General Question

sliceswiththings's avatar

Is this an unfair/offensive request?

Asked by sliceswiththings (11718points) June 24th, 2012

I am American. I’m living in the UK. My current roommates are Spanish and Italian. Two are moving out, so now we’re filling those rooms. I would like to have another native English speaker in one. Of course I don’t mind slowing down, but constantly speaking English incredibly slowly and “dumbed down” is really exhausting! Sometimes I want to just speak freely, without carefully choosing words or enunciating, you know? We’ve already chosen one roommate who’s also not a native English speaker, and I’d like to express this preference to my flatmate but I’m worried she’ll find it offensive. Surely she can understand, since she must have experience slowing down her Spanish, right? What do you think?


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15 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

It’s really an issue between you two and not us. Ask her nicely and see what she says.

syz's avatar

Why not have them speak slowly and “dumbed down” to you in Spanish? What a great way to work on your own language skills!

sliceswiththings's avatar

Yeah, obviously between us, but other Jellies are more wise and worldly than I, and this is the kind of thing someone might have some wisdom about!

gailcalled's avatar

I spent a summer in France and appreciated when my compatriots spoke slowly to me, which they did much of the time.

Amongst themselves, they rattled on; as time passed I began to understand more and more.

JLeslie's avatar

I think it is very reasonable to want to be able to speak easily while at home in your language. I also think it might be taken the wrong way if you say it out loud. Tricky. I want to suggest that it is not important they are native English speakers, but just that they are fluent English speakers, fluent sounds less offensive in my opinion, if the you are concerned about people being offended. My husband is ESL, but perfectly fluent.

submariner's avatar

It’s an understandable preference, and if your roommates want to become fluent in English, it might help to have more fluent English speakers in the home. You might soft-sell the idea to them on those grounds. On the other hand, if you insist on this, you might have to give up something else. The more criteria you require in a roommate, the less likely you are to find one who meets all of them. Think of the top 5 qualities you want in a roommate—if you find that you can only have 4 of them, which would you give up? I can think of many qualities that are more important in a roommate than English proficiency, and many more that are far worse than speaking in broken English. Poor English is easier to fix than serious character defects, especially if you all live in the UK.

[Edit: rereading your question, it sounds like you only have one person left to convince. You ought to be able to talk this over with her. I don’t think it would be offensive to express your preference. It might be offensive to insist on it.]

marinelife's avatar

You can look for other places and people to speak English with. Unless you control the lease i am not sure that you can make this demand.

bolwerk's avatar

Why not just say you’re there to live among the English, and you’d like to have one close by? Or say you miss home and would love to have another American around?

Or, if you want someone who speaks English properly, go for a German!

Plenty of excuses that don’t touch on language.

Ponderer983's avatar

Why don’t you just ask the other roommate just like you described the situation to us? Don’t put in the “dumbed down” part, but explain you want to converse with someone who shares the same first language. However, do be prepared for them to not accept your wishes, but I hope they will

tinyfaery's avatar

If it were me, I would be offended. Instead of thinking about it from such a self-centered position why not think of it as a great opportunity to be immersed in a language and a culture that is not your own. It might be uncomfortable in the beginning, but everyone involved will be better for the experience.

Growing up in Los Angeles, I was and am always around people who speak other languages. As a result, I think I am a better person, more accepting of people who aren’t just like me.

6rant6's avatar

I can imagine it might make a potential roommate less appealing if you imagined difficulty communicating with them. But then I can think of a thousand things that might make a roommate less appealing (or more appealing). You kind of need to weigh the gestalt, don’t you?

Neizvestnaya's avatar

How were the last roomies chosen? Do you have a voice in the process? If so then choose someone who speaks as you prefer but don’t say it has anything to do about the language skills because yes, there will probably be offense. If you don’t have a voice in choosing new flatmates then don’t say anything, maybe look to rent elsewhere. No matter how nicely you try to word it out, your roomies probably wouldn’t think of you quite the same and you could face being ostracized in your shared home.

Coloma's avatar

It should not be an issue, just a preference and no harm asking your room mate her feelings.
Of course, if it’s a toss up and she wants another spanish speaking room mate are you willing to compromise for her?
I’d say whoever can round up their preferential language first in a new room mate wins. lol

linguaphile's avatar

I completely understand where you’re coming from. I can not live with someone who is not a fluent American Sign Language user. Talking with unnatural pauses between words in primer language with frequent repetitions for more than 1 hour is incredibly tiring for me. I have lived with non-ASL users before and it was impossible to relax. So, I get your feelings completely. I disagree that your feelings are offensive—

However, how you say it can come across as offensive. You will have to interview for roommates, right? You don’t have to ask for an English language speaker or say anything to your roommate—just choose one from the pool of people who reply to your ad.

Ron_C's avatar

Actually, you explained the problem rather well. If I was you, I’d tell her just like you told us. If your roommate is offended, too bad, you did your best.

Also, why not take the opportunity to learn a new language? That way, everyone slows down and dumbs down for you.

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