Americans who can’t speak English

When I need to get my mind off POLITICS and other NEWS, I frequently put on INVESTIGATIVE DISCOVERY…it’s 24/7 of hour-long real murder mysteries.   MANY people are interviewed,  Americans who have lost a spouse or child, it’s really so sad, but fascinating.  I listen to so many of these people and cringe at their English.   Every single hour, all day long, some adult will say….

“It was the last time I SEEN him”…. or

“How many kids is gonna have to die..?”

“Him and me went to the mall……..”

“We done that when we seen we had to..”

As you know, language is more important than many think.  Language categorizes you, like it or not.   Good grammar says you’ve had more education than another person, it says you are aware of good grammar and, probably, that you’re a reader.  All good.    Would you hire someone in an office who says “The last time I SEEN him”?

I studied German in Munich and French in Paris.   The many German and French teachers always said “Speaking English is easier than other languages, but speaking good English is much, much harder.”

Man, even in AMERICA?!!!

I guess there is no solution to this, right?  How can teachers correct grammar when they’re teaching climate change and telling kids to put the knife away?

??  Z

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20 Responses to Americans who can’t speak English

  1. bocopro says:

    Prob’ly best I refrain from commenting on this topic as my remarks might rival War and Peace in volume.

    My wife speaks 6 languages, English being perhaps her most efficient tool because of its versatility, flexibility, and universality. She’s almost completely forgotten her Spanish (which she spoke as a child), and she still occasionally drops an alarming pronoun-antecedent enigma based on the fact that her main go-to language (Tagalog) has no gender for its 3rd-person singular pronouns. He, she, and it are all represented by “siya” (pronounced “sha”). Period.

    What that means is, and I’m sure anyone who knows Pilipinos older than 50 or so has run into the problem, “he” and “she” are interchangeable. A sentence might refer to a father as “she” or a sister as “he,” which causes the listener to focus not on WHAT she’s saying, but HOW she’s saying it.

    She also has that aggravating habit of forgetting to even esTABlish the antecedent for proper nouns, beginning a sentence with “She” or “They,” which is perfectly clear in her mind, but completely mystifying to anyone listening who hasn’t yet developed the ability to read minds.

    Those are about the only things I (and our children, by the way) correct in her English. That and an often bewildering tendency to begin discourse in media res, as if having thought something through has made it a reality to everyone else in the conversation when in fact it most certainly ain’t.

    I no longer correct people’s grammar unless the construction they’ve produced is either misleading or unintelligible. It’s just foolish to try to explain why “center around” is a Euclidian impossibility when virtually every talking head on TV says it sooner or later. Nobody really gives a damn . . . because it DOES get the point across, and it’s a case of conversational versus scholarly communication. It’s kinda like the standard answer to “Who is it?” which is generally “It’s me,” which is, of course, a major case flaw. Gets the point across, and that’s what language is all about.

    And now, I need a bagel and some semi-lethal coffee.

    Oh . . . BTW — Milady was sick for 2 days, so I finally took her to the Navy Hospital. L-O-N-G story you don’t wanna hear. Bottom line, they sent us to the biggest outfit in town (Sacred Heart Hospital) where we spent hours accomplishing nearly nothing but acquisition of prescriptions for a harsh antibiotic and albuterol (bronchial dilator).

    Had to go back yesterday again for the cough-19 nasal swab test. ‘NUTHER long story with the bottom line of “We’ll call you in about 2 weeks with the result. JayZeus! Told her to “isolate” until the results of the test are available. Yeah, right!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. peter3nj says:

    Two little kinda-oops kind of related anecdotes. My maternal grandmother’s ship arrived in NY harbor from Sicily in 1920. As a young kid I was confused as to why all her second person pronouns were she. Eventually I figured it out.

    My grandson turned six in April. Not to blow his horn but from the age of almost three he has had a wide and extensive vocabulary beyond his age and able to converse on an adult level. This comes from not only spending five days a week with grandpa-that’s me- till he began preschool. but also from extended family along with my son, a gifted musician and teacher and with his art teacher wife having such a profound influence on him; he even reads script although cursive is not being taught!!!.The point is that the family, as it should, sets the foundation.
    PS- he’s an extremely happy and funny kid which takes away nothing from his speech and language skills.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. geeez2014 says:

    Peter, I think that’s right…the family does set the language foundation……
    And yes, cursive is not being taught; it’s unbelievable, isn’t it. I always told the high schoolers I subbed that “cursive is a LOT faster for taking notes” Of course, they don’t really even write anymore, just type on their laptops. You’re right, most kids can’t even read script anymore…at all. Good for you and your family to have encouraged such good stuff in him!!!

    Boco; Ya, Albuterol can be used for any bronchial thing but is being used for COVID. I hope she’s okay! I had to email my doc yesterday with some symptoms, too. If she hasn’t a dry cough, can taste and smell fine, and no shortness of breath (tho it does sound like she has that?) she shouldn’t have COVID. Be careful!

    Foreigners I know who speak even pretty good English often use the wrong pronoun…he for she, etc….
    I once asked my husband how the African wife of a German friend of his could speak such good German (I was new to the language and it sounded amazing to me) He said “easy, she the feminine for EVERYTHING. Which, with German, of course, is impossible…all the conjugation is around not one, not two, but THREE ..Der, Die, Das….
    I will admit to using ‘it’s me”…who’s going to say “IT IS I?”

    What cracks me up is that almost EVERYONE uses “I” now….even in scripts you’ll hear “they came with my husband and I” 🙂 a pet peeve of mine.

    I have a Romanian and Hungarian couple in my condo building….the Romanian wife speaks quite good English..the Hungarian husband who’s been here about 45 years now still used to say to me (when hubby was alive) ‘Say HELLO for Werner”…..!!!! He has NO language gift , she does.
    But even she SOMETIMES confuses HE and SHE…

    My German stepchildren almost never make an error…..excellent English and smart people.

    Like

  4. geeez2014 says:

    OFF TOPIC: I have NEVER seen a news channel change SO fast as FOX.

    They probably can’t find many conservatives to do the news, let’s face it, and they have some of THE BEST Conservatives EVER on that channel, but the newer ones are having a tough time seeming even neutral.

    And the people who write the ‘banners’ across the bottom of the page are hilariously left-biased…..writing things contradicting Trump and others as he says one thing and FOX’s banner writers say what they see as FACTS…

    By the way, their grammar and spelling isn’t right all the time, either! Nobody has to be perfect but when you’re the one writing public text, you might want to check yourself before putting it ON THE AIR FOR MILLIONS?!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. geeez2014 says:

    *for MILLIONS to READ, that is…they don’t get paid MILLIONS 🙂

    Like

  6. geeez2014 says:

    Since this wasn’t an angry enough post, we have few commenters (thanks, Peter and Boco!) so I just posted an angrier one….see you there!!!

    Like

  7. peter3nj says:

    @geeez- Gee I thought it was just I-oops me being oversensitive to the creeping bias on FOX. And another thing, I’m waiting for Gutfeld to jump over the table and give Juan Williams the thrashing of his putrid life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. geeez2014 says:

    PETER! You made me laugh so hard! HAAA! There have been times I’ve wanted to scream “Waters! Gutfeld! THRASH THAT JERK!” 🙂 AND I think Juan and Waters have a kind of ‘detente’ because Williams clearly drives Waters NUTS and Jessie is SO RIGHT, isn’t he.

    Yes, I can just see Gutfeld jumping over the table…….I have never rolled my eyes more in one hour than while watching that JERK WILLIAMS. You DO know that his two sons work for the Republican party, right? I LOVE THAT 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jean worland says:

    How are you feeling today? I hope your fever has gone.

    I tried to leave the following post, but kept getting the message to enter my email address which I had done several times but kept getting the message to enter my email address

    “I often hear people say “He had went to the store” instead of he had gone. And practically no one gets the lie, lay, lain or the lay, laid laid right. (lay, laid, laid takes a direct object–he laid the book on the table; lie, lay, lain does not. Yesterday, he lay down for a nap.) I agree, it’s complicated! Spoken by a former English teacher.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. geeez2014 says:

    Jean, thanks, fever better.
    Can’t respond to the email problem except to say ‘sorry’ for WordPress!!!

    And yes, I have a lot of friends who’s look at ‘laid’ in a very different way. (JUST KIDDING, sorry :-))
    And I have to admit I’m not good with lie, lay, lain, either!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. peter3nj says:

    …try explaining subjective and objective or how about direct and indirect objects…gerunds, infinitives, prepositional phrases. Oops sorry that’s from a time when learning white man’s English grammar wasn’t an exercise in racism. Ebonics anyone?

    Like

  12. Cursive was designed with fountain pens in mind.
    Early ball points were convenient but actually caused wrist stress because of the pressure required, which made printing easier.

    I often wonder if Juan is governed by the fact that if he ever stopped acting the fool, he’d loose his well-paid gig. Who else would have him?

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I guess this is what you get when you mix the remains of a Viking language with some Latin, Greek, and French, and maybe now a little Yiddish. 🙂

    I notice a common mistake when Israeli’s attempt to translate literally into English. Some don’t know that you cant have two consecutive past tense verbs in a negative sentence, and that the active verb switches to the infinitive. For example, “I ate” becomes “I didn’t eat.”

    In Hebrew you negate a sentence by instead preceding the verb with the word “lo,” which means “no,” but the verb stays in the past tense. This leads to many Israeli’s saying sentences like “I didn’t ate” or “I didn’t wanted to.”

    Liked by 1 person

  14. kidme37 says:

    I got D’s in English class so this isn’t my subject to comment on.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. geeez2014 says:

    ED! THIS IS THE BIGGEST BUNK I HAVE EVER HEARD!~!! Are you JOKING? “Early ball points were convenient but actually caused wrist stress because of the pressure required, which made printing easier.”

    It’s FAR easier, less stressful to glide across in cursive than PRINT, and I’m an excellent printer, architectural printing, because of my business….!!!!!

    KID, FUNNY!

    Peter…I didn’t want to mention it, but ya, EBONICS is a BIG part of this equation, isn’t it.

    HashemIB, welcome!! Honestly, your English is light years better than MINE, apparently!

    I would be SO embarrassed in my French and German classes when they’d describe why they conjugated like they did…they’d use all the grammar terminology and I’d say “OK, now tell me the sentence in ENGLISH and then I’ll know what you mean!”

    I wasn’t MUCH better than KID in KNOWING GRAMMAR, but WE DO speak IMPECCABLE English 🙂

    Like

  16. Baysider says:

    Right. A Swiss friend told me how much easier English is than German. After 2 weeks their class was reading simple children’s stories. Then he added with a twinkle: “but not out loud!” Funkaroo pronunciations take much longer.

    Language is a defining line everywhere. To wit Henry Higgins: “Look at her, a prisoner of the gutter, Condemned by every syllable she utters.” ….

    “Would you hire someone in an office who says “The last time I SEEN him”? It would take a lot to surmount. Not just street illiterates, but educated professionals talk like that. Yes, I hear a top neurosurgeon speak – once a blue collar kid from NY – and he talks like most of your examples.

    Like

  17. geeez2014 says:

    Baysider..BAD ENGLISH is easier…Not excellent English. Every teacher said that…

    I know EVERY WORD of My Faith Lady…My favorite lyrics are BUT LET A WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE (and you invite eternal strife!) 🙂

    I’d not go to a top neuro who spoke like that…. he’s not been listening.

    Like

  18. kidme37 says:

    Woman in your life / Eternal strife.

    Let me say this. I think a lot of women are truly wonderful life partners, hard working, loving, hold up their end of the log etc. I gotta tell you though that the term Psycho-B(woman) is out there for good reason.

    The one jury person who voted against the death penalty for jodi arias because he or she thought arias was abused by the boyfriend and had reason to fear him has no clue how far a psycho-B can drive a man. Getting some profane/rude push back on text messages from a guy who’s mind has been pushed to the limit is Nothing, not even child’s play. I know from past experience. arias got everything she deserved from that guy and the big mistake he made was not dumping her when that personality trait first showed up.

    Anyway, some guys never meet that good woman and some don’t deserve one either. I’ll bet it’s even harder today with young women walking around tattooed up like Marvel comic books. No thanks.

    Lot of information about her that was not allowed in court, like the time she slashed his tires. Takes some physical strength and mental imbalance to slash 4 modern radial tires.

    Like

  19. Not BUNK,
    How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive
    Thicker ink, fewer smudges, and more strained hands: an Object Lesson
    https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/08/ballpoint-pens-object-lesson-history-handwriting/402205/

    Like

  20. geeez2014 says:

    Kid, that is quite a story! She was awful….Psycho-B WOW!

    Ed, I don’t agree, but thanks.

    Like

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