Is the socio-economic status of a language's speakers an important factor when choosing a language to learn?

General discussion about learning languages
Lisa
Yellow Belt
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Joined: Tue Jul 30, 2019 8:08 pm
Location: Oregon, United States
Languages: English (N) German (intermediate) Spanish (intermediate) French (beginner)
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Re: Is the socio-economic status of a language's speakers an important factor when choosing a language to learn?

Postby Lisa » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:59 pm

Ug_Caveman wrote:I have family members who work in international business, and (as I understand it) they're not allowed to try and conduct business in languages besides English. The prospect of a mistranslation or an accidentally offensive statement isn't worth the risk of trying out your new foreign language skills to impress clients...


This was an excellent point and I agree, but it doesn't negate the huge value of knowing the other language in a business setting. Just being able to understand, even partially, gives you an edge, and you are less likely to be offensive when using your own language if you have some awareness of what is done or not done. (never mind issues like the naming of the chevy nova)

Some years back I was leading a design meeting (software to support insurance) in Italy, in English, with a staff of Italians. I posed a question (probably about the precise meaning of an insurance term), and there was a discussion between them in Italian. They were shouting at each other, and it went on and on; sounded like a fight! If I'd been able to catch even 10% of it, I'd have at least known they were still talking about the question, and hadn't changed subject to argue about something else... it was quite uncomfortable.
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