Author Topic: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?  (Read 8285 times)

RetiredAt63

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #150 on: April 11, 2017, 04:02:35 PM »
I have a friend who I thought for ages was born in Ireland. Nope - she was born in Germany and moved to Ireland when she was 18. You would never know she wasn't a native English speaker just from listening to her.

This is how tricky language can be. If you live in the UK, you (or I) might not be able to differentiate her from a native Irish speaker. However, the true test is if the Irish hear an accent or not.

Not to belabor the point, but when I lived in Poland I met a few Polish teachers of English. They all had what I considered to be amazing British English accents. The local Brits in town weren't impressed, however.

But so many British accents.  I used to do volunteer activities with 3 Brits - 3 totally different accents.
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oldladystache

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #151 on: April 11, 2017, 06:22:57 PM »
I've always suspected that older transplants keep their accents because everyone is too polite to correct an adult, but the younger the person is the more likely people will help him learn his new language correctly. Plus, younger people accept the corrections more easily.


Daisy

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #152 on: April 11, 2017, 09:36:02 PM »
I've always suspected that older transplants keep their accents because everyone is too polite to correct an adult, but the younger the person is the more likely people will help him learn his new language correctly. Plus, younger people accept the corrections more easily.

I'm not a speech therapist, but I know some people that are and I think the reason is that your speech patterns, ability to format certain sounds are developed in the early few years of life.

That's one of the reasons why my speech tberapist sister-in-law insisted that  my 2nd generation American nephews learn to speak Spanish solely in their first few years so that they could get the linguistic training done early. She knew tbey would pick up English easier in school. My brother and sister-in-law speak both English and Spanish fluently and without any "accent" in each and so do their kids.

I was born in the US, but my parents forced us to speak Spanish at home so that we would be fully bilingual. Among my siblings and friends growing up, we preferred to speak in English, watched English language TV,  but as adults we have all embraced our full bilingualism and appreciate our parents' effort to force us to speak Spanish. We sound purely American in English and our Spanish doesn't have a gringo accent.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 11:08:48 PM by Daisy »

Daisy

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #153 on: April 11, 2017, 09:39:03 PM »
Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 11:06:53 PM by Daisy »

craiglepaige

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #154 on: April 12, 2017, 06:00:06 AM »
Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.

My American wife does the same thing lol.
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Rimu05

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #155 on: April 12, 2017, 09:23:40 AM »
Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.

My American wife does the same thing lol.

I notice in my Spanish class, everyone has this problem (Americans) except me and like another person. Probably because we speak other languages. For instance, when we went through the Spanish alphabet, I thought to myself, heavens, this is a breeze! Very similar to the Swahili alphabet and considering my username is what my family and my Kenyan friends call me. I've got the Rs on lock down.

Inaya

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #156 on: April 12, 2017, 10:01:09 AM »
Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.

My American wife does the same thing lol.

I notice in my Spanish class, everyone has this problem (Americans) except me and like another person. Probably because we speak other languages. For instance, when we went through the Spanish alphabet, I thought to myself, heavens, this is a breeze! Very similar to the Swahili alphabet and considering my username is what my family and my Kenyan friends call me. I've got the Rs on lock down.
In every Spanish class I ever took (I've taken Spanish I and II many times because of graduation requirements at various levels), I've only encountered a single person who couldn't roll his Rs. I'm wondering if that's because I was raised in New Mexico, so basic Spanish (and pronunciation) was part of the curriculum from a young age. I still remember the tune of the "dias de la semana" song I learned in preschool.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 10:02:49 AM by Inaya »
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libertarian4321

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #157 on: April 12, 2017, 10:19:17 AM »
Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.

My American wife does the same thing lol.

I notice in my Spanish class, everyone has this problem (Americans) except me and like another person. Probably because we speak other languages. For instance, when we went through the Spanish alphabet, I thought to myself, heavens, this is a breeze! Very similar to the Swahili alphabet and considering my username is what my family and my Kenyan friends call me. I've got the Rs on lock down.

I think it must be one of those things that some people can do easily, and others can't.  After moving to South Texas, I picked it up easily.  It just seemed sort of natural, no big deal.  But I know a lot of other native English speakers just can't do it- or find it very difficult.

For any American who has trouble, look at the bright side.  At least you aren't Chinese.  My wife is Chinese and occasionally has some difficulty with "American" Rs, even though her English, in general, sounds almost native.  I tried to teach her to roll her Rs when speaking Spanish. 

I think I would have had a better chance of teaching Verne Troyer to be an NBA power forward.  It just wasn't going to happen.
:)

Paul der Krake

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #158 on: April 12, 2017, 10:32:16 AM »
For any American who has trouble, look at the bright side.  At least you aren't Chinese.  My wife is Chinese and occasionally has some difficulty with "American" Rs, even though her English, in general, sounds almost native.  I tried to teach her to roll her Rs when speaking Spanish. 


dougules

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #159 on: April 12, 2017, 11:04:33 AM »
I've never lived anywhere long enough to fully imprint a distinctive accent in my speech. People are confused as hell when they try to pinpoint where I'm from. I've heard guesses from South Africa to Poland.

When I was in college in Mississippi, and knew a family with the husband from NZ and the wife who was from the US.  The kids had started out in NZ, but they'd been in Mississippi for a year or two.  It was a bit of a trippy experience to hear their son talk with an accent that was half Kiwi half Mississippi drawl.

Goldielocks

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #160 on: April 12, 2017, 11:15:10 AM »
Interesting fact:  I am a native english speaker, but learned basic french starting at ages 5-8.

As an adult, when I tried to learn spanish for the first time, i had a french accent.  Apparently, to me, all foreign languages are french ennunciation.

dougules

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #161 on: April 12, 2017, 11:17:17 AM »
Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.

My American wife does the same thing lol.

I notice in my Spanish class, everyone has this problem (Americans) except me and like another person. Probably because we speak other languages. For instance, when we went through the Spanish alphabet, I thought to myself, heavens, this is a breeze! Very similar to the Swahili alphabet and considering my username is what my family and my Kenyan friends call me. I've got the Rs on lock down.

Lots of languages have rolled R's, so plenty of third language speakers wouldn't have trouble with that aspect of Spanish.  Even the Scots roll their r's.  It's just not a thing in American English and English English. 


Another example regarding language is the fact that I have what is called "Frenillo Lingual" (Google translate shows "Bridle Tongue" as the English translation but it's description it's rather incorrect imo) which means I can't roll my R's in Spanish.  Which kind of sucks lol.

I had the operation to remove the tendon (?) underneath my tongue in order to be able to roll my R's when I was about 5yo, but even with the operation and linguistic therapy, I couldn't/can't. Apparently my mind can't break the habit.  Crazy how that works.

I wonder if my sister has this problem. She can't roll her double R's in Spanish either.

I must be a mean person because I love to taunt her and excessively roll my R's around her and it drives her nuts.

My American wife does the same thing lol.

I notice in my Spanish class, everyone has this problem (Americans) except me and like another person. Probably because we speak other languages. For instance, when we went through the Spanish alphabet, I thought to myself, heavens, this is a breeze! Very similar to the Swahili alphabet and considering my username is what my family and my Kenyan friends call me. I've got the Rs on lock down.

I think it must be one of those things that some people can do easily, and others can't.  After moving to South Texas, I picked it up easily.  It just seemed sort of natural, no big deal.  But I know a lot of other native English speakers just can't do it- or find it very difficult.

For any American who has trouble, look at the bright side.  At least you aren't Chinese.  My wife is Chinese and occasionally has some difficulty with "American" Rs, even though her English, in general, sounds almost native.  I tried to teach her to roll her Rs when speaking Spanish. 

I think I would have had a better chance of teaching Verne Troyer to be an NBA power forward.  It just wasn't going to happen.
:)

In college we tried to teach a Korean friend to pronounce "mirror."  Not possible.  Then it got hard for me when I started thinking about it too much. 

RetiredAt63

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #162 on: April 12, 2017, 04:33:46 PM »
Does this mean that my Anglophone French "r"s will transfer to Spanish?
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MandyM

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #163 on: April 13, 2017, 06:37:19 AM »
I have a friend who I thought for ages was born in Ireland. Nope - she was born in Germany and moved to Ireland when she was 18. You would never know she wasn't a native English speaker just from listening to her.

This is how tricky language can be. If you live in the UK, you (or I) might not be able to differentiate her from a native Irish speaker. However, the true test is if the Irish hear an accent or not.

Not to belabor the point, but when I lived in Poland I met a few Polish teachers of English. They all had what I considered to be amazing British English accents. The local Brits in town weren't impressed, however.

But so many British accents.  I used to do volunteer activities with 3 Brits - 3 totally different accents.

http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/07/amazing-run-17-british-accents.html

I've been following this thread for a while. As a non-immigrant I've found it incredibly interesting, even though I have nothing to add. As it has morphed into a discussion on accents, I will comment two things. I have met a few people of various ethnicities (e.g. Indian, Lebanese) that were first generation US and perfectly bilingual in english and their parent's native language. However, they said that they were instantly picked out as american while visiting the other country simply by the way they carried themselves (even in traditional attire). I can't think of a time I have thought the reverse when meeting a person here in the US (perfect accent, but obviously foreign). Am I just unaware?

Also, I have a friend that moved to the US from Nepal when she was 11. She grew up learning English in Nepal and she doesn't have any noticeable accent. But she uses words just a little funny, for example, if offering gum she would say, "would you like a gum?"
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bwall

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #164 on: April 13, 2017, 07:13:22 AM »
I have met a few people of various ethnicities (e.g. Indian, Lebanese) that were first generation US and perfectly bilingual in english and their parent's native language. However, they said that they were instantly picked out as american while visiting the other country simply by the way they carried themselves (even in traditional attire). I can't think of a time I have thought the reverse when meeting a person here in the US (perfect accent, but obviously foreign). Am I just unaware?

No, you are not unaware. It's just that the reverse never very very rarely happens. That is to say, not many Americans emigrate and try and assimilate culturally to their new country. American missionaries may go and may send their kids back to the USA, but I wouldn't say that they assimilate culturally--they're bringing their culture with them.

When I was younger and traveled the world, I noticed that there was only one country where Americans emigrated to in any sort of large numbers; Israel.

Kris

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #165 on: April 13, 2017, 08:03:28 AM »
I have met a few people of various ethnicities (e.g. Indian, Lebanese) that were first generation US and perfectly bilingual in english and their parent's native language. However, they said that they were instantly picked out as american while visiting the other country simply by the way they carried themselves (even in traditional attire). I can't think of a time I have thought the reverse when meeting a person here in the US (perfect accent, but obviously foreign). Am I just unaware?

No, you are not unaware. It's just that the reverse never very very rarely happens. That is to say, not many Americans emigrate and try and assimilate culturally to their new country. American missionaries may go and may send their kids back to the USA, but I wouldn't say that they assimilate culturally--they're bringing their culture with them.

When I was younger and traveled the world, I noticed that there was only one country where Americans emigrated to in any sort of large numbers; Israel.

Americans are very "loose" and lax with their bodies, as a whole. We slouch, we drape our arms over things, take up space in ways that are very noticeable to people in other countries who have a more rigid carriage. The distinction between public and private space in the US is very permeable, whereas in many other cultures it's not, so what we might consider just sitting (e.g. on public transport) looks to someone in another culture as "making ourselves at home", and not in a good way.
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MrDelane

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #166 on: April 13, 2017, 08:10:52 AM »
I'm not an immigrant, I'm a first gen American.
The two questions I was repeatedly asked growing up were:

1) Where are you from? 
I learned quickly that 'Michigan' is not the answer they want to hear.

2) So what does your name mean?
I've never known how to answer this one, or even why so many people assume foreign sounding names must automatically 'mean' something.

Kris

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #167 on: April 13, 2017, 08:19:49 AM »
I'm not an immigrant, I'm a first gen American.
The two questions I was repeatedly asked growing up were:


2) So what does your name mean?
I've never known how to answer this one, or even why so many people assume foreign sounding names must automatically 'mean' something.

"What's your name?"

"X."

"What does it mean?"

"It means person named X."

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farfromfire

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #168 on: April 13, 2017, 08:41:46 AM »
Good one MrDelane! That reminds me of my experience:

 "Why do you pronounce your name like that?"

The good: only three times in a year. The bad: this happened with the people I need to interact with most.

[I do not spell my name in an exotic way like Jayceson or Shan d'leer, and English speakers have no problem pronouncing it. German speakers however pronounce some consonants and vowels differently and some assume that although they're speaking English, and reading someone else's name in English, the name is "spelled wrong". Same thing happens to my coworker - she has a "ei" in her name which is pronounced /eɪ/ (as in pain), but our advisor pronounces it /aɪ/ (as in rice). After she corrected him several times, he said she should "write it correctly" if she wants it pronounced that way. I've been told on one occasion that I'm the one pronouncing my name wrong, and I should really stop because it confuses them]

marielle

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #169 on: April 13, 2017, 08:46:03 AM »
I'm not an immigrant, I'm a first gen American.
The two questions I was repeatedly asked growing up were:

1) Where are you from? 
I learned quickly that 'Michigan' is not the answer they want to hear.

2) So what does your name mean?
I've never known how to answer this one, or even why so many people assume foreign sounding names must automatically 'mean' something.

I moved to North Carolina when I was 6 (from Ukraine) so I don't really have an accent. I also don't have a southern accent either, compared to most people in rural areas. But people still ask me where I'm from immediately after meeting them...I didn't think I particularly look foreign but whatever. I think what they really mean is, "You sound funny, why do you sound funny?" I don't always feel like going into the full history of where I was born (it's not like I remember anything) so a lot of times I just say North Carolina. Probably pretty disappointing for people.

I get the name meaning questions constantly too. Yours probably has some sort of meaning if you google it, but I think they mean that the name itself is a word in another language or something...

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #170 on: April 13, 2017, 09:25:20 AM »
My last name is norther German/Dutch and I have spent much time there for work and almost universally the Dutch pronounced it 'in English'.  I am not sure if this is active on there part or they just read my last name as any other English word and it sorts it self out.  Strangely I get way more trouble in the US with people trying to say or spell my name despite it being 10000% English phonetic. 

Quote
When I was younger and traveled the world, I noticed that there was only one country where Americans emigrated to in any sort of large numbers; Israel.
No-lots of us move to Florida too :-)
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markbike528CBX

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #171 on: April 13, 2017, 09:29:25 AM »
I have met a few people of various ethnicities (e.g. Indian, Lebanese) that were first generation US and perfectly bilingual in english and their parent's native language. However, they said that they were instantly picked out as american while visiting the other country simply by the way they carried themselves (even in traditional attire). I can't think of a time I have thought the reverse when meeting a person here in the US (perfect accent, but obviously foreign). Am I just unaware?

No, you are not unaware. It's just that the reverse never very very rarely happens. That is to say, not many Americans emigrate and try and assimilate culturally to their new country. American missionaries may go and may send their kids back to the USA, but I wouldn't say that they assimilate culturally--they're bringing their culture with them.

When I was younger and traveled the world, I noticed that there was only one country where Americans emigrated to in any sort of large numbers; Israel.

Americans are very "loose" and lax with their bodies, as a whole. We slouch, we drape our arms over things, take up space in ways that are very noticeable to people in other countries who have a more rigid carriage. The distinction between public and private space in the US is very permeable, whereas in many other cultures it's not, so what we might consider just sitting (e.g. on public transport) looks to someone in another culture as "making ourselves at home", and not in a good way.

As a visitor to several countries I must stand out enough that often I am spoken to (without me speaking first) in English.  Especially in a place like Amsterdam.

On the other hand, I remember walking down a main street in Taipei (after being there for about a month and a half), noticing some oddness about a person 2 blocks away.  On closer inspection, the person was Western European descended.   It was instructive to note that the oddness was "that person looks a lot like me".

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #172 on: April 13, 2017, 09:50:57 AM »
I have met a few people of various ethnicities (e.g. Indian, Lebanese) that were first generation US and perfectly bilingual in english and their parent's native language. However, they said that they were instantly picked out as american while visiting the other country simply by the way they carried themselves (even in traditional attire). I can't think of a time I have thought the reverse when meeting a person here in the US (perfect accent, but obviously foreign). Am I just unaware?

No, you are not unaware. It's just that the reverse never very very rarely happens. That is to say, not many Americans emigrate and try and assimilate culturally to their new country. American missionaries may go and may send their kids back to the USA, but I wouldn't say that they assimilate culturally--they're bringing their culture with them.

When I was younger and traveled the world, I noticed that there was only one country where Americans emigrated to in any sort of large numbers; Israel.

Americans are very "loose" and lax with their bodies, as a whole. We slouch, we drape our arms over things, take up space in ways that are very noticeable to people in other countries who have a more rigid carriage. The distinction between public and private space in the US is very permeable, whereas in many other cultures it's not, so what we might consider just sitting (e.g. on public transport) looks to someone in another culture as "making ourselves at home", and not in a good way.

As a visitor to several countries I must stand out enough that often I am spoken to (without me speaking first) in English.  Especially in a place like Amsterdam.

On the other hand, I remember walking down a main street in Taipei (after being there for about a month and a half), noticing some oddness about a person 2 blocks away.  On closer inspection, the person was Western European descended.   It was instructive to note that the oddness was "that person looks a lot like me".

When I travel alone in Europe, I am not immediately recognized as American before I speak (and in France, not even after I speak). When I travel in Europe with my husband, I/we are often immediately greeted in English, so clearly recognized as American. Interestingly, this happens to me when I travel with my husband there, even if I have gone out alone in search of something. This tells me that having another one "of my people" with me affects my bearing and makes me adopt a more American way of conducting myself, even if I don't mean to do it.
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Sibley

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #173 on: April 13, 2017, 10:58:11 AM »
Minds are blown when I try to explain how I am a white latina. Not hispanic, because my country is not a spanish speaking one. I had someone ask if that meant that I was pacific islander.

It always amuses me to think how people's minds would blow if a white person born in Africa got dual American-African citizenship--a white African American.

I worked with a very nice woman who was from South Africa. She was white. Green card in California. And very willing to answer (intelligent) questions about her birthplace. I appreciated it.

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #174 on: April 13, 2017, 11:01:09 AM »
On any number of trips to Germany, I am almost universally thought to be German.  I have a German first and last name, I am of German descent (second generation), and do not speak German.  I only know enough phrases to say "I'm sorry, I don't speak German, do you speak English?" 
Other countries peg me as American immediately. 

In Japan, actions like blowing your nose and crossing your legs is a big giveaway.  Also, I felt like a lumbering oaf in the way I walked compared to Japanese women -- most had very small strides compared to what I think is a normal American walk.  (10 years ago, so maybe different now?)
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farfromfire

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #175 on: April 13, 2017, 11:09:45 AM »
My last name is norther German/Dutch and I have spent much time there for work and almost universally the Dutch pronounced it 'in English'.  I am not sure if this is active on there part or they just read my last name as any other English word and it sorts it self out.  Strangely I get way more trouble in the US with people trying to say or spell my name despite it being 10000% English phonetic.

It's not their level of reading and speaking in English that's the problem (although in my experience Dutch have better English skills than Germans/Austrians/Americans/Brits), but insistence that their way is the only correct way and discounting what immigrants say.

A few months ago at the pharmacy, after I asked if my insurance covers a certain medication: "Did you come to this country because you thought everything here is free?"

Linda_Norway

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #176 on: April 13, 2017, 01:26:51 PM »

As a visitor to several countries I must stand out enough that often I am spoken to (without me speaking first) in English.  Especially in a place like Amsterdam.


This is a very common thing in places where there are lots of tourists. I sometimes visit a town in the Netherlands where many Germans visit and get spoken to in German, although I look Dutch. It's just their habit. Same with English in Amsterdam.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2017, 12:47:23 AM by Linda_Norway »

shelivesthedream

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #177 on: April 13, 2017, 02:02:54 PM »
Huh, all this reminds me of last year when I went to Avignon with my husband and our friend. I speak decent French, husband speaks a little French, friend speaks no French... But all of is true regardless of who spoke first. When I went out alone, I could have whole conversations in French with shop assistants and suchlike. When I went out with my husband, if we walked into a cafe they'd usually greet us in both French and English and see what we replied in. When we were out with our friend, English and the tourist menu every time.

LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #178 on: April 13, 2017, 02:08:37 PM »
I've always suspected that older transplants keep their accents because everyone is too polite to correct an adult, but the younger the person is the more likely people will help him learn his new language correctly. Plus, younger people accept the corrections more easily.

Yes this! The only people that correct my Spanish anymore are my Mexican nieces. They laugh at me and make fun of me, but I'm so glad because then I can ask, ok what's the right way to say it?
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LadyStache in Baja

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #179 on: April 13, 2017, 02:16:42 PM »
I have met a few people of various ethnicities (e.g. Indian, Lebanese) that were first generation US and perfectly bilingual in english and their parent's native language. However, they said that they were instantly picked out as american while visiting the other country simply by the way they carried themselves (even in traditional attire). I can't think of a time I have thought the reverse when meeting a person here in the US (perfect accent, but obviously foreign). Am I just unaware?

No, you are not unaware. It's just that the reverse never very very rarely happens. That is to say, not many Americans emigrate and try and assimilate culturally to their new country. American missionaries may go and may send their kids back to the USA, but I wouldn't say that they assimilate culturally--they're bringing their culture with them.

When I was younger and traveled the world, I noticed that there was only one country where Americans emigrated to in any sort of large numbers; Israel.

Americans are very "loose" and lax with their bodies, as a whole. We slouch, we drape our arms over things, take up space in ways that are very noticeable to people in other countries who have a more rigid carriage. The distinction between public and private space in the US is very permeable, whereas in many other cultures it's not, so what we might consider just sitting (e.g. on public transport) looks to someone in another culture as "making ourselves at home", and not in a good way.

Very well said. I live in Mexico and Mexicans dress up in public more. More polite with their voices, their language, and their bodies when in the public space.  Public speech is painfully polite "If you would be so kind as to .... [i wanted to make up something to demonstrate my point but I'm failing, so.]"
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Linda_Norway

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #180 on: April 14, 2017, 12:53:14 AM »
I've always suspected that older transplants keep their accents because everyone is too polite to correct an adult, but the younger the person is the more likely people will help him learn his new language correctly. Plus, younger people accept the corrections more easily.

Yes this! The only people that correct my Spanish anymore are my Mexican nieces. They laugh at me and make fun of me, but I'm so glad because then I can ask, ok what's the right way to say it?

Indeed, people are way to polite to adults, but they are not doing them a favor. I have had a few good colleagues during the years who have corrected my mistakes in Norwegian, but the rest doesn't bother. Maybe they think it is normal that an immigrant has an accent and therefore don't correct it. I usually don't correct my American colleague when he makes mistakes. I do however correct my DH who speaks Norwegian almost like a native, but pronounces one sound wrongly, the y.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #181 on: April 14, 2017, 03:02:15 AM »
Good one MrDelane! That reminds me of my experience:

 "Why do you pronounce your name like that?"

The good: only three times in a year. The bad: this happened with the people I need to interact with most.

[I do not spell my name in an exotic way like Jayceson or Shan d'leer, and English speakers have no problem pronouncing it. German speakers however pronounce some consonants and vowels differently and some assume that although they're speaking English, and reading someone else's name in English, the name is "spelled wrong". Same thing happens to my coworker - she has a "ei" in her name which is pronounced /eɪ/ (as in pain), but our advisor pronounces it /aɪ/ (as in rice). After she corrected him several times, he said she should "write it correctly" if she wants it pronounced that way. I've been told on one occasion that I'm the one pronouncing my name wrong, and I should really stop because it confuses them]

This happens to me too! It drives me crazy. My name contains a syllable that can be pronounced in two ways (like read could sound like reed or red). I'm not bothered when people guess wrong; but when they tell me that I'M saying MY NAME wrong or even correct me after I've said it - not cool folks. 

farfromfire

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #182 on: April 14, 2017, 03:21:36 AM »
Good one MrDelane! That reminds me of my experience:

 "Why do you pronounce your name like that?"

The good: only three times in a year. The bad: this happened with the people I need to interact with most.

[I do not spell my name in an exotic way like Jayceson or Shan d'leer, and English speakers have no problem pronouncing it. German speakers however pronounce some consonants and vowels differently and some assume that although they're speaking English, and reading someone else's name in English, the name is "spelled wrong". Same thing happens to my coworker - she has a "ei" in her name which is pronounced /eɪ/ (as in pain), but our advisor pronounces it /aɪ/ (as in rice). After she corrected him several times, he said she should "write it correctly" if she wants it pronounced that way. I've been told on one occasion that I'm the one pronouncing my name wrong, and I should really stop because it confuses them]

This happens to me too! It drives me crazy. My name contains a syllable that can be pronounced in two ways (like read could sound like reed or red). I'm not bothered when people guess wrong; but when they tell me that I'M saying MY NAME wrong or even correct me after I've said it - not cool folks.
Yea I just don't get it. If I pronounce a name wrong I apologize and ask how to pronounce it correctly to avoid future mistakes. May I ask where this insistence happens?

I remembered another coworker example - someone's name ends with dj as in budge, but people who have known him for years will pronounce it "dee". AFAIK no German words even end with dj, much less pronounced that way! But their guess is more valid than anything he has to say, even though he immigrated many years ago.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #183 on: April 14, 2017, 03:29:49 AM »
May I ask where this insistence happens?

School, work, checking into hotels, calling the tax office.

There was one teacher at school who had a long, unfamiliar Polish surname. We spent the first lesson learning how to spell it and when one student got it wrong a year later she was screamed at in front of the class until she cried. Teacher kept going on about how disrespecting the name was disrespecting the person. The main person who would correct my name, this asshair teacher.

farfromfire

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #184 on: April 14, 2017, 03:51:24 AM »
I actually meant which country/region, but I assume from your answer that this is in the UK?

That teacher sounds brutal... Thankfully neither my teachers nor students ever had trouble with my name, but perhaps I should emulate her response as it seems to leave a lasting impression ;)

Many 2-3+ generation Americans with Polish surnames pronounce an anglicized version (Brzezinski -> Bur-zuh instead of Bzhuh) while some more recent immigrants prefer the Polish pronunciation. Can be tricky to guess and mistakes are allowed, but you can't tell people their names are wrong.

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #185 on: April 14, 2017, 04:58:29 PM »
May I ask where this insistence happens?

School, work, checking into hotels, calling the tax office.

There was one teacher at school who had a long, unfamiliar Polish surname. We spent the first lesson learning how to spell it and when one student got it wrong a year later she was screamed at in front of the class until she cried. Teacher kept going on about how disrespecting the name was disrespecting the person. The main person who would correct my name, this asshair teacher.

I had to return a call to a potential client in Texas, whom I had never met.  (I am from Canada). The last name was Jacques.   The receptionist had no idea who I was asking for, and I had no idea who she was suggesting when I told her the title of the person I wanted.  Why?  She (and likely he) pronounced it "Jack-Wee"  not "Jawk"  (forgive the phonetic spelling, that looks horrible, I must spell in french, too).   Boy did I want to tell her she said the name wrong -- but I just barely didn't.

Daisy

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #186 on: April 15, 2017, 04:07:34 PM »
I've always suspected that older transplants keep their accents because everyone is too polite to correct an adult, but the younger the person is the more likely people will help him learn his new language correctly. Plus, younger people accept the corrections more easily.

Yes this! The only people that correct my Spanish anymore are my Mexican nieces. They laugh at me and make fun of me, but I'm so glad because then I can ask, ok what's the right way to say it?

Indeed, people are way to polite to adults, but they are not doing them a favor. I have had a few good colleagues during the years who have corrected my mistakes in Norwegian, but the rest doesn't bother. Maybe they think it is normal that an immigrant has an accent and therefore don't correct it. I usually don't correct my American colleague when he makes mistakes. I do however correct my DH who speaks Norwegian almost like a native, but pronounces one sound wrongly, the y.

It's really hard to change one's "accent" in another language not learned as a child.

For example, try as we might, my mother cannot pronounce "beach" or "sheet" without offending someone. So she has found replacement words for all of these. "Beach" becomes "let's go to the ocean", "sheet" becomes "blanket".

I know an older gentleman that came to the US during his high school years. He speaks fluent English, but still with a Spanish accent. He's really into photography and struggles with the word "focus". I'll let you figure out what that sounds like when he says that...not good! Unfortunately we have not found a replacement word for focus in photography for him to use.

fasteddie911

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #187 on: April 16, 2017, 02:43:20 PM »
Not an immigrant, but my Asian spouse, born and raised in Hawaii, always gets asked if she's Hawaiian.  Not exactly sure what they're thinking, as she doesn't look remotely Hawaiian and where you're born has no bearing on your ethnicity.  In general, I see people use the term "Hawaiian," and it's hard to tell if they realize it's an ethnicity or if they're try to use the term like "Californian."  Of course she's gotten some semi-serious questions about if she takes a canoe around, lives in a hut, etc.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #188 on: April 17, 2017, 03:43:15 AM »
I actually meant which country/region, but I assume from your answer that this is in the UK?

That teacher sounds brutal... Thankfully neither my teachers nor students ever had trouble with my name, but perhaps I should emulate her response as it seems to leave a lasting impression ;)

Many 2-3+ generation Americans with Polish surnames pronounce an anglicized version (Brzezinski -> Bur-zuh instead of Bzhuh) while some more recent immigrants prefer the Polish pronunciation. Can be tricky to guess and mistakes are allowed, but you can't tell people their names are wrong.

In the UK, the name comes from Ireland but uses English sounds (rather than Gaelic). The name was Anglicised a few centuries ago (the words were translated rather than the sound changing).

Yes, in the same way that Sara can sound like Sarah or rhyming with Zara; there is no problem with someone making a mistake, but it isn't my mistake about my name.

Playing with Fire UK

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #189 on: April 17, 2017, 03:45:20 AM »
For example, try as we might, my mother cannot pronounce "beach" or "sheet" without offending someone. So she has found replacement words for all of these. "Beach" becomes "let's go to the ocean", "sheet" becomes "blanket".

Friend of a friend, same thing with Count. Particularly amusing when being used as a title.

FiguringItOut

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #190 on: April 28, 2017, 02:57:00 PM »
This thread has got me thinking about something and it's kind of a weird question but I hope you'll understand what I'm getting at:

How come some people never ever lose their accent in their second language? Like, imagine you spoke French from 0-18 then moved to England and only ever spoke English and you were now 65 and still had a French accent. I just can't imagine how you wouldn't ever lose the accent.

Even if I moved to Wales I'd probably end up picking up a slight accent after living there for a few decades. If I moved to Poland and had to learn Polish from scratch and never ever spoke English again, I can't imagine still having accented Polish after forty years.

Is it something physiological? Is it different depending on the age when you learnt your second language? Are some people just accent-deaf?

I speak English with slight Russian accent.  Moved here when I was 14. Been in US for almost 30 years now.  My accent is not going anywhere.  Though it's not strong, I am always asked 'where I"m from and people are never satisfied that I'm from NY.  They are much happier when they find out that I was born in Ukraine.
However, that starts the whole new set of questions: no I don't speak Ukrainian, only Russian; yes I can read and write (barely) in Russian but my written grammar sucks; no I'm neither Russian nor Ukrainian;  no my nationality wasn't Russian or Ukrainian even when I lived there; yes I am US citizen; no I don't have Russian or Ukrainian citizenship, and the list goes on and on and on - bears in the streets, vodka, balaika, Putin, why do I get cold in the winder when I'm from Russia and it's always freezing there, etc etc etc.

My sister on the other hand was 9 when we moved here and she has no accent.  My friend moved here also at age 14 same time as I did and to this day she has very strong Russian accent to the point that at times her English 'sounds' bad.

When I was in Paris last summer I ran into a Georgian woman (country, not state) who moved to Paris about a year earlier.  She spoke Georgian, Russian, and French.  We started speaking in Russian and she said I speak Russian with English accent.  She's probably correct. 









Linda_Norway

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Re: Immigrants: Stupid questions you've been asked?
« Reply #191 on: May 03, 2017, 11:37:14 AM »
I speak Norwegian with a Dutch accent. My Dutch husband speaks Norwegian without an accent. Differences between us:
I went to a Norwegian course in the Netherlands for three years, with a Dutch teacher. I could read and speak it when we emigrated there. I have a low voice and people often don't understand me well. Therefore I articulate more, something Norwegians don't do.
My DH could not speak Norwegian when we emigrated. He went to a course in Norway with a Norwegian teacher and worked in a Norwegian company at the same time. When he isn't understood, he just mumbles a bit. That sounds much more Norwegian than articulating.