Ah yes, what an adorable Facebook group.

I’ve almost no sympathy for this one.  We often get all high and mighty about people learning another language for our convenience.  Coming out of an American’s mouth, it’s appalling.   Chances are good anyone joining the aforesaid group is fluent in exactly one language –English.  Chances are equally as good that they’ve not traveled enough to know what it’s like to try to get by in a day to day situation in one’s non-native language.

Unless and until you’ve followed complex instructions in a language that is not your native language, you don’t get to have an opinion on this.

I’m saying this as someone who does speak more than one language by the way.  My French is good enough to do minor tech support[1], I can follow a Karate class taught in an Okinawan dialect[2] and can understand Spanish well enough to follow a movie without reading subtitles.

Those are easy languages/situations, I have a talent for languages and it’s still rough.  My bank account, credit rating or legal future are not involved in a fine understanding of any of those languages.  To expect someone to “just pick up” English well enough to handle this is absurd and self-righteous.  Especially out of people I expect don’t have any talent for languages themselves.

Show a little imagination and empathy people!


[1] try it sometime on four years of high school French learned at a time before most computer terminology was even invented

[2] Ya, body language and visual cues to help!

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One thought on “Why the HELL should I have to press 1 for English??

  1. Empathy? No. When I go to foreign countries, their automated phone systems do not support non-native langauges. I’ve never been asked by a computer, outside of America, if I would like English. I have to use the native language, or I’m S.O.L.

    No, I’m not fluent in any language other than English, but I do make an effort to learn enough to get by on when visiting somewhere else, and it pisses me off that people come to *LIVE* here without making a similar effort. I’ve had to get directions from a cab driver who spoke no English (and succeeded, and learned the German word for “traffic light” in the process). I’ve had to help programmers who spoke about as much English as I speak German (and I’ve never had any formal instruction) to debug their code. It’s not fun, but I can do it. I don’t expect people in foreign countries to speak my language. I do expect people who come to my country to speak it, though.

    (and yeah, I know, we Americans are typically pretty crappy about learning other languages… the mere fact that I attempted to learn the native tongue has always impressed the locals to no end when they learn my nationality)

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