Native English speakers will always be considered stupid!

Joe   Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:47 am GMT
I find it unfair that a non-native English speaker can learn English and be considered educated, but as a native-English speaker, even though I know four languages fluently, if I go to a country where I don't know the language, I'm just another arrogant American who refuses to learn the language, even though I speak several languages fluently!
Josh Lalonde   Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:55 am GMT
You're not going to get any useful responses to this topic, so I'm locking it for now. Maybe I'll open it up in the morning when I can watch it more closely and make sure it doesn't get out of hand.
Guest   Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:05 am GMT
I don't think that's true. Just because someone is multilingual does not make them educated. For most people in English-speaking countries, if they meet some foreigner who speaks another language they don't consider them more intelligent or open-minded. It's just a matter of circumstance, if they'd been born in their shoes, they would have learn English too, so what of it?

Learning languages can be a disadvantage. So much time spent learning a language could be spent otherwise. Maybe this is why USA does so well in science and technology.
Guest   Fri Jan 25, 2008 2:52 am GMT
Joe,

There are "ignorant" people everywhere. Impress them with your languages and that will give them food for thought.
Xie   Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:10 am GMT
It's all about politics. But do you possibly know how a self-claimed linguistically challenged person who is not Anglophone might be thinking about?

I don't think one has to kick a fuss about this. I consider myself to be one such linguistically challenged person - though raised in one of the excellent economies of the world, I've never been endowed with something called Mandarin/English which millions/tens of millions of foreigners are getting crazily enthusiastic about (dictionary says I'm strictly not a native speaker, even though I know much more Mandarin than an average advanced learner). But what really is bad about it? Like other peoples who are only fluent (in the strictest sense) in a rarely learnt language, I at least know one language that many people don't know, and it's still an asset after all.

Other qualities of yourself might count much more than linguistic ability.
guest   Fri Jan 25, 2008 4:07 pm GMT
<<Impress them with your languages and that will give them food for thought. >>

This wouldn't impress me unless they had something more substantial, like character, ingenuity, experience, etc. to back the language-flair up.
Guest   Fri Jan 25, 2008 10:31 pm GMT
No lo encuentro impresionante cuando los extranjeros hablan mi idioma, no me hace respetarlos. De verdad, me importa un bledo. Bueno, a ti te gusta aprender idiomas, a mi no! A mi me gusta la jardinería, a ti no. Así que deja de jactarte de tus idiomas, que no me importa.
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 12:04 am GMT
It doesn't impress me when foreigners speak English either, actually.

I guess I'm not impressed with people who speak languages unless I know what languages they speak. Then the fun begins!
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 1:21 am GMT
Тhat's another advantage of being an English native. If you do speak another language you will get more credit for it than you deserve, just because it's unexpected. If you are not English native then people won't blink an eyelid.
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:18 am GMT
Yes, non native English speakers are supposed to speak English because in the XXI century they are illiterate if they don't , and also other languages if they are cultured. English speaker are expected to speak English only , hence if they speak another language they are more highly regarded than non native English speakers who just speak English.
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 2:43 am GMT
Americans are usually unimpressed by foreigners who speak English. In fact, Americans tend to expect that foreigners speak English.
Xie   Sat Jan 26, 2008 3:42 am GMT
>>If you are not English native then people won't blink an eyelid.

Just like how I'd always value lectures of non-native speakers much less, just because of the language problem. Ironically, I'm one of the non-natives who does have mixed feelings toward this issue. Even for me, an average Chinese without English is almost synonymous with being illiterate. I can see monolinguals experiencing that. There's much that you can't do without English than Chinese, for example. So, it's a matter of perspective. Anglophones might want to learn Chinese to enhance their linguistic potential, but even for the most educated Chinese, English is for survival. That's not exactly comparable. It might be one reason why many of the natives often think Chinese is impossible, or they might take pride in its so-called sheer difficulty.

How depressing it could be for me to see my compatriots are looking for "better" English levels among Hong Kong students. Are the natives actually looking for English for prestige (or for survival) or are Hong Kong students looking for both Mandarin and English for prestige (and for survival)?

I think it really hurts to speak of pride. So, to be somewhat self-comforting (coined as ah-Q in Chinese), I'd just say "other qualities of myself count much more than being native or non-native in a language".

It might also be a paradox. Anglophones and non-Anglophones are like living in two different worlds. Despite apparent linguistic advantages and disadvantages, both are struggling to speak foreign. As Farber implies, not mastering a foreign language (yes, I'm addressing YOU: whichever you learn, your French or Spanish or whatever might have to be as strong as my English, as shown here) could be economically damaging, etc, even for Anglophones - even back in 1990. So, I do take pride in believing that enhancing such potential is a virtue.
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:50 pm GMT
>>Тhat's another advantage of being an English native. If you do speak another language you will get more credit for it than you deserve, just because it's unexpected. If you are not English native then people won't blink an eyelid<<

True, but it's not just because you made the effort when you didn't have to. It's also because almost all of the time it is harder for the native English speaker to learn the basics of another language than vice versa, even if the difficulty is not particularly greater at a higher level.
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:40 pm GMT
<<It's also because almost all of the time it is harder for the native English speaker to learn the basics of another language than vice versa, even if the difficulty is not particularly greater at a higher level.>>

What are you talking about? There's nothing which genetically makes English speakers less capable of learning languages. If Finnish were the international language, those linguistically stunning Fins would suddenly be the monolingual ones struggling to learn other languages.
Guest   Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:47 pm GMT
>>What are you talking about? There's nothing which genetically makes English speakers less capable of learning languages. If Finnish were the international language, those linguistically stunning Fins would suddenly be the monolingual ones struggling to learn other languages<<

No, there's no denying that the basic grammar of English is simpler than many other languages. That means it's easier to get to a level where you can communicate on a basic level. That doesn't mean it's particularly easier to reach a native level in English, because English becomes more difficult beyond a basic level. But if you take someone whose native language is neither English nor Finnish, they will almost certainly find English the easier of the two TO BEGIN WITH even if their native language is closer to Finnish.