Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 25th Oct 2009 12:51 UTC
Editorial A couple of years ago, a professor at my university had a very interesting thought exchange with the class I was in. We were a small group, and I knew most of them, they were my friends. Anyway, we had a talk about language purism - not an unimportant subject if you study English in The Netherlands.
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OT: Wrong about Americans
by joshv on Sun 25th Oct 2009 13:32 UTC
joshv
Member since:
2006-03-18

"Most of our readers come from the United States, and as such, will have little to no experience in dealing with languages other than English (which, I can assure you, is a great loss - nothing broadens your horizon more than learning a new language)"

Good lord - generalize much? I deal with Spanish every day, living in a city with a large minority hispanic population. I took French in high school, studied Nederlands in college and even got in a semester of Hungarian while in Budapest. My wife took the obligatory high school French, speaks fluent German (Germans ask her what part of Germany she is from) and studied Swedish in college.

Granted, I live in a world where my languages is the lingua franca, so no, my skills in a non-native language are certainly not as buff as yours, but you are wrong to assume that people in the US with a similar educational level as your own, have little or no exposure to foreign languages.

Reply Score: 8

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by cyberpsi on Sun 25th Oct 2009 13:38 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
cyberpsi Member since:
2005-07-12

It seems to me that it's time to USA study P.R. because everybody else gets the wrong image.

Reply Parent Score: 4

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by righard on Sun 25th Oct 2009 17:34 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
righard Member since:
2007-12-26

Google "Multilingualism in us" and you'll see that Americans are lacking somewhat behind in speaking more then one language.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by frajo on Sun 25th Oct 2009 18:44 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
frajo Member since:
2007-06-29

you are wrong to assume that people in the US with a similar educational level as your own, have little or no exposure to foreign languages.

This might be correct for the well educated strata you mentioned. But it isn't if you compare the majority in The Netherlands with the majority in the US. Growing up in the smaller country you practically can't avoid to learn some German, French, and English.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: OT: Wrong about Americans
by joshv on Mon 26th Oct 2009 14:34 in reply to "RE: OT: Wrong about Americans"
joshv Member since:
2006-03-18

"you are wrong to assume that people in the US with a similar educational level as your own, have little or no exposure to foreign languages.

This might be correct for the well educated strata you mentioned. But it isn't if you compare the majority in The Netherlands with the majority in the US. Growing up in the smaller country you practically can't avoid to learn some German, French, and English.
"

What percentage of the Dutch population do you imagine is as well educated as Thom? The Netherlands has it's working class as well. I doubt very much that most of them speak or write English half as well as Thom. I'll grant that most people will at least know some English, German or French, of necessity - nobody is going to understand your Dutch when you are carvanning around Europe on holiday.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by Drumhellar on Sun 25th Oct 2009 19:21 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Thom is half-right. Americans do deal with other languages frequently, but do so poorly. "Budweiser is advertising in Spanish?!?! That's an American beer!"

Speaking multiple languages and traveling abroad makes you a rare exception. I think most Americans with as much education as you quickly forgot the languages they learned once they got a diploma. California is the worst, I think, because we are the most diverse part of the country, but still think everybody should learn English. I really do think a foreign language should be a requirement for graduating high school, but Americans don't really like anything "foreign".

Oh, the irony.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: OT: Wrong about Americans
by zlynx on Tue 27th Oct 2009 01:57 in reply to "RE: OT: Wrong about Americans"
zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

A foreign language is a US high school requirement. I distinctly remember being forced to choose between a year of French or Spanish in 1991.

This may vary between school districts. I couldn't say.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by Soulbender on Mon 26th Oct 2009 10:36 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
Soulbender Member since:
2005-08-18

studied Nederlands in college


In what country do they speak "Nederlands"?

Reply Parent Score: 1

Thom_Holwerda Member since:
2005-06-29

In what country do they speak "Nederlands"?


In mine. "The Netherlands" is English for "Nederland", and the language we speak is "Nederlands". Technically speaking, the English name for my language should be "Netherlandic", but this term is hardly used.

"Dutch" is a relic name, as it refers to a language that no longer exists ("Middle Dutch" or colloqually, "Diets", ~1100-1500).

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: OT: Wrong about Americans
by joshv on Mon 26th Oct 2009 14:28 in reply to "RE: OT: Wrong about Americans"
joshv Member since:
2006-03-18

In Nederland.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by twitterfire on Mon 26th Oct 2009 12:50 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
twitterfire Member since:
2008-09-11

Well, not Thom is wrong but Hollywood who presents the average american as being illiterate. So people judge americans as they are presented in films and media.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: OT: Wrong about Americans
by josi on Tue 27th Oct 2009 18:33 in reply to "OT: Wrong about Americans"
josi Member since:
2009-03-11

There are lots of people in the USA who have great foreign language skills. But if you compare the statistics, there is a huge difference between the USA and Europe.

Please don't take offence, but sometimes we need to generalise if we want to say something about the general trends. It is however important to emphasise that the general trend not necessarally implies that all the individuals are alike.

I can by looking at the statistics say that you have much more linguistic knowledge than what is the trend among US Americans.

Reply Parent Score: 1