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Language discussion (moved from Muscle Memory)

randulo

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There are many languages. One of the growing problems in the USA today is people not liking and objecting to hearing other languages. Imagine how poor musical cultures would be if musicians felt that way?
 

saxyjt

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One of the growing problems in the USA today is people not liking and objecting to hearing other languages.
Are you serious? That's so ridiculous! They must have a short collective memory... As far as I know a large portion of US citizens have foreign backgrounds from non English speaking countries.
 

GCinCT

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Are you serious? That's so ridiculous! They must have a short collective memory... As far as I know a large portion of US citizens have foreign backgrounds from non English speaking countries.
It is a major pet peeve of mine. Many of my fellow Americans become agitated if they hear people speaking a language other than English. Many of them incorrectly refer to English as "American" and act like it's sacred. They forget that there were numerous nations of indigenous people here for centuries who spoke many languages, none of which were English.

It really bothers me. I am fascinated by language. English is just one of thousands of ways humans communicate.There also many different dialects of English. I learned Spanish when I was in school and taught myself some Italian. I love being able to communicate in other ways (music included). Sorry about the rant, but this bugs me to no end.
 

Hipparion

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It is not just with the US, you know, since english is the most used language for international communication, native english-speaking people (most probably) don't feel the need to learn another language (I actually discussed this with a few people from UK who told me that).
But that's a consequential mistake at many levels... one biggie being some open-mindedness you only find with people who learned another language (and practiced it regularly) and/or who traveled a lot (and were interested with the local cultures).
 

GCinCT

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That's one of the reasons I love the Cafe. We are a global community. Just people who share a common love of a diabolical, conical woodwind, invented by a Belgian in France, gained enormous popularity in the US and is now a worldwide phenomenon.
 

David Dorning

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It is not just with the US, you know, since english is the most used language for international communication, native english-speaking people (most probably) don't feel the need to learn another language (I actually discussed this with a few people from UK who told me that).
You obviously didn’t ask me! As an English speaker it is often difficult to use another language. I have had many conversations in Italy where I speak in Italian and the other person replies in English. The same in France. Perhaps because their English is better than my Italian or French, but mainly I think because everyone wants to speak English. The comical thing is we both doggedly stick to speaking the other person’s language, which is a weird way to have a conversation.
 
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randulo

randulo

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I have several things to add on this topic, but I've asked it be moved as it is far from Muscle Memory. My own offhand comment started it, but I'm ready to continue elsewhere.
 
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randulo

randulo

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racism and xenophobia. The words are oft misused, but here they apply. There are many videos of this behavior happening in shopping malls or stores. Stories of this kind of thing are in newspapers, often with police standing by watching, and not doing anything. "Speak English!" or "Go back where you came from!" are shouted at people, some of whom are US citizens. As @saxyjt points out, other than Native Americans, everyone in the USA descends from somewhere else.

If people can't be bother to learn a second language, that's another thing, and it's their problem. I know of native English speakers who have tried for years, immersed in the language, and still can't get it, so it's not all laziness. Like music, some are more gifted or motivated than others, but others may lack the intellectual curiosity to try. Languages are fascinating doors into other cultures. To be xenophobic is in no way a good quality, but learning a language takes motivation, time and patience. It isn't on everyone's top list of things they desire, and that's fine.

There's one one Earth. Resources are becoming rare. People who refuse to accept other cultures are, whether they know it or not, choosing war over cooperation and acceptance.
 
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randulo

randulo

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The same in France. Perhaps because their English is better than my Italian or French, but mainly I think because everyone wants to speak English. The comical thing is we both doggedly stick to speaking the other person’s language, which is a weird way to have a conversation.
David, I think most people in commerce or services here in France feel they need as much practice as they can get and unlike their parents, the young speak English fairly well. Then there's another phenomenon. We were in a restaurant with a bunch of people, some of whom we didn't know very well. The couple near us insisted on speaking French to my wife to show off, and their French was abominable, by that I mean incomprehensible. She answered once in French, but then continued in English. They persisted, but so did she, and they finally gave up. It was pretentious, others present told us later the couple was famous for this. When the Italian waiter came up to ask something, the man proceeded to say something to him in Italian, and again the waiter consistently replied in good English, presumably for the same reason. This is not to say that individuals in ordinary situations would not be polite and attempt conversation, appreciating the effort. In this case though, it was clear that they trying to be clever.

I wrote about my own experience in learning French beginning in the late 1970's in Paris.
 

Halfers

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It seems to me that us Brits, being a pretty reserved lot on the whole and not prone to being overly expressive, really put ourselves under immense pressure when learning a language by not only learning the words, grammar etc, but also attempting to adopt the accent. I don't get this (though whenever I attempt any feeble French I do the same, mainly because that was the way I was taught). It's almost as though there is a requirement to somehow morph into that other Nation in order to communicate!

It seems that other Nations who speak English as a second language generally take the much more sensible route of doing so without losing their Home accent.
 
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randulo

randulo

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English as a second language generally take the much more sensible route of doing so without losing their Home accent.
I was told by a lovely young person that "the accent has the charm".
attempting to adopt the accent.
I have an American friend who speaks French with the local accent of the South. Some of the locals need this to understand what you're saying. My wife, a native French speaker has trouble with the electrician's dad who has, to translate one of the excellent French expressions, "an accent you can cut with a knife". This is more expressive than "a thick accent", innit?
 

Halfers

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I have an American friend who speaks French with the local accent of the South. Some of the locals need this to understand what you're saying. My wife, a native French speaker has trouble with the electrician's dad who has, to translate one of the excellent French expressions, "an accent you can cut with a knife". This is more expressive than "a thick accent", innit?
It's the same in certain parts of the UK and Ireland and no doubt all countries. But on the whole, there is no real reason to adopt the accent.
The other thing being, what I consider to be a very sophisticated and sexy sounding French accent, probably just sounds like an idiot Englishman to the locals :)

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGNVU5ZjlgA
 
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randulo

randulo

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The stereotypical fake French accent is very easy to master, you just emphasize the last syllable of every single word. In the South, you add one and emphasize that. That's the worst afake French accent ever in that video. Clouseau is far better.
 

Ivan

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My wife, a native French speaker has trouble with the electrician's dad who has, to translate one of the excellent French expressions, "an accent you can cut with a knife"
Here in bonny Scotland, this non-native has developed a pretty reliable ear for the accents and the common grammatical variants but sometimes the dialect is simply impenetrable. This week I had to get someone's daughter to translate for me. He was from a town in deepest, darkest Fife, about 30 miles from here.

Mind you I find on occasions that if I don't catch quickly enough what someone says, they'll say the same thing again, but change from their conversational Scots to something closer to BBC grammar. This is always a tad disappointing, because I'd rather listen again to the original and get to the point that way.... every day is a school day after all
 
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randulo

randulo

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The weekly videoconference I ran for years had a regular who is Italian but moved to Scotland (Perth) and had quite a distinctive Scottish accent.
 

nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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That's the worst fake French accent ever in that video
As far as I remember, it's not supposed to be a fake French accent.
It is supposed to be an Englishman speaking French with a very bad English accent.
I think I read somewhere that the accent was based on a speech that the British Prime Minister Edward Heath attempted to give in French.
 
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Halfers

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The stereotypical fake French accent is very easy to master, you just emphasize the last syllable of every single word. In the South, you add one and emphasize that. That's the worst afake French accent ever in that video. Clouseau is far better.
The dodgy accents were very much the point of Allo Allo. The French Policeman character was an undercover Brit, hence the very cod accent and mis pronouncing of words. It was a bit naff, even back in the day, but we only had 4 Channels of TV back then..
 

Halfers

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The weekly videoconference I ran for years had a regular who is Italian but moved to Scotland (Perth) and had quite a distinctive Scottish accent.
Yes, it does happen. I think some people are more attuned to adopting and picking up accents. A mate of mine is from the Midlands. He doesn't really have a strong Midlands accent unless he's talking with a Family member on the phone when his accent changes. The Actor, John Barrowman, has an American accent. He was on a TV programme which recorded him speaking with his Scottish Parents. His accent changed completely to a very broad Scottish dialect!
 
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