Tongue Twisters

Let’s be honest, the British are an absolute embarassment when it somes to linguistic skills. I always kind of knew it, but this year has really opened my eyes to it.

Look first to the fact that alot of Swedish people have a better grasp of the english language than alot of the native speakers, both verbally and in the written word – they can distinguish between there, their and they’re! Then when a French pr Spanish person toddles along off the Swedes go in their “basic” and “poor” third language of which I would be rather proud.

People are complaining about the Americanisation of english. Who are we to judge? We rock up to wherever and most people expect some form of english to be around. Why? Do we cater for the Spanish language? Chinese? More people speak these than english. Lazy. Lazy lazy lazy. We make people speak english, who’s to stop the Americans making us speak American english?? Can’t be hypocrytical now can we…?

I was recently in Tokyo and fortunate enough to be invited around to a Japanese family’s house for dinner. They were mortified when they could not think of the exact right way to express themselves in english and never once did it seem an issue that I was in their house, in their country making them speak my language. I felt terrible.

I know a gril here, she’s Mexican. If she told me she was a native english speaker I would have believed her without a second thought. She also speaks “basic” Swedish. As in basic enough to have sat and had a full blown conversation with a group of Swedish pensioners when we went round to help with some charity work. I could kind of follow what was being said but when my turn came to answer words utterly failed. Once more, mortification.

I wish I’d kept up my french. I wish I’d taken Spanish. I wish I had some kind of linguistic prowess to be proud of. Alas I do not and wishing isn’t going to make one jot of difference. The whole living and going to class with only internationals has undoubtedly stunted my Swedish since English is what everyone else desires to practice and, you know, I’m an accomodating kind of guy! Meanwhile, bad accents mean that the Swedish people decide it’ll be faster to just reply in english rather than talk to exchange students in Swedish. A bit annoying but fair enough I suppose, time is precious after all. But if I could come back I would certainly find something which forced me to speak Swedish and here it back.

Going to Central America in the summer and I am determined to come away, nay to GO THERE, with some vocab and take the opportunity to learn another language. Next time I am in Japan I have promised the family that we shall chit chat in Japanese. Looks like I have some work to do…

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