How many times have you been chatting away to a person online, who speaks fluent English, only to find that the person your chatting to comes from a distant land (Or Newcastle) and that English isn't their first language? Just the other day I was talking to a twelve – year old guy from Sweden, he was speaking to me in perfect English, he already spoke Swedish and was learning Japanese. I on the other hand, am eighteen years of age, and I, like most other Englishmen, speak only one language. English.
It's one of those awkward moments so many of us encounter only too often. When we see our friend and fellow English speaker reveal their true identity. Mid-way through a conversation your buddy starts speaking in a foreign tongue. You get a sudden feeling of insignificance, and panic. You don't want to admit to being monolingual. Kinda makes you feel insignificant. But there is help, online translators such as Babel fish and Google translator are here to make the world of international communications, even harder? You quickly copy/paste the message in, only to realise you don't know what language it is. If you do manage to guess the correctly you will then receive an almost incomprehensible translation. It doesn't make sense, but you can figure it out. Right ? You have to try to make sense of this message, write and translate a reply and send it quickly enough to make it seem like you understood. Too much effort? I guess not.
There is something about English speaking nations, that gives us this mentality that “We don't have to learn a foreign language”. Is it pure laziness? We can't be bothered so we don't have to. Or is it just diffusion of responsibility? We don't need to learn a foreign language when everybody else learns English. Right?
Whatever the reason is, it always leaves foreigners thinking that we English are shoopid. So what do we do? In a desperate effort to claw back some kind of intellectual superiority, we become “Grammar Nazis”. Any “noob” that dares to defecate on our language shall suffer the wrath of the Grammar Nazi. The smallest, most insignificant error, will lead to non stop hounding. The fact that the offender already speaks about three languages at the age of twelve is inconsequential.
It is well known that we English are proud of our language. It defines us as Englishmen to speak perfect English. We choose to ignore the fact that our great language is a mixture of Latin, French, Greek and many more of the foreign languages we deem to be meagre, unimportant and pointless. We even look down on other nations that speak our language. Claiming that they stole it. Should we not celebrate that fact that places such as Australia and America chose to base their languages on English?
It seems as though speaking, writing and working are the only things us Brits are good at. Although a study has shown that we Brits do hold some skills over the rest of the world. Talking about the weather, getting drunk and being sarcastic are just a few things that we profess at. So it seems we aren't as dull as you first thought.
It's probably quite reasonable to believe that I myself do speak a foreign language, since I am complaining about the lack of multilingual Englishmen. However, I do not, that is until I go abroad, where English IS a foreign language.