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Why do Americans use English so poorly?

Fenrari

Prince of Wolves
Now this idea popped into mind in large part because I live next door to a family of rednecks. (I'm not using the term offensively; it's just a fact. And yes you might be a redneck if you have a portable meat smoker parked in your driveway 24/7 and or you think wearing a camo hunting jacket during the summer midday sun is "cool" or the like)

But yeah the kids of this family, besides being racist little pricks (My first day back instead of being greeted by: "Hello, neighbor." It was more akin to "CHING CHONG YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?") seem to have failed out of Elementary school grammar.

Which of course irks me a little. Why? Because I keep meeting people from around the world (Especially on this forum). English definitely wasn't their first language. And yet their mastery of it makes individuals who are native to this country look bad.

I will make note that having lived in more than one State (Bounced between Alabama and Florida a bit as a child) and having experienced both private and public schools; there is a quite a difference between education levels within each area. Nonetheless why is it that Americans can't even do a half-decent job on their own language while Europeans/Asians/Austalians can master 2 to 5 different languages seemingly flawlessly? (My Serbian International Relations professor could speak in 7 different languages...)
 

Kangamutt

Well-Known Member
You're in the deep south, Fen. Of course nobody's going to speak English there. :V
 
A

Ansitru

Guest
Fenrari: You'll find that any native speaker, when given the opportunity, can and will butcher their mother tongue.
It's a shame, really.
 

Yago

Ambered Amaranth
One's grammar is better for a second language rather than his/her first. This is most often the case in my experience. My Spanish teacher's English grammar is god awful, but her Spanish is amazing. Same with a few other professors I've noted.
 
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Fenrari

Prince of Wolves
You're in the deep south, Fen. Of course nobody's going to speak English there. :V

But that's the thing Florida can't be considered the Deep South. Especially the First Coast area. This is where all the rich white Northerners (and associated better education) come to die.

Fenrari: You'll find that any native speaker, when given the opportunity, can and will butcher their mother tongue.
It's a shame, really.

I'm not talking about dialectal differences, differences in word spelling and usage. Instead I'm focusing on how America is the worlds best known cultural melting pot, yet it's hard for me to find people who are competent in a single language (the universally accepted core language of the US).

Ignorance is our nation's most cherished resource :V

Ignorance in what sense?
 

Dreaming

Member
Weird, most of the Americans I've spoken to had good grammar. Apart from the odd Americanisms, there were no problems with their English at all. To be honest, out of all the bad grammar using people I've met, the majority of them were British.
 

Kaspar Avaan

Puke Dog
I think it's because non-native speakers have a motivation most natives (especially those in the USA) haven't: many people who chose to learn language in their adult lives learn for their career and for the opportunity to either move to or do business with the US; people in the US don't need to learn another language to do business because of the prevalence of English as a second language globally. Another possible reason is that native speakers appear to be overly critical of non-native speakers' grammar, and that can make non-native speakers want to perfect their grammar so they aren't mocked or called out for mistakes that would be acceptable for a native speaker.

It's why I'm against the idea that 'Americans are bad at learning languages', because they aren't: it's that many never leave their own state and have no motivation and goal for which they should learn a language. Many who become fluent in another language have either been exposed to that culture from a young age (possibly by travelling or living close to native speakers), or have an interest in that culture. If your brain has no reason to learn another language, it just won't take in the information. The brain is happy to throw out anything that it deems unimportant, which is why immersion is important.

I'm guessing as well that it has a lot to do with specialist literature, too: native speakers rarely pick up grammar books for their own language because they don't consider they may learn something from it. You can guarantee that non-native speakers who have a high level of fluency will, at one point, have read a book or resource that has grammar drills and grammar guides.
 
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greg-the-fox

Well-Known Member
Ignorance in what sense?

Ignorance for the sake of ignorance. Pride in being uneducated and 'hard working' (i.e. so stupid that they are only capable of manual labor) Anyone with half a brain to these people is an 'elitist liberal' who has been 'indoctrinated' by the 'liberal universities' and wants to 'take away their rights'

They can't cope with their own stupidity so they resort to concealed jealousy and petty circle jerking. It's a national pastime. Also guns.
 

Fenrari

Prince of Wolves
Ignorance for the sake of ignorance. Pride in being uneducated and 'hard working' (i.e. so stupid that they are only capable of manual labor) Anyone with half a brain to these people is an 'elitist liberal' who has been 'indoctrinated' by the 'liberal universities' and wants to 'take away their rights'

They can't cope with their own stupidity so they resort to concealed jealousy and petty circle jerking. It's a national pastime. Also guns.

You sound like you're describing the "DEY TOK OUR JERBS!!!!" people from South Park. No?
 

Kangamutt

Well-Known Member
But that's the thing Florida can't be considered the Deep South. Especially the First Coast area. This is where all the rich white Northerners (and associated better education) come to die.

Regardless of what migrants and carpetbaggers move down there, you're still well below the Mason-Dixon line, which means speech is more and more incomprehensible as far as the native population is concerned. :V

ADD:
Weird, most of the Americans I've spoken to had good grammar. Apart from the odd Americanisms, there were no problems with their English at all. To be honest, out of all the bad grammar using people I've met, the majority of them were British.
I've had a lot of Brits tell me this. Then I helped a guest at my work who was from the UK. Almost completely incomprehensible. Way too fast, and nothing was enunciated. Turned out he was looking for a restroom.
 
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Fenrari

Prince of Wolves
Regardless of what migrants and carpetbaggers move down there, you're still well below the Mason-Dixon line, which means speech is more and more incomprehensible as far as the native population is concerned. :V

You've obviously never met someone from the Minnesota/Great Lakes area... Or backwoods Pennsylvania.
 

Unsilenced

Mentlegen
[yt]EAYUuspQ6BY[/yt]

Relevant, if no-one has posted it yet.
 

Kangamutt

Well-Known Member
You've obviously never met someone from the Minnesota/Great Lakes area... Or backwoods Pennsylvania.

Ok yeah those regions are bad too. Frankly, the further from a coast you are here, the worst it is it seems.
 

CaptainCool

Lady of the lake
its weird, for some weird reason america do everything half assed. not even their own language is being spared :p
 

Thatch

Still not at 10k posts
Ok, leaving stupid rednecks completely on the side - you're comparing individuals to the many. Of course you'll find many foreigners on this forum for whom english is a second language and yet we speak it without flaw - we're the only foreigners who both CAN and WANT to post a lot and for prolonged periods of time. Unlike natives who speak sup-par english and simply don't have a choice, foreigners who are not perfectly fluent in english will keep to sites in their own language, because it'll be easier for them. But just because for me english is just as natural as polish, doesn't mean all, or even a majority, of poles will be fluent. Sure it's popular, but most won't be able to get past the "struggling to form basic sentences" phase. And that's because I learned it for YEARS. We're individuals, and you're comparing us to masses, so naturally we'll come off better.
And it's not like your school teach you english. If you recall, you were able to speak before you went to school. You learned to speak from the adults around you, in a CASUAL enviroment. And even if they DO know perfect, classical english, they sure as hell don't use it at home, only sitcom people talk like that. So what you pick up sloppy, day-to-day speach, build in a large part on idioms. So the worse the adults are at english, the worse their kids will be. And they have it double hard to learn "correct" english, because they have not only to learn it, but UNlearn what they already know.
On the other hand, I (and other foreigners) wasn't subjected to this homely, careless way of talking. We were tought to use semantically, grammatically, and ortographically correct english from the very start (altough I had really great teachers who also tought us a lot about idioms and casual speach, but only AFTER we were fluent in the classical base). So naturally our speech and writing will be more "correct". So you cannot compare people like me to neither YOUR compatriots nor OURS. We have the advantage of (sometimes) individual skill and (more often) far better education in that matter.


Having said that, some people ARE just retards :V
 
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Aetius

It's Me Gordon, Barney from Black Mesa
This thread has too many generalizations for my liking.
 

Fay V

Lost to this world
[yt]EAYUuspQ6BY[/yt]

Relevant, if no-one has posted it yet.

Dammit that is the first damn thing I thought of and you beat me to it you glorious bastard.

OP- first of all, you have a confirmation bias. When comparing natives to people in other countries you are comparing them with those that had the education and motivation to come over to the states, that's a big deal. If you look at the red neck population in any country you'll get the same abuse of the language.
You have a benefit with your native tongue where the meaning is intuitive. People that are learning English as a second language are more technically correct in their usage because casual speech is so much harder to understand. In the same way that I can only speak extremely formal french, or basic casual phrases.
ESL speakers are forced to learn every tiny rule, every exception to understand, where as a native speaker intuitively picks it up and thus slouches on the rules a bit.
 

Metalmeerkat

As slick as a bad analogy
That's cause we speak American here. We will NOT be contim... conanim... condiman... uh, dirtied with your elitist european languages! :x
(also, antecedents don't prove anything. 300 million americans, that requires some actual analysis to say anything)
 
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