To all the wednesday haters out there...

by Valis 46 Replies latest jw friends


    Oh boy...did I miss something? Anyways...

    I had lived in SE Asia some time ago. Despite the country having a good number of English-speaking citizens, I noticed that as you went further away from the major urban centres: English was spoken with less frequency and ease, if at all in some locations.

    'Time to do something' I thought to myself. So, I started to learn Tagalog [the main language (not the only one) of the Philippines].

    It was hilarious at times, because your thinking still structures sentence usage in English. Sometimes I thought everything was spoken in some sort of backwards fashion. But in reality, many languages do not function as does English.

    OK. So, many months go by, and I begin to get pretty damn good at speaking Tagalog. I was able to ask for things, directions, 'how much', and eavesdrop on conversations. I did take a bit of training here in Canada before I left, but it is when I arrived there that I got a crash course. It was enlightening, and my experience was all that more enhanced by learning the basics.

    Now, living in Canada, many of you know, the province just to the east of Ontario is: Quebec. It is predominantly French speaking (not exactly like France French). Again, for many many years, many Anglophone (English speaking) Quebecers would NOT speak French, nor learn it. Nevermind that the entire province is predominantly French. I think the animosity at times directed towards the English, was a result of English-speaking Quebecers continually not bothering to speak French when it was purely evident: you're in Quebec. (not talking tourists here). Even myself, if I'm in Quebec, I make a good attempt at speaking French, and trust me, I have had NO negative looks for doing so, just pleasant smiles and some thumbs up.

    As for newcomers,'s an on-going dilemma. But for the most part, I have seen many new immigrants doing their damnest to learn the language of their newly adopted country. It makes for an easier life for them, and to their on-going benefit. I am always encouraged by their enthusiasm to 'get it right'.

    I have seen people in banks, post offices, who cannot communicate more than a couple of words in English. You'd think, that they would 'get it; that no one speaks their exotic language within a 10,000 mile radius. It's annoying and frustrating. The smart ones who are new and still do not have a grasp of the local language, at least have a translator on-hand which is wise and makes for smooth transactions and less chance of error.

    When I visited another country in SE Asia, I had to go to a bank. I knew full well I could not speak the language. I knew a few words, but I made it a point to have a billingual person with me who could assist me with both English and Thai. I did learn a few sentences while there, and I would greet people appropriately (clasping of two hands together: Sawasdi Kup). Those little gestures would grant you respect and many affirmative smiles. I would say please/thank you in their language, and honestly, they appreciated it immensely.

    For many refugees and those fleeing due to some unforseen crisis abroad, I totally cut them some slack.

    My good friend, he has a nephew who moved to Canada in September 2002. He continually encourages him to take up ESL; watch local news (not action movies); mix with local Canadians of every extraction and speak English around the house. I applaud my friend because he knows it's essential and imperative to speak English here. His nephew, in already 6 months, has made incredible gains in speaking English. I'm so proud of him.

    When I do travel abroad, I make it a point to at least learn the basics. If you know how to say: Please; Thank You; You're Welcome, you're on the right track.

    I think it's the proper and wise thing to do when travelling or living in a country that speaks another language other than English. People respect you so much more when you do that. It'd be the same for those who are new to their adopted country, but of course, this will take some time, so when possible, please be patient and forgiving.

  • xenawarrior

    Okay, jumping in here...

    As one of the hispanic students said to me, "My Mom doesn't speak English, and she doesn't wanna learn".

    That's fine with me if she doesn't "wanna" but then don't ask me to pay extra in my tax bill to have documents and periodicals and other forms printed in her language so that she can understand.

    The thing to me is- this is the United States and the language is English. I would be an idiot to think that I could move to another country where there is a language other than my own spoken and expect them to accomodate me. If I wanted to survive in that country it would be my responsibility to learn their language-period. And I certainly couldn't be jumping up and down yelling "racist" because that is the reality of the situation. And if I wanted to work in that country, I had better learn the language so I can communicate with co-workers, customers and my supervisor. Or is it the responsibility of that country to accomodate me and give me a supervisor who is bi- or tri-lingual so that I might be more comfortable. No- I have to do whatever is necessary to learn the language.

    My grandfather came to this country in the 1920's from Ireland speaking nothing but Gaelic and he had to learn the language in a hurry in order to survive. Was it easy for him? I'm certain it wasn't. Back then there weren't many formal ESL classes if they existed at all. But it was his choice to make his way to this country and to live here and with that choice came a responsibility. When I was growing up, I could understand my grandparents just fine, but when my friends where around them their heavy brogue made it hard for some of my friends to understand and all that was needed was a little more effort on the listener's part.

    I believe that it's the responsibility of individuals who wish to live in any country to assimilate themselves into that country- not the other way around. That includes learning the language of that country. Why is it that so many DO learn to speak english? Yes, English is a tough language to learn but it's certainly not impossible or noone would be capable. There are many programs out there and tons of folks volunteering their time to teach English to the many who need to learn it. They just have to "wanna" badly enough.

    If I own a business here, should I be required to have bi- and tri-lingual supervisors on staff in order to be able to communicate with and supervise everyone in order that they might work in this country? Is that my responsibility? I don't think so. IMHO, it's the responsibility of the individual. It comes with the choice to live here.

    We had an employee placed at one of the best employers in town a few years ago. He was Hispanic and had moved here from Mexico. He was a great employee and his english was decent. That employer wanted to hire this young man, as he had proven to be dependable and a good worker. He would have started out on their payroll with the best benefit and pension plans in this city and at a starting wage back then of around $15.00 per hour. Not bad for a young man with little formal education and no experience in a fairly easy packaging type job. There was testing involved for this position and the only area he had trouble with was English. The company was willing to send him to the local technical college to learn it more. The employee declined. He didn't "wanna" and he lost an excellent opportunity. He said it was "too hard". That was HIS choice, HIS loss.

    Do my beliefs about this topic make me a racist? Well, if they do, then maybe we all need to be on the same page as to what a racist is and then we can start another huge debate.

    Valis, thank you for standing up for Wednesday on this. I don't understand why people must be so nasty in order to have a debate. If we all agreed with each other it would be awfully boring.


  • Mac

    Yea,, what xenawarrior said!


  • Simon

    I think it's easy for us English speakers to dictate to 'johnny foreigner' that he or she must learn English but the fact is that plenty of people don't and can't speak the language and the fact that the only thing they have done 'wrong' is be born to parents who speak a different language is no reason for them to be discriminated against.

    There should be encouragement and help for people to lean to speak the language of the land (even though it's only really been the language in the USA for little over a century) but what are they supposed to don in the meantime? Not work? Not shop? Not live?

    Where do we draw the line? What is the standard for the ability to communicate (which is what it is). Do we clamp down on poor grammar and pronunciation or people with daft accents that we cant comprehend?

  • TruckerGB

    Couldnt agree more Xenawarrior.



  • Valis
    There should be encouragement and help for people to lean to speak the language of the land (even though it's only really been the language in the USA for little over a century) but what are they supposed to don in the meantime? Not work? Not shop? Not live?

    It is usually the case that immigrants have a support base, hence the ethnicaly compacted neighborhoods you see with populations of people from their own country respectively...many times this is a good and a bad thing,because they don't have the impetus to speak something other than their own language and a good one because they have peeps that have been there long enough to know how hard it is to get in and fit in....This is not an absolute, just something I notice. I grew up in West Dallas, which is and was a very rough wasn't just that the immigrants I lived around couldn't speak English very well, but that they didn't live in my hood for long periods of time...always moving to where the crops needed harvesting, only to stay around where I lived for short periods of time..usually 1 year or less...its harder for the adults to acclimate to their surroundings, and BTW it makes their kids act like total asses cuz they know there will be no long term repercussions...a sad commentary, but one that should be brought into the mix..


    District Overbeer of the "Its A Small World After All" class

  • rebel

    In my local paper this week, approx 30% of the jobs advertised required you to be able to speak an Asian language. I thought I was qualified for some of them, but I can't speak Urdu, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujerati (sp?) etc etc. Many, many jobs in schools, social services, youth services, job centres, other civil service posts etc require you to be able to speak one of these languages or you just don't get a look in.

    I wouldn't mind learning another language if I was going to work in a foreign country, but I live in London????

    It's a funny world.


  • wednesday

    As i said, i have the utmost respect for those trying to learn English. it is a hard language. And i am ok with clerks and others who try and communicate wijth me, often getting others who speak English to lend a hand.

    As far as dialects, i've never had anyone speaking a form of Eglish, i could not somehow understand-even if it required real work for them.

    I realize my grammer is poor, but i think i can generally be understood, and if i cannot, i will try and improve if someone says they can't undestand me. We speak english here, and i don't understand anything else.

    I appreciate those who took a stand against te hateful racial slurs that were dished out to me. ,

  • Simon

    I wonder how different it is when, for instance, the British live abroad ... and in English speaking communities of ex-pat's?

    If I moved to France (heaven forbid!) I would probably learn enough of the language to get by but I wouldn't be interested in it as a native language or 'becoming French' which is what a lot of this seems to be about.

  • Valis

    I don't think so Simon...I think there are degrees of assimlation into a culture, but I guess we are looking for that common denominator that allows everyone to communicate...Jehover really screwed us on that whole Tower of Babel thing huh? *LOL* How much easier would it be if we all spoke the same language? eheheh


    District Overbeer of the "Leaving Now To Hop Back On My Bike" class...good onya all!

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