Nath, avatar

You might be surprised. Half of us were either born overseas or had at least one parent born overseas. A little under a third of us have English as our second language. That doesn’t mean that two thirds of us only speak English - only that English is our ‘home’ language.

I know there’s a lot of multiculuralism in the USA also, but I don’t know whether those percentages compare.

Source:…/media release3


There are more Spanish speakers in America than Spain.

Donebrach, avatar

Wasn’t the whole point of Farscape that Aussies didn’t speak English and that one Florida guy had to teach them how?

Tasio avatar

The whole South America:


Right? People are forgetting that we’ve got essentially three languages in the entire hemisphere.

You speak three languages in Europe? Congrats you speak 12% of the commonly spoken / national languages.

Speak one language in the Americas? Congrats, you speak 1/3 of them!


I’m assuming the third language is French? And I mean really how gives a fuck about Quebec. They just push the language to be assholes.

So really there are two…


Portuguese, there’s a few hundred million speakers of Portuguese in South America.

I suppose I should have included French and made it four … there’s Quebec, but also Martinique, French Guiana, and so on. Maybe 10-15 million all in all?

Vs. ~450m for Spanish, ~400m for English and ~300m for Portuguese.


What about all the African countries south of the equator? Afrikaans is the obvious one, but there must be hundreds of tribal languages. Also don’t forget Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The Amazon surely has tribal languages too.


East vs west, not north vs south.

Mothra, avatar

Sorry, but you have a lot of places where different languages melt and mix, especially near Brazil. They don’t speak Spanish there


Well it depends, in my city in Colombia they pushed english a lot. Was also mandatory in my university in case your school was not bilingual. May be an oddity but you are certainly expected to learn it at some point to not fall behind in this globalized world. Also USA companies hire people cheaply across all industries and have common time zones, so it can be actually worth.

Tasio avatar

Yeah, in mine too. But if you are not going to leave the continent or study it is not so necessary. I mean the reason I know English is just to look for knowledge.

Also as just @Badass_panda says, 3 languages in the whole hemisphere.


we insert token Maori words at the beginning and end of our emails, that totally counts




Australians? You mean upside down Americans?


I prefer to call them Bruce.


Everyone thinking Canadians are bilingual but it’s just we were forced to take french in school and can now say “ou est le supermarche?” and that’s it.


The foundations of my French were built on puzzling out the backs of shampooing bottles while sitting on the crapper, pre-internet.

autokludge, avatar

oooh aqua, sounds fancy.


Hey speak for yourself, I was forced into French immersion school by my parents with promises of good government jobs. Now I can understand French but Quebecois is a whole different beast 😂

ahriboy, avatar

Why do some people prefer Quebecer over Quebecois, when reporting on current events in Quebec in English?


I think Quebecer is a noun, but Quebecois is an adjective? Someone please correct me if I’m mistaken…


Quebecer it’s just our demonym in English.


Québécois is the French denonym, Quebecer is English, some people prefer the French name.


In the US we take like four to six years of Spanish and walk away with “donde estas la biblioteca” and “donde esta el baño.”


Hey it’s important that we know we’re the el baño is. Very important. Yes.


Just about as important as “un cervesa, por favor”


I took half that many years of Spanish, and that’s about all I remember too. Also, “tocar los pompes”. I feel like we do it all wrong here though. Language classes aren’t typically until high school, and by then your ability to learn languages is far less than when you are younger. It can still be done, but you have to want to, and teenagers have too much going on to care about speaking a language they haven’t used this far in their life.

Mothra, avatar

Tocar los pompes? What are pompes? Is it slang for something? Spanish is my first language and I’ve never heard that word


That’s because you don’t want to learn Spanish. I know English because I wanted to learn it. I practiced it daily and got pretty decent at it.

I also took 4 years of German. I hardly remember any of it. Because I wasn’t interested in learning any. It was just something I had to do.

aceshigh, avatar

i just remember “dios mio no es beno” from that 70’s show. i probably spelled that incorrectly.

although i cheated… i took 2 years of spanish in jr. high, and didn’t learn shit. so i took my native language in hs and college. got an a- in college.


Lávate los manos!


American Dad refference ❤️


Jay parlay France-says trey bee-in! Jaytude quart annes in laycool.

That’s all I need to know as an American. Any French speakers will immediately switch into English and forbid me from speaking in French, lol.


Here is an attempt to fix that for you: J’ai parlé français, c’est très bien. J’ai étudié quatre années à l’école.


Je parle français très bien. Je l’ai étudié quatre ans a l’école.

southsamurai, avatar

Legit though, nobody alive today had anything to do with English becoming the trade language. It used to be French, but that went away and English filled in.

Any country where English is the primary language is going to have less people needing a second language for anything other than the general benefits it brings, which aren’t truly necessary.

It isn’t like everyone, everywhere speaks English on top of their first language, nor does everyone speak multiple languages. They do just fine with the dominant language of their country, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Also, Australians don’t speak English. They speak Cunt :)


Even the English royalty would speak in French in official ceremonies

southsamurai, avatar

Yup. It’s just the vagaries of time, war, and shifting alliances that put English into the main trade language. The term for that is lingua franca because of the French dominance in that regard.

The only reason English is probably going to stay in that place is inertia. Well, that and the friendliness of English borrowing words so freely. It’s easier to just adopt words with complex meanings into English than it is to translate them. But why change the trade language when it would cost more to shift things for no practical benefit.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have minded more and better language options in school. But it was the eighties and very early nineties, in a rural town, I was “lucky” to have two choices in high school. But I think if I’d had access younger, the way some countries do English, I would have gotten much better at Spanish than I did. Even my ASL is better than my Spanish, and I have arthritis that makes signing hard.


Interestingly, while French was the lingua franca of Europe for several hundred years, it wasn’t the origin of the term ‘Lingua Franca’.

That term meant the “language of the Franks” and was the Mediterranean trade language in the medieval through Renaissance eras. It was actually a pidgin of Italian, French, Greek and Arabic adopted as being roughly mutually intelligible among Venetians, Byzantines and North Africans.

The reference to the ‘Franks’ is because the generic word for a western European (in the Byzantine, Greek world) had long been “Frank”.

southsamurai, avatar

No kidding? That’s what I get for just accepting information without checking it! I heard that from an old family member and have never bothered to question it

Thank you, for the correction and doing in such a friendly way :)


I always thought the same thing! I only found this out relatively recently, and I thought it was pretty cool


Sgoin on cunt?


Also, Australians don’t speak English. They speak Cunt :)

It’s not like americans speak english either.


More like the Bri’ish don’t (know how to) speak their own goddamn language.

oatscoop, (edited )

Dare I ask where the “T” is?

Also, the Bri’ish decided the adopt French spelling conventions into their language because they wanted to be snobby fancy, like “colour” and “theatre” – it’s a mess.

We North Americans follow the lead of patriot and genius Noah Webster who just wanted words to have sane, consistent, intuitive spelling conventions.

vext01, avatar

“I could care less”


Colour is couleur in French

southsamurai, avatar

Ay, all’a y’all’ns kin jist git rait on outta hyuh. Dayum yankee carpetbaggera.


“It isn’t like everyone everywhere speaks english on top of their first language” while it can never be everyone, every person I have interacted with from europe, brazil, india, etc has said English was pushed in school. so they are fluent in native tongue and english. And then you have Indians who often speak 4-5 languages besides english. Westerners just don’t need to learn anything besides english, since everyone accomodates for english. Especially Air traffic control.


man i wish second languages were more of a thing for people in the US

ive struggled learning spanish for a while as an adult and i just wish I had went to an immersion school or something as a youngster. even if it doesnt really matter, i think its just so great. great for your community, great for your brain; besides the time i dont see any downsides to learning another language

TimeSquirrel avatar

When you can drive for more than a week straight and still be in the same country, needing to know other languages is a lower priority.



CurlyWurlies4All, avatar

Also when you genocided the indigenous people so hard you never needed to adopt any loan words from the native language.

Nepenthe, (edited )
Nepenthe avatar

A low enough priority that the further I get in my efforts, the more it sinks in with me that I'm mostly wasting my time. It's a hobby more than a skill.

My attempts to learn my family's native language have hit a roadblock: now that I have a handle on the grammar, there is no one for me to speak to. It's frankly pretty upsetting and I'm very discouraged about it.

You're required to know at least a workable amount of English in order to live and work here, so no matter where they were born, there is absolutely no one in what feels like this entire NW hemisphere that I do not already share a language with. And only one time have I ever known before they said. All other times, they've just happened to mention they're from there after I say something about learning it.

Most immigrants I've met are perfectly incognito, and they speak more than well enough for us to understand each other casually. The point of language is to communicate. Goal achieved.

Trying to find a language partner in this situation is proving not only impossible, it's nigh-pointless to even do unless you're bored. It's the same online — nearly everyone already shares a language with me, you'd never guess most of the time, and even country-specific subs sometimes post things in english.

There's literally no one for me to practice on and zero need to practice unless I feel like going halfway around the globe pretty often in order to make the effort worthwhile. At which point they will still speak to me in english unless I'm lost in the super rural areas, and I will simply cry.

I've come to accept that going overseas even once in my life is never going to happen. Europeans seem to vastly overestimate Americans ability to afford to do that. Even if we could, we still have an entire hemisphere to get through first. Which costs significantly less, is almost just as fun, and doesn't take multiple years of work for a skill you'll only ever use once.


You say it’s your family’s native language and that you have no one to speak it with… I mean… Your family?

Nepenthe, (edited )
Nepenthe avatar

My grandparents were turkish and swedish, respectively, but neither took it upon themselves to teach either language to their children. My mother didn't even know her mom knew swedish til she was almost an adult, and the disconnected handful of turkish words was a result of trying to sneak ice cream past the kids. We were all 100% americanized and I feel horribly out of place even though I'm technically only second generation.

I do have relatives overseas, but I understand half of them are dead now. Since I was a kid when my own mom was ostracized, I barely even know any names and as I've said, I've never actually visited or interacted with them in any way. They may not even know I exist, tbh.

I could theoretically message my one remaining second cousin, I admit. You're correct. I have the sense this would be very awkward and I'd honestly rather speak to a stranger than explain who the fuck I am and why they should care.

Bonus points if they turn out to be super racist hypernationalists like my granpa so I get to be rejected by the one remaining relative that hasn't gotten around to it yet. Which isn't a thing that's physically preventing me, the prospect just popped into my head and makes me really sad and it would add to my therapy bills


I kind of get it. My family is Jamaican and even so they haven’t cared to speak patois in the house for years nor do they really see the value in helping me learn (assuming they weren’t at work), instead laughing at me for messing up words here & there & still speaking US english.


Europeans seem to vastly overestimate Americans ability to afford to do that.

This part, I’m struggling to stay afloat I can’t splurge for a intercontinental trip. I can, however, drive my car for a day or less and be in a completely different biome/culture. Each state is essentially it’s own country with it’s own laws and cultures. An overarching American influence but each place is definitely unique to itself.

I like to learn a language not so much out of practicality though because you’re right, we can speak to everyone here with English. I like to learn a language just for the mental benefits of training my brain and learning more about another culture.


I think it’s more related to the language importance than it’s size. We have continental countries (Russia, Brazil, etc) that you can also drive for a week without leaving and learning English is important there.

If the world had chosen another language for communication probably US citizens would need to learn another language still.


My relatives in australia speak english and a bit of german. They told me they had the choice to learn german or spanish in school.
But what is the point, other than you really want to learn a random language? I learned french, then english and later i had the opportunity to learn italian or spanish if i wanted to. But that's because these are the languages people speak here and the bordering countries. My relatives never used any of their german, except when they went to europe once.


One reason is that it helps you to understand your native language better.


Being from East Germany I had Russian in school, can't speak, but I retained the ability to read kyrillian letters, come in handy sometimes, especially if there are phonetically similiar words.


In Australia I had the option to learn Japanese and then when I went over to Europe my school specifically had a Chinese option, both for “facilitating trade and future relations”

Ngl years later I kinda only use my Chinese skills when I’m at the Chinese market and I’m trying to find the right ingredients for something, and I reckon out of my entire class I probably benefited the most out of taking the language. It isn’t the cultural trade exchange they were hoping for…but hey, it’s pretty useful being able to correctly identify stuff when the English stickers they plaster on the label are vague at best and incorrect at worst


Learning a language is good for your perspicacity in general. Like doing sudokus except it lets you read the news or poetry or something from another culture in its original form.


They probably speak with their wild beasts, no way they survived this long otherwise

ivanafterall avatar

Sadly, I'm not sure consent culture has made it to the fields quite yet.


I have come to realize that largely, in the western world, it’s most common that people speak their own language and English. It just so happens that is the same language for many people.


its because of how culturally relevant english is as a language to make others pick it up as a second language. Take for example coding, programming languages were mainly built around english monikers, so a very basic level of english understanding is helpful when doing that. Then you get to the large wall that is western, primarily American media and how its more or less it’s largest export.


It’s an Anglosphere problem


Yup, same thing in anglo Canada.

Catfish, avatar

It’s called the Crackerverse actually.


It’s not a problem, though? Many people learn other languages in the US/Aus/etc. They just don’t get a chance to use them, and those skills fade very quickly.

I’m sure more people would be fluent in another language if daily life motivated retention.

I’ve studied 3 but only used French for the first time this year in my 40s. I just could never afford to travel until work sent me.

It was inevitable that some language would become the most “global.” It’s not anyone’s fault if it also happens to be their native tongue.


Even the Anglophones that live in places where they’re in minority refuse to learn the local language. That’s the case in Quebec anyway.


This just sounds like a strange form of prejudice, tbh.


Australia has enough problems. We Americans can take the hit.

ICastFist, avatar

Problem 1: livin’ in 'straya

Problem 2: giant foockin spiders

Problem 3: whatever animal declares war on them


Problem 4: Rupert Murdoch


Much bigger problem than 2 or 3





Think you mean fahckin' there, ya dumb dog


I hear Chinese might be on the rise ;-)

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