This will be a non book related post on Language etiquettes, because sometimes I think people forget there are etiquettes even for language, they are even part of our laws and legislation here in the Netherlands. Why am I talking about languages etiquettes? Well because sometimes it annoys the crap out of me that people always assume they can rely on their mother tongue in every country around the world.
Sure for the English speaking world this is partly true, but what if you decided to live in a foreign country? For example a person from the States immigrates to the Netherlands? Is it right to keep speaking you mother tongue then? I think not, I think that if you want to live in a country which doesn't speak your language, you should at least try and learn the basis of that language so you can express yourself. I am not referring to tourist here or people that only stay for a short while (well some of them will be here to learn the language) I am talking about people who plan to stay in a country on the long term.
What brought on this discussion? Well I know a person who moved here (to the Netherlands) about ten years ago. A person I can't fully ignore, for the sake of this story, lets call her Jane. Jane has lived in the Netherlands for about ten years, I think, still she doesn't speak on single word of Dutch. She also expects that everyone who doesn't speak English will understand it. Yeah like everyone speaks and understands English in the Netherlands, sorry to burst the bubble they don't. There are lots of people who don't either because they find it hard to learn foreign languages, or didn't have the change to learn it in school (like many of our elderly).
Jane doesn't seem to consider this, nor cares to improve on here Dutch. So when she encounters my man, he will not understand her and she expects that he does, which is very funny when I think about it now. She rambling about everything that annoys her about us and he just standing there looking at her with this big freaking question mark on his forehead. Isn't that just rude though? Expecting from someone who lives in The Netherlands, where the people speak DUTCH, to have to speak English because some decided they want to live here and not adjust?
Let's turn this around, when I want to emigrate to the States or let's say France, would I be able to explain myself by stubbornly speaking Dutch? I think they would be standing there with question marks on there forehead and thinking to themselves: well that's rude she has been living here for so long she should be able to speak our language? Uh does she really expect us to speak Dutch? That is just rude!
Also Jane know that I do speak English so she expects me to translate, what she doesn't know is that it annoys the crap out of me that she can't address me in my mother tongue. She doesn't even try it! I don't know if I should make here aware of my annoyance since we don't get along anyway, nonetheless does it annoy me. Is it wrong to expect a person who has chosen to live in the Netherlands to speak a basic level of Dutch?
Well, it is not, even the government will agree with me, since everyone who wants to live in the Netherlands is expected to take a languages course! Want another example? You might this Tv- program , The Voice (of Holland) since it was also sold to at least to the States and many other countries, anyways we had some contestants that didn't speak Dutch, even they had to learn Dutch if they wanted to continue participating in the program! So I think my annoyance is at least partly justified.
This goes for any language really, if you decide to live abroad learn the basics of the language of that particular country. For now I just keep replying to her in Dutch, maybe she will get the message.