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  #41  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:36
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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My husband is German. We have been together for 7 years. And my German sucks.
Isn't that your job then?
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  #42  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:37
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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As the OP doesn't speak German, the guy who took the bag could have been a handbag inspector Was it a fake LV one?
Maybe it was the bus ticket inspector from that town in Vaud that was discussed in another thread?
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  #43  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:38
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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That is an excellent point, I apologize if I focused too much on the policemen lack of language skills. Obviously the point here is they didn't put an ounce of good intentions. Inexcusable.
Actually both points are valid, Caleb. A lack of language capacity can be overcome with good-will. If the policemen had been extremly nice, albeit the ignorance of the English language, the OP wouldn't be so frustrated to post here. Niceness could have gone from calling a translater up to patiently try to understand what happened using the universal grunt/hand language.
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  #44  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:42
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

I'm undecided on all this - firstly it is great when people we interact with speak English (police, plumbers, shop assistants). Secondly the majority of us work in environments which are international - and whose workplace language is English - even if the team is a mix of Germans, Portuguese, Indians, Brits, Swiss, Italians etc etc etc

However, I'm not sure why "we" should be so arrogant to expect that to be case everywhere - and for everyone to speak English to the level we want them to.

Look at it this way - isn't easier for us to learn the basic phrases for the area in which we live than for EVERY police officer to learn the basic phrases people will need when interacting with them for all the languages that could expect to hear - as highlight German, French, Italian, English, (Romansch), Spanish, Near Mediterranean languages, Portuguese etc etc etc.

That isn't defending the police officer in question, I just think that generally we should all make a little more of an effort to be a bit less "English Aboard" - slower and louder doesn't always work!
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  #45  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:42
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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... my German sucks.
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...using the universal grunt/hand language.
Helm - you sure you're on the right thread?
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  #46  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:42
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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I'm just shocked that everyone here seems to think that the real crime is that the OP doesn't speak German.
Is that really what people are posting?

I don't know german. And yeah, it would be incredible frustrating if I was involved in a crime and I wasn't able to speak english to them. But I wouldn't be complaining about it. Afterall, I don't know any language other than english so I probably just as useless as him
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  #47  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:45
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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Look at it this way - isn't easier for us to learn the basic phrases for the area in which we live than for EVERY police officer to learn the basic phrases people will need when interacting with them for all the languages that could expect to hear - as highlight German, French, Italian, English, (Romansch), Spanish, Near Mediterranean languages, Portuguese etc etc etc.

That isn't defending the police officer in question, I just think that generally we should all make a little more of an effort to be a bit less "English Aboard" - slower and louder doesn't always work!
Absoltely! We need a German dubbed version of:

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  #48  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:50
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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That isn't defending the police officer in question, I just think that generally we should all make a little more of an effort to be a bit less "English Aboard" - slower and louder doesn't always work!
You know I am speaking as a non-native English. It might be difficult to understand, but as a foreigner that learnt English to be able to communicate with other foreigners, this whole "should policemen in USA also learn German" discussion is a bit pointless.

We are speaking here as English as a communication tool. The reason why our kids learn English in school is not because the planet belongs to her Highness the Queen of England, the All-mighty American Empire or the Aussie Roadtrip. It's because it will be easier for them to communicate with people all over the world, probably with closer neighours as French/Italians/Romanians/etc that also don't have English as a mother tongue... Not knowing German is not (or at least shouldn't be) offensive - but knowing a little bit of English is very welcome by all the idiots from 3rd world countries that speak weird languages...
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  #49  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:50
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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I think that is actually quite a good idea...

Com'on... We idiots in Portugal have policemen speaking both French and English
No, in Portugal you have police that speak French OR English, I've never met one there that spoke both (I needed to ask directions a few times).

Also, back when I used to live in ZH, I had several friends that were cops (Kriminalpolizei, not traffic cops). They did NOT speak English, but they did speak French.

Tom
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  #50  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:50
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

Absolutely. There is no excuse for the policeman not trying to be helpful, in any language. As always, we only know one side of the story. PERHAPS he felt criticised and belittled by the louder and louder English being thrown at him. We don't know. As far as I know, there are very few official translators working for the police- and if there were, their priorities would be the other languages which are much more prevalent in CH as explained above.
Why should a policeman speak English- but not Serbo-croat, Spanish, Portuguese or Bulgarian?
Policemen apply to the police after doing an apprenticeship in another trade/craft- and do not come from an academic background at all - it is very likely they didn't do any English at all at school or 2 years max.

I lived in the UK for 41 years, and I've never met a copper who spoke good French (let alone German). When 1 of my French students was attacked by a drunken woman when leaving a club one night- the police called us as they didn't speak French- nobody questioned that. But YES they were sympathetic and tried their very best to make the young man comfortable until we got there to pick up the pieces.
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  #51  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:52
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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Absolutely. There is no excuse for the policeman not trying to be helpful, in any language. As always, we only know one side of the story. PERHAPS he felt criticised and belittled by the louder and louder English being thrown at him. We don't know. As far as I know, there are very few official translators working for the police- and if there were, their priorities would be the other languages which are much more prevalent in CH as explained above.
Why should a policeman speak English- but not Serbo-croat, Spanish, Portuguese or Bulgarian?
Policemen apply to the police after doing an apprenticeship in another trade/craft- and do not come from an academic background at all - it is very likely they didn't do any English at all at school or 2 years max.

I lived in the UK for 41 years, and I've never met a copper who spoke good French (let alone German). When 1 of my French students was attacked by a drunken woman when leaving a club one night- the police called us as they didn't speak French- nobody questioned that. But YES they were sympathetic and tried their very best to make the young man comfortable until we got there to pick up the pieces.
If he couldn't speak enough English then you can't have been a very good teacher
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  #52  
Old 04.08.2011, 16:59
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

Speaking German would probably not have enhanced your experience with the police ... they are snotty with everybody. As a matter of fact I sometimes wonder how much longer people are going to put up with it.

I once took my 1989 Cadillac to Winti police station to report my hood ornament being stolen. All they did was laugh at me and suggest I get a "proper" car.

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I wonder if any police in the UK or US speak German?
If they don't they will at least treat you with respect ... US police officers are always friendly & respectful
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  #53  
Old 04.08.2011, 17:00
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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In this particular instance, not that the police got that far to find out, you could have a point. But what if the OP had only arrived a week or so ago? What if they were a tourist? Plus you don't know their situation. It's not so common but possible that during those two years they were too busy to learn German, or have been travelling regularly, or were only expecting to be here for a few months but work requirements kept changing ....

In other words your patronising comment is not relevant on the general rant that the police should have found someone who spoke some English to help. Even if that meant walking to the station and ringing up an interpreter.
The OP had her rant about the police and not about the theft. I therefore wasn't patronising but just answering to her rant. By the way I don't know Zurich very well. How many tourist are about to take to bus to the Uni hospital.
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  #54  
Old 04.08.2011, 17:02
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

I went to the Police Station last week with a very difficult problem. I couldn't get my Adobe Illustrator working on my Mac with Lion OS-X 10.7 installed.

The guy behind the front desk was using a Dell with Windows XP, the office on duty with the Kripo only had an Acer laptop with Windows 7.0 (Family Edition). Useless! Completely crap, don't they teach multi-OS platforms to all the new recruits these days?


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I once took my 1989 Cadillac to Winti police station to report my hood ornament being stolen. All they did was laugh at me and suggest I get a "proper" car.
Well, they weren't that wrong though were they? Had it been a Corvette or a Viper, you would have least gained some sympathy from me.


Seriously though, really sorry about your getting robbed. That's just nasty wherever it happens. Hope you recover quickly.
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Old 04.08.2011, 17:04
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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Is that really what people are posting?

I don't know german. And yeah, it would be incredible frustrating if I was involved in a crime and I wasn't able to speak english to them. But I wouldn't be complaining about it. Afterall, I don't know any language other than english so I probably just as useless as him
Are you in a situation where you are meant to be helping (I use the term losely) the public, or in a public-facing role?

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I once took my 1989 Cadillac to Winti police station to report my hood ornament being stolen. All they did was laugh at me and suggest I get a "proper" car.
... ... got to admit, I'm struggling not to agree with them...
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  #56  
Old 04.08.2011, 17:08
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

I’m so sorry about what happened to you.
I was shocked to read that there isn’t an interpreter available for victims of crime at Zurich police stations. Surely this is wrong and may call for a formal complaint.
Perhaps someone from the EF who speaks perfect German could write a letter to the appropriate authorities?
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Old 04.08.2011, 17:10
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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I think that's pretty harsh to be honest.

The OP was a victim of a crime. In other English speaking counties if the person doesn't speak English the police will still be relatively understanding and nice to you - since you are the victim of a physical/personal crime. And they will get an interpreter. They willl not berate you for not speaking the local language. I don't expect local cops to speak English, but I do expect them to have access to translation services.
Is this so? In 2002 I was in New York, visiting some friends and and managed somehow to get between two fighting people without doing anything. Result: A broken arm and a stay in hospital, where I had to pay the treatment before a doctor showed up. Then police came and told me after my first answer that I should learn proper English. You kno what? They were right, my English wasn't at its best in this very second
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  #58  
Old 04.08.2011, 17:12
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

Ok, these kind of things can happen. But you can rant all day long, it doesn't change much. Why not ask the police what to do in such a situation (limited german...) here:
https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/pd/de/i...ar.secure.html

Somebody should try that in English, if there is no answer I could ask them in German what to do in such a situation and how to proceed.

I mean THAT would help some EFrs.
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  #59  
Old 04.08.2011, 17:13
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

Sie sollten lernen, die Sprache des Ortes, wo Sie leben
Vous devriez apprendre la langue de l'endroit où vous vivez
Si dovrebbe imparare la lingua del luogo in cui si vive

hope this helps
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Old 04.08.2011, 17:13
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Re: police with no english skills ;( !!!

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If he couldn't speak enough English then you can't have been a very good teacher
His first week there and he could speak quite well actually - but as that 'tart' had slashed his head with her high heels (that she was carrying in her hands!) - and he was bleeding profusely, he was in total shock. He was almost bilingual by the time he went back though
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