For those of you with foreign spouses...

A J

Well-known Member
My wife (a German)... gets on the phone with her German friend. They talk for HOURS! It's kinda funny as they seamlessly transition from German to English in the middle of sentences! Even though we've been married 33 years, I STILL am too stupid to master the German language. Prior to our marriage, she clearly thought I was much smarter than I really am.

When they speak on the phone, this is what I hear:

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.....
 

jda

Well-known Member
Good time to practice/play/exercise drums.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: iCe

The Shepherd

Active Member
My wife calls her cousins in Argentina all the time. Spanish is supposed to be a fairly easy language to learn and all I know is a few swear words.

She's great when we go to the Caribbean. The staff at the resorts always talk with her and we get super fast service. They also go warn the other staff that she understands slang and to watch what they say around her. No more complaining about the tourists within earshot of her.
 

GetAgrippa

Diamond Member
Uncle Larry's wife is married to a fella from another planet-does that count as foreign country? LOL.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
My wife's Chinese. I know pragmatic Chinese. Like, "change a diaper". I also know some pretty good potty talk.

She brought her relatives over as soon as she was a citizen, and pretty much decided she never really needed to comingle with English speaking people. She is an introvert to begin with, and doesn't have many Chinese friends either.

It's kind of tough with kids, like she never speaks to them in English, except maybe to answer a homework question. My daughter has to get ESL training because between her grandparents and my wife, I am the only one they hear speaking English. I feel like she is missing out on many opportunities to take advantage of community events.

My wife doesn't understand why I have to do reading with our daughter. She(my wife) really just doesn't say the words correctly. My wife also has issues negotiating or discussing things in English. It is hard for her, because she doesn't practice. It has taken my wife a very long time to figure out the how's and why's of the way it is in the US. Like we have ovens, we bake. We bake all kinds of things potatoes, casseroles, deserts, breads, and they are good. Fortunately, my daughter discovered pizza, woo! It took a long time to explain to my wife, nine times out of ten a pizza is a red sauce with cheese, please don't make a Thai seafood pizza with fish sauce more than once, or at least master a real pizza first. She eventually, understood, but wow that was hard. She does some innovative things on occasion though, but gosh darn, I want butter. I had to DEMAND butter, but once she figured it out. "Oh! butter", sigh...
 

Doraemon

Well-known Member
I don't think someone has to be foreign to speak more than one languages... :)
For me the most weird is when we both switch from our (shared) native language to another one as a courtesy to a third person who is present, and wouldn't understand, like this week having a friend over, but then between us it kinda feels like talking to a stranger all of a sudden.

This amazement at other languages must be a uniquely American thing, in Europe everyone is used to people speaking some other language within an hour of driving, and most people grow up learning at least one or two additional lanugages In school. That can still leave people with foreign spouses saying blahblah, but it may not be such a curiosity. Kids have a big advantage, but it's never too late to learn, it is said to be beneficial for the brain, just like music instruments. I'd imagine drummers brains are primed for language learning, if there's an effort.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I don't think someone has to be foreign to speak more than one languages... :)
For me the most weird is when we both switch from our (shared) native language to another one as a courtesy to a third person who is present, and wouldn't understand, like this week having a friend over, but then between us it kinda feels like talking to a stranger all of a sudden.

This amazement at other languages must be a uniquely American thing, in Europe everyone is used to people speaking some other language within an hour of driving, and most people grow up learning at least one or two additional lanugages In school. That can still leave people with foreign spouses saying blahblah, but it may not be such a curiosity. Kids have a big advantage, but it's never too late to learn, it is said to be beneficial for the brain, just like music instruments. I'd imagine drummers brains are primed for language learning, if there's an effort.

Maybe no one has explained it to you before. However, I have tried to learn Chinese and people don't appreciate bad Chinese and they don't even pretend to try to understand what I mean. Why should I do the same in English?

For me the irritating part is when people don't bother to learn the finer points of the common language. When I hear Chinese people talk they jibber jabber really fast and expressively, but when I go to meetings at work they frown at me if I talk fast and use jargon, and even half the time they don't understand what you are saying. Don't even bother to try to make small talk, they only want to learn enough English to do business. I assure you business English does not make for friendship. Not to mention being professionally chastised by someone who speaks bad Polish English or Arabic/English for "The way I communicate." These are not endearing traits of multilingual people.
 

s1212z

Silver Member
For me the most weird is when we both switch from our (shared) native language to another one as a courtesy to a third person who is present, and wouldn't understand, like this week having a friend over, but then between us it kinda feels like talking to a stranger all of a sudden.
I know the feeling, my wife’s English is very good. We’ll switch to her native language when with her family when they are around or friends, but otherwise it doesn’t feel natural and more of a hassle. Pretty much all my conversation practice comes from language tandem partners or italki conversations, not at home. A spouse is not a teacher either (though of course I’ve learned a lot from her) but it’s not the same dynamic as with teachers or language partners.
 

Doraemon

Well-known Member
Maybe no one has explained it to you before. However, I have tried to learn Chinese and people don't appreciate bad Chinese and they don't even pretend to try to understand what I mean. Why should I do the same in English?

For me the irritating part is when people don't bother to learn the finer points of the common language. When I hear Chinese people talk they jibber jabber really fast and expressively, but when I go to meetings at work they frown at me if I talk fast and use jargon, and even half the time they don't understand what you are saying. Don't even bother to try to make small talk, they only want to learn enough English to do business. I assure you business English does not make for friendship. Not to mention being professionally chastised by someone who speaks bad Polish English or Arabic/English for "The way I communicate." These are not endearing traits of multilingual people.
I think you're extrapolating a little too much from a personal experience... I have several Chinese friends who speak English well, and in general found their culture to be very accepting and highly appreciative of people trying to speak the language. I'm sorry for your bad experiences, but I had the opposite, and met Chinese people who would patiently listen and take every opportunity to praise my bad Mandarin..

Also, just FYI, English is the native tongue of 5.1% of the world population. Talking about the rest of 95% of fellow intelligent humans and their languages as "jibber-jabber" is quite offending. As for communication style, that's is also in large part a question of attitude IMO.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I think you're extrapolating a little too much from a personal experience... I have several Chinese friends who speak English well, and in general found their culture to be very accepting and highly appreciative of people trying to speak the language. I'm sorry for your bad experiences, but I had the opposite, and met Chinese people who would patiently listen and take every opportunity to praise my bad Mandarin..

Also, just FYI, English is the native tongue of 5.1% of the world population. Talking about the rest of 95% of fellow intelligent humans and their languages as "jibber-jabber" is borderline racist, and quite offending. As for communication style, that's is also a question of attitude IMO.
Offensive is your interpretation. You can jibber jabber in English. I am jealous of jibber jabber, want to jibber jabber too. But, no you give me the racist apologetics, because you don't understand what I said in an informal English.

See here rough edges in your interpretation, as was described. What's next bristling because I didn't use formal English?
 

Doraemon

Well-known Member
Offensive is your interpretation. You can jibber jabber in English. I am jealous of jibber jabber, want to jibber jabber too. But, no you give me the racist apologetics, because you don't understand what I said in an informal English.

See here rough edges in your interpretation, as was described. What's next bristling because I didn't use formal English?
It's interesting you wrote "Chinese people talk they jibber jabber" and then "I talk fast and use jargon". These two ways of describing the same style of speech somehow feels different. I still think learning Chinese for an English speaker is no more difficult than English for them.
But you're right, I don't quite understand e.g. how you ended up with a negative view on the trailts of "multilingual people" from your communication difficulties with some of them. About 43% of the world population is bilingual, and I'm pretty sure some of them are nice. :)
 

Push pull stroke

Platinum Member
My wife's Chinese. I know pragmatic Chinese. Like, "change a diaper". I also know some pretty good potty talk.

She brought her relatives over as soon as she was a citizen, and pretty much decided she never really needed to comingle with English speaking people. She is an introvert to begin with, and doesn't have many Chinese friends either.

It's kind of tough with kids, like she never speaks to them in English, except maybe to answer a homework question. My daughter has to get ESL training because between her grandparents and my wife, I am the only one they hear speaking English. I feel like she is missing out on many opportunities to take advantage of community events.

My wife doesn't understand why I have to do reading with our daughter. She(my wife) really just doesn't say the words correctly. My wife also has issues negotiating or discussing things in English. It is hard for her, because she doesn't practice. It has taken my wife a very long time to figure out the how's and why's of the way it is in the US. Like we have ovens, we bake. We bake all kinds of things potatoes, casseroles, deserts, breads, and they are good. Fortunately, my daughter discovered pizza, woo! It took a long time to explain to my wife, nine times out of ten a pizza is a red sauce with cheese, please don't make a Thai seafood pizza with fish sauce more than once, or at least master a real pizza first. She eventually, understood, but wow that was hard. She does some innovative things on occasion though, but gosh darn, I want butter. I had to DEMAND butter, but once she figured it out. "Oh! butter", sigh...

I realize the kids needing ESL is annoying, but growing up truly bilingual, especially in the two most influential languages, is HUGE.

What part of China are they from? How did you meet?
 

ottog1979

Senior Member
My wife is German. Coincidentally and slightly helpful, I took one year of German in high school. I'm definitely NOT fluent. But I remember enough words and have learned a very slight amount more that when she's talking to family on the phone or they visit, I get the general gist of what the conversation is about. I can't participate or reply back, but I get the very basics of what they're talking about.

Just being interested and looking up words now & then has grown my vocabulary and been surprisingly helpful. One day, when I have time (hah, hah, hah...), I'd like to do more formal German language study.
 

GetAgrippa

Diamond Member
Bilingual is that some sexually related term? My wife is American but when I fell to earth I'm not really sure where I came from but I landed so close to hell I saw Sparks-the neighboring town to my hometown. LOL South Ga is a lot like a foreign country or some time warp.
 
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toddmc

Gold Member
My spouse is of New Zealand/ Maori origin and throws a few Maori terms around here and there but certainly doesn't speak the language fluently.

Not exactly a "foreign match" though- to put it in context most of you can understand, it's like if an American married a Canadian.....
 

A J

Well-known Member
My wife is German. Coincidentally and slightly helpful, I took one year of German in high school. I'm definitely NOT fluent. But I remember enough words and have learned a very slight amount more that when she's talking to family on the phone or they visit, I get the general gist of what the conversation is about. I can't participate or reply back, but I get the very basics of what they're talking about.

Just being interested and looking up words now & then has grown my vocabulary and been surprisingly helpful. One day, when I have time (hah, hah, hah...), I'd like to do more formal German language study.
You're wife is German too? We should form a husband support group! 😆

I speak very little German. Languages come very hard for me. I'm constantly amazed by people who can seamlessly transition between languages. Sadly, I'm not one of them.

I earn my keep by lifting heavy objects, completing dirty jobs and reaching objects on high shelves. 😊
 

iCe

Silver Member
The only German you'll even need is 'darf Ich bitte ein Jägerschnitzel mit ein grosses bier, bitte' ;)
Don't know if i spelled it right; had German in middle school for 2 years and that's over 25 years ago hehe.
Dutch and German are similar in many ways, but still i struggle with translating some words when talking. Listening to German is much easier!
 

Mediocrefunkybeat

Platinum Member
On a semi-related note, some of my family are natural polyglots. My Uncle speaks at German and French fluently (and to the point where native speakers don't know he's English) and seeing as he spent a lot of time in the Middle East as a young man, I wouldn't be at all surprised if he could speak Arabic. My Great-Grandmother was a nurse in Belgium during the First World War when she was in her very early 20s and left there and ended up in Morocco, then on to various other places, eventually ending up (after going back to England) in Spain with my Great-Grandfather and where my Grandmother (who passed away last year aged 92) was born. Purported she spoke about eight languages.

I can't even manage bad English. To say that I don't have 'the gift' is an understatement. I find it absolutely fascinating to hear people switching between languages with ease. I just cannot fathom how they do it.
 
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