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  #121  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:40
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Don't know if this is related to the thread or not but, what makes my toenails curl up are people who don't know the language but have picked up odd words through their kids or the neighbour, or whatever and you get this bizarre English littered with the picked-up German words. One example of many - we went to look at a new apartment a while back and the expat lady was showing us round saying...

"There is another Schrank through there and this bathroom has an extra Dusche..."

"The Bibliotek is just down the road along from the Hallenbad..."

There is trying to pick up the language and there is sounding like a total gonk.
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  #122  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:42
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Wow, I'm gone for a bit and miss out on a disintegration thread? Jeesumpetes...

Ok, I have not time to read the whole shebang, it hurts my guts since I am a linguist.

I do also think that, personally, if I am living somewhere, it is respectful, or even just merely practical to put some effort to learn the local lingo. But I think it is pointless to prescribe to others to see it exactly the same way I do. Nobody is forcing me to wear clothes I don't like or eat crap I don't find tasty, so why would I expect from others to have the same attitude in this..I completely see reasons of some people not wanting to dig into such a huge task (for some, sure, it's not easy for everybody), if the corresponding success or benefit isn't really there. What about people who stay shortly, who already speak 2 languages at home, and 2 other ones in different stages, what about people who professionally happen to be in a phase that there is no space for this. I mean, you can always say stick a little verb chart on your toilet wall, at least. Isn't it all relative, though? When would be the effort actually considered satisfactory? When we devote all our waking time to it, or when we can prove we are fluent? What about people who are handicapped for languages, there are many people who function within their lingo, but find extremely difficult take in yet another language, etc...expats move so much, as well.. Some people make no effort and it works. I think it would be wrong to throw all foreigners in one category and say, it is morally wrong if you don't try. It's just yet another absolute rule that does not seem to be fair considering how many people are here, how different their reasons are, their future, their other priorities, situation in life..n'est pas?

Off I go to cram some useless bit of archaic grammar rule..

I do like to hang out with people who don't compete in this integration race, but who like to learn French for how pretty it sounds, its history, lit and the fact it is actually good to know a bit about what is happening here, adds to our personal freedom and it is easier to contribute this way, if anything.
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  #123  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:43
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Don't know if this is related to the thread or not but, what makes my toenails curl up are people who don't know the language but have picked up odd words through their kids or the neighbour, or whatever and you get this bizarre English littered with the picked-up German words. One example of many - we went to look at a new apartment a while back and the expat lady was showing us round saying...

"There is another Schrank through there and this bathroom has an extra Dusche..."

"The Bibliotek is just down the road along from the Hallenbad..."

There is trying to pick up the language and there is sounding like a total gonk.
But isn't it just as bizarrre when one speaks German littered with English words?
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  #124  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:48
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

All I can say as one of those weird people who learn languages for fun is that it makes a world of a difference when you at least try to speak the local language. Foreigner who just assumes you speak English / whatever he speaks = arrogant, leads to defensive reaction; foreigner who at least asks whether you speak English / whatever he speaks in the local language = endearing, leads to helpful reaction. It also seems to help with not being "fleeced", I noticed this in Malaysia, my Malay is very basic but not too basic to understand the general gist of a conversation and interrupt somewhere crucial.
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  #125  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:50
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Can one really say 'I am not interested in the language of the country I choose to live in, and/or its culture - and by the way, the locals are not friendly'? If you show that you are not interested and not prepared to make the effort- do you really expect them do be super-friendly? Honest?
There are a whole lot of assumptions in one post!

One can learn the language and not the culture or one can learn the culture and not the language. They are not mutually exclusive. I know plenty of foreigners who know more about the history and traditions of the country they live in than the locals. Because they took the time to read about it and ask questions. The locals often take for granted that they know why that statue is there, or whatever. But when asked they have no clue. "oh, I've lived here my whole life & I have no idea what that statue represents. I never thought about it".

Also just because one doesn't speak the language that doesn't mean that they find the locals "not friendly". In the company my husband is working in EVERYONE speaks English and 90% are locals. You will not be hired if you don't speak English. That means you have 90% of the company to be friends with, speak English to and they are all locals. That's just one company.

Again, I'm not saying DON'T learn a language but people who don't learn the language to a "good communication level" are not necessarily trolls who live in caves and don't see the outside world.
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  #126  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:52
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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But isn't it just as bizarrre when one speaks German littered with English words?
No, because there is a higher possibility when speaking a foreign language you are going to be casting around for odd bits of vocab you don't know and use words from your own mother-tongue to fill the gaps.

If you are speaking your own mother-tongue with someone of the same mother-tongue, why on earth would you randomly need to slip in foreign words?
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  #127  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:54
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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Don't know if this is related to the thread or not but, what makes my toenails curl up are people who don't know the language but have picked up odd words through their kids or the neighbour, or whatever and you get this bizarre English littered with the picked-up German words. One example of many - we went to look at a new apartment a while back and the expat lady was showing us round saying...

"There is another Schrank through there and this bathroom has an extra Dusche..."

"The Bibliotek is just down the road along from the Hallenbad..."

There is trying to pick up the language and there is sounding like a total gonk.
Aren't they called..snobs?
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  #128  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I also believe that the attitude in the population in general makes it easier or more difficult to someone to want to learn the language.
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  #129  
Old 18.11.2010, 14:57
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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No, because there is a higher possibility when speaking a foreign language you are going to be casting around for odd bits of vocab you don't know and use words from your own mother-tongue to fill the gaps.

If you are speaking your own mother-tongue with someone of the same mother-tongue, why on earth would you randomly need to slip in foreign words?
To show them you're a cultivated person?
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  #130  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:00
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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No, because there is a higher possibility when speaking a foreign language you are going to be casting around for odd bits of vocab you don't know and use words from your own mother-tongue to fill the gaps.

If you are speaking your own mother-tongue with someone of the same mother-tongue, why on earth would you randomly need to slip in foreign words?
I am guilty of this.

I learned most of two languages in the same time. And because of it, when I don't know the word in english, I'll say it in turkish, and vice versa.

Sometimes I am looking for a word and can't find it neither in french or english but know it in turkish, and you repeat this process with a different combination...
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  #131  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:00
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I'd also say, it is very interesting when you think who actually needs a 100% fluency at their new job here. Most foreigners who work here don't work here because they would be fluent in the local lingo. That kind of proficiency comes laters, when you already had your chance of umpteen years of being in Suisse. So, most people try, get somewhere pre-intermediate and leave. If they are not hired to speak the local lingo everyday, it is quite demotivating having to battle through the beginnings and then you get to that plateau, since you don't need it to survive. I am talking about those who are not married to a local, have jobs that don't require anywhere near fluency, etc etc. I have been exposed a very little bit for a long time, it actually took finally being able to work in a place where it was crucial to know local language to step up a bit and moved with my stagnant French. Most my local friends are happy to converse in English, which isn't even my mother tongue, but as good as it gets, to get a little break from French.. So, one thing is to expect all to show some effort, (we all do, don't we, bonjour is enoug, a few little words, I don't know anyone who would arrogantly never used those, even few days after you arrive), and to expect to completely master the local lingo without really needing it and morph into some Swiss wannabe...

There is a fabulous writer who's name I forgot who wrote a very interesting book on how trying to integrate and preventing xenophobia of others killed his relationship with his home culture, language and identity. I'll post it if I find the name.
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  #132  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:07
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I am guilty of this.

I learned most of two languages in the same time. And because of it, when I don't know the word in english, I'll say it in turkish, and vice versa.

Sometimes I am looking for a word and can't find it neither in french or english but know it in turkish, and you repeat this process with a different combination...
No, I don't think that's the same thing somehow. You may never have learned the word for "cupboard" in Turkish but you know it in English. I would have been surprised if the lady we were visiting didn't know the English word for "cupboard" and was forced to drawl the word "Schraaank" instead.
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  #133  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:11
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

Besides the obvious good excuses (no time to take a course, only staying here for a short period of time, can't hear well, can't speak, can't read, whatever else...), I think not learning the language, or at least the basics of it, is just kinda lazy. Or maybe the person is just not where they wanna be, so they couldn't care less. (this is just MY opinion, by the way. I am entitled to one)

Now, German is a horribly difficult language to learn. I took a quick German course back home, just to be able to ask some very basic questions in my mother language. I still say I know absolutely nothing of German, but I do want to learn it. And I will try to. Starting on November 30th

All of my friends and acquaintances here are either Swiss or German, or from other countries but pretty much only speaking German. They all speak English (some better than the others), none of them mind me talking to them in English, but all of them appreciate the fact that I am trying to learn their language. And they're all helping me every time they can.
So, yes, I do want to learn German.
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  #134  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:33
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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I think there's no good excuse for not learning the language...it's just DO YOU WANT TO LEARN IT or NOT
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There's no really good excuse to not learn the language.
OK, you two, try putting ear plugs in, a beanie on your head, then a ski helmet, and ask someone to whisper a sentence missing out every 3rd word... and welcome to my world. Now which bit of "no good excuse" for not speaking German/Swiss German would that be?

Try not to generalise too much eh, and learn to differentiate between someone who would like to learn but can't, and someone who doesn't want to for whatever reason before make such silly statements as tarring everyone with the same brush is both over simplistic and insulting.

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  #135  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:38
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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All of my friends and acquaintances here are either Swiss or German, or from other countries but pretty much only speaking German. They all speak English (some better than the others), none of them mind me talking to them in English, but all of them appreciate the fact that I am trying to learn their language. And they're all helping me every time they can.
I think they would do you a great favor if they actually spoke German to you, tbh, and not practice their English.

I find it too often the case, we have local friends who appreciate us learning the local lingo but who look for any single opportunity to practice their English. It takes a bit of an effort to stress to them, that if they appreciate me learning French, pls, talk to me in it, grill me...Help me out, not just say you are glad I take classes. If they let me converse, I take classes, have practice dictees regularly, participate in local activities in local language, do language exchange, read, tv, radio, all of a sudden, it's so fast. It's not only classes, those usually don't do much on their own. I have found new friends who are wonderfully nazi and despite their fluency in English endure the painful moments of me speaking. It's not that bad anymore, we can actually talk about interesting things.

But I wouldn't call people who aren't immediately picking up the lingo lazy. Maybe they are ashamed of boring their local friends with their attempts of bad local language? Takes a bit of a thick skin. Maybe they prefer to socialize and not turn off their local friends who are socializing since they also get a bit of an English practice? It is not easy for foreigners to find local friends. I am grateful of the locals who are patient, they make great friends.
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  #136  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:40
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I don't like this idea that you need an 'excuse'. That presupposes that one ought to learn a language. I think in some cases, mainly depending on how much you or anyone else wants you to integrate, it's true. For many of us, though, it's just a value-neutral choice.
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  #137  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:44
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

One of the biggest excuses for not learning a language: One may not have the skill or talent to learn it quickly. So they give up.

Some people pick it up more readily, or simply have more patience to bang their head through it. For some, it is more painful than for others.

Not much different to learning technology. There are some people who still think their LCD monitor is "the computer", and that thing connected to it is "some box".

They just have a conceptual block that keeps them from getting it.
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Old 18.11.2010, 15:46
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

So I decided to take private lessons for learning Swiss/German lessons and have this good teacher, originally from Germany. But somehow I dont feel too comfortable with the subject matter.

1) I had this question and answer sheet from him, in German, regarding introduction and making small talk. One of the questions was "How many people live in your room?" I was kind of perplexed when came to that question but my good teacher pointed out that "Its not for you, dont worry about it. Its usually for immigrants when teaching them German"

2) We had this chapter about profiles of different kind of people living in Switzerland, and I was baffled by all the stereotyping in there. Swiss woman as a doctor, German male office worker, Italian male motor mechanic, female nurse from Honduras, Sri Lankan male kitchen help!!!
This was all part of the fancy TEXT BOOK, dont these people have any idea about political correctness? I mean why can't it be a Construction worker from Italy and Nurse from Philipines, German motor mechanic and Sri Lankan kitchen helper?

3) Most astonishing was when we had a chapter about office and various articles in it. When we came to Stapler, my good teacher told me its called "Bostitch" in Swiss German. Then he said becareful with that term, as the ex-Yugoslavians are also called Bostitch! Then he started chuckling. I gave him a puzzled look and asked "Why, whats the connection?" Then he said "How does a stapler work?" and banged his fist down on the table making some noise and said "You have to hit it hard on the head" and burst out laughing!

I did'nt know whether to laugh or cry, trying to control my laughter. Are these people for real? I mean the Swiss Germans, not the Yugoslavians.

These are good enough reasons for me not to learn Swiss German (punkt)
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  #139  
Old 18.11.2010, 15:47
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

I shouldn't stick around, won't do much French learning hangin with expat online, ugh..

I also realized, coming from a miniscule country with an impossible language, nobody even expect the expat to learn back home. People still do, they have their multicultural babies, their romantic reasons, they want to beat the impossible obstacles since Czech is a most complicated of Slav languages, grammar wise..But people are just pleasantly surprised if you make an effort to say Hello, thank you, see you laters, how much, 10 beers, one more, cab. That's about it.

I think what makes people here expect of foreigners to cram is the fact that loads of people are successful at it, lived here so many decades, are bi/tri lingual, so they forget some don't have the reasons, or are busy with sumfin else.

And let's not forget, locals put huge pressure amongst themselves to learn their official languages, so they do expect it from us, as well...Sometimes it is motivating, sometimes the opposite, but we all just pick what's important to us. I think when people do not learn, they probably do regret a tad later, but that's like that with anything.
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Old 18.11.2010, 15:51
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Re: Is there ever any good excuse for not learning the language?

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So I decided to take private lessons for learning Swiss/German lessons and have this good teacher, originally from Germany. But somehow I dont feel too comfortable with the subject matter.

1) I had this question and answer sheet from him, in German, regarding introduction and making small talk. One of the questions was "How many people live in your room?" I was kind of perplexed when came to that question but my good teacher pointed out that "Its not for you, dont worry about it. Its usually for immigrants when teaching them German"

2) We had this chapter about profiles of different kind of people living in Switzerland, and I was baffled by all the stereotyping in there. Swiss woman as a doctor, German male office worker, Italian male motor mechanic, female nurse from Honduras, Sri Lankan male kitchen help!!!
This was all part of the fancy TEXT BOOK, dont these people have any idea about political correctness? I mean why can't it be a Construction worker from Italy and Nurse from Philipines, German motor mechanic and Sri Lankan kitchen helper?

3) Most astonishing was when we had a chapter about office and various articles in it. When we came to Stapler, my good teacher told me its called "Bostitch" in Swiss German. Then he said becareful with that term, as the ex-Yugoslavians are also called Bostitch! Then he started chuckling. I gave him a puzzled look and asked "Why, whats the connection?" Then he said "How does a stapler work?" and banged his fist down on the table making some noise and said "You have to hit it hard on the head" and burst out laughing!

I did'nt know whether to laugh or cry, trying to control my laughter. Are these people for real? I mean the Swiss Germans, not the Yugoslavians.

These are good enough reasons for me not to learn Swiss German (punkt)
Next time he brings an article about Ivan....oh my.

How would my students like me using the good ol commie books? There is a lot about Marx and Engels, lotsa verbs...

Can he really teach you language when all you focus about how unprofessional he is? Tell him to stuff it.

He is just a jerk, not your stereotypical local teacher, mind you. Just a bad one. There are all over, not only here. He is not even local. You know, more local than the local type.
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