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Speaking other languages in front of non speakers of that language

Smelnick

Creeping On You
V.I.P.
At my work, I work with many people from south america and germany. So often times they talk to each other in spanish, portugese and german. Its not so bad I guess, for them to have someone to talk to. There's enough english people there, I can talk to them. However, where it irks me is if I'm working with two of the south american's and they start talking spanish to each other, and just completely exclude me from any conversation. Sometimes they even start talking about whatever issue is happening with the stuff we're making, and I'm always left clueless as to what's going on. I just find it a little rude. I mean fine, talk to each other in your language, since you're most fluent in it, but at least take a minute and fill me in on what's going on. otherwise I just stand there looking like an idiot.


What's your take on people talking in other languages around you when they're actually capable of speaking english and including you in the conversation?
 

Babe_Ruth

Sultan of Swat
Staff member
V.I.P.
Most of workplaces here you either have people talk English or French. I'll converse with some French people and some English people. But, if there's a couple of us that speak both languages then we'll talk English since most people know how to speak that around here. A lot of English people have problems speaking/understanding French.
 

Rebeccaaa

yellow 4!
I think in your case, it's not only pretty rude but also counterproductive. How are you suppose to work with eachother?

Never experienced it myself. Though it probably wouldn't bother me unless there was a reason I needed to know what they're saying. I don't really pay attention half the time anyways if I'm not being directly spoken to.
 

Hilander

Free Spirit
Staff member
V.I.P.
I don't have a problem with people speaking other languages but in you case I think it would be rude. You have a need to know what they are talking about when it comes to the job. If I were talking to two people and they started talking to each other in a different language all of a sudden then I would wonder if they were talking bad about me. I would probably walk off.
 

CaptainObvious

Son of Liberty
V.I.P.
That example you gave sounds a little rude but I've done that before and not meant anything by it. I took my mom to the grocery store the other day and while we were in line with her basket we were having a conversation in Spanish, mostly because she's more comfortable with Spanish. The guy in front of me turned around a couple of times and gave us a dirty look and I almost said "mind your own damn business" but I didn't. It was a private conversation and there was no rude attempt by it and people shouldn't automatically assume there is.
 

Smelnick

Creeping On You
V.I.P.
Well, the one guy Claudio, his english is fairly weak, so it makes sense for Pablo to talk to him in spanish or portugese, to make sure he understands. It's just awkward for me sometimes when it's just the three of us working in the spray room, and they just start having a conversation, and just completely leave me out. I know they speak enough english to include me in the conversation, they just don't lol.
 

Unity

Living in Ikoria
Staff member
It's all about context, Smel. I agree that in your story it sounds to be a little rude. A work setting isn't exactly a place for the most private conversations, and if you do have to have one it shouldn't be around others while excluding them.

That example you gave sounds a little rude but I've done that before and not meant anything by it. I took my mom to the grocery store the other day and while we were in line with her basket we were having a conversation in Spanish, mostly because she's more comfortable with Spanish. The guy in front of me turned around a couple of times and gave us a dirty look and I almost said "mind your own damn business" but I didn't. It was a private conversation and there was no rude attempt by it and people shouldn't automatically assume there is.
Exactly. When my coworker from Palestine is on the phone with his family and speaking Arabic I don't get offended, or when people are in a store speaking Bosnian to each other (large Bosnian population in St. Louis) I don't either. In the public world during private conversations it's all about what makes the people communicating comfortable.
 

shelgarr

Registered Member
This happened at tennis about 3 weeks ago. Us gringos were outnumbered by mexicans. So when the times came to rotate courts, they were arranging things while speaking spanish. I didn't know where the hell I was supposed to be. I even asked them to speak english. It was all good natured.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
Casual setting - I don't mind it unless I want to chat with them - in which case I'll just start talking to them in English or French (and they'll usually respond in either of those languages). Sometimes what the other person is saying doesn't concern me anyway, so the person should just feel free to use whatever language he's most comfortable with. I don't need to know what people around me are talking about. If it's a work setting or a meeting and I feel excluded, I just say gibberish until they realise how it feels when you don't understand what the person is saying - it's counterproductive in a meeting.
 

Bubbles

I ♥ Haters
As long as people aren't directly working with me, I could careless what language they speak in. I mean, yes, it's nice to be included in a conversation, but at the end of the day I don't really give two shits. If it's a private conversation, it's none of my business.

I have had the exact opposite happen to me though. Funny story, I was at the bank this one time, and these two Portuguese women ahead of me, were talking amongst each other and then one of them just turns to me and starts talking in Portuguese (or at least I think it was Portuguese...) It was funny because all I could do was just nod and smile politely like I was agreeing with her. For all I know they could've been talking about abortion or suicide. Who says being a cultural chameleon can't be fun.
 
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