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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Speaking Terms, Part 1

trying to speak the language with locals in italy, france, and germany can be very different experiences


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If you want practice speaking, especially with French people, try iTalki. They won't walk away, promise.

38 comments:

  1. If your language was a clear sign of being the villain in pop culture for over 50 years, you would not really believe someone actually wants to speak it either...

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    1. Geh’ heulen, Kartoffel!

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    2. I don't think you can speak to me like that.

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    3. тоже правильно по русский (no doubt grammar stinks, sorry, but I'm years out of practise)

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    4. Not "по русский", "по-русски". And you should change word order to "По-русски тоже правильно", it sounds better this way.

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  2. Oh yes, the Dutch do the same as the Germans :D

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    1. There are at least 4 Itchy Feet comics about Germans speaking English.

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  3. Actually, here in France people do the same, too; especially if they have first heard us speaking a foreign language, they immediately turn into English mode. And even if we try to speak French.

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    1. That was my experience in Paris, much less so in the smaller towns.

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    2. Yeah, in France, they often switch to English when replying to you... even when the "foreign language" is actually québécois (French Canadian)! ;P

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    3. Québécois could be super hard to understand for French people.

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    4. 1- Most French people would likely switch to whatever little English they know, not get irate 2 - I don't know why so many anglophones say French people can't understand québecois. The difference is about the same as between US and UK English. If the other person is not using a ton of slang and colloquialisms (which are different in the two languages, just like UK slang and US slangs are), people can perfectly understand each other (source: French person living in English Canada -- but my kid goes to a francophone school so I get to meet lots of French speakers).

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  4. The first one would happen in Spain too. But then, if they start talking to you, they'll do it VERY VERY loud.;)

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  5. I find the Spanish are somewhat like the Italians, followed by an apology for not speaking English!

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    1. As a latinamerican person, I strongly agree with you

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  6. In my experience, the French respond the same way as the Germans do. You have to make an effort not to let them speak to you in English, or they will (or they'll try at least). Still very friendly people though! I love them!

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    1. I also find the French quite friendly and patient when we (try to) speak French, and they seem to almost always understand us. Some of them get frustrated, though, when we don't understand them immediately and they have to repeat.

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  7. I do understand the French speaking people. There are a lot of subtle sound nuances in French and it is so incredibly hard to understand someone who is not able to make the right sounds. A slightly different pronunciation changes the meaning completely.
    Especially English native speakers are often not even able to hear the differences and hence can’t reproduce them. I guess it is because the English speakers are so tolerant regarding pronunciation in their own language. Texan, Australian, Oxford, Irish, Cockney and New England English are so different and it seems that native English speakers are aware of their dialect, but they are never systematically told that they should ditch it and learn how to pronounce »properly«. It goes so far that there is not even agreement on what proper English pronunciation means. In contradiction to French where there is the Académie Française defining exactly how everything sounds and how to speak. Hence you often have to teach native English speakers hearing first, then making sounds and then they can start to learn French.
    That can be very frustrating. For everyone.

    Disclaimer: I am not a French native speaker, but I do speak an acceptable French. If I speak with native speakers, they are very friendly and very willing to talk in French. But just the nasals un, une, en, an, on, ant, ent took me several intense weeks of training. French is an unforgiving language. You need to know your stuff.

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    1. I used to get bum and neck confused(cou an cu, though not sure of the silent letters), and my (French Swiss) girlfriend insists on correcting me if I don't get it right. Recently I saw the word 'agir' and asked her what I meant, but she didn't understand what I meant. Apparently my 'i' was too short! It often happens that she has to read a word I see because she doesn't understand my pronounciation.

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    2. Do you mean British or American or some other native English speakers? After living several years in the US I found Americans extremely intolerant of foreign accents. Many times it seemed the only thing they paid attention to was my "funny" accent, if they actually cared to listen (some people just refused to communicate "before I go back home and learn to speak proper English"). And I know I speak English well, although with a non-native accent.

      On the other hand, Americans are insensitive to their own accents. For instance, I have friends from Minnesota and LA, who claimed they sound alike, but for us foreigners their way of speaking (intonation, pronunciation etc.) is totally different.

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    3. Tei, as an American, I'm really sorry that that happened to you! A lot of people here are so intolerant of foreign people and non-native accents, meanwhile they have never tried to live abroad or learn a foreign language themselves. I'm a Chinese major, and so I always try to treat non-native English speakers (whether they're beginners or fluent) the way that I like to be treated when I am trying to speak Chinese. I find it really disappointing that there are so many people in my country who are disrespectful and hypocritical.

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    4. I am sure you will get a very nice reception if you speak Chinese in China or any Chinese speaking country in East and South East Asia. That's our experience. My husband knows a little Chinese and every time he had to use it people were delighted and impressed---they really don't expect a western looking people to know any Chinese (other than nǐ hǎo or xièxie)

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    5. What do you mean, 'pronounce properly'? I assume you mean using the dialect of the ruling class of the South East of England. Where all the power and money is, so we'd better conform *or else*. Not So Certain. I'm Welsh and proud of it, and proud of Wenglish too.

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  8. As an Italian, I can confirm.
    Also within 5 minutes an italian will be teaching you how to properly speak italian with your hands and talking about food :)

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  9. Psst,
    to talk french with welcoming people, just go to Belgium, you'll be treated well ;)

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  10. Thankfully I found that in the Russian speaking world they are like the Italians (although not looking as happy about it as the Italians). Mainly because they couldn't speak English, but it was great for me trying to learn the language. I don't have experience of Russia itself though - only Ukraine (which is half Russian speaking but, well, contentious issue right now!).

    I think whatever language you're learning if you're just starting out people will switch to English if they can, depends how patient they are. Once you're fluent it's different but until then it's best to just find a place where people CAN'T speak English (easiest to find the further you are the tourist trail)! And you'll have no choice! Jump in at the deep end! Resort to gestures if you have to. That was my experience of Ukraine anyway. Fun.

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  11. It's good, but it's missing the fourth (Swiss) row.

    First panel: Bad German.
    Second panel: Two Swiss people saying in Swiss German "Hey, check it out, he's learning high German!"
    Third panel: Two Swiss people chasing the guy out of the country.

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  12. French: That was my experience only in the smaller communities like Amiens and Limoges. In Paris and Brussels, most people responded to me in English, unless they were very undereducated.
    German: Only people in hostels and airports responded to me in English. Working-class folks nearly always were willing to speak German with me, even when it was obvious that my German was rudimentary.
    Italian: Don't know, never been to Italy.

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    1. I should also mention that I have NEVER seen a Frenchman walk away like that when I spoke French.

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  13. Ummmm... so every time I was in France and tried to speak French they would either reply in English or be very helpful. If they replied in English and I said that I was a student they would take the time to correct my grammar and pronunciation. Apparently you have never tried to speak French in France.

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  14. Ahahaha! I am French. You killed me.
    Thank you for these comics. :)

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  15. Am a native English speaker now living in and learning German. This phenomenon has made it very hard to be totally submersed in the language. Really slows down learning :(

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    1. You can do it. You just have to be REALLY stubborn and insistent! If you ask them to help you, they're usually quite nice and totally willing to help you out.

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  16. Or as my Russian friends say "Philip, your Russian has improved greatly. Can you repeat that in English"

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