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Old 14.01.2011, 20:40
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

In business, you'll never be totally in control if you don't speak the language of those you work with and clients. Many will be more than happy to speak English when they are selling, but not so much when they are buying, and they have a choice, for instance. Those Brits with a good command of German or French in CH, have a real advantage above others. Sometimes business deals can be struck due to very mundane and personal things actually. For me though, it is all about personal contact, as Faltrad describes.
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  #302  
Old 14.01.2011, 23:35
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Exageration is illustrating a point that becomes irrelevant without the exageration... that is a vice in the theory. But you are not one of my students, I won't lecture you.
I'm not going to list all the variations on an Internet discussion. I assume you are smart enough to fill in the blanks yourself. And I'm not in your class so I don't think I need footnotes.

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I NEVER said it was not all right to speak English with whomever you want, you are doing that with me right now. I DID however say that the experience of contact and interaction in the local language is different, another level, another experience that one does not regret. There is no point telling me life is wonderful in English: I know that! But there is a point taking multilingual people's experience and ability to understand both sides.
And all I'm saying is that you won't necessarily have a more meaningful conversation if you don't have the skill level. But you can have deeper conversation in a third common language or if the other person has a better command of your native language. BTW I've never limited the discussion to "the wonderful life in English", but whatever language you might have in common with someone. I had an English friend who when living in Brazil ended up being friends with a Japanese girl. Their common language: Polish!

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Just don't forget that the locals have a perspective of their own... They do not consider foreign language and local language as neutrally equivalent. The use of the one or the other is heavily loaded on an emotional and irrational level. That makes a whole difference, the difference you do not take into consideration at all. I am just telling about it, nothing more. I don't judge... many Swiss (French, Dutch, Danes, Norwegian, German...) do, though.
I never said I didn't want to take it into consideration. What I'm say is learning the local language is not the ONLY way to have deep meaningful conversations/personal interaction/long lasting friendships.

I'm also not saying DON'T learn the local language if you can and it suits you and your life style, future plans, if it is an option for you, do it! But there are sometimes reasons not to learn the local language as listed in this very thread.

However, if you can't, don't stay at home fearing not having meaningful interactions with others. Get out there!! Meet people!! Play games/sports/take a class/join a club/go to the pub/dance/paint etc. Communicate the best you can and you will eventually find people who "get you" and who will be forever friends and you may even pick up some local language skills.

I don't really want to interact with people who feel the need to judge me no matter what language (well, except my mother, but she's special). I'll continue to be friends with the non judgmental Swiss (French, Dutch, Danes, Norwegian, German...) etc. which ever language we decide to communicate in. You can keep the others.
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  #303  
Old 14.01.2011, 23:41
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

It's not about being judgmental at all.

However, how would most here think about Pakistanis or Bengladeshis in the UK, for instance- saying the same? Or Brits in Buenos Aires? There are still Germans and Swiss in Argentina who don't speak or even try to speak, Spanish.

Do you truly believe most Brits or Argentinian do not 'judge' them? It just seems to me that some groups of people judge, and yet feel above judgment, somehow. And it just does not feel right- there is something very 'colonial' about it.

Last edited by Odile; 15.01.2011 at 00:13.
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  #304  
Old 15.01.2011, 00:01
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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What I'm say is learning the local language is not the ONLY way to have deep meaningful conversations/personal interaction/long lasting friendships.
That's an interesting sentence: we just don't talk about the same thing. On a personal level, it's all good as long as it works for you. We totally agree on that. On a collective level, however, the non-judgemental Swiss (and nationalities listed above including mine) are frankly... rare. An immigrant (and expats are immigrants) not communicating in the local language will collectively be submitted to judgement. It's unfair for you and your friend on an individual level, but the judgement stands on a collective level. This is the reality I was making our readers aware of. A dammmned harsh reality, if you ask me... as I can spy on those French and German speaking Swiss (and the others mentioned above)...
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  #305  
Old 15.01.2011, 00:26
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Lately I was told the same story by a few Swiss, and that is - there are people living here for 20 years and they speak no Geman, absolutely not at all...Hmm, I was saying to myself, is that an urban legend or smth.? All the foreigners I know study or at least have studied German language for a (little)while..that means they can manage a few words. Anyhow, most of the Swiss I know have strong opinions regarding this matter - one is supossed to master the language, sooner or later. That's my experience so far, and they ARE very judgemental on this one..
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  #306  
Old 15.01.2011, 00:59
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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That's an interesting sentence: we just don't talk about the same thing. On a personal level, it's all good as long as it works for you. We totally agree on that. On a collective level, however, the non-judgemental Swiss (and nationalities listed above including mine) are frankly... rare. An immigrant (and expats are immigrants) not communicating in the local language will collectively be submitted to judgement. It's unfair for you and your friend on an individual level, but the judgement stands on a collective level. This is the reality I was making our readers aware of. A dammmned harsh reality, if you ask me... as I can spy on those French and German speaking Swiss (and the others mentioned above)...
Yes. Clearly we are not talking about the same thing. Not all expats are immigrants, nor do they plan on being immigrants. And these are the very people who perhaps have a reason to not learn the local language. They will be moving on before they even get to level of meaningful conversation, never mind "good communication level". And many times there are no other countries that speak that particular language, ie. they will never need it again. I think this has already been covered so we are now going around in circles.

The fact is that the locals may like it or not. However, there are people who will be judgmental even if you DO speak the language. So I can't worry what others think of me. It's just the way it.
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  #307  
Old 15.01.2011, 01:23
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Not all expats are immigrants, nor do they plan on being immigrants.
But all are perceved as such... I know, life is unfair.
I do hear what you are saying, but it is difficult to accept global vagabonds (expats changing country regularly) from the perspective of a local. It be the said global vagabond accept the consequences of not relating to the locals in their own language, even the unpleasant ones. What you say about the Swiss "they like it or not" is also true for the said global vagabonds: they are only guests and therefore not accepted as equal citizens in social and public life in the eyes of the locals. Think of the concepts of citizen rights and citizenship in ancient Greece, it enlightens the situation in Switzerland. There are the ones "Bürgerschaft/Combourgeoisie/Burgais" and the others. Fact of life, whether the expats like it or not.
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  #308  
Old 15.01.2011, 02:07
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

for me, there's not enough benefit to make it worthwhile learning swiss german. i learn a few words/phrases because i find the language amusing - but it's just for my own amusement, not for communication purposes.
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  #309  
Old 15.01.2011, 09:59
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I totally agree with Faltrad. While it is easy to get by here with just English when the locals see that you can communicate in their language it opens many doors. Even if you still use English as the main language of communication just showing them that you can communicate with them in German/Swiss German opens many doors and there is an instant change in perception.

I've had it a number of times where people were being friendly to me in English, as soon as they realised that I understood Swiss German and could communicate with them meaningfully in it too the level of friendliness went up a lot. Also, people are much more willing to give information that is local knowledge but maybe not so well known to the tourist/expat community if you speak the local lingo. I get a lot more information about biking and skiing areas here in Switzerland through German then I ever would if I only understood or spoke English.
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  #310  
Old 15.01.2011, 17:21
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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But all are perceved as such... I know, life is unfair.
I don't see any of what you are saying as "unfair". Stop projecting your negativity. If I don't care how I'm perceive then "unfair" is a value judgement that is irrelevant.

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I do hear what you are saying, but it is difficult to accept global vagabonds (expats changing country regularly) from the perspective of a local. It be the said global vagabond accept the consequences of not relating to the locals in their own language, even the unpleasant ones. What you say about the Swiss "they like it or not" is also true for the said global vagabonds: they are only guests and therefore not accepted as equal citizens in social and public life in the eyes of the locals. Think of the concepts of citizen rights and citizenship in ancient Greece, it enlightens the situation in Switzerland. There are the ones "Bürgerschaft/Combourgeoisie/Burgais" and the others. Fact of life, whether the expats like it or not.
You are still a non citizen whether or not you speak the local language. Not everyone sees "global vagabonds" negatively. In fact from my perspective it's the minority. Most people I meet are intrigued and a bit jealous. You are projecting your negativity again. You keep hang out with all your judgmental small minded friends & I'll hang out with my positive and accepting ones.
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  #311  
Old 15.01.2011, 17:28
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

My "unfair" was a touch of irony.
Your "rubbish" is not an argument.
The end.
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  #312  
Old 15.01.2011, 17:34
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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It's not about being judgmental at all.

However, how would most here think about Pakistanis or Bengladeshis in the UK, for instance- saying the same? Or Brits in Buenos Aires? There are still Germans and Swiss in Argentina who don't speak or even try to speak, Spanish.

Do you truly believe most Brits or Argentinian do not 'judge' them? It just seems to me that some groups of people judge, and yet feel above judgment, somehow. And it just does not feel right- there is something very 'colonial' about it.
Nobody has picked up on this. But I'd be grateful for feedback here. It sometimes feels as though there is one rule for some, which does not apply to others. What are the reasons perceived for this?
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Old 15.01.2011, 17:49
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Says who? LOL>

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.
If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

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Old 15.01.2011, 17:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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My husband and I were just discussing this the other day. We looked at his schedule last month. He slept in Switzerland nine nights in October. This month, he will be at home for only six nights. He is simply not going to learn any kind of functional French taking a one lunch-hour lesson once or twice a month.
This sounds very familiar. We're not, by chance, married to one another, are we?
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Old 16.01.2011, 18:32
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Nobody has picked up on this. But I'd be grateful for feedback here. It sometimes feels as though there is one rule for some, which does not apply to others. What are the reasons perceived for this?
i have no issues with bangladeshis/pakistanis not learning english. i think you're just projecting your own biases.
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Old 17.01.2011, 00:28
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Having lived in London, Staffs and Leicester for the past umpteen years - I can assure you that most I've known there DO object very strongly.
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Old 17.01.2011, 00:36
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Having lived in London, Staffs and Leicester for the past umpteen years - I can assure you that most I've known there DO object very strongly.
My experience is that British people don't object per se to incomers not learning English - they object to the money spent on accommodating and even enabling this with umpty billion translations of NHS leaflets, letters from the Council, translators for official business, etc.

Here, if people don't want to/ can't quite manage to learn a Swiss language, it's in the full knowledge that they will somehow just have to muddle through on their own with phrase books, helpful friends and mime. My Swiss friends here vaguely think people should learn the local language but couldn't really care less either way, as they're not paying for the foreigners' decisions/ lack of effort/ challenging life circumstances which makes learning very hard.
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Old 17.01.2011, 00:36
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Having lived in London, Staffs and Leicester for the past umpteen years - I can assure you that most I've known there DO object very strongly.
I've lived in two of those places, and I never cared what languages people spoke amongst themselves.

Given that there are well established Urdu and Mirpuri speaking areas in plenty of cities in the Midlands and North, it is perfectly feasible for a Pakistani to live her (for it is invariably women who find themselves linguistically disenfranchised in this manner) entire life in England without speaking a single word of English.

It is unfortunate, of course, but nobody's business but her own.

Similarly, if an Anglo expat in Switzerland chooses to associate entirely with fellow speakers of English, why on earth shouldn't he? So long as he pays his taxes and doesn't break the law, surely he is free to speak whatever language he chooses?

I find it more convenient to speak German, since I work in a German-speaking environment and do most of my shopping at establishments where the staff speak German, but that is my choice. I wouldn't dream of criticising others for choosing to live their lives as they choose.

Why can't people just live and let live?
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Old 17.01.2011, 01:40
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I find it more convenient to speak German, since I work in a German-speaking environment and do most of my shopping at establishments where the staff speak German, but that is my choice. I wouldn't dream of criticising others for choosing to live their lives as they choose.

Why can't people just live and let live?
How long did it take you to learn German?
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Old 17.01.2011, 01:41
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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How long did it take you to learn German?
How long is a piece of string?

I speak better German than I spoke five years ago, and less, I should hope, than I'll speak in five years' time.

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