Knowledge of foreign languages
Facts about your language; speaking distance & directness
You'd respect someone who speaks French, German, or Japanese-- but you very likely don't yourself speak them well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner. You're a bit more ambivalent about Spanish; you think the schools should teach kids English.
It's not all that necessary to learn foreign languages anyway. You can travel the continent using nothing but English-- and get by pretty well in the rest of the world, too.
Some foreigners don't say what they mean, and that's exasperating.
If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about two feet.
You'd respect someone who speaks French, German, or Japanese - but you very likely don't speak them well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner. Unlike many areas of the Lower 48, Spanish isn't much of an issue here. It's not all that necessary to learn foreign languages anyway. You can travel the continent using nothing but English - and get by pretty well in the rest of the world, too.
They're called snowmachines, not "snowmobiles". Likewise, a device that creates artificial snow (which Alaska hardly needs) is referred to as a snow maker. "Anchorage" is always pronounced with two syllables. You know where the Slope is and what goes on there, and might be acquainted with a Sourdough or two. "The Bush" has nothing to do with shrubbery, and Outside, when capitalized, means anywhere that is not Alaska. The contiguous United States is more specifically referred to as the Lower 48. You've probably even slipped up at times and stated that you're "going to the US" for a vacation.
Some foreigners don't say what they mean, and that's exasperating. If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about two feet.
You speak English. You might have been forced to study Spanish or French in high school, but all you remember is "Como esta". You probably know (and use) a few Yiddish words. There is a large and growing Spanish speaking population, and bilingual signs to accommodate them are becoming more common. Depending on the area, some might include Chinese or Korean as well. The Suffolk County government keeps trying to pass "English Only" legislation.
If two words are frequently used together, the last letter of the first may become the first letter of the second; thus "Long Island" is pronounced "Lawn Guyland", and "next door" becomes "neck store". You know how to correctly pronounce Cutchogue, Hauppauge, Islandia, Massapequa, Nissequogue, Patchogue, Ronkonkoma, Wantagh, and Yaphank. If you consider yourself to be an intellectual, you prefer using the British spelling of the word "theatre", but this doesn't extend to "center" or "color".
You say you live "on" Long Island instead of "in" Long Island. New York City is refered to only as "The City" since no other city in the world is as important. Traveling toward "The City" is going "up the island". A front porch is a "stoop". The strip of grass between the sidewalk and street is "neutral ground". Ding Dongs are called Ring Dings.
You're surprised when people from elswhere tell you that you have an accent.
The language you are most likely to speak at home after English is Cajun French, but nowadays, most people learn French in school.
You can pronounce Tchoupitoulas but can't spell it (also, Thibodaux, Opelousas, Ponchartrain, Ouachita, Atchafalaya). Everyone says Y'all when refering to more than one person. No one, absolutely no one, says Ah garawntee. There has yet to be a movie made that accurately portrays the Cajun accent. Supposed Cajuns in Hollywood films always sound like they're from Alabama.
Aside from English, the next most likely language you are to speak at home is Spanish, of course. After that (and depending on where you live), Czech and then German. In school just about everybody takes Spanish; people who take other languages are either nonconformists or otherwise acting impractically. Only a comparably small intelligentsia takes French, German, Latin, or any of the more exotic European or Asian languages.
The only times one does not say "y'all" when talking to two or more people is in highly formal situations, or on television.
Santa Anna is the name of a hated dictator, not a type of a certain other state's weather patterns.
You speak English of course, but you probably like to think it is a special kind of English. You learned French at school, but if you are past school age, you will have forgotten most of it. Your main source of French, after school, will be bilingual Canadian packaging, like on cereal boxes. You admire people who can speak more than one language, but you know that even in Quebec they will speak English to you. But you would be polite and try to speak French, if you were in Quebec. You care about whether or not your political leaders can speak both English and French. If you live in the Maritime provinces, you might speak Gaelic, because the largest Gaelic-speaking population in the world lives on the Canadian east coast.
You can tell an American accent right away, when no one else in the world could distinguish between Canadian and American. You like to think you speak something more refined, like British English, and keep most of their spellings (especially the extra "u" in some words). You like to make fun of Americans for saying "zee" instead of "zed." You don't say "eh" as much as Americans think you do. You probably never remember to say "leftenant" for "lieutenant" but you know you should. Things that otherwise end in "-er", you tend to spell "-re" (like centre). You know that Americans use different words for the same things, sometimes, like "candy bar" for what you call a "chocolate bar" and "soda" for what you call "pop."
If you are not from the Maritimes, you think people in the Maritimes have a funny accent as well.
You had to learn French in grade school, since Canada technically has two official languages. You know that people in Quebec speak nothing but French (and hate everyone who doesn't speak French as a first language) and that people everywhere else, unless they work for the federal government, speak only English. But you know the French equivalents of "free", "prize" and "no sugar added", thanks to your extensive education in bilingual cereal packaging. You think that all immigrants should speak English as well as you do.
You automatically read "Z" as "Zed" and don't give a damn that it doesn't rhyme with "now I know my ABC's". You know what a toque is and you often wear one. You say you’re "going to the washroom" when you head for the toilet. You casually refer to "Homo" milk when you mean homogenized. You eat chocolate bars instead of candy bars. You drink pop, not soda. You understand the sentence "Could you please pass me a serviette, I just spilled my bowl of poutine." You've actually said, "Stay where yer at, 'till I get where yer to." If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about two feet.
Eastern Canadians speak with a quaint, almost Irish accent. Often it's unintelligible to non-locals. Prairie Canadians speak slowly. Ontario residents are the only Canadians who actually pronounce "out and about" as "oot and aboot".
You speak English, but learned French in school. You may be aware that there are still French families scattered throughout Ontario, descendants of immigrants to New France, who were here long before the English got here. No one really speaks French unless they are near the Quebec border, especially in Ottawa (which seems to be inhabited entirely by bilingual civil servants). Toronto is a very multicultural city, with large Chinese, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Polish, Caribbean, and various other populations. There are some German and Dutch pockets around the province as well.
As an English speaker, you talk more like an American than other Canadians do, because of the influence of Canadian television. Lieutenant is usually pronounced "lootenant" and you often say "zee" instead of "zed." You learn the British/Canadian spellings for certain words but have to make an effort not to spell them the American way. But this also leads to some sense, perhaps unconscious, of Canadian English, and you probably say things like "oot" and "aboot" (at least that is how Americans hear it). You sometimes refer to Toranto just as "T.O.", and pronounce it "Tronno" or "Tranna" - not "To-ron-to" as Americans always say, making them sound like they are having trouble speaking.
Outside of major urban centers, the population mostly speaks French. You speak French, at home, at work and at school, but you're bilingual or you at least know a little English because it's a requirement for most jobs. You may resent the rest of Canada for not making as great an effort to learn French. Every package is printed in both French and English thanks to Bill 101.
French spoken in Québec is different from French from Europe, with distinct local expressions and accents. Pushed to the rural extreme, Québec French is called joual and is almost completely unintelligible to Europeans. Some foreigners don't say what they mean, and that's exasperating.
If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about two feet. Maybe three feet would be better. However, kissing on both cheeks when you meet or leave someone you know well, family or not, is custom, especially for women.
If you don't speak English, you're studying it or consider yourself a fool for not doing so. If you are over 50 or have intellectual leanings, you may speak French. You understand Spanish if people speak slowly and think that because of that you don't need to study the language. People who learned German or other languages are wonders of nature.
You'd respect someone who speaks English, French, German, or Japanese. You have been taught some English at school, but you very likely don't speak it. It's not really that necessary to learn foreign languages anyway-- you can travel the whole country using nothing but Spanish, and your neighbors also speak Spanish-- unless you want to do business with a non-Spanish speaking partner, but then, you probably can find someone to translate for you.
If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about 30 cm. Alcohol helps in reducing this distance.
You respect someone who talks a foreign language other than English. It's rare to find a French or Japanese language school since about 75-90% of language schools only teach English. You should know that language, even though Spanish is the world's third most spoken language.
It's not necessary to learn languages other than English. You can make it through all Mexico and even most of Central and South America using nothing but Spanish. However, you need English and other languages for most other foreign countries.
If talking with someone, you feel uncomfortable if they approach closer than 2 inches-- unless it's your boy/girlfriend.
You're used to people asking you which language is spoken in Austria. You can speak English to some extent. You generally expect people to know at least one foreign language. You may have learned French or Italian in school, although you may not remember much of it. You may have learned Latin for up to six years, but you probably don't remember more than a couple of phrases, and you complain that you had to learn it.
English is a minimum requirement for talking to people in other countries. You'll have trouble with it in France and some parts of Italy, though. People in Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovenia are quite likely to speak some German, and you probably expect them to.
French words are quite frequently used in Austrian German. If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about half a metre.
You speak English more or less fluently. At school you have also learned quite a lot of Swedish and usually German or French, maybe even Russian or some more exotic language, but you might not be able to actually speak these languages, unless hard pressed. You are annoyed at English-speaking people who refuse to learn other languages; at the same time you speak English with all foreigners, also with Swedes or with foreigners who desperately want to learn Finnish, and put your children in an English-speaking kindergarten or school (if possible), "because it's useful to learn foreign languages [read: English] as early as possible". You know that Finnish is the most difficult language in the world (and of no use anywhere abroad) and treat foreign students of Finnish with a mixture of admiration and pity.
People are supposed to "say what they mean" or remain silent.
It is necessary to learn foreign languages, English at least: you can travel and do business in the whole world with English. (It's certainly not worth learning it for its culture.)
You'd respect someone who speaks Spanish, German or Japanese, but you very likely don't yourself speak them well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner. You learned bits of English in collège (when you were 12-16), but you've forgotten most of it. You think everybody should speak English. You cannot understand why native English-speaking persons refuse to learn any other language. But, before learning any foreign language, kids should first speak good French.
You have learned English at school, but generally don't speak it very well. You usually speak French, but may also use Breton at home, especially in rural areas and if you are middle-aged. You may also speak it if you are urban middle class, in which case you also read books and journals in it, watch breton language TV, and are far more likely to pass it down to your children. You definitely think that the Breton language should not be allowed to die out. If you are young enough, you may have learned it from books or even, if you are lucky, at school.
There's a fair chance that you can speak English, and you probably use quite a few English or English-based words that you've learned from the media, especially from advertising. You probably respect someone who speaks more foreign languages. As for other languages, it depends on where and how you want to travel. Since Germans make the most foreign trips of any nation, many people working in tourism around the world know enough German to communicate with German tourists. If you know English, you should be able to travel comfortably in most of the world. The only problems are France and the French-speaking areas... you don't understand why those snobs can't learn English like everyone else.
You may have learned some English, but you may have to resort to gestures when an English-speaking tourist says something really difficult (e.g. "Where is the Acropolis?").
When if you're talking to someone, you can't feel comfortable if they stand more than 50 cm away.
You'd respect someone who speaks fluent English or German. Japanese is black magic. You probably speak at least some English, if you're under 30. Spanish is easy to understand (if they are kind enough to speak slowly) and easy to fake (just stick random "s" sounds alla fines dellas parolas). French and Portuguese aren't as easy.
It's a Good Thing to learn foreign languages, but if you know your basic English you get around nearly everywhere. They'll speak at least a little Spanish, won't they? As a last resort, you can always use your hands for gestures.
You can tell with good approximation the region someone comes from by the dialectal inflections in the language. Even the town, if it's close enough to you.
If you're talking to someone, you don't get uncomfortable if they approach closer than half a meter.
You speak English, at least somewhat. After all, you are exposed to at least two hours of it daily if you listen to pop songs, TV and movies. You also know enough German to get by, and watch German television. If anybody starts talking in broken or accented Dutch to you, you will reply in English. Only the most determined English-speaking foreigner has a chance of learning Dutch in your country. You take it on faith that nobody abroad (except in Belgium) speaks your language, and are amazed if anybody has bothered to learn it.
You'd respect someone who speaks French, German, or English -- but you very likely don't yourself speak them well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner. You think the schools should teach kids English. You can travel in Europe using nothing but English-- and get by pretty well in the rest of the world, too. Many (older) people will know Russian well, which helps in the ex-Soviet Union (CIS) countries.
If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about one meter, but this will drop to 50 centimeters (or even less) if it's at work.
When you negotiate, you don't say what you mean, and you pretend not to know many things, but you surely never lie. You know the other side does the same thing, and they know you know. Many people are tired of it, so they start talking normally. You say "let's talk like people" then.
You would do well to respect someone who speaks French and German if you yourself do not speak them well enough to communicate. You think the schools should teach kids English, which is probably the only foreign language you are semifluent in. People can, ŕ la rigeur, travel on the (European) continent using nothing but English, and possibly get by pretty well in the rest of the world, too.
Some foreigners do not say what they mean, and that is exasperating.
If you are talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about 60 centimetres.
You'd respect someone who speaks French, German, or Spanish. You probably learnt a bit of French at school, but everyone speaks English nowadays, so what's the point of learning foreign languages? Best of all, the advance of English has gloriously succeeded in really annoying the French, a major ambition for any red-blooded Englishman. If privately educated, you may have been forced to study Latin for a year or two.
You'd respect someone who speaks French, German, or Japanese-- but you very likely don't yourself speak them well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner. It's not all that necessary to learn foreign languages anyway.
You take pride in your Yorkshire accent and enjoy confusing Southerners by using obscure dialect words. When referring to members of your own family, their name is prefixed by 'Our' (e.g. 'Our Katie').
You rarely need to bother with foreign languages, but were probably taught a bit of French or German in school. If you have the Gaelic, it's for nationalistic reasons if you don't come from the Hebrides, or for practical reasons if you do.
Words like "both", "home" and "stone" are pronounced "baith", "hame" and "stane", despite the spelling. "Wednesday" has three syllables, and "food" rhymes with "good"; the second syllable of "situation" is "yee", not "yoo". "House" is pronounced "hoose".
A stream is a "burn", a valley is a "glen", and to "greet" does not mean to welcome. You refer to the Scottish weather as "dreich", and get annoyed at people (especially Sassenachs) who can't say "loch" properly.
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
You'd respect someone who speaks Japanese, Chinese or Indonesian-- but you'd consider it their job to learn English, rather than vice versa. You are a bit ambivalent about schools teaching Asian or Aboriginal languages-- kids should learn good English first.
You can't understand why overseas people who supposedly speak the same language have great difficulty comprehending you.
Although you do say "g'day" and "mate", rarely would you ever say things such as "sheila", "cobber" or "dry as a dead dingo's donger". "Australian" is pronounced with one syllable. "Stubbies" are either short shorts or small beer bottles, a small car accident is a "bingle", a "drongo" or a "mug" is an idiot, someone in trouble is in "strife" and you're liable to burst out laughing whenever you hear of Americans "rooting" for something... You'd be shocked by the idea of anyone wearing "thongs" on something other than their feet. For some reason, -o is a popular ending for words: arvo, combo, garbo, kero, lezzo, metho, milko, muso, rego, Salvos, servo, smoko, speedo, etc. There's no point in being indirect about it-- if you are going to the dunny, that's what you'll say. Some foreigners don't say what they mean, and that's exasperating. For detailed discussion on Strine, many good books such as The Lonely Planet Australian Phrasebook are available; this one in particular has material on indegenous languages and creoles. If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about two feet.
You probably learnt a bit of French or German at high school, or Japanese if the principal took Michael Crichton too seriously, but everyone speaks English nowadays, so what's the point of learning foreign languages? You certainly know the Maori greeting "kiaora", and maybe a handful of other words. But you can't speak Maori, even if you're of Maori descent yourself.
When talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than two feet.
You'd respect someone who speaks English, since it is a mark of the affluent classes. Other European languages are largely unknown. There is a great deal of glamor associated with Sanskrit and Persian; they are traditionally the languages of the learned and the well-read.
If you're talking to someone, you do not get at all uncomfortable if they approach closely. In social situations, it is sometimes considered improper to be too direct.
You'd respect someone who speaks a foreign language, but, although you most likely studied English for at least ten years in school, you very likely don't speak well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner. In Hong Kong and Taiwan -- which are certainly China -- you think the schools should teach kids Chinese. And that means Mandarin, none of that Yuèyu.
Despite this, the importance of learning English has been emphasized to you. Not that you're likely to travel to an English-speaking country, but if you want a high salary, you'll probably look for a position with a foreign company in China.
You will feel uncomfortable if a stranger -- with the exception of a good-looking member of the opposite sex -- is talking to you from closer than a meter away. If you are in a crowded supermarket, train, bus, queue -- just about anywhere, as a matter of fact -- you will have no choice but to bump into and push other people. In this case, comfort or discomfort is irrelevant: your only concern is for your personal belongings.
You'd respect someone who speaks English, Russian, or Chinese-- but you very likely don't yourself speak them well enough to communicate with a monolingual foreigner.
Learning foreign languages is a Good Thing-- notwithstanding the fact that, despite six years of English in junior and senior high schools, you can hardly understand (much less speak) a single word of it. You'll never need to use a foreign language anyway, except when you're sightseeing overseas. You likewise believe that Japanese must be the most difficult language in the world. Even though there are nowadays many gaijin (or gaikokujin , to use a more politically correct term) on TV who speak fluent Japanese, you would still be mildly surprised, or even feel uncomfortable, to actually meet one in person.
If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about two feet.
Some people seem to think that negotiating is all about getting the other party to understand their intentions without stating them explicitly themselves.
AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST
You respect someone who can string two sentences together, no matter how bad. You fake an English or American accent, oblivious to the fact that the vast majority can actually tell that you're faking it.
If you're talking to someone, you feel very comfortable if they approach closer than about two feet. In fact, something is really strange if you can't feel their spittle on your face.
You speak English fluently, or you want to. At any rate, you can speak at least two languages. If you're white you're either English-speaking or Afrikaans-speaking. If you're black you can most probably speak Zulu, even if you're not Zulu yourself. If you're Coloured you are probably Afrikaans speaking. If you're Indian, you might know an Indian language, but you probably speak English most of the time. You can sing your national anthem in four languages, and are inordinately proud of this fact.
If you say to someone that you will do something "just now", it means you will do it later. You don't use euphemisms to disguise your real purpose for going to the bathroom. If you're talking to someone you get very uncomfortable if they approach to within less than half a metre. You're very protective of your personal space.
You'd respect someone who speaks English or Japanese or Spanish. You think schools should teach kids English, and they do. If you have a high school education, you probably speak English, and you may even speak it fluently. You have mixed feelings about people who speak French because of France and Israel's ambivalent relationship. You may also feel ambivalent about speaking German, although you acknowledge that Germany has largely taken responsibility for its past, and many Germans are tourists in Israel.
It's very important to learn foreign languages, especially English, because Israel is a tiny country and most of the world does not speak Hebrew. You are less interested in learning Arabic, even though it is the native language of 20% of Israel's citizens.
You feel foreigners don't say what they mean, and that's exasperating. You pride yourself on being direct and feel it's more respectful that way.
If you're talking to someone, you get uncomfortable if they approach closer than about 1/2 a foot.
You respect someone who speaks English, but will approach anyone who speaks "another" foreign language (French, German, Russian, Yiddish, or Japanese) with caution. You are boastful about your great English, except when it comes to using it to communicate with a foreigner. By the way it's only necessary to learn English so that you can chat up foreign tourists.
You finish your utterances by saying Insallah (If God wills it). When you're talking to someone, you can't feel comfortable if they stand more than a foot away. If you are not understood, you would rather increase your volume than rephrase. Also, in social situations, it is sometimes considered improper to be too direct.
You are grateful if someone in the magnet country can speak your language when you arrive. This simplifies all the administrative work that is mandatory to new arrivals. Your interlocutors probably speak english (more or less fluently according to the size of the country; people from small countries speak more foreign languages since the captive domestic market for their own industry is too small to absorb all potential output, so they have to export to survive). Bigger countries may be different but increasingly the 30-somethings and under can get by in English. Old, monolingual fogeys are slowly being phased out. Other languages are rarer. So you should not only have your native tongue plus english, but preferably one or more others. Immigrants to Scandinavia get paid to go to language school to learn their host language full time since the authorities know this to be the quickest way to learn and hence to intergrate. Don't hang around with your countrymen for too long speaking your mother tongue; mix with the natives and pick up the vernacular as rapidly as possible. Since Germany has been through two (or 3) traumatic wars in the last 150 years (1870, 1914 & 1939), with disastrous consequences for its population and self image, it realized that it had to learn English to avoid this happening again. France, on the other hand, has been at loggerheads with England for almost 1000 years and didn't want to capitulate and learn English until forced to do so by the unremitting tramp of globalisation. They are now catching up, as they always do, and within one more generation will be neck and neck with the best of the others. After a few months of muddling through, you may sign up with a language school having decided to 'learn the language properly'. Here you will probably meet other migrants with the same pretentions and begin speaking english together, which slows down your rate of learning. Catch 22. But don't give up. You are young and will learn quickly. You are physically aware that the more languages you speak, the more choices you have since, having migrated once, you can do it again if you don't fit in.