Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

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chove
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby chove » Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:30 am

"Oh, Polish is the hardest language in the world, you'll never learn it."
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Systematiker » Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:50 am

Marais wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
Marais wrote:Just '17 years on and off' would have done.

No it wouldn't:
1.it would give credit to useless teachers and rigid school system. I was prevented from learning the language for many years. And before someone blames me: no, it wasn't obvious for a 13 year old girl with dial-up internet connection to look up tons of sources and self-study.
2.It would as well play down the struggles I had to go through, which were quite ridiculous considering the fact that my only guilt was liking something different than most people. Includes not only being ridiculed not only by other kids but as well by adults, but it was another reason for an English teacher to shout at me several times per week.

So no, majority of the 17 years was absolutely wasted and not by my fault. I didn't take me 17 years to learn French, I was not that slow due to stupidity and refuse to be taken for stupid. It took many years to the system to stop actively holding me back. I could have been at my current level ten years ago. So no. Just as I haven't learnt vast majority of it at school.

I don't know why you have to be that sensitive over it. Seems like a huge overreaction to a simple question. I asked you how long you've been learning French because i too learn French, and see that you're fluent, so i'm interested. You turned a very simple question into some pointless debate. Saying 'on and off' doesn't 'give credit to teachers' or anything of the like. The person asking will just think you've been learning French, not necessarily consistently, but since 17 years ago. It's very simple really in my opinion.

You could have just said 'it's hard to say' and moved on. No need to make such a big deal of it.

From some of the reactions here i'm beginning to think that maybe innocent people trying to make conversation get the 'wrong' end of your sticks and end up on the end of some bitter tirades.


Not that she needs me to come to her defense, but I for one appreciate the precision in her type of answer. It doesn't skew people's expectations (that long? Languages are hard! That short? You must be a language genius!) and acknowledges the inherent struggle and difference of language learning vs many other types of learning. It opens the door, if your interlocutor is willing, to a conversation about what learning a language really takes, so you can give an answer appropriately.

Of course, I tend to answer most questions like that, so I appreciate it - and I understand that others sometimes find it annoying, though it's certainly, not pointless.

I'll also acknowledge that the written medium must be taken into account here - my initial reading of your last paragraph got a very strong reaction, as I initially found it way out of line and incommensurate with what it was referencing, but I'm sure that I'm misreading intent here.

As for the thread topic: I don't get many odd comments, perhaps in part because people who know me don't want to get me started talking... :lol: languages just end up in the "ok, yeah, you do stuff we don't get, that's cool" category for a lot of people.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:20 am

They all speak English anyway When referring to continental Europe and the languages spoken there.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Cavesa » Sun Nov 13, 2016 4:38 am

Thanks, Systematiker.

Marais, the supposed "oversensitivity" is actually just a normal reaction to all the crap I have been getting during the process, and all the bad reactions to my answer to this stupid and innocent question accumulated over years. I even got a highly negative reaction to the simple and short answer (the one "17 years with some breaks") here on this forum, which was a bad surprise. I don't know how much experience you have got with psychical bullying (those bullies who are too smart to make visible traces, or they simply don't know their sense of humour is out of place and attacking someone with already enough problems on their plate), I guess not much. Anything can be an excuse for systematically mocking an unpopular person. And this was one of them in my case, I'm gonna spare you any details. Sure, just breathing would have sufficed but this tiny difference was a great target. And some adults actively participated.

I am much more comfortable about answering the same question, and others, about any other language of mine. I have had long breaks in them too, and bad teachers as well. But they weren't an excuse for lots of people to behave the same way they behave because of French. I am sorry, if I misinterpreted your absolutely honest question, but I am not sorry about being defensive.

Since one answer by s_allard, I do not give the short answer,even here, as a prevention. No, I am not a stupid spoilt brat who was being given excellent education for more than a decade and half to achieve some results, and who doesn't value all the awesome people helping along the way. Nope, it was a very different path.

Therefore, I trully wish people stopped asking this question, especially strangers who just want an answer fitting their expectations.

And in general, I wish people stopped asking questions without appropriate short answers :-D Like "how did you learn French?" I find it stupid to try to fit years of various methods into one sentence. This is real life, not a commercial in which you'd hear "oh, I bought Rosetta Stone!"

Or rather, stopped asking questions they don't want to hear the answer for. I find the whole "how are you" tradition quite stupid and this is the same thing in most cases.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:23 am

As much as I get pissed off at the state of humanity, at a small seemingly pointless things or at comments about how useless French is, I do think our internal reactions as well as empathy help enormously.

If we have a hard time at seemingly endless comments that belittle our efforts in learning a foreign language, or perhaps the odd one or two, best not to blame 'idiots', 'stupid ppl' etc and 1.challenge your own internal reaction and 2 understand where they are coming from.

Example: French is useless etc..,

Possible internal reaction/dialogue: "You f€&@"g €&@@€ you've no idea you moron how much effort I put into and have put into learning this beautiful language of which i am passionate about"
Replace with:
1 why does this person think this, you could even find humour in your own reactions, and if its downright nasty that is their opinion/judgement is hugely unjustified, it does not have to affect you. ie focus on your reaction to such things, rather than the need to control them. eg This person lacks respect/understanding etc
2 Why would they say this- what is lacking in their knowledge/background etc

And conclude with attempting to provide some insight into language learning from your perspective. Or move on without allowing yourself to be bothered as you can assume they simply lack understanding, or hold harsh views which need not have an effect on you.

Easier said than done, and I am no angel, but certainly worth considering.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Cavesa » Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:52 pm

Yeah sure, let's not blame people, most of which hasve no clue what they are talking on, and who criticise our decisions without reason all the time. If we can do it a hundred times, why not a thousand times. That was the real world. Now on this language forum: let's not give true answers, despite the fact we are talking about something we all know, just to save up a bit of time.

This trully has not been the central problem of my life, it has just been something on top of real problems, that's why it has always been even more annoying than in normal circumstances. I was being kept from one of the very few things that were making me happy, I have had my work actively sabbotaged. I am not gonna lie that I was allowed and supported to pursue my choice for many years.

I am simply tired, as I have heard exactly the same stupid reactions a milion times, so I have adapted and simply provide answers that don't leave space for the misinterpretations. The one discussion in which s_allard purposefully misinterpreted my answer to discredit my arguments, that was the last drop.

It looks easy. I just say one short version and we go on, in theory. But we don't. People react stupidly again and a again and I end up explaining the same stuff anyways, but in twice the time.
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby tarvos » Sun Nov 13, 2016 7:09 pm

Iversen wrote:
Ari wrote:Right, the "you're a language genius" is the one that really irks me.


I even heard that one at the polyglot conference in Thessaloniki, where people should know better...


I get that one all the time, even at the bloody conference...
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby JohannaNYC » Mon Nov 14, 2016 2:44 am

"Why don't you learn German?"

"You should be a translator or an interpreter. Yes, an interpreter they make more money."

The assumption being that languages are only valuable as a tool to make money. In the case of German, many Europeans wrongly assume that knowing German is as economically useful in the US as it is in Europe.

People also ask me if I'm spy, which doesn't bother me at all, it actually makes me giggle :)
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby Cavesa » Mon Nov 14, 2016 3:10 am

JohannaNYC wrote:"Why don't you learn German?"

"You should be a translator or an interpreter. Yes, an interpreter they make more money."

The assumption being that languages are only valuable as a tool to make money. In the case of German, many Europeans wrongly assume that knowing German is as economically useful in the US as it is in Europe.

People also ask me if I'm spy, which doesn't bother me at all, it actually makes me giggle :)


It's strange people say this in the US too. It is understandable (but still far from pleasant or appropriate) in central europe. But still, I don't get why the people say it, usually in a tone and with an expression "surely nobody ever thought of telling you before I appeared". It's like those self-appointed doctors telling insomniacs "you should try going to bed earlier". :-D We've all heard it a million times and didn't need it even once.

I think it would be great if people stopped considering German only as an economical asset. Yes, it is that, in Europe for sure. In US probably not much. But there is so much more to the language and culture. Perhaps I would have avoided those many years of distaste for German and could have started earlier, if only someone pointed out the true qualities of the language. If only they got further than saying:
"They are neighbours." So are the Poles.
"They are rich." So is half Europe, compared to us, and the difference is not huge, compared to what it used to be.
"There are german companies here." Yeah, and plenty french, american, japanese, russian, korean ones, and many others.
"There are german speaking tourists." Yes, there are. But these days, I hear Spanish, Italian, and asian languages much more in Prague.
Somehow, this kind of people no longer says "you could work there" so much, as they know I probably will :-D
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Re: Things you wish people would stop saying when you tell them the languages that you're learning

Postby garyb » Mon Nov 14, 2016 10:18 am

Along similar lines, I sometimes get "oh, you speak a few languages, why don't you do a job using them?". People tend to not realise that being able to chat with native speaker friends at the pub doesn't necessarily mean that you're capable of high-level translation or interpretation. I suppose there are other options, like working in an international call centre. Dealing with angry customers all day to earn half of my current salary... Where do I sign up?! Or teaching: I realise that you don't need to be particularly good at a language to teach it at high school, but do I really want to contribute to that problem? There probably are other possibilities, but what's wrong with just doing it as a hobby; does everything have to be for your career?

Cavesa wrote:Another great one: "How long have you been in France? Oh, you've learnt/improved so fast!"
Nope, I haven't. I was getting these earlier and had to face the shock of supposedly having learnt French in a few weeks. Now people simply assume I have learnt in two months.


That's a classic. "How long did you spend in Sicily?" "Two weeks." "Wow, you learned Italian quickly!!" Even when I've already mentioned the near five years of study before that trip.
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