Social Question

Frenchfry's avatar

Don't you think that if you live in a country you should speak the language just a little bit ?

Asked by Frenchfry (7574points) July 27th, 2010

Now I am not saying it to be rude. I think you should get down some basics. Don’t you think? It would necessary.

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26 Answers

lapilofu's avatar

It would probably be useful, but if you find that you can get on without it, that’s fine…

Perhaps a leading question but… are you talking about a particular country?

NaturallyMe's avatar

Absolutely. How are you going to survive without being able to speak the language there? You probably won’t get a good job either.

lapilofu's avatar

@NaturallyMe Interestingly, many Mexicans get on just fine in California without much English. Although it could be argued that it’s a mistake to classify California’s language as English—I think I heard a statistic that said we have more Spanish speakers. In which case it’s a wonder that English-speakers can find jobs!

The truth is that monolingualism (that is, the state of speaking only one language) is actually the exception in this world. This comes as a surprise to many Americans (and no doubt many non-Americans as well) but you can confirm with the internet—the colored areas of this map are countries that are “functionally multilingual”—that what I say is true. This renders this question a little fuzzy—because which language should you speak?

Frenchfry's avatar

I work with the public… and sometimes I bump into a person who will want something and I have to help them . They can’t even tell me what the want. Look at you all blankly , when you are speaking. or they have there 10 year old daughter speak for them. I would think they would learn some basics. Well if I went to live in France . I would learn some basic French. That’s my point.

Frenchfry's avatar

@NaturallyMe I didn’t know that California. is a spanish speaking state.Wow Learn something new everyday.

lapilofu's avatar

Wikipedia has a page about the Spanish language in the United States, though it’s surprisingly slim on statistics.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Gadzooks, I believe you should aquire a working basics of the language, how would you know someone was giving you proper directions to the hotel or the deli and not leading you to a mugging right under your nose in front of your face and you not even be aware because you do not know what is being said.

lapilofu's avatar

Yes, but which language? The language of the people (so in California that might be Spanish)? Or the official language (English in California, but—for instance—there isn’t one in Texas, and there isn’t one at the federal level)? How do you anticipate which language a mugger is going to use? And why would you follow their directions in the first place if you couldn’t understand them?

NaturallyMe's avatar

@lapilofu – well i’m in South Africa, and here most people are bilingual – most white people can speak English and Afrikaans, and many black people can speak their language plus English and/or Afrikaans. But this one time i had to speak to a security guard in a shopping centre where i have a shop trading there, it was regarding our shop sign that was stolen – this guy couldn’t speak English, i don’t even know which country he comes from – but a security guard should be able to speak either Afrikaans or English otherwise they are useless becaue they cannot convey important information – it’s VERY frustrating.
So in SA, i think it’s safe to say that you MUST be able to speak at least English or Afrikaans if you want to function here efficiently. I would also never employ someone who can’t speak either of these languages, because our customers speak those languages.
I can’t speak for foreign countries though, in guessing which language someone would have to speak if they lived there. I would have thought English would be sufficient everywhere in the USA…?
@Frenchfry – i didn’t know the California Spanish thing either! :)

Austinlad's avatar

Absolutely, for all the reasons mentioned above. I so admire people who can speak more than one language. I have a business associate who lives in Belgium and speaks 9 !
I, myself, speak only English, which hindered me greatly when I visited Germany and China.

OpryLeigh's avatar

If you plan to live somewhere then yes, I definately think you should make the effort to learn the language. I am irritated by the amount of people that I have heard of that haven’t bothered doing so because “everyone speaks English here so we don’t need to learn another language in order to get by”. It’s ignorant and arrogant in my opinion and, from what I have seen, English speakers are the some of the worst culprits!

mrentropy's avatar

Yes. Which is why I don’t travel; I don’t have much of a capacity to learn languages other than English. I certainly wouldn’t expect them to change all their street signs and stuff for me, either.

Austinlad's avatar

Ah, @mrentropy, please don’t NOT travel because of that. I couldn’t speak Chinese or German when I went to those countries, and doing so certainly would have enriched the experiences; nonetheless, I loved those trips and consider them two of the most important events of my life. In fact, I think every U.S. citizen should be required to visit at least two foreign countries, to appreciate other cultures. Forgive me for sounding like I’m lecturing, but this is one of my many soapbox speeches. ;-)

Jeruba's avatar

There are many speakers of Spanish in California, but Spanish is not the language of California.

Austinlad's avatar

Oh, by the way, I went to England. THAT language I could speak. Sorta.

stardust's avatar

Yes, I agree that if you’re going to be living somewhere it makes sense to learn the basics of that language. Both for the benefit of oneself and others. I love languages & when I visit another country, I always learn a little bit

CMaz's avatar

Visiting is one thing. Living and becoming a citizen is another.

mrentropy's avatar

@Austinlad I would like to go to Australia, if they could do something about the 1,200 poisonous critters per square foot.

Also, I’ve been to Canada and Mexico. Those are kind of foreign countries, right?

Austinlad's avatar

@mrentropy, I’ve always wanted to go to Australia, too. Also the North Pole. And yes, Mexico and Canada are definitely foreign countries. Good for you!

downtide's avatar

I can’t imagine how it’s possible to live in a country and not pick up the language at least a bit. I stayed in rural Spain (away from the usual tourist spots, where the locals spoke no English) and after 2 weeks I’d picked up enough Spanish to get by with basic things like ordering food & drink in a restaurant and shopping in a grocery store. How do people even live in a country for years and not be able to learn this?

perspicacious's avatar

more than just a little bit

naconasong's avatar

I grew up in California and I never spoke spanish. Gee where was I? Maybe it became a Spanish speaking state after I left. Still everyone I know that lives there still speaks English I wonder if nobody told them that it was a Spanish speaking State. I wonder if Arnold knows that he, is the Governor, he sort of speaks English LOL! Still if you go to Italy you better speak some Italian and the same if you go to Japan you need to some idea how to say a few words in Japanese or you will be out of luck. So to answer your question, yes I think so!

lapilofu's avatar

@naconasong Don’t you think it’s fascinating that such a high proportion of California speaks English (whether or not it’s a majority, it’s clearly a lot of people) and yet such a small proportion of the people you know do? I suppose it’s to be expected—after all, how would one socialize with people one can’t communicate with? Still, you’d think you’d’ve met one or two. It’s interesting to think about…

And I’d be willing to bet Arnold is well aware of the high percentage of Spanish speakers in California. He wouldn’t be much of a governor if he weren’t! (Although I suppose some might say he isn’t much of a governor anyway…)

MeinTeil's avatar

No, you should speak the language alot.

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