioms to make one faulty new one,etc..
Written Dutch less so, although it depends on which newspaper you read.
In some of them I will find an error on almost every single page not counting those that I don’t detect, because I am not purfect on Dutch either, of course….

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@rebbel I remember a strange thing while attempting to learn Dutch. I had a conversation with an old boss of mine and we conversed *The best I could manage and the whole time one or both of us in our confusion ended up speaking German. LOL they are quite similar in spoken context… It’s easy to confuse certain words… Africaans too.

Beautiful language Dutch is.


Chinese is a monosyllabic language. All words are one syllable long, and to make it more complicated, the language is full of homonyms. To further the complication, the Chinese language is composed of many dialects.

When I speak Chinese to my Dad, I sometimes get two words mixed up because they sound alike except for a minor tonal difference that makes their meanings different. Yeech.

ETpro's avatar

When I spoke French a lot, I was pretty adept at butchering its porper syntax. I got the idea across, but often in a cloddish way.

Still, my pet peeve if native English speakers who can’t seem to discern the difference between your and you’re. I wrote this little poem in “celebration” of them.

Your going to find, to your dismay
We right two-day inn a degraded weigh..
Your friends of your rightly new
The difference inn the possessive of you
And yew or U; or you’re or yore,
But distinguishing them became a boar.
Times change, Eye guess. But what is lost
When rules of language just get tossed?

morphail's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Chinese is not monosyllabic. I think the morphemes are monosyllabic, but there are many words that are more than one syllable, for instance piàoliang 漂亮, zhōnggúo 中國, hànzì 漢字, yīngwén 英文, etc etc.


@morphail Yes, but each character is a word. Combining those two characters (words) make up one term.

morphail's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES Each character represents a morpheme. A word can be composed of more than one morpheme.

whitenoise's avatar

I always am drawn to mistakes in the Dutch language by myself, my friends and fellow countrymen in general.

One of the best ones being what we call ‘the English disease’.

In Dutch, as in German, we combine words into new words without spaces in between them. In English, words don’t merge that easily.

In Dutch, people would be advertising, for instance, to offer “drie jarige paarden” for sale. This means ‘three horses that are having their birthdays”.

Correct would have been “driejarige paarden”, meaning three year old horses.

Another example of this:
“konijnen bouten in rode saus” instead of “konijnenbouten in rode saus”. This time the meaning changed from “rabbit legs in red sauce” into “rabbits are taking a sh@t in red sauce”.


morphail's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES For an example of a word which is definitely not monosyllabic: 圕 túshūguǎn “library”

28lorelei's avatar

@whitenoise, in Finnish you can also combine words to make long words. Ex. lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaniikkoaliupseerioppilas means a student who is of a certain army rank (non-commissioned officer, I think), and is the assistant mechanic of the jet engines of airplanes. And yes, people do sometimes misuse cases in Finnish.

morphail's avatar

@whitenoise In English we do combine words to make compounds all the time. The only difference between Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaftskapitän and “Danube steamship company captain” is that the German doesn’t have spaces.

whitenoise's avatar


That is not ‘the only difference’, it is the major difference that I already referred to. To me the compound ‘steamship company’ is not a single word, but two.
In Dutch, not only may it be written as one word, it should be written that way: stoomschipbedrijf (stoomschip & bedrijf).

What I tried to explain though, is that in Dutch the meaning of a term often changes into something silly if one makes the mistake of not properly joining the words.

In Dutch when written correct ‘driejarige paarden’ refers to a group of horses that are all three years of age. In contrast ‘drie jarige paarden’ means three horses that are having their birthday. So in this case not only is it wrong to add the extra space, it also changes the meaning of the compound.

Under influence of English a lot of Dutch are making more and more mistakes by introducing spaces that shouldn’t be there.

For instance :
‘Nijntje kussen 5 Euro’ means that it will cost 5 Euro to kiss Nijntje.
The store actually meant to sell ‘Nijntje pillows’ for 5 Euro .

morphail's avatar

@whitenoise My point is that “steamship company” is a compound noun. We know this because of the stress: compound nouns are stressed on the first element. English does merge nouns that easily, we just use spaces, while Dutch and German don’t.

I’d guess that there is a difference in stress between “driejarige paarden” and “drie jarige paarden” as well. But when it’s written you can still use your real-world knowledge to figure out the intended meaning.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther