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How to actually use your language?

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aokoye
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3704 days ago

235 posts - 453 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Dutch, Norwegian, Japanese

 
 Message 17 of 25
18 November 2015 at 11:25pm | IP Logged 
Speakeasy wrote:
aokoye wrote:
In general though, I think you're reading way more into
people's posts than what they're saying but that's just me.

If you were to actually read the 383 posts that I have contributed to date, you would notice that
the vast majority of them address specific language-learning materials and, for the most part, are very
supportive of other people's comments. To say that "in general, I think you're reading way more into
people's posts" is an overstatement of monstrous proportions. But hey, that's just me! Of course, there
is always the possibility that I misquoted you.



Yeah you misunderstood me. What I meant was that you're reading more into the posts in this thread
than what is there.
3 persons have voted this message useful



obsculta
Newbie
United States
Joined 3983 days ago

36 posts - 83 votes 
Speaks: English*

 
 Message 18 of 25
19 November 2015 at 6:44pm | IP Logged 
Tyrion101 wrote:
I don't know if my situation is similar to any of yours, but when I
learned French I figured it would be one of those languages that would come up, and it
has, however I've found that as soon as someone finds out you speak English, they don't
want to speak French anymore, and I'm sure it's the same with other languages as well.
Oh they'll help you with your French, and I have one friend doing that with me now, but
he never uses it beyond a simple sentence or two. Whenever I use my French online I
only get replies in English, Do I just pretend I am French Canadian?


My take differs from that of others in this thread.

I don't think one should get in a power struggle or competition over which language to
use. I think there should be space for more than one language in a relationship or
interaction.

For some people, speaking English is part of their identity, even if it's not their
native language. To require them not to speak English with you is to ask them not to
fully be themselves. On the other hand, one shouldn't be hesitant about using one's own
target/nonnative language.

I think the key is being willing and able to codeswitch quickly and rapidly.

To be more concrete, here's my context: I'm a gringo who has lived for many years in
Mexico and has C2 Spanish. Not infrequently, either here or in the States, I run into a
Mexican or group of Mexicans with a high level of English. I try to give them plenty
of opportunities to speak English with me, because it's part of their past (or
present). But I'm also going to bounce back and forth to Spanish pretty frequently,
because that's part of who I am.

It doesn't always work, but it's a more appealing model to me than competing over the
dominant language to use.

Of course, there's also a more general etiquette. I wouldn't speak Spanish to an
English-speaking Latino in the States if we were in a group of Anglos. Likewise, I
generally wouldn't speak much English among a group of Mexicans in Mexico.

When I worry about 'language banditry', I just end up driving myself crazy.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
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Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4760 days ago

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 Message 19 of 25
19 November 2015 at 10:35pm | IP Logged 
It's not about a power struggle, just the fact that it's difficult to switch the language of a relationship, whether a friendship or romantic.
3 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
Octoglot
Senior Member
Russian Federation
serpent-849.livejour
Joined 4760 days ago

9753 posts - 15776 votes 
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Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
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 Message 20 of 25
20 November 2015 at 12:50am | IP Logged 
aokoye wrote:
Maybe this it got edited out somewhere, but I didn't see any slur, intended or not, against English speakers her Serpent's post that I think you're replying to. In general though, I think you're reading way more into people's posts than what they're saying but that's just me.

edit: Wait are you referring to the "bad English" bit? I read that as non-native speakers who have heavy accents and are speaking in a grammatically incorrect way (and not just a, "language is fluid down with prescriptivism" but, "this just isn't correct").

FWIW, I didn't edit out anything. My post was edited 1 min after posting and most likely before Speakeasy saw it. I think I added the part about "cognitively or mentally disabled", but I don't remember for sure.

And I was definitely not referring to African American Vernacular or anything like that.
1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4866 days ago

9078 posts - 16470 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 21 of 25
20 November 2015 at 10:47am | IP Logged 
Tyrion101 wrote:
(...) when I learned French I figured it would be one of those languages that would come up, and it has, however I've found that as soon as someone finds out you speak English, they don't want to speak French anymore, and I'm sure it's the same with other languages as well. (...)


This was the original question, and then later the discussion flared up. OK, we are back in calm waters so let me just say that there are many kinds of 'bad' language, and some of them aren't restricted to second language learners. There are people in any language (including my own) who simply can't speak without stops, ahems, broken sentences and meaningless utterances. We don't switch to other languages when speaking to them because we don't see any alternative which might function better. But once we have identified the other person as a non-native speaker some people tend to believe that there IS an alternative - namely English.

And some rude types seem to think that no foreigner should be allowed to speak anothing but the 'tourist language', and they try to force you to speak English even though their own English may be atrocious. I personally want to be 'functional' before I have conversations so I rarely meet this attitude, but I met one such specimen at the ticket counter in the Montpellier Aquarium - he was adamant about speaking English to me and I just continued speaking French, but when I finally had the ticket in my hand I asked (in French) why he didn't speak French to his customers. "Because you have a foreign accent", he answered. BAh. You can't discuss with a purebred idiot, so I left it at that. But that is the only case in recent times where I have met a person with that attitude.

Most of the others who started out speaking in English to me realised that I could express myself in their language and that they didn't have to 'help' me. In some cases I realized that they were eager to train their English, and then I might yield - persisting in speaking the local language could be taken as a criticism of their level in English. But the irony is that I wouldn't ever yield to a person in this situation who spoke flawless English. Such people already know that their English is good, so they wouldn't loose confidence because some foreigner insisted on speaking the local language to them. And then the result would be a bilingual conversation. But even that is a rare occurrence.

The thing about identifying somebody as a non-native speaker is tricky - there may be some consistent patterns that show this across languages, like speaking within a narrow expression range or being inconsistent. It doesn't always have to specific errors that show this. For instance there are an avalanche of Italian dialects, and I can't distinguish them as well as a native speaker. But I have noticed that those native speakers I hear on RaiUno generally stick to one intonation pattern - but not necessarily the same one for everybody - whereas most of the (few) native learners I have listened to tried so hard to speak correctly that the result sounded rigid and overcontrolled. And that includes people who certainly knew their Italian better than I do.

In those few cases where somebody mistook me for a native speaker (and the indisputable cases can be counted on one hand) it was always a native speaker from some other region. I was once accused of speaking English with a Welsh accent (I don't know why - I have never studied Welsh), and once long ago I was halfway through a street interview in Austria when the interviewer asked whether I came from Kärnten. No, I was Danish. Argh, he was instructed to interview Austrians only. And once I had been discussing traditional costumes in a museum in Strasbourg, and the lady consistently referred to small villages in Alsace as if she thought I knew them. I then said that I was Danish, and she replied that she thought I was from the area. I think I know the reason: she probably thought I was a member of the German minority - nobody in their sane mind would think that I was a native Francophone, but a member of another, but still local language community - well, that was not totally inconceivable.

Edited by Iversen on 20 November 2015 at 11:03am

2 persons have voted this message useful



Darya0Khoshki
Triglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 3231 days ago

71 posts - 91 votes 
Speaks: English*, Arabic (Written), Arabic (Iraqi)
Studies: Persian

 
 Message 22 of 25
21 November 2015 at 2:57am | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
Tyrion101 wrote:
(...) when I learned French I figured it would be
one of those languages that would come up, and it has, however I've found that as soon
as someone finds out you speak English, they don't want to speak French anymore, and
I'm sure it's the same with other languages as well. (...)


This was the original question, and then later the discussion flared up. OK, we are
back in calm waters so let me just say that there are many kinds of 'bad' language, and
some of them aren't restricted to second language learners. There are people in any
language (including my own) who simply can't speak without stops, ahems, broken
sentences and meaningless utterances. We don't switch to other languages when speaking
to them because we don't see any alternative which might function better. But once we
have identified the other person as a non-native speaker some people tend to believe
that there IS an alternative - namely English.

And some rude types seem to think that no foreigner should be allowed to speak anothing
but the 'tourist language', and they try to force you to speak English even though
their own English may be atrocious. I personally want to be 'functional' before I have
conversations so I rarely meet this attitude, but I met one such specimen at the ticket
counter in the Montpellier Aquarium - he was adamant about speaking English to me and I
just continued speaking French, but when I finally had the ticket in my hand I asked
(in French) why he didn't speak French to his customers. "Because you have a foreign
accent", he answered. BAh. You can't discuss with a purebred idiot, so I left it at
that. But that is the only case in recent times where I have met a person with that
attitude.

Most of the others who started out speaking in English to me realised that I could
express myself in their language and that they didn't have to 'help' me. In some cases
I realized that they were eager to train their English, and then I might yield -
persisting in speaking the local language could be taken as a criticism of their level
in English. But the irony is that I wouldn't ever yield to a person in this situation
who spoke flawless English. Such people already know that their English
is good, so they wouldn't loose confidence because some foreigner insisted on speaking
the local language to them. And then the result would be a bilingual conversation. But
even that is a rare occurrence.

The thing about identifying somebody as a non-native speaker is tricky - there may be
some consistent patterns that show this across languages, like speaking within a narrow
expression range or being inconsistent. It doesn't always have to specific errors that
show this. For instance there are an avalanche of Italian dialects, and I can't
distinguish them as well as a native speaker. But I have noticed that those native
speakers I hear on RaiUno generally stick to one intonation pattern - but not
necessarily the same one for everybody - whereas most of the (few) native learners I
have listened to tried so hard to speak correctly that the result sounded rigid and
overcontrolled. And that includes people who certainly knew their Italian better than I
do.

In those few cases where somebody mistook me for a native speaker (and the indisputable
cases can be counted on one hand) it was always a native speaker from some other
region. I was once accused of speaking English with a Welsh accent (I don't know why -
I have never studied Welsh), and once long ago I was halfway through a street interview
in Austria when the interviewer asked whether I came from Kärnten. No, I was Danish.
Argh, he was instructed to interview Austrians only. And once I had been discussing
traditional costumes in a museum in Strasbourg, and the lady consistently referred to
small villages in Alsace as if she thought I knew them. I then said that I was Danish,
and she replied that she thought I was from the area. I think I know the reason: she
probably thought I was a member of the German minority - nobody in their sane mind
would think that I was a native Francophone, but a member of another, but still local
language community - well, that was not totally inconceivable.


Interesting to hear your experiences!

I have always wondered how it is people can think I'm a native speaker when my
languages are far from perfect. I think sometimes my accent is really good (from what
I've been told) but maybe not consistently since there are obviously people who can
tell I'm not native. I also think expectations, appearance, dress, and body language
also play a role in what people think -- and who you're with and the context!

I have an American friend who has a very obvious (to my ears) American accent in TL and
have witnessed her get mistaken for a native speaker a handful of times. I think it's
all about what people expect you to be, sometimes.
1 person has voted this message useful



aokoye
Diglot
Senior Member
United StatesRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3704 days ago

235 posts - 453 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Dutch, Norwegian, Japanese

 
 Message 23 of 25
21 November 2015 at 4:54am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:

FWIW, I didn't edit out anything. My post was edited 1 min after posting and most likely before
Speakeasy saw it. I think I added the part about "cognitively or mentally disabled", but I don't
remember for sure.

And I was definitely not referring to African American Vernacular or anything like that.


Yeah I figured as much about all of that. I didn't take offense to any of what you wrote.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Peetpeet
Diglot
Newbie
CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 1449 days ago

9 posts - 14 votes
Speaks: English*, French
Studies: German, Spanish

 
 Message 24 of 25
27 November 2015 at 1:47am | IP Logged 
You can pretend to be French-Canadian if you like, but the struggle is the same here in
Canada. You find people who speak French who would rather just speak English "Because
it's easier", and then you find those who have that attitude of "Oh your French isn't my
French so therefore I'll either pretend to not understand, or switch to English."
Granted, this is depending where you are in Canada. I know in Southern Ontario if they
find out you speak even basic French of any dialect (and they speak French as well), you
are practically part of the family. Or, at least, that was my experience, and that was
back when my French was useless. But yeah, just own up to being an American who just
really enjoys French. You'll get a lot more respect if people know you put effort into
learning it than if they think you were just born into it. :)


4 persons have voted this message useful



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