Why are English speakers so lazy about learning?

Guest   Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:00 am GMT
Really? What do people of other nations speak when they visit Italy?
K. T.   Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:12 am GMT
You're kidding, right? They use English. Non-natives of English use English.
K. T.   Sat Jul 12, 2008 3:14 am GMT
I'm thinking of Japanese and Scandinavian tourists. I know that French speakers will use French or English in some countries (like Spain).
Damian in Edinburgh   Sat Jul 12, 2008 4:41 am GMT
***I noticed many of those things about GB and Japan as well. Have you been to Japan?***

KT - no, never....not yet anyway - I'd really love to go there one day. I was merely comparing what I perceive to be the many similarities between the UK and Japan, mainly their physical locations as island nations close to Continental land masses. Of course, there are vast differences between the two, not least of all being Language and culture.

***I'm sorry, I spelled your name wrong***

Nae probs - I'm used to it big time. I bear absolutely no resemblance to the film character.
Xie   Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:06 am GMT
The typical country-people use 1) shaky English with every foreign looking person or 2) good English or 3) Chinese characters with (in general) the Japanese if the Japanese person is monolingual.
John   Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:13 am GMT
There is far less utility in learning foreign languages for Anglophones than there is in learning English for non-native English speakers. It has nothing to do with laziness.
Guest   Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:34 pm GMT
Amercians, simply put: are xenophobic -fascist- pricks who only glorfiy their own country, language, and culture as the BEST....

I rest my case.
Guest   Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:38 pm GMT
>>>I read that Americans are more likely to attempt to speak the local language when visiting another country. For example, you know the expression "When in Rome do as the Romans." Apparently when Americans are in Rome, they try to speak Italian*... I didn't post the article from Time/CNN because I didn't want to start a war here. Americans are NOT the rudest tourists in spite of the comments we sometimes read here.<<<

Americans are also arrogant, demanding and uncultured. Many Americans abroad in foreign countries all they can say are basic greetings.
Guest   Sun Jul 13, 2008 6:52 pm GMT
>>>>>You can more or less be sure that the average person you stop and ask directions from on the streets of most Continental towns and cities, using English, and they will respond in kind, many of them at a high level of competency. I've done just that in places like Prague, Copenhagen and Munich with no problems at all, and as for Amsterdam - well, English is virtually the official second Language there. Just outside Antequera, in Andalucia, right down in the south of Spain, (we had driven all the way down there from Scotland) my mate and I had problems with our car on a busy motorway, and two coppers immediately came to our aid, and although they were not altogether fluent in English by any stretch of the imagination, and our Spanish was nowhere near good enough for us to talk in that Language, we all got on really well, and I can't say how much we appreciated their helpfulness, friendliness and good humour...and they were both quite hot as well......It's mostly in France that it can be just a wee bit dodgy finding someone either able, or willing, to talk English, but even then we found the people we met on an everyday basis to be invariably friendly and helpful, and gesture speak really can work wonders. Rural France is fantastic, but I do love Paris very much, but Parisians are not really French people at their best! ;-) Once, in our hotel in Paris, I spoke to the old guy on reception in perfect French and he responded in equally perfect English - I found that to be really deflating. It wouldn't have been so bad if he hadn't had such an arrogant attitude about him! In France, the enthusiasm for speaking English is much greater among the younger people, this being a case of "If you can't beat them, join them!" ;-) Yes, Europe is exciting in that you can drive (or travel by train) through three or four or more countries all in the same day, all with different cultures and Languages, but what else would you expect in the smallest yet most cosmopolitan and diverse Continent on the planet! And everywhere it's a case of "English spoken here!" Thankfully.....<<<<

You are right. Europeans are eager to learn English (or German) in my experience because they have been disciplined, or well brought up since their childhood to want to know more and be more. In essence, I think Americans lack this tremendously for the reason that American idealism is expressed ad nauseam (i.e., the American dream) that many minorities / immigrants get caught up in it yet minorities or immigrants are frown upon unconsciously or consciously in the media, school, work and wherever else so this obviously discourages them or makes them hate one another - crime results. This is why in the U.S. there is a racial discord. The U.S. has too much nationalism in its antiquated image, too much pride in its military, too much arrogance in English being only used, too much emphasize on the past (WW2) being better then now, and finally too much corruption to progress. This is why in many European countries the people control the government, not the other way around as in the United States of America.
Guest   Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:07 pm GMT
>>>It couldn't have anything to do with geography could it? I mean in Europe you can jog over to the next country and speak three different languages within an hour. In the US you can drive for days and still be in an English speaking environment. Nor could it have anyhting to do with lack of opportunities to practice.<<<

That is because the U.S. has imposed (or imposes) English in its subjects with nationalism and opportunity in English so that immigrants or minorities can leave behind their language to adopt English and soon after their culture - this is why many other languages in the U.S. which resided in the country obsoleted.

>>>I speak several European languages fluently, due to my family situation, yet when I visit family in Europe they always want to speak English with me.<<<

Then, you are not speaking their tongue correctly otherwise they would respond back in their language - simple as that.
Uriel   Sun Jul 13, 2008 7:26 pm GMT
Okay -- being American, Canadian, British, or any other kind of native speaker of English does not predispose you to monolingual tendencies ANY MORE THAN IT DOES FOR OTHER PEOPLE.

MOST people in the world speak their language and no other.

I HAVE lived in Japan. Three years. Hey, maybe they were all secretly fluent in Hungarian, but as far as I could tell, most of them only spoke Japanese. And why not? They were Japanese people in Japan. Only a few that I met spoke any smattering of English (and that was okay by me -- why should they?). My friend who spoke Chinese was a little better off in that at least she could read some of the writing (the kanji, which is all borrowed Chinese ideographs), but she couldn't understand their speech and they couldn't understand hers, which put her in an awkward position because she was ethnically Asian, and most Japanese store clerks and resturant staff automatically assumed she was Japanese as well and expected her to understand them when they spoke. Does this make the Japanese arrogant? Certainly their language does NOT enjoy the kind of international status English does, and yet they tend to stick to it.

Now I live in New Mexico, an hour from old Mexico. Do Mexicans speak fluent English? No. Not for the most part. Plenty of them live here on this side of the border, and never learn more than enough to survive -- IF that. Is there something inherent arrogant and lazy about Spanish-speakers? Certainly they make up the largest linguistic group in this hemisphere -- perhaps they feel they don't need to bother with English, and it's just beneath them to learn? No, it's that plenty of AMERICANS here are bilingual in Spanish and English, and Spanish-speakers can get by just fine without going to the trouble of learning a new language -- so they don't.

But I suppose it's always more fun to assume the worst about people -- especially people you don't know, right? If they only speak their own language it MUST be because they are arrogant or lazy or have some malicious intent behind it....
K. T.   Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:19 pm GMT
"Americans are also arrogant, demanding and uncultured. Many Americans abroad in foreign countries all they can say are basic greetings."

Actually, the survey found that another culture was more demanding, I think. I didn't mention the culture because I didn't want to start a war here (that belongs in the War Zone (aka the Languages Forum)...

I'm not even sure that we were the most arrogant according to the survey.

We try to say "Hi" and "Thank-You"
We bring money.
We learn about culture.
We leave.
K. T.   Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:21 pm GMT
"which put her in an awkward position because she was ethnically Asian, and most Japanese store clerks and resturant staff automatically assumed she was Japanese as well and expected her to understand them when they spoke."

This happens all the time. If you look Asian...
Guest   Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:25 pm GMT
"Americans are also arrogant, demanding and uncultured. "

This is very true. Nothing worse than an arrogant yank abroad.
K. T.   Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:45 pm GMT
That's a stereotype. I've seen arrogant or generally bad behaviour by Europeans and Asians. It's not just Americans.