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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> General Forum --> Common Room --> Addy needs your help! (Non-native English and bilinguals especially!)
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I'm doing SCIENCE!
RDI Staff
Karma: 163/50
1836 Posts

Addy needs your help! (Non-native English and bilinguals especially!)

I'm looking for those who can speak something other than English. Especially if you're living in a non-English country (I'm talking to you, Skari, Fanmerin and Raven!)

I'm doing research for my Thesis, entitled Rebuilding Germanic. It's a study on the various Germanic languages and how English is becoming such a dominant language in the world.

Even if you don't live in a Germanic language country, I would like to know how prevalent English is compared to the other "power languages" like French, Russian or Chinese. Also, if any English, German or other Germanic words have been adopted into different languages. My favorite example is the Germans adapting the English download and importing German grammar to create gedownloadet.

A couple questions:

1) Do you think English will eventually replace your native language?

2) How common is English in your country? Could you strike up a random conversation with someone in English and assume they understand you? Can English be heard on TV or in Movies?

3) Same question for German (the second most common foreign language in the EU).

4) Same question for any language (French, Russian, etc.)

5) Is English taught in your schools? At what age? What about a third language?

Thanks a ton guys and gals!

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 16:45:40.
Edited on 2008-03-12 at 16:47:17 by Admiral

Icelanders! Roll Out
Karma: 102/11
1514 Posts

Yay, language

Fun to be mentioned specially
Specially since I am studying changes from Old English to Modern is the Uni these days

To answer the questions first:

1) It is possible, but I really hope not. The younger generations speak more and more English it seems, and it has caused trouble with teachers and government. But in truth, the younger generation has been speaking more and more English for years now and hardly anything has changed. As they slowly turn into the older generations, they use English less and less I think.

2) English is very common in Iceland. I don't think you could start a conversation with any random person you meet. Around 16-25 years olds are perhaps the ones who are the best candidates for such a conversation, but a large part of them probably couldn't speak much English either. I've heard heard questions in my old school like "What does 'or' mean?" and the like.

3) German is much less common than English in Iceland. If you manage to hold up a conversation in German with any random person here in Iceland, you are either talking to a German or someone who has studied the language by heart, which aren't many.

4) Aside from Polish or Danish, you won't find much of any other language. Polish because of all the Polish workers that are living here and Danish because it is taught in school from the age of 10 -ish.

5) English is taught in our schools. When I started learning English, I think I was around 11 or 12 and it was taught as a third language. Danish was taught as a second language from around the age of 10. I think they have switched this now, so children start learning English sooner than Danish, but I am not certain.

English is mostly used for technical jargon, such as for computers, and have been given some Icelandic rulings. 'To download' for example becomes 'að downloada'. There are Icelandic words for these (like niðurhal for download), but they just aren't used. When I am roleplaying, I have to use a whole lot of English words because we just don't have good Icelandic words for them, and then we add Icelandic rules to them. We talk about 'að taka action', or 'að fá critical', or 'að drepa bugbearinn' because we don't have good words to replace them.

But if it of any interest to you, the younger generations know more English but the older generations know more Danish. Of course, I wasn't much for the history of language in Iceland, so what I have just informed you may not be completely accurate. Hope this helps though, but I'll ask around and see what other people say.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 17:12:35.

I'm doing SCIENCE!
RDI Staff
Karma: 163/50
1836 Posts

Thanks a ton

I'm getting a lot of that from everyone I ask. It seems that English is becoming a very dominant force, and (at least with Germans) most don't want to give up German. If the tables were reversed (I was a native German with English as my second language) I can't say I would be quick to adopt English either.

Anyways, thanks for the insight - It's tough to find people here in the States. Everyone speaks Spanish as their second language.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 17:26:08.

Typing Furiously
RDI Staff
Karma: 177/19
3012 Posts

From NL

Alright, here are some answers for you:

1) No, English will never replace Dutch, but it will replace a lot of words. It already does replace words, for which we have a perfectly fine Dutch alternative. But it's the influence of business and its english orientation that replaces them usually. Also, a lot of job-titles are now English, but again, this is mostly in businesses.

2) English is very common, but not as common as people would like to think. People are capable of understanding english to a certain level, and they can speak it, but when confronted with it, they are having difficulty, and of course other people don't speak it at all. This strikes me as very odd, since English is taught in schools from an early age, you hear it on TV and in music.

English is heard in movies, we don't synchronise voice-overs like the Germans and the French do a lot. It happens for kids' shows that are imported from non-Netherlands countries. This happens because the kids are unable to read the subtitles and because it draws and easier crowd. Shows for teens and up are hardly ever dubbed. In fact, I can't think of one at all.

3) German is taught in high school, for one or two years, with the possibility to choose it in later years. We are located directly next to Germany and a lot of people know at least a few words German, if only to say nasty stuff in case of a soccer-match, which are always heavily anticipated. But German is not such a frequent language as English by far.

4) French is taught all through high school, until the point where you choose your own classes. You can drop it then. But French is also the language that is mostly forgotten after high school, unless people frequent France, or have some other connection with the language. It does not have the obvious similarities with Dutch that German has (you are pretty much capable of following a German conversation if you know Dutch and the other way around (though capable of figuring it out, it's still not THAT easy)).

Other languages aren't taught as much I believe. At least, when I was in high school (which is the place to learn other languages besides English), your options were limited to German and French, and for some people Latin. Perhaps Spanish is now taught as well. It would seem logical.

5) answered that one I believe. English from age 9/10 and up, I think. Other languages in High school for 2 to 3 years.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 17:29:57.

Typing Furiously
RDI Staff
Karma: 177/19
3012 Posts

oh ... and

I don't think we have a lot of French people here, so I'm just going to write what everybody already knows:

The French mostly despise English. Fantasy and me were in Paris some time ago, and we could hardly use English with the common folk. In stores, people would have trouble, and prefer speaking their own language. The knee-jerk reaction of all Parisians to the question "do you speak English", is 'non', which proves that they know what you're saying, right?

It is truly ridiculous how they hold on to their own language in a place as international as Paris.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 17:35:00.

I'm doing SCIENCE!
RDI Staff
Karma: 163/50
1836 Posts


For the record, My Thesis is that a new Germanic language is evolving, a language heavily influenced by traditional English. Since modern English is so different from old English, especially when considering the prevalence of Americanized English - it's a logical step.

Whether this new language will take root or not in non-English speaking countries is yet to be seen. My theory is that all countries will eventually adopt this new language, and infuse it with their old languages to create a dialect. From what I see of Skari's responses, this is already happening in Iceland, and to a point in Dutch businesses.

America has infused Elizabethan English with Spanish, French, Dutch, German and Native American words, and even drawn influence from African slaves to create the American dialect. Granted America doesn't have the lingual history that Europe has, but considering the current trends with English, it looks to be a model that Europe (especially Germanic language countries) will follow.

What am I seeing is that non-Germanic countries like Japan, France or Russia are learning English and simply being "bilingual" whereas Germanic countries like Denmark and Sweden are slowly infusing English into their native tongues.

My hypothesis is that this phenomenon goes back to the roots of the language. France has Romance roots, Russia has Slavic, whereas Dutch and Icelandic have Germanic.

We'll see how it plays out when I run the whole thing by my linguistic adviser.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 17:43:10.
Edited on 2008-03-12 at 17:46:31 by Admiral

I'm doing SCIENCE!
RDI Staff
Karma: 163/50
1836 Posts


I noticed that during my Europe trip as well. Speaking English in France will get you glared at

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 17:43:58.

Angel Reincarnated
Karma: 86/22
1151 Posts


A couple questions:

1) Do you think English will eventually replace your native language?
Yes I do believe that English will replace my native language. French is wide spread, but I can go see family in quebec, and I'll talk english and they understand me. I've gone to the store and spoken english and they understood what I said..before I realized I should have spoken french.

2) How common is English in your country? Could you strike up a random conversation with someone in English and assume they understand you? Can English be heard on TV or in Movies?
It is quite common in my country. Yes they will understand unless they are recently landed immigrants. Even the immigrants seem to understand us if we talk slow enough. English can be heard on TV in Quebec and in movies, but there are always subtitles.

3) Same question for German (the second most common foreign language in the EU).
We have a lot of immigrants in Canada, lots of Germans, French, Irish, Dutch, you name it, we've got it.

4) Same question for any language (French, Russian, etc.)
French is one of the national languages. French and English are our national languages.

5) Is English taught in your schools? At what age? What about a third language?
I grew up in a french school, and yes they taught us english, but not until grade 4 I think. They only offer us French and English at our grade schools. High schools however, offer spanish as well...don't actually know which other languages it offers.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 20:00:07.

Den Mother
RDI Staff
Karma: 111/12
1188 Posts

A study in fultility? Quebec and Bill 101

A bit of a digression, but cdn_flirt started to go there

Canada has two official languages, and we make such a big deal of it that most non-Canadians think we all speak both. (I had a Russian friend think she had to learn French in order to get her citizenship...she was relieved when I told her that it wasn't true, but then I tried to tell her that Inuit language skills were required )

In reality, there may be pockets of francophones throughout Canada (particularly the north), but most French speakers are in Quebec and New Brunswick. Quebec has been actively been trying to preserve French by pretty much outlawing English, but my Quebec colleagues use English for pretty much everything. There are French words for most technical terms, but the English ones get used in conversation. Anything written for public consumption, however, must be in French or the publisher faces hefty fines. Maybe Quebec would have been less French by now if they hadn't taken such measures, but I heard just as much French in New Brunswick last summer. My grandmother, in fact, didn't speak much English (despite having to learn it in school) until she met a cute dairy farmer from Ontario during WW2

It's probably not a serious enough source for a university paper, but I really enjoyed The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. It traces the evolution of English and its spread throughout the world. Part of the reason English has so many different words for the same thing is because it "borrows" words from other languages.

Posted on 2008-03-12 at 21:47:48.

Resident Finn
RDI Staff
Karma: 74/3
1103 Posts

Suomi Finland Perkele!

Ah like Skari already mentioned, always nice to see one's name mentioned in the limelight. I'll gladly give you all the help I can Bobster.

1) Will English replace Finnish? Never. Not going to happen ever. No. Our language is changing though and too fast for my liking and into a direction I don't fancy either. And most of the influence does indeed come from English.

2) English is very common in Finland. Our second official language is Swedish, but English has long ago left our dear neighbours' language in its shadow. I'd imagine you could indeed start a conversation with nearly anyone in English and get at least some sort of a reply. This is especially true in cities. In the countryside people may have forgotten what they've learned in school and might even refuse to speak English, but even there I'd say the younger generation would be able to understand you fairly well.

3) German... hmm.. Never been compulsory, but when I was a little kiddo (the dark ages or so), a few of my class mates picked up German as their first foreign language. They were a clear minority of course and I believe it's even less common today. German has never been available in all of our "ala-aste" or your primary schools. I guess part of the popularity of German language in Finland carries from the war when we were forced to fight alongside with the Axis for three years in order to keep the Russians out. Many of the German soldiers, especially officers got involved with Finnish women. I don't know if any of the Germans were able to stay behind when we finally drove the Germans out of the country in 1944.

And even though we "betrayed" the Germans in WWII and they burned our Lapland, Germany has ever since been a very important business parter for Finland.

4) Swedish. 5.5% of our small population of 5.3 million are so called Finnish Swedes or Swedish-speaking Finns. Our 2nd official language and compulsory usually from the 7th grade. Where as English (the most common foreign language) often starts on the 3rd grade. Russian is of course taught in schools, but is not compulsory. Can be either the first, second, third of fourth foreign language. I've no idea how much French is taught in our elementary/secondary schools, but a lot less than English, Swedish, German or Russian. Can also be the first foreign.

5) Ah.. should've read the questions through again... So... It's often like this: English - 3rd grade (8-9 yrs), Swedish - 7th grade (you do the maths 12-13?), German, French or Russian (or none) - 8th grade, again: German, French or Russian - Upper secondary School (15-16 yrs) Around 90% of kids take English as the A1 or first foreign language. In 2005 9% started studying an A1 language on the 1st grade and 15% on the 2nd grade.

Dunno if any of that made any sense at all.

Posted on 2008-03-14 at 21:13:55.
Edited on 2008-03-14 at 21:14:40 by Raven

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