Language reflections part I

You might be laughing, but you DO understand the message, imagine if it would ONLY be in Chinese...

As I can’t really let go of the Choo-toilet from yesterday, I have to write a few words about one of my big passions – languages. The way to communicate with people, and logically, the more of them you speak, the more people you can communicate with. I have the privilege to learn languages pretty easily and therefore speak a couple pretty good if I might say it myself πŸ™‚
Languages and discussions about it is a rather frequent topic for me, but what I was thinking about today was more specifically the “most common mistakes” people make, depending on their nationality… it is not meant to make fun of anyone, it is just cute and I am sure (I know about some actually) I make some “typical” mistakes as well. Here are some “mistakes” which make my “cute-common-mistakes-by-nationality-list” for English as foreign language:

* Germans usually say “we see us tomorrow”, tend to use perfect tense rather than imperfect most of the time and mix up F with V (for ex: “It has been a great idea of yours to come to this bar” “last summer, when I have been in France…” or “my live is perfect right now” …). They also, to a big extent, have the common problem of pronouncing “TH” leading to “zzzzis” and “zzzzhat” for “this and that”.

* French people say “I go in Paris next week” and like to always put an article to things (for ex: “the best thing in the life”). They also tend to always “have” rather than “be” in certain states (ex: Β “have hunger” “have cold” “have success” “have 25 years old”)

*Spanish people are just soooo cute with their tendency to put an “E” in front of every word that starts with an “S” (e.g. “I am from E-Spain”, “you are E-special”). They also tend to be in favor of double negations (ex: “I do not understand nothing” or “I do not know nobody here”) and they, unfortunately, happen to have a lot of words similar to English which can easily lead to confusions such as “embarrassed” and “emarazada” (=pregnant) and questions such as “oh, you have a new job, great, how much do you win there?” (e.g. Win and Earn both translates to the same word in Spanish – ganar).

*Italians struggle hard, but it seems impossible for them to get the H pronounced (“you’re breaking my “ART””…), and even cuter… they just can’t stop moving their hands (I always say, even though I have italian friends who speak fantastic English, they still go on speaking Italian in the same time, with their hands...). It’s also hilarious how they tend to mix up the “his” and “her” as in italian (spanish and french as well for that sake) it depends on the object rather than the subject (ex: “That’s Anna with his father….”)

Now… some things need to be stated here. First of all, it is true that most of the points regarding the French, Spanish and Italians can be put together, which is only logical, as they are all latin languages and rather similar on the grammar-side. Now, would you happen to come from one of these countries and feel a bit pissed off right now, I totally didn’t mean to create such a reaction, so let us please take a moment here and reflect a little bit. English might be a wide-spread language, but hey, it is NOT THE ONLY language in the world (contrary to what many native English speakers might think…) … you see where I am heading? Indeed, let’s take a little moment and give the native english speakers what they deserve as well:

* American tourist: First of all, usually ASSUMES everyone speaks english and therefore not even makes the effort to nicely ask “excuse me, do you speak english“. Secondly, thinks that it should normally be OK to pay in american dollars when visiting Europe (ermmmm… NO, we don’t use american $ here…) . And to round it off… honestly, how many Americans actually make an effort to learn a foreign language?

* English tourist: OK, you might be slightly better than the Americans in asking whether english is spoken or not… but that’s also about it; it would be nice if you would make a LITTLE effort with your accent so that us people who have never been to England but just learnt the language in school can possibly understand what you are saying. And hey, that excuse of yours “The problem is that the French people speak so damn FAST…”… PLEASE,… you actually think that you speak SLOWER?

Well, I could continue this discussion for hours, and I truly LOVE discussing languages, but I think this will be enough for today. However, having picked a bit on the Europeans and the Americans, why not round it all off with the chinese? Well, that takes me back to about 3 years ago when traveling to Beijing – a Beijing truly in change as the preparations for the olympics were on highest speed. Landing at the airport I got met by about 20 friendly taxi-drivers who all said the same “Hello, welcome to China, I hope you will like our beautiful country”. I was amazed that they all spoke English (and a bit relieved I must admit) …. until I realized that THAT WAS THE ONLY PHRASE THEY KNEW πŸ™‚

However, the effort, the will to communicate and the endless tries made it wonderful. To round this all up, I would like to share some pictures, as they of course also got to the point as to “internationalize” their signs so that tourists would get the message…

at least you kind of know what you can eat here...

Please do not disturb the grass...

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About sunshinediary

Just another woman, in another town, on another street. Living the same life, same loves, same losses, same happiness and same shit as most people. Having problems, solving problems, seeking happiness... you know, the usual shit.
This entry was posted in Language and travels, Random-mostly funny and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Language reflections part I

  1. Katie says:

    That was awesome!!
    Hahaha you are very entertaining.
    The Ukrainian girl also often says “this” instead of “that”. She’ll be like, “I do not want to do this.”
    So what country ARE you from? Your English is really good, so I can’t actually tell…

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ Well, I’m from all over Europe, more or less, actually… Was thinking to one day in the distant future, when I actually have some readers to post a poll where people can guess my passport… but think western Europe πŸ™‚ But no, English is not my mother tongue but I’ve used it quite a lot so thanks for the compliment on it πŸ™‚

  2. freemasonry says:

    hahaha. This is cool and funny…Thanks for this post.

    Great job! Keep it up!

    Greetings from the Philippines!

    Count Clement II
    http://www.bestspotsinthephilippines.blogspot.com/

  3. M(i)zHitRun says:

    I really enjoyed this post!

    I admire people like you who can learn many different languages. I use only two of the 11 official languages in our country.

    Would love to hear more about your foreign experiences.

    • Thanks for the comment. I will for SURE write more about my foreign experiences going forward, because … big part of my life is actually a “foreign experience” in itself πŸ™‚

  4. Sabine says:

    I use ‘this’ and ‘that’ incorrectly too πŸ™‚
    I love your observations!

  5. eshetkayil says:

    This was hilarious, true, and very entertaining. πŸ˜‰ I’m currently planning a trip to Israel – specifically to learn the *language* (:-P), so I am interested in any other tips and tricks you may be able to offer me with regard to languages, traveling, and interacting with other cultures in general.

    Great post! Thanks!

    • Thanks for that comment πŸ™‚ Well, I think you just inspired me to tell a travel story of mine, so I’m going to do my best, work on it and post it before weekend is over πŸ™‚ So keep your eyes open… I can’t teach you Hebrew, but I can maybe make you smile and teach you SOMETHING πŸ™‚

      • eshetkayil says:

        Haha. I look forward to reading that – I’m on the *edge of my seat*. πŸ˜‰ I’ll post a link on my own blog (eshetkayil.wordpress.com) and tell everyone you wrote the post especially for me. πŸ˜€

      • I’ll dedicate it to you πŸ™‚ Especially happy, because you’re the first one giving me an idea (inspiration) of what to write about tomorrow πŸ™‚

  6. Pingback: Curvature of the Earth « Footprints & Falafel

  7. I just came back from a 2 month stay in Shanghai, China and your observation on Chinese people is very accurate! It seems every Chinese person learns the same set phrases in English.
    I worked at the USA Pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai so I would greet the visitors as they walked in — every person I said hello to would respond with “hello, how are you” and when I asked them “how are you” in return, every single person responded the same – “I’m fine, thank you.”
    If someone asks me “how are you,” I always respond with “I’m good.” I don’t think I ever say “I’m fine, thank you.” But every single person I asked (men, women, children) would respond with that exact phrase. I’m fine, thank you.

  8. freemasonry says:

    @sunshinediary=sure. well, you better plan to travel here in my country. there are lot of spots in which you’ll be delighted to visit. trust me, you’ll enjoy each and every spots here. Just don’t forget to call me when you need a travel assistant.^_^

    And oh’, you can navigate around my site. Just check this link and feel free to navigate around.

    http://www.bestsposinthephilippines.blogspot.com/

    ^_^

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