how much do US citizens know about their own language?

Guest   Sat Jan 07, 2006 3:08 am GMT
how much do people in the USA know about their language- English?
I don't mean how good they are, but how much they know about the background, where it comes from etc?
Franco   Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:01 am GMT
Según lo que he visto, creo que los americanos no saben menos de su idioma que qualquier otro país...
Tiffany   Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:30 am GMT
Franco, please do not post to the English forum in languages other than English.
Kirk   Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:31 am GMT
<<Según lo que he visto, creo que los americanos no saben menos de su idioma que qualquier otro país...>>

¿Y cuáles recursos te han dicho eso?

Anyway, I would imagine that amongst industrialized nations with developed educational systems the average person in any country knows about the same amount of the history behind their language.
Tiffany   Sat Jan 07, 2006 7:32 am GMT
Oh and I agree with MJD.
Mxsmanic   Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:28 am GMT
Formal instruction in the English language is very minimal in the United States. However, like native speakers of any language, Americans acquire complete fluency in the language and an empirical knowledge of grammar and vocabulary that allow them to speak and understand English without any difficulty.

Writing is a separate matter, and the writing skills of many Americans are very poor indeed. About 14% of the population is functionally illiterate; some ethnic groups have illiteracy rates several times higher. Those who were illiterate either dropped out of (or were compelled to leave) school at an early age, or they were taught with "look-and-say" methods that produce low levels of useful literacy. Some had learning difficulties such as dyslexia or abnormally low intelligence. Overall, though, the literacy rates are far worse than one would expect in a highly developed country that likes to brag about its supposed state of advancement.

While all Americans are nominally fluent, the correctness of their speech varies with their education and personalities. Quite a few people do not speak very well, and unfortunately many of them write as they speak, if they write at all.

In general I'd say that Americans speak and understand English as well as their counterparts in other developed countries, but their reading and writing skills are below what would be expected for a country like the USA.
Rick Johnson   Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:42 am GMT

I think you mean Lancashire. Unlike Leicestershire and Worcestershire, we actually have some common sense in this county and write the name as it's pronounced.

<<The fact that America has had a good public school system, at least comparatively speaking, over the past 150 years probably has much to do with it.>>

The school system in England tends to be good, but we still get people who finish their education unable to put more than a simple sentence together. Sometimes when I watch US news, I'm astounded in interviews by the range of vocabulary of some people from the most deprived social backgrounds.
Kirk   Sat Jan 07, 2006 9:55 am GMT
Mxsmanic, as lovely as it was to read your pessimistic (and, I think, unfounded) comments on the nature of literacy and "correctness" (?) of speech, the original poster specifically wanted to know not about "how good they are, but how much they know about the background, where it comes from etc?" In other words, not what you wrote. As much as you might like it to be that way, this is not a topic about literacy or the average person's familiarity with formal written norms.
Guest   Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:52 am GMT
It wouldn't be a properly authored post if he didn't hint at his functionally-illiterate thingamajig.
bernard   Sat Jan 07, 2006 12:58 pm GMT
when I was in an American family in Milwaukee, we were talking about languages, and My hostmother (an I say that ?) was thinking that English was a romance language. She actually was very surprised to learn that English was Germanic. But her husband, who was of German backgroung knew it.
Guest   Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:03 pm GMT
Oh bernard you're such an hyppocrit!!! Living in a country you hate!
bernard l'hypocrite   Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:13 pm GMT
"Oh bernard you're such an hyppocrit!!! Living in a country you hate! "

Sander, I was living during two months in Wisconsin, where I had English courses, when I was student. I liked it very much this experience, the family was very much educated and knew well Europe, they were very nice to me.
I don't hate USA, but it is true that I hate the Bush government, way of acting and ideology, and the deep-cowboy attitude of the Americans who vote for him. Fortunally I was in the US in the "Clinton years", in a democrat and europhile family.
Sander   Sat Jan 07, 2006 1:47 pm GMT
That message by that guest wasn't mine.I know you're a hypocrit and have said it many times before, why would I tell you that again?

The message you posted while you thought it was me, thoug makes you an , pardon my bad "franglish" , " Ignorant" .
Someone   Sat Jan 07, 2006 2:25 pm GMT
I agree with Bernard , no is not politics, is life. It’s a bad thing for America alienating its people and ideology from Europe. European culture and languages being the cultural heritage transmuted and re-born in America.

America culturally, linguistically, racially, culinary and religiously seems like Europe.

It’s the education, mentality, and the ideology who completely divides us.
Naturally white Americans and white Europeans are the same people with the same values, same religion, same ethnicity, and same origin.

The Politicians are the evil dividing us and creating tensions! Not simple people!

This division started with an exacerbated nationalism! Brain washing techniques and propaganda!

Most people I spoke with from the US. Didn’t know anything about Norman French – influence over their language! They were more concerned about their short history –saying: English suffered many local mutations and influences while being a conservative English, during the 400 years of physical separation,etc!

Many other Americans I spoke with, felt very difficult to pronounce Europe/European in a context of American history or American pride.
They almost had the feeling of denying that. Mainly because they associate Europe with France. A political enemy ! An enemy created by the US government. Alienating people from Europe, and boosting an exacerbated nationalism !
Uriel   Sat Jan 07, 2006 10:41 pm GMT
We associate Europe with France? What is this crap? Honestly, Someone....