What are the 5 most spoken Languages in the world?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Sibilia, Jan 11, 2013.

  1. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think we can move forward on an argument about tones, but I disagree with the assumption that non-English alphabetic symbols are hard to use, much of the Spanish speaking population use them in fact and considering the importance of tone for mandarin taking the very little time it takes to bind the tonal characters "˥ ˦ ˧ ˨ ˩ ↓ ↑ ↗ ↘" to keys or to find their codes should be worth it. Heck there are plenty of online apps for it:
    http://westonruter.github.com/ipa-chart/keyboard/
    http://scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?site_id=nrsi&id=UniIPAKeyboard
    http://www.rejc2.co.uk/ipakeyboard/

    It could be helpful in learning the language if it was phonetically displayed correctly, learning to read and speak mandarin written in IPA would probably be easier then learning how to read and speak Chinese characters accurately in standard mandarin directly, a bridge gap if you will for learners.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
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  3. Sibilia Registered Senior Member

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    Is it the "ñ" included? What is it?
     
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  5. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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  7. Sibilia Registered Senior Member

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    Muchas gracias Electric. Eres muy amable.

    The letter "ñ" does not exist in Italian, but the sound yes, as in: signore, cognome, disegnare, signorina, abbisogno ...
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Spanish has only one letter, Ñ, that would perplex a reader of English, which IMHO uses the smallest character set of Roman letters. Beyond that it has a couple of other letters that are familiar to us, but pronounced much differently: J and soft G, plus Z and soft C in Castilian. Several other phonemes are pronounced differently than in English some of the time (B V) or all of the time (D L N R T), but most Americans take months of study to hear the difference, much less pronounce it. All in all the Spanish alphabet is not difficult for anglophones. It uses the acento agudo (we normally call it by its French name, accent aigu or English "acute accent") to identify the stressed syllable when it violates the rules, and occasionally to distinguish homophones, but in published English text that diacritic is used in many foreign words so we recognize it and ignore it, even if we end up stressing the wrong syllable.

    Czech might have been a better example to make your point. Not only does it have the ñ (pronounced the same as in Spanish although it can occur at the end of the word so you have to learn to pronounce the palatalized N without a vowel behind it) and the accent aigu on all the vowels (including Y) which indicate long or short rather than stress, but it also has Č Ď Ě Ř Š Ť Ů Ž, many of which have sounds that an anglophone could never guess (or in the case of Ř, pronounce).

    I would suggest that the Pin-yin transcription for Mandarin is closer in difficulty to Czech than Spanish. For starters, it uses several letters (C E Q X Z) for different sounds than ours. But hardest of all to get used to are the tone marks, simply because tone is not phonemic in English so the concept is alien to us. BTW, your IPA characters for tone are correct but they are seldom used except in scholarly writing, for the good reason that many software systems don't provide them. We put diacritics over the vowels: ¯ (macron) for first tone (high), ´ (acute accent) for second (rising), ˘ (breve) for third (low), and ` (grave accent) for fourth (falling). Or else we fall back on the old Wade-Giles system of putting numeric superscripts after the word, which I can't figure out how to do with the SciForums toolset and I don't feel like scouring the Math subforum looking for an example to copy.

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    You're undoubtedly right, but either system would probably scare away quite a few students. Thousands of people have learned Chinese from Wade-Giles transcriptions. My teacher used the Yale system, and those of us who had a passing familiarity with Wade-Giles thought Pin-Yin was far superior, at least for anglophones. But Pin-yin is rapidly becoming the universal standard, and although it has some counterintuitive symbols for anglophones, it's also more precise so in the long run I'd guess that it's easier. I've had to adapt to it and I don't miss Yale.

    Now if we could just get TV reporters to stop pronouncing Beijing as if that J were French rather than English.

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    It's also found in most of the Slavic languages. In Italian it can begin a word, such as gnocchi.
     
  9. AcrossSkylight Registered Member

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    I would like to start this out with a humorous response. This from a comedian I saw many years ago…
    There was a Russian man who moved to America. He wanted to learn English, so he locked himself in his house for 3 months. His Uncle had visited one day. I have not heard from you in months speaking in Russian. Where have you have you been? The Russian man said I have been here in the house for 3 months and I turned on the TV so I can learn English. Then his Uncle said if you’re trying to learn English why do you have the Spanish station on TV? ROFL.

    Now on a more serious note. First posted about five languages of the world my guesses were English then Spanish next was French fourth was Chinese. And last Middle Eastern Arabic.

    Here in the US are many races and cultures of people. Europe used to immigrate to America. At a certain point that slowed down very much. South America and Asia including the Middle East are more likely to move to America. England according to a friend is much like America in many ways after all thus no real reason for Great Britain to move here. Only that they have much higher taxes.

    I would consider America mostly in communication English and Spanish. It is said French is spoken in some parts of America. Those who speak Chinese who deal with English speaking people learn to speak English. Why as a matter of fact some are just much better at reading, writing and speaking than those born here in America. It’s a lot about attitude and determination to learn. America needs to focus more on Education. Asians are more serious about school and work and is considered to surpass America within maybe ten or so years.

    Many of those Islam live in many parts of the world today. I’ve been both in Calif. and here in Illinois. It is common to meet one of Islam. With a heavy accept of Arabic. They have moved to the United Kingdom and as well as India and all other nations. This makes them as English and Spanish very international. Only that most of us English speakers don’t learn their language. Arabic is said a very difficult language to learn compared to some of the others. I could learn to read or speak Chinese if I wanted. Understanding it at full speed is almost impossible. I would like to learn more Spanish since it is the most second common spoken language here and about the world.
     
  10. rodereve Registered Member

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    I would say English, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic.

    I'd also like to say that whenever you go to a foreign country, and they don't speak your language when you're trying to ask for something, you revert to the most basic language of all, sign language haha Maybe not proper sign language, but you point or you play charades
     
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    By the end of the 19th century the European economy improved greatly so people weren't so desperate to emigrate. Still, there were a few places where times were tough, such as Sicily and Ireland, and we continued to receive a steady stream of immigrants from those places. Starting in the 1990s after Perestroika, people began immigrating from Russia and the other former constituent republics of the USSR such as Moldova, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

    Mexico was our largest source of immigrants for many years (often desperately poor people who came in illegally, sometimes swimming across the Rio Grande and earning the nickname mojados or "wetbacks"), but in the last generation they have reformed their economy and become a middle-class country. Net immigration is now negative: more Mexicans are going home than coming here. Today El Salvador is perhaps the most pitiful country in Latin America and many Salvadoreños have come here to escape the violence (which our own country's policies helped foment) and find jobs. But yes, large numbers of people from Central and South America migrate to the USA. Aside from the poor people from El Salvador (and a few from nearby Guatemala), who make a dangerous journey through Mexico to cross the U.S. border on foot (sometimes illegally), the vast majority of Latinos come legally, with passports and airline tickets.

    There has been a wave of migration from various parts of Asia since the mid-19th century, when Chinese workers came to help build our huge new railroad network. Japanese people came to southeastern California to prove that it's possible to raise crops profitably in the desert. Many Koreans came after the chaos of the Korean War (that we made worse), and just like them a lot of Vietnamese came after we helped destroy their country.

    Recently there has been a wave of immigration from Middle Eastern nations such as Iran, but there is much larger wave of Muslim immigrants from Africa.

    And of course we have a huge population of immigrants from India. Here in the Washington DC region, working at a software house, seven members of my project team are from India and I am the only native-born America. My other two teammates are from Iran and Ethiopia.

    Americans and Englishmen (and perhaps even the Scots and the Welshmen) get along reasonably well, especially since we speak dialects of the same language. But attitudes are different and it would take considerable adjustment for one to become truly content in the other country.

    Wealthy Europeans have been moving here for decades, especially actors and other artists who can work anywhere. Although our own people love to complain about our "high" taxes, the USA is a tax haven compared to Europe.

    A dialect of French called "Cajun" (a corruption of "Acadian," the name of the French people who attempted to create a paradise called "Acadia" in eastern Canada and ended up being persecuted and moving to a warmer locale) is spoken in Louisiana, although virtually all of the Cajun people can also speak fluent English. Louisiana was once French territory along with several other states. French is also spoken in the Canadian province of Quebec, and not everyone there is totally fluent in English.

    "Chinese" is not a single language. Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghai, Fujian, etc. are not merely dialects but separate languages that are not intercomprehensible. So the Chinese people are accustomed to language barriers and to being multilingual. They seldom attempt to teach their language to other people, but rather learn the foreign language instead. Good business sense!

    We're more likely to meet a Muslim with an Iranian accent or any of several African languages. We do have immigrants from Arab countries, but they are vastly outnumbered by other Muslims. Remember: the ten nations with the largest Muslim populations are not Arab countries: China, India, USA, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Russia, Japan.

    Actually India was conquered and occupied by Muslim armies. It was a Persian king who built the Taj Mahal ("Palace," literally "crown place," in Farsi).

    Many British people are bi- or multilingual. It is Americans who believe that everybody should learn to speak English. We're lazy and arrogant. Most of us don't start studying a second language until high school, at which time it's very difficult and most of us never get the pronunciation right.

    It's a Semitic language like Hebrew and Aramaic. Semitic is a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family (which also includes the Berber, Chadic, Cushitic, Egyptian and Omotic branches). Most of the languages in Europe are Indo-European, so they feel more familiar and comfortable to us.

    It's much easier to learn to speak than most Americans assume, although it takes some effort to learn that tone is phonemic, not just an expression of emotion. But it's not easy to read; you may be overconfident about that.

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    Actually it's not. Chinese is not spoken quickly, and all the words are monosyllables so you don't have to figure out where one ends and the next begins. I never have trouble identifying the words I know when I hear people speaking Mandarin, and can pick up some of their conversation. I know a lot more Spanish, but I have a hard time understanding it because they speak so much faster and the words run together.

    It's hard to figure out how to rank Hindi. All Indians with a basic education have been taught it. They can read government documents, they can understand political speeches, and they can watch movies in Hindi. But the title of this thread is Most Spoken, and very few Indians actually speak Hindi. Not because they can't, but because they don't like to. It's the regional language of the area around New Delhi, so to speak the language of the government employees feels like they're acknowledging those people as aristocrats.

    So instead, when two Indians meet who don't speak the same native regional language, they talk to each other in English. "Indian English" is now an officially recognized dialect of our language, like British, American and Australia/New Zealand.
     
  12. Sibilia Registered Senior Member

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    I am English teacher as a second language, and I tell to my students that languages ​​are not studied, practiced first and then study them in that language. I'm Hispanic, but I see the English much easier. Spanish uses many verbs and plural is used with the article, the adjective and the noum.

    Gracias a Ustedes por su participacion en este tema. Yo he aprendido mucho sobre las migraciones de los pueblos.
     
  13. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    I've seen other languages do that and I honestly hate that, in fact I don't even like articles. If you make a noun plural you should not need to do the same for its adjectives, subject object noun diffraction should simply be a matter of sentence placement. It would be more efficient if it was "I like her - her like I" and not "I like her - She likes me" now you got to learn more words that basically have the same meaning, if worse came to worse optional suffix could be added to declare a noun is the object, subject, secondary Object, etc, etc so then you could jumble the grammer order and the sentence would still make sense" "I eat fruit -> fruit eat I -> fruit[Obj.] eat I[Subj.]", "I sent the package to Bob -> I[subj.] sent package[Obj] Bob[2ndObj]. Lojiban tries to does this.
     
  14. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    English, italian, german, mandarin, & farsi

    If I had to say a sixth it would be russian
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2013
  15. rodereve Registered Member

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    Nice insight! Yeah, if we take the literal meaning of the question, then we'd have to see which language requires the most words to get the point across, how often people use the language, how many people use the language this would be more of a sociology question then lol I laughed at "Indian English" at being an official dialect, the first thought that came into my head was just English with an indian accent (hope that doesnt offend anyone)
     
  16. Sibilia Registered Senior Member

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    What is your criterion for that selection?
     
  17. R1D2 many leagues under the sea. Valued Senior Member

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    cri·te·ri·on ** (kr-tîr-n) KEY*

    NOUN:
    pl. cri·te·ri·a* (-tîr-) KEY* or cri·te·ri·ons
    A standard, rule, or test on which a judgment or decision can be based. See Synonyms at standard.
    ---
    Well my opinion of judgment is this.
    There are many Germans here in the USA. They (the Nazis) spread there language far an wide. Russia was huge. And now there are many country's that have splintered off. Italian is widely known because of the pope and the religious base there. Those Europe country's kinda know many languages. I was in Germany 2 years. Mandarin is the widely generally know asian dialect. And Farsi is similarly a general language known in middle eastern areas. I think the USA government likes having certain people know either farsi or mandarin or both. English is a given. Canadian, south american ,England, and many others speak english. English is a secondary or primary language spoken by many. All my opinion. And there is different ways to speak the same language. So a general language is IMO better to know.
    Portuguese and spanish are also good general languages to know.
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Of course we feel that way because we speak a language with very few inflections: singular-plural for nouns, nominative-accusative for pronouns, present-past-gerund-participle for verbs (and only strong verbs have distinct participles). The result of this is that word order is very constrained in our language. But we're accustomed to it so we don't even try to rearrange the words in a sentence for emphasis or variety, and on the rare occasions when we do, we just juggle half a dozen prepositions to make it work. But in many other languages, the declension of nouns and adjectives (nominative-genitive-dative-accusative are the most common cases in Indo-European) gives the freedom to resequence the words for emphasis, poetry, euphony, humor, etc. The conjugation of verbs (present, past, future, infinitive, conditional, pluperfect, subjunctive, imperative are just some of the tenses and modes) allows an even greater measure of freedom, as well as eliminating auxiliary verbs like "shall" and "would" and often making pronouns unnecessary.

    If you'd like complete freedom from inflections you'll love Chinese. Not only does it not inflect nouns for gender and number or verbs for tense and mode, but the language does not even have the concepts of gender, number, tense and mode. You discover that those attributes are often not necessary to specify because they're obvious from context. If not, you just throw in real words to express them, instead of particles and endings. "Yesterday two dog eat one rat. Tomorrow three rat eat one dog." And off course the down-side of this is total rigidity in word order. If you switch two words in a sentence you'll either be saying something completely different from what you intended, or you might be talking gibberish.

    As I already noted, English has evolved greatly over the millennia and now only declines pronouns, not nouns. You don't have to learn nominative and accusative forms of every noun, just a handful of pronouns.

    Esperanto compromises. The accusative suffix is mandatory for direct objects, but it is universal and unvarying so you only have to learn it once. Hundo manĝis raton, "A dog ate a rat." Hundon manĝis rato or Rato manĝis hundon, "A rat ate a dog."

    This thread asks what are the five most spoken languages. Italian, German and Farsi are not in that category. Each of those countries was once a great world power, and each of those languages has a rich and extensive literature. But today they are seldom spoken outside their homelands except by expatriates, and their literature is usuallly read in translation.

    There was a huge wave of immigration from Germany to the USA and Mexico in the late 19th century, when an amazingly stupid monarch virtually destroyed the national economy. But those people rapidly assimilated in both countries and their great-grandchildren speak only English or Spanish (or both!). But they left a legacy in both countries. Here it is our beer; most of our breweries were founded by Germans: Schlitz, Anhäuser-Busch, Coors (Kurz), Yuengling (Jüngling), Pabst, Blatz, Hamm, etc. In Mexico it's the music: they still play tubas and accordions in ranchera songs, many of which are polkas.

    But their empire was liberated so quickly that German never became the imposed language of their conquered peoples. When I was in eastern Europe in 1973, I was able to make my way around by speaking German, because all of the people in their 40s and 50s had learned it at gunpoint. But they did not teach it to their children. Today, German is not widely studied, and if it is it's due to the commerce of the modern German corporations, rather than the conquest of their ancestors.

    I think you mean the U.S.S.R. Russia was one of its many constituent republics. Today, in almost all of the other former Soviet republics like Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, the Russian language plays the same role as the German language in that empire's former occupied states. People learn Russian if they do business with Russian companies, but they don't teach it to their children just because they were forced to learn it.

    No no no! They use Latin, not Italian. All of the pope's speeches and writings are in Latin. The current pope, Benedict XVI, is German and probably doesn't speak Italian fluently, if at all. Latin is the official language of Vatican City.

    When you can get in your car, drive for only half a day, and find yourself in a place where nobody speaks your language, you have a lot of motivation to be bi- or multilingual. Here in the USA we can drive for a week and everybody we meet still speaks English. Americans think that everybody should learn our language.
     
  19. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

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    Well I propose optional suffixing, that there is a define grammar order where no suffixing is needed and that changing the grammar order requires the use of a universal suffix, instead of many different inflections for each ever word. In peace corps I learned an African Bantu language called Bemba (icibemba with prefix) and it has a horrific number of prefixes for nouns for and corresponding prefixes of adjectives of said nouns (over 50 total!) with tons of exceptions in which totally different prefixes are used. So like I was saying grammar orders of SVO and SOV (the most common grammar orders in the world) would not need an objective or subject suffix, but if you use a grammar order outside of that you would use the object and subject suffix and there would be ONLY ONE suffix for that class WITHOUT exception, so you would not need to learn a whole ton of different inflections or new words that all basically mean the same thing (like "go" in Spanish).

    Already doing that with my AxL, plus the most common adjectives can be suffixed:

    dog eat rat -> tizue dei mizue
    the dogs have eaten a rat -> tizue tia hia dei pie mizue = tizueth diep mizue
    two dogs are eating three rats -> tizue paoa dei hie mizue taoa = tizue pao deih mizue tao
    5 dogs will eat 26 rats -> tizue gaoa dei die mizue pahaoa = tizue gao deid mizue pahao
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2013
  20. Sibilia Registered Senior Member

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    The others five most spoken languages are: Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese and Punjabi.

    The five most international languages ​​would be: English, Spanish, Arabic, German and Russian.

    Fraggle said:
    USA is an Anglo-Saxon nation. When they leave their country someone speaks in English. What to study another language for?
     
  21. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    I wonder what percentage of people can use sign language fluently?
     
  22. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

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    Because its fun to actually be able to talk in the native language of a people, because though people might SPEAK English most signs are written in the native language (at least in Malaysia) and then maybe English and Mandarin and food especially so if you have food allegies or dislikes or just like to know what your eating so you can get it again its a good idea to pick up SOME Bahasa at least (after a week I picked up a fair percentage of food words and I brought home stuff to learn it properly)
     
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Actually "white" Americans now make up less than 50% of our population. The Latino population is growing quickly, and the Afro-Americans who are descended from slaves have a very strong presence although not as large. The same can be said for people of Asian ancestry. There is no longer any "majority" ethnic group in America. We're all minorities, although for now Euro-Americans are the largest minority with more than 40%.

    This harkens back to the phenomenon of the Ugly American. This was the title of a book written in 1958 about Americans in Vietnam--although that country is never named and the locale seems more like Burma or Thailand. This was near the beginning of the USA's involvement in the Vietnamese civil war. That war tore our country apart ideologically, but it devastated Vietnam physically.

    A movie was made from the book in 1963, starring Marlon Brando.

    But the phrase has been passed down through the decades and no longer refers to American soldiers or government agents. Ten years later in 1973, when I traveled through Europe (and the USA was still fighting in the Vietnam War!), the term had come to encapsulate everything that Europeans (but also people in other non-anglophone nations) hated about the USA and our people, specifically American tourists.

    Some of the things they hated most about Americans:
    • We wanted to pay for everything in dollars, even in the smallest, most remote locations. If they quoted a price in francs or lire, we'd ask, "How much is that in real money?
    • We wore horribly, ugly clothing. Our U.S.-published tourist guidebooks even told us not to dress fancy, because those countries were full of criminals who would rob us and even kill us if we looked wealthy.
    • We refused to learn any foreign language. In the big cities we'd usually find someone who spoke a little English because American tourists were so common. Their English was often terrible, but we could understand it. We made no attempt to say the simplest things in their language, except "Where are the prostitutes?"
    • We assumed that all their women were prostitutes. Why else would they be talking to a "rich" American? In many of those countries, if a fellow citizen said something like that, he would have been beaten up. But everyone was afraid to harm an American because A) they needed our money and B) their police force was assumed to be paid by the U.S government, so a foreigner would never win a case in court. As long as we didn't actually attempt to rape a woman, her friends would usually just stand there in the hope that it would deter us from doing it.
    • We were terrible drivers. We rented tiny little European cars (they were much smaller in those days!) and drove them like they were motorcycles. We couldn't read their road signs, even the ones that had arrows instead of words, so we were always turning the wrong way and snarling traffic.
    • We assumed that everybody was a lackey. If a wealthy businessman or a prominent politician approached us, we would draw no conclusions from his fancy suit and treat him like a cab driver.
    The reason we got away with this is that, by their standards (1973 was nothing like 2013, especially in the "Soviet Bloc--Czechoslovakia, Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and several other countries, many of which don't exist anymore), where salaries were low and it didn't matter because there was nothing to buy. But we paid them in dollars and there were special government shops where they could redeem those dollars and buy a Japanese stereo or a bottle of French wine or a music tape from West Germany.

    The term is still used by people of my generation, but more importantly, the attitude has not been eradicated. It's still true that few Americans bother to learn a foreign language, although now many people in major tourist cities speak very good English. We might still try to pay in dollars, but the dollar is not worth what it once was, so it gives us no advantage; more likely, we'll use a credit card and the bank will figure out the exchange rate--and charge us a fee. I don't know if American men are still rude to European women and assume that they're all prostitutes. Most of my friends are around my age so they're considerably more polite than they were 40 years ago. Auto licensing laws are much stricter in foreign countries and driving rules are enforced, so you generally have to obey the laws much more carefully than in our country. They have radar cameras that shoot a picture of your face and look you up to make sure you have a visa! Many of us don't dress a whole lot better than we did in those days, but Europe has changed and it's not quite so rude to look like that now. Lots of European have important jobs and make a lot of money, so we're more careful about treating them like cab drivers.

    So, the "Ugly American" still exists because the people who met them 40 years ago are still alive but foreign people are much less tolerant of that behavior today.

    Anyway, my point is that assuming that you can travel anywhere, and not to bother learning any foreign language, is an insult to your hosts, and the entire region. That makes you an Ugly American.

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    Oh by the way, I keep writing "we." In fact when I visited Europe I took great care not to be an Ugly American. I landed in Munich, where I was picking up a BMW motorcycle at the factory. (BMW: Bayerische Motorenwerke, "Bavarian Motor Works," and Munich is the capital of Bavaria.) I tried out the German I learned in college and hadn't used for ten years, but it all came back to me rather quickly. I'm hardly fluent, but I had no trouble getting around. I did the same thing in Austria, naturally. When I arrived in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, I discovered that most of the adults over 40 could speak German because they had learned it at gunpoint during the war. Now that the Germans were their friends, they were happy to speak their language. I had a German motorcycle with a German license plate and I was speaking German, so everybody assumed I was German. In Romania people learn French rather than German, but I managed to communicate there too. I never studied French formally, but I love it and have picked up quite a bit of it from movies. Bulgaria and Yugoslavia were harder but I remembered most of the Czech words my mother had taught me as a child, plus the Russian I had studied in college, and within a couple of days I was speaking a pidgin "Pan-Slavic" that everyone understood. In those countries people are very impressed if you try to learn their language because they are so difficult for us.

    I never studied Greek but I had friends there who spoke Esperanto so they took care of me. (I visited almost all of my European Esperanto pen-pals. Ugly Americans DO NOT study Esperanto because, as you say, they believe that English is "the international language.") I speak fairly good Spanish so I had very little trouble with Italian or Catalan. Once again my little bit of French got me through the southern part of France, where people are much different from Parisians and if you speak poorly they help you instead of pretending that they can't understand you. (Chinese people do this too.)
     

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