All entries for Friday 13 April 2007

April 13, 2007

"Foreign" Languages

Grrr...tourists!The landlady of hotel “Hakuna Matata” near Cartagena (Costa del Sol) approached us. “Hola”, we said. “Buenas noches. Donde podemos poner nuestras cosas?” She stumbled a few words in Spanish. “We wanted to know where to put our stuff”, added one of us accommodatingly. “Ah, you speak English!” The lady’s face showed clear signs of relief. “And you made me try to speak Spanish!”

This post is not a pisstake, but more a general question out of genuine curiosity. Ah well, maybe slightly a pisstake too, then.

But why is it that the English-speaking world (explicitly including other English-speaking countries) are known for knowing no other language? In a more European context, the British – like the lady in my anecdote above – sort of stand out because of the fact that they hardly ever know, or intend to speak, other languages.

In no way I want to boast my own language skills, I mostly know a few useless phrases in a few languages, too little to be of any use. But I try, and I don’t assume anyone speaks my language, nor English.

Here’s a British peculiarity: “We’re just not very good with languages.” ??? I’m so sorry to hear that… is it a genetical condition?


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