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 🙂
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: “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 🙂
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…