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What might make people switch to English when I speak to them in Spanish?!!

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Philippa, May 24, 2006.

  1. Philippa

    Philippa Senior Member

    Reading
    Britain - English
    Hi there folks!
    A little rant from me.....
    I phoned Spain this afternoon to book a canoe trip :) and it was fine until the moment I missed something and said ¿cómo? when I got an answer in English. I persisted in Spanish and the person mostly (but not completely GRRR!!) swapped back to Spanish. I ended up shouting at the phone, as soon as I'd put it down!! This isn't the first time this has happened, but it's the first time for a while and as I (hopefully) get better at Spanish it shouldn't really happen, should it?!!
    • I know this happens more with touristy things - do people working in such industries tend to assume that foreigners are all 'phrase book' types who can speak, but can't understand much, and so it's simpler and quicker to switch to English?
    • I don't think this happened to me once in México, and I was in touristy areas with people who probably mostly spoke at least some English. Is it that the mexicanos wanted to be nice and stick to the language I had started in? Is it that españoles are really keen to practise their English?
    • I'm sure my accent gives me away as being foreign straightaway, but it isn't absolutely dreadful (I hope) - at least one (quite important!!) forero has commented that my accent in Spanish is okay. What are the other pitfalls to avoid to stop people switching back to English, do you think? It isn't always possible to avoid asking for something to be said again, I did this once (pride!!) and then I had to confess to my Spanish class that I wasn't really sure what time we could check in to our hotel in Madrid!!
    • If you work with tourists, how do you approach this situation?
    Any other thoughts or experiences welcome, Spanish/English or otherwise.
    Saludos castellanos
    Philippa
     
  2. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    English
    If it's in a situation where a serious business/commercial negotiation is taking place, I think it makes more sense to do it in the language that is most understood between the two people. When you were booking the canoe trip, perhaps the operator felt that having the transaction run smoothly and have both parties mutually understand everything, was more important than you practicing your Spanish. Maybe you could make it clear that you would prefer to speak in Spanish, so that he/she wouldn't feel bad for not switching to English, the language you are most comfortable with.

    But I think that with casual chatter, people are only going to switch to English to practice it, so it should be easier to communicate in Spanish then.

    One alternative strategy a friend of mine brought up was to say that you speak some other foreign language when the person on the other end tries to speak to you in English. This would work best if it's unlikely that the other person would know the other language, for example Swahili or Taiwanese. I think I might try this if I ever go to Spain or Mexico hehe
     
  3. KateNicole Senior Member

    Miami, Florida
    English (USA)
    This happened to my mom when we went to Cancun a lot. She would always approach the staff at the resort in Spanish, and 95% of the time, they replied in English. My mom's level of Spanish is actually quite high and her grammar is great, but she didn't learn to speak until her mid-thirties, so her accent is very strong and gives her away immediately. A lot of times people, perhaps subconciously, are too quick to think that someone doesn't understand or is incapable of conversation, just because they have an accent! This is a true story: in a restaurant in the resort, my mom ordered in Spanish, and then the waiter turned to me and asked "Does she speak Spanish?" Hello?!?! It was extremely disheartening and embarassing for my mom because she has studied for so long, and every time someone responded to her Spanish in English, it was like they were telling her she just wasn't good enough. (But she was . . . they just wouldn't look past her accent.) HOWEVER, in the markets of Cancun and on the streets, the every day residents that we encountered always replied to her Spanish, even if they knew a little English.
    So, in a nutshell, I think that because the importance of English is stressed so much in the service industry, many people come to think that most English speakers want to be addressed in English (even if they speak a foreign language) and use English in attempt to be courteous . . . and it backfires every now and then. Don't worry, I bet you the person thought they were relieving you by switching to English.
     
  4. Fernando Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain, Spanish
    I find the following alternatives:

    a) He/She wanted to practice his English
    b) He thought you were having a bad time trying to speak in Spanish and he was so kind to speak in English to avoid you any problem.
    c) He is stupid.

    I prefer to think the answer is (b)
     
  5. angel101 Senior Member

    English/England
    I think a lot of the time Spanish people respond in English because they want to practise their English. In February our Spanish teacher organised a trip to the the Small town of Segovia, north of Madrid. Obviously, our main objective was to speak as much Spanish as possible. However any time we went into shops and restaurants (I'm guessing our accents gave us away!!) so many of the employees would ask if we were English and would then continue talking in English!! Me and my friend were in a bar and got talking to the two locals and we asked them why people were always so keen to reply to us in English. (Were our attempts at speaking Spanish that bad?!!!!) They simply said that it was really rare to come across native English speakers in the non-touristy areas of Spain. Despite this, I did find it disheartening when Spanish people replied in English. As KateNicole said it was like they were saying my Spanish wasn't good enough; it really did knock my confidence!
     
  6. Residente Calle 13 Senior Member

    New York City
    I have spoken Spanish for as long as I have been speaking. I don't have a foreign accent. But it happens that if I am speaking to some non-Caribbean Spanish speakers, I will get answered in English more often than in Spanish. I don't look like I'm from Mesoamerica so Hispanics in Utah (where I used to live) tended to either stare at me like I was from another planet or answer me in English when I spoke to them in Spanish.

    Understanding was never an issue. I understood everything they said and made sure they would understand everything I said. I have never had that problem with Central Americans or Mexicans here in New York.

    But I guess I didn't look the part or they didn't know what to make of me in Utah where you are either white, have blonde hair and blue eyes and speak English or not and speak Spanish.* There may just be an instinct to speak foreign to anybody who doesn't look the part.

    That's my poorly thought out theory anyway based on the three years I spent in Utah.


    *This is not entirely true. There are also white people with green eyes and some with red hair in Utah.
     
  7. Cereth

    Cereth Senior Member

    language of love
    Como mexicana puedo decir que aqui siempre tratamos que la persona se sienta bien y muchas veces cambiamos de español a inglés porque queremos que la otra persona no la pase mal, no porque desconfiemos de sus capacidades es que la verdad no es muy común que los extranjeros hablen español, sin embargo yo ya me he topado con esas situaciones y prefiero preguntarle a la persona en que idioma le parece bien que sostengamos la conversación, casi siempre resulta en spanglish!...jaja
     
  8. KateNicole Senior Member

    Miami, Florida
    English (USA)
    I agree, Cereth. I think that when someone switches to the other person's native language, it's done with the best of intentions, but I also think it's important to avoid doing this if the person is making a good effort and expressing him/herself readily. I, as an American, am guilty of doing this too. When I worked as an interpreter, if a Mexican person entered our office speaking understandable yet broken English, I usually switched to Spanish. I did this because I figured they would prefer to be attended in Spanish, and because they might become offended if five seconds later they heard me attend another non-English speaker in Spanish. They might have wondered why I didn't give them the same service. To make a long story short, I attended the vast majority of English-speaking Mexican nationals in Spanish, and I'm sure I accidentally hurt a few people's feelings along the way, although most seemed overjoyed to learn I know Spanish. I'm much more aware of that now though, and at my other interpreting job, I actually wear a small pin that says "Hablo español" and now resist the urge to switch from English to Spanish.
     
  9. marygg Junior Member

    Monterrey, Mex.
    español
    If a person come to me and speak in spanish I usually answer in spanish, it doesn't matter the accent, maybe is because I don't have the confidence to speak in english :p

    Sería muy bueno que eso pasara en USA, que escucharan mi acento malo y comenzaran a hablarme en español porque batallo mucho para expresarme en inglés.
     
  10. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    Well, back when I used to live close to the USA-Mexico border, I had this trick to stop people switching back to Spanish, when I was trying to speak in English (badly, it seems): I would ask them to repeat what I hadn't understood "because I can't hear you very well". This often made the other person speak a bit clearer and louder, so that afterwards I could follow the conversation easier!!!
     
  11. diegodbs

    diegodbs Senior Member

    Madrid
    Spain-Spanish
    Normalmente, si alguien se dirige a mí en español y tiene acento inglés, le respondo en español e intento seguir hablando español. Si veo que la persona tiene muchos problemas a la hora de expresarse, entonces intento facilitarle las cosas y procuro hablar en inglés.
    Cuando hago eso de cambiar o alternar el español y el inglés no es para decirle: "hablas tan mal español que no quiero hablar contigo" sino para facilitar la conversación y no tener que estar preguntando continuamente "¿qué?", tanto él como yo.
    Creo que esto es como una especie de acuerdo tácito que se establece entre las dos partes.
     
  12. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    My two cents...

    For some time, I worked at the reception of a hotel in a very touristic part of Barcelona, and I got used to speak in English, rather than in Spanish. Once, after many many guests that were changing in front of me speaking in English, came two people, speaking to me in Spanish, but at the same time, giving me the US passport (since they were Cubans living in the US). I really do not know why, but I automatically started to speak with them in English. They kept on answering me in Spanish. My talking to them in English wasn't at all premeditated, it is just what went out from my mouth. After some 5 minutes and a quite number of exchanged sentences, the women asked me with a smile on her face: Pero ¿por qué me está hablando en inglés?". I felt a little bit stupid:eek: , but it was only then when I realized what I was doing.

    So, MAYBE people do that because they are used to speak English in their jobs and sometimes it just goes out from them when they hear the English language... (although this was not my case, since they were Cubans, but maybe my trigger was the US passport??:confused: )
     
  13. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    This is heresay, because I don't do the resort thing, but I believe that in some places the staff can be disciplined for NOT speaking English to the guests.

    I find that a certain amount of sizing up takes place during the first part of a conversation, and then people automatically settle into the language which best allows communication. If practice is more important than clear communication, this has to be established courteously.

    (In Montreal and Ottawa, both bilingual cities, I invariably embarass myself: if I speak to somebody in French, they answer in English .... and vice versa!)
     
  14. KateNicole Senior Member

    Miami, Florida
    English (USA)
    I agree Chaska. I think that because many Americans and other English-speakers are notorious for expecting everyone else to know English, many people might assume we're all like that, or at least that we'd rather be spoken to in English whenever possible, especially at a resort. There's a lot of us that do love foreign language though! :)
     
  15. Mei

    Mei Senior Member

    Where streets have no name...
    Catalonia Catalan & Spanish
    Hehe, same here! ;)

    Mei
     
  16. Philippa

    Philippa Senior Member

    Reading
    Britain - English
    Thank you, guys, for your comments, stories and suggestions on this.
    Daniel, I'm going to try your idea in Spain over the weekend :).
     
  17. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK
    Hello,

    Just a minor correction. The verb is 'to practise' with an S. Practice is the noun.

    Tatz.
     
  18. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    La próxima vez diles que eres serbia, u otra nacionalidad por el estilo, y que no hablas inglés. Yo también lo encontraría molesto.
     
  19. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    jeje... es muy difícil eso....

    El acento traidor la dilataría en seguida...:D

    NADIE en este mundo tiene el acento como los angloparlantes.... En en especial los serbios....;)
     
  20. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Another lovely BE/AE distinction. Here the verb is practice.
     
  21. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK
    Hi,

    You learn something new everyday. In that case, I stand corrected.

    Tatz.
     
  22. Magmod Senior Member

    England
    England English


    ¡Qué dos ideas tan excelentes! Lo mejor que he oído en mi vida :thumbsup:
    :arrow: Quiero añadir que es posible que conversar en dos lenguas el mismo vez: tú hablas en español, es decir una lengua extranjera y la otra persona también habla en una lengua extranjera ¿no? :D
    Saludos cordiales :)
     
  23. scotu Senior Member

    Paradise: LaX.Nay.Mex.
    Chicago English
    Tienes razon, this often happens with my Mexican friends.
    I live in a small village near a major tourist center in Mexico. It occurs to me that my Mexican neighbors who speak English have various reasons for speaking it with foreigners; first they like the opportunity to practice, learn and maybe show off their English. Second the general assumption (correct or incorrect) is that the foreigner doesn’t speak Spanish so English is a courtesy to a foreign guest. Finally in a commercial relationship it is simply more efficient to conduct your business in the language that is most clearly understood by both parties. Unfortunately locals have dealt with too many foreign visitors that insist that everybody "should" speak English in the tourism business and too few that have taken the time to learn even the most simple courtesies like por favor and gracias.
     
  24. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    La probabilidad de que tu interlocutor español sea capaz de distinguir el acento de un inglés del de un serbio al hablar español es tan baja, que apostaría sin miedo mi casa.
     
  25. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Créeme, te quedarías sin casa.
    El acento inglés es muy fuerte y muy característico y además, fácilmente reconocible.
    El serbio no, pque no es conocido, igual lo confundes con ruso (lo sé, pque a mi me ha pasado esto - siempre cuando hablo en serbio y aparece alguien que es lo suficentemente curioso com para preguntar, lo pregunta de la manera siguiente: "Perdone, que idioma están hablando? Ruso?").

    Pero si escucharas a un angloparlante hablando español, lo reconocerás 100%!!! Y aún más si viene de EEUU.
    Seguro. Dime, ¿un español normalito, ¿cuántas veces ha oído inglés, y cuantas veces ha oído serbio? La proporción sería X:0 donde en vez de la X puedes poner cualquier número superior a entre 10 y 50 como mínimo, dependiendo donde vive.

    Igual que reconocerás a un español, hablando inglés.

    Por cierto, los únicos españoles que conozco y que no tenían un acento fortísimo hablando inglés eran los españoles que vivían un tiempo en EEUU o en Inglaterra. (Nunca he conocido a un angloparlante que hablando español no parece a un angloparlante hablando español (lo que no quiere decir que no existen, claro:))
     
  26. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK
    Hola,

    Pues yo! Cuando hablo castellano, no tengo accento ingle's. Algo de acento extranjero, si' que tengo, pero es dificil precisar.

    Tatz.

    Edit. Es un placer conocerte. ;-)
     
  27. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Igualmente, Tatz....:)
    Me haría muchísima ilusión oírte. De verdad.:D
    Por supuesto que no pienso que la gente como tu no existe, simplemente que no he conocido nunca a un angloparlante sin acento. Incluso la gente que lleva viviendo aquí 30 años, pero les sigue dilatando la RRRR.. inglesa...
     
  28. lazarus1907 Senior Member

    Lincoln, England
    Spanish, Spain
    Un momento: No digo que suenen igual, ni mucho menos. Digo que es improbable que se den cuenta, o de que estén lo suficientemente seguros como para decirte que te creen. Piensa que la mayoría de los españoles no habla varios idiomas.

    A mí en el Reino Unido me han preguntado si soy de tropecientos países. Lo más normal es que tengan la genialidad de pensar que soy francés (cuyo acento es bien distinto). Otros piensan que soy norteamericano, o alemán, o árabe (¡sí, árabe!).... la lista es bien larga. De vez en cuando incluso aciertan con el español, pero muy rara vez.

    Dije serbio porque se me vino a la cabeza sin más y porque además es muy improbable que sepan como suena, y bastante probable que, o bien no sepan dónde se habla, o que ignoren si allí se habla inglés como lengua materna.
     
  29. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK
    Hola,

    Algun dia quizas :D. Creo que la mayoria tiene algo de acento, los franceses que conoci' en espana hablaban con un buen acento pero a veces, (y sobretodo despues de haber bebido unos cuantos chupitos de tequila) salian elementos de su acento nativo... intonacion francesa etc... Los ingleses, no se' porque nunca hablaban conmigo en castellano pero supongo igual que los franceses. Te recuerdo que no soy "sin acento" sino, tengo un acento distinto a lo que se espera de los ingleses ;-)

    Tatz.

    Edit. Gracias a Lazarus1907 por haberme dicho lo de la 'c' en "accento"!
     
  30. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    No te discuto en nada de lo que dices, y es probable que haya gente que no puede distinguir acentos. Hombre, a mi también me decían que venía desde Italia hasta Turquía!!!:D

    Pero aquí hablamos de la gente que sí que habla inglés, y de los angloparlantes que intentan hablar español con estos mismos hispanoparlantes que sí que hablan inglés, y por lo tanto saben distinguir el acento de un angloparlante de un alemán o de un italiano (por ejemplo).

    (Aunque, ya que estamos con acentos, hace poco que conocí a una alemana que lleva aquí 5 años, y si no hubiera sabido que era alemana, habría pensado que era andaluza!!!:eek: Acento, rapidez, jerga...Me fascinó un montón!)
     
  31. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Pero ¿por qué los ingleses hablarían contigo en castellano?:eek: Yo con serbios siempre hablo serbio:confused:....(al menos si no estemos en la compañía de algún extranjero, entonces hablamos en el idioma respectivo).

    Hay gente con más y con menos talento, con más y menos oído, y por lo tanto hay gente que nunca perderá su acento fuerte, y otros que casi consiguen perderlo por completo.
    Yo hablaba en general, lo que es más probable que pase... :p
     
  32. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK
    Hola,

    Por lo que has dicho tu. Estabamos en compania de extranjeros.. espanoles, alemanes, franceses, neerlandeses etc.

    Tatz.
     
  33. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    Claro:eek: ... Qué tonta... jajajja

    Pues, mira, tampoco es que todo el tiempo hablemos sólo en otro idioma... Si hablamos sólo nosotros dos, hablamos en serbio, por supuesto. Si hay más participantes en la conversación, entonces en el idioma que todos hablamos, claro...:) Porque de otra manera... Creo que ya sería mala educación....
     
  34. moirag Senior Member

    Spain
    English, England
    I´ve been living in Spain for 13 / 14 years now and it´s certainly not a problem I have! I speak the language now, but didn´t at the beginning-for example, when giving birth to my first child - " I feel sick" was definitely not understood!- but I have experienced what you say while on holiday on the mediterranean coast. I used to have a British friend in Germany who was black - therefore obviously American - she simply persisted.
     
  35. Magmod Senior Member

    England
    England English
    Hola
    ¿Puede alguien contarme cómo se dice la frase arriba en español? ;)

    ¿Hay otras para jactarme de mi habilitad? :D
    Algunas más complejo que: más despacio por favor

    Saludos cordiales a todos :)
     
  36. Rayines Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Castellano/Argentina
    My attempt:
    "Les pediría que me repitieran/repitan lo que no había entendido/entendí: "Porque no lo puedo oir muy bien". Esto hacía a menudo que la otra persona hablara un poco más claro y fuerte, de manera que después yo pudiera seguir la conversación más fácilmente!!!"
     
  37. nanel Senior Member

    Madrid (Spain)
    Spain (Spanish)
    This thread made me think, because when anyone is trying to speak to me in Spanish and he or she is obviously English (or American) I tend to switch to their language trying to help them, but not if they speak Spanish better than I speak English, which is easy :D

    My story is even worse, I went to Dominican Republic and although I spoke to everyone in Spanish, because that's their language and also mine, they switched to English and asked: "Do you speak Spanish?" :eek: I used to answer: "No, I AM Spanish" Obviously my accent is Spanish, but I have to recognize that I'm blonde, my eyes are blue and my skin is very fair, so they thought I was American the moment they saw me. And yes, they were just trying to help me.
     
  38. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member


    Nanel... Me parto de risa...:D Imagino tu cara exactamente igual que ésta que pusiste:eek: ....
     
  39. mora Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Hello

    When I speak to people in Spanish they often will answer in English , particularly in tourist situations. I continue to speak Spanish, and simply say 'quisiera hablar español con usted'. Polite, direct, and in my experience, always works. I see no need to speculate on why a person has switched to English, simply ask for what you want and you will probably get it.

    Mora
     
  40. zebedee

    zebedee the manamana mod

    Valencia - Spain
    Gt. Britain - English
    I'm with with Mora on this one.

    People will have their different reasons for switching languages, the principal ones being a) they think they're being helpful or b) they're glad of a chance to practise their English.

    Whatever their reason may be, if you prefer to speak in Spanish then just say so.

    A simple "Gracias por hablarme en inglés, pero prefiero que hablemos en español/castellaño, por favor" with a polite smile and you'll soon see how they change back to Spanish.

    People - especially in 'customer service' type jobs - normally aim to please but if they don't know what would please you, they can only guess.
     
  41. emma1968 Senior Member

    tuscany
    ITALY-italian
    I think it's something unconscious, at least regarding italian people.
    We have always been considered a country where most of people doesn't speak English. Probably it wasn't even only a reputation. Nowadays it is quite changing but until up my generation it has been a matter of fact.
    So, the ones who speak English, even if just a little bit, want to demonstrate to everybody that they are capable to do that. That's way they persist speaking English though you speak them italian.
    Obviously it's just a guess of mine.
     
  42. Philippa

    Philippa Senior Member

    Reading
    Britain - English
    Hi Mora and Zeb, yes this is a sensible and good suggestion and I've been asking myself why I don't think I'd feel comfortable with it. Partly it's that I do speculate on, and worry about, why they've swapped to English. Partly it seems to be making a big deal out of something (which language is spoken), when these sort of conversations are short and then you won't see that person again.

    I wasn't brave enough to try the 'no te he oído bien' option over the last few days in Spain. Shame!! :eek:
    I have decided that it is probably simpler to concentrate and listen hard for the key bits of factual information rather than asking for people to repeat stuff. I reckon maybe I'm getting lazy, because I (too confidently!!) think I can understand it all.
    Amazingly, one of the people I spoke Spanish to this week, said that I sounded like Ronaldinho's wife (or was it girlfriend?) - she is Brazilian and not angloparlante, I hope?!! I agree with you really about the English accent, Natasha! And I'm much too bad a liar to pretend to be Serbian!!
    Oh and perhaps Zebedee's too modest to comment here that she's an exception to your rule....Will you ever sound and be accepted like a native? :thumbsup::)

    Saluditos a todos
    Philippa
     
  43. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK
    Hi,

    In this particular situation under discussion, i have the advantage of not appearing English. Thus, i simply put on a confused face, murmur "que'?!" and then state that i don't speak English. Effectively, it means that they either speak to me en castellano or we sit/drink/stand in silence. It's very effective.

    Tatz.
     
  44. natasha2000

    natasha2000 Senior Member

    jajaja... And some of them, for sure speak worse English than you Spanish...
    I think I can understand the deseperation of you, guys, when people want speak to your mother toungue and you don't.
    I remember once I called Spanish embassy in Belgrade, and the guy (Spaniard) kept on trying to speak to me in Serbian, I begged him to speak in Spanish, not in order to practice my Spanish, but to be sure I understood what documents I needed, since I couldn't understand him speaking Serbian, not a single word... The funny thing is that the guy was so persistent and stubborn, that I had to ask him theree or four times NOT TO SPEAK in Serbian, then he tried English, which was a complete desaster, worse than Serbian, and after some twenty minutes of torture, he finally decided to please me, and to speak in Spanish....
    (Maybe he wanted to practice his Serbian;) )...
     
  45. Magmod Senior Member

    England
    England English
    Entonces ¿por qué estas escribiendo en inglés? Si he visto que puedas escribir en inglés por lo tanto puedo hablar contigo en inglés ¿no? :D

    Si una persona me oyó hablar con mi mujer en ingles ¿Cómo puedo no hablar con la persona en ingles? :confused:

    Mi solución: siga hablando en cualquier lengua que quieras. En muchos casos la otra prefiera hablar en español, especialmente si fuera un camarero. A veces me corrigen mis errores.
     
  46. tvdxer Senior Member

    Minnesota, U.S.A.
    Minnesota, U.S.A. - English
    Muchos quieren mejorar su proprio inglés, y piensan que lo pueden hacer por hablando contigo :)
     
  47. Tatzingo

    Tatzingo Senior Member

    Where on Earth??
    English, UK


    That's my opinion anyway!

    Tatz.
     
  48. Eugin

    Eugin Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Argentina (Spanish)
    Hi Philipa!
    I also think, as many have already stated, that those people who changed to speak English with you, they only did that because they could perceive you were a foreigner and they only wanted to help you. At least, that is what I would tend to think if a foreigner approached me speaking in Spanish. I consider to be an act of politeness to speak in the other´s language, that is, if you know the language, of course!!!

    In my case, besides, I would seize that chance to be able to practice my English, jeje!!
    But you can always explain, clarify that you prefer people to speak to you in Spanish and they should not feel offended for that. It´s just a matter of asking for it...

    Anyway, good luck for the next conversations!!!

    All the best,
     
  49. argentina84

    argentina84 Senior Member

    Göteborg, Sweden
    Argentina Spanish
    Everytime I address a foreigner,I do so in English. It's unconcious. I really need to make a great effort to speak or write in Spanish without switching into English when communicationg with English-speakers/non-Spanish-speakers.

    And I have to make a great effort to address a Spanish-speaker in English! I think I uncounciously ask myself : Why are we speaking in English if we can understand each other in our native tongue?

    Weird!
    Regards!
     
  50. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
    Danes, especially those from Copenhagen frequently have the bad habit of speaking English to everyone who seems the least bit foreign to them - withoug giving it the least bit of intelligent thought if it is in any way probable that, first, that the other guy understands it, secondly, if it is in any way necessary.

    The worst example I have ever experienced - and I found it very embarrasing - was once when I was shopping in Flensburg (5k south of the border) with a colleague from Copenhagen. She persisted speaking English to the people there although I told her several times she shouldn't, because the chance they would speak English well were slim, and they'd most likely be spaking fluent Danish. That day she - the only day I went shopping with her in Flensburg - she did not speak one single word Danish with the people there, not even when I demonstratively began speaking Danish to them.

    A strange behaviour I cannot explain.

    In Spain, I think people are different, on the average.
     

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