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  #12921  
Old Posted Oct 8, 2019, 8:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Acajack View Post
Over the past 20 years or so that I've been living and working in Quebec, though, moving into middle age it's become more challenging to maintain my English at the level it once was. I am still at a fairly high level and will never lose it at this point though it is increasingly difficult for me to pass for a "seamless anglo" like I used to be able to do. Recently I was watching a British movie with my wife and geez I was having trouble understanding the slang and quick speech. Something which never happened to me before, and which native speakers of a language generally don't have difficulty with. I did resist the temptation to turn on the subtitles... And these were just regular Londoners. Not Glaswegians like in Trainspotting.
When I first moved to Vancouver I would sometimes encounter people with Asian accents that I could not understand at all (to an embarrassing degree, where them slowing down did not help). Now I rarely if ever experience that. I think I got used to it.

I also have a memory of coming here and feeling like everybody spoke in some kind of ridiculous California 80's surfer dude type accent. Now I don't notice it anymore, and when I go back to the east coast I notice the accents there more than before.

I have moved around Canada a lot and when I moved to Nova Scotia in elementary the kids made fun of the way I talked. To them, a more standard Canadian accent was weird.
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  #12922  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 12:45 AM
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It's pretty inevitable that Canada overtakes California in population again right? Canada is growing by about 500,000 year....California's growth has been stalling recently due to a massive exodus out of the state. The population only grew by about 187,000 in 2018.

There is currently about a gap of 2 million and if this trend continues we could overtake them in about 5-6 years if not possibly sooner.
It's almost inevitable that Canada have a much higher population over the long term. California is arguably maxed out already while Canada could arguably sustain (quite comfortably) 40 million in southern Ontario alone..... and still have population density 20% lower than England.

If current population growth continues Canada could pass California by the 2026 Census. California's population has more downside imo so maybe it will happen even sooner.
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  #12923  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 1:00 AM
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If you already know French and English, Spanish is very rewarding. It's easy to learn and is spoken in a lot of countries that are fun to visit.
Spanish is very financially rewarding if you're a slumlord in a city that has substantial numbers of Latinos (such as Sherbrooke). Or at least that was true, in the late 2000s. For a few years, I occupied a very unique niche as few property owners were fluent in Spanish and many of these potential tenants (recent arrivals) did not speak anything else. Through word of mouth in the community, I quickly filled up a few buildings with very happy tenants - previously the typical clientele in those old downtown properties bought for a song was Québécois on welfare and/or lowest working class, a much more troublesome demographic.

For a couple years the two languages I was using the most in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada were French and Spanish, in that order. (English was third.)
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  #12924  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:38 AM
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I find you can get by pretty much anywhere as long as you know English. It's the global lingua franca and even if you go to a non-Euro country or anywhere in the Anglosphere, people speak it out of necessity a lot of the time.

It's the Irish that I can't understand.
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  #12925  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 11:18 AM
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I find you can get by pretty much anywhere as long as you know English. It's the global lingua franca and even if you go to a non-Euro country or anywhere in the Anglosphere, people speak it out of necessity a lot of the time.

.
To live or to visit?
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  #12926  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 2:19 PM
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To live or to visit?
Well, just to visit, of course. My view on living in a foreign land (as I do) is that it makes no sense to not learn the language. To me, that's just stupid. If you don't learn it then you're relying on other people just so that you can do the simplest of things and your refusal to adapt considerably narrows your prospects in all respects.
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  #12927  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 2:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Spocket View Post
Well, just to visit, of course. My view on living in a foreign land (as I do) is that it makes no sense to not learn the language. To me, that's just stupid. If you don't learn it then you're relying on other people just so that you can do the simplest of things and your refusal to adapt considerably narrows your prospects in all respects.
Thanks for clarifying, though re-reading again you did use the term "get by". Which implies a necessity-based existence, as opposed to a relatively full life in a given place.
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  #12928  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 3:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Spocket View Post
Well, just to visit, of course. My view on living in a foreign land (as I do) is that it makes no sense to not learn the language. To me, that's just stupid. If you don't learn it then you're relying on other people just so that you can do the simplest of things and your refusal to adapt considerably narrows your prospects in all respects.
I spent some time in China and my recollection is that the senior expat guys (the chief engineer, VP level types) generally learned "just enough" Mandarin to get by with pleasantries, travel, restaurants, drivers, etc. It was more the 23 year old English teachers who were doggedly determined to learn the language... and the ones who married locals might actually reach some level of proficiency.

I have to say, if I had occasion to move to China with my wife and kids at this point, I have to wonder why I'd bother spending nights poring over characters when I could be living my life. I wouldn't go in the first place if my prospects weren't assured.

Last edited by esquire; Oct 9, 2019 at 3:54 PM.
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  #12929  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 3:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Spocket View Post
Well, just to visit, of course. My view on living in a foreign land (as I do) is that it makes no sense to not learn the language. To me, that's just stupid. If you don't learn it then you're relying on other people just so that you can do the simplest of things and your refusal to adapt considerably narrows your prospects in all respects.
You can travel almost everywhere with English, that's for sure, but knowing the local language is even better and other than English, French aswell as Spanish are present in alot of countries. They're a plus.
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  #12930  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 3:56 PM
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You get a lot of goodwill by speaking the local tongue with an accent, too. I may not have ever acquired the ability to be a good Danish dinner-party participant, but I always spoke Danish in shops, restaurants, at the hospital, at government offices and all the rest.

Sometimes they had to bail me out with some English, but by 2017 or so, this was quite rare. And I could tell my efforts were appreciated, particularly by older people. They always complimented me on my Danish, which was really a compliment given for my choosing to speak Danish.

Speaking only English surrounds you with a slight negative aura and speaking the local tongue does the inverse. It adds up over time.
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  #12931  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 3:59 PM
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Even before I spoke Danish, I would always open with "Undskyld, men taler du Engelsk?" ("Excuse me, but do you speak English?"). That's my level here in Sweden now too.

Maybe it's a Montreal hangover, but the sight of an English person just going for it in a foreign country is a bit cringe to my eyes.

That said, both Swedes and Danes tell me I'm wrong, that it doesn't matter, that they like to speak English. But I still secretly think I'm right.
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  #12932  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:03 PM
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^ I agree that learning enough of the language to grease the skids of daily social interaction is something of a necessity if you are residing somewhere where English isn't the main language. It's hard to live day to day if you can't ask for directions, order in a restaurant competently, and all of that. The "just enough" Mandarin typical of senior expats in China that I mentioned previously speaks to that idea.
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  #12933  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:03 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Speaking only English surrounds you with a slight negative aura and speaking the local tongue does the inverse. It adds up over time.
I've noticed this as a tourist too.

A few pleasantries in French will go a long way to better service at a restaurant in Quebec, for instance.

Tacitly acknowledging that you're on someone else's turf and respect that pays big dividends in how you are viewed.

Some might think that the tourist industry exists to serve them (it does), but there are human beings behind that industry.
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  #12934  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:06 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Even before I spoke Danish, I would always open with "Undskyld, men taler du Engelsk?" ("Excuse me, but do you speak English?"). That's my level here in Sweden now too.

Maybe it's a Montreal hangover, but the sight of an English person just going for it in a foreign country is a bit cringe to my eyes.

That said, both Swedes and Danes tell me I'm wrong, that it doesn't matter, that they like to speak English. But I still secretly think I'm right.
I was in Denmark a couple of months ago and I don't think I've ever seen a place where they had fewer (noticeable) hangups regarding the use of English. But Denmark has to be a major outlier in terms of countries with such a huge number of non-native English speakers who are proficient in English.
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  #12935  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:08 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
Even before I spoke Danish, I would always open with "Undskyld, men taler du Engelsk?" ("Excuse me, but do you speak English?"). That's my level here in Sweden now too.

Maybe it's a Montreal hangover, but the sight of an English person just going for it in a foreign country is a bit cringe to my eyes.

That said, both Swedes and Danes tell me I'm wrong, that it doesn't matter, that they like to speak English. But I still secretly think I'm right.
The Danes are quite relaxed about it IMO, but I've only been a tourist there.

I think they know that Danish is a somewhat esoteric language and the odds of a foreigner knowing it in any depth are quite low. It helps that the country is not super-touristy and English as a second language is so prevalent, so it is my impression they don't get annoyed at it.

In your case, I'd imagine if you refused to learn Danish you'd start getting the cold shoulder after a bit, as you acknowledge.
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  #12936  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:11 PM
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I was in Denmark a couple of months ago and I don't think I've ever seen a place where they had fewer (noticeable) hangups regarding the use of English. But Denmark has to be a major outlier in terms of countries with such a huge number of non-native English speakers who are proficient in English.
It's a super-easy place to be a English-speaking tourist. It's also not a super-touristy country.

I'd imagine somebody in the tourist belt of Italy would be pretty sick of having to speak English all the time to tourists.
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  #12937  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:12 PM
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Yeah, Scandinavia is in some regards almost a part of the greater English-speaking cultural sphere now, in addition of course to the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian ones. Just look at all of the actors, musicians, YouTubers etc. from here who seamlessly work in English for an international audience.

That said, you don't have to get far out of central Copenhagen or Stockholm before you run into people who will have trouble in English. English really drops off in working-class Swedes and Danes over the age of 30 or so, and it is rare in senior citizens.

In Sweden, with its large immigrant population, many people will only know Swedish in addition to their native tongue.

It's also a lot harder to do the DMV or emergency room in English than it is a restaurant, so visitors don't always see the tougher parts.
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  #12938  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:22 PM
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Originally Posted by kool maudit View Post
That said, you don't have to get far out of central Copenhagen or Stockholm before you run into people who will have trouble in English. English really drops off in working-class Swedes and Danes over the age of 30 or so, and it is rare in senior citizens.

It's also a lot harder to do the DMV or emergency room in English than it is a restaurant, so visitors don't always see the tougher parts.
Noticed that - I'd say the dividing line might be those 50 and above, for Danes.

It depends on how traveled the person has been too.
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  #12939  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:37 PM
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The farther west I went the less English I heard in Denmark. Getting to the west coast, it felt like a proper foreign country... provided you don't speak German.
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  #12940  
Old Posted Oct 9, 2019, 4:44 PM
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It's fine for a while, but even in Scandinavia it begins to get isolating. You begin to crave that easy back-and-forth, that idiomatic familiarity.

There came a point in Montreal where I absolutely immersed myself in French media and culture out of that frustration. It came about six years later than I expect it would have for a German or an Italian. It's one of the main reasons I left Denmark for Sweden; the presence of in-laws and an extant social circle give you more of a chance to go native, should (when) you want to.

We are social animals, not just consumers. Whatever my choices in media and culture, a life lived without the ability to joke with shop-clerks, eavesdrop on the bus, and chat about local goings-on begins to feel like an interminable business trip. These things might sound unbelievably small and petty, but over years they add up, and when they do is when an adventure becomes a strange sort of self-imposed ordeal.
I know it's constantly downplayed by the "you don't need French in Montreal" crowd but the reality is that Montreal is generally a much smaller city if you don't speak French.

I never viewed things in those terms until some years ago I got to know an Acadian from SE New Brunswick who lived for quite a few years in Montreal with an immigrant life partner who spoke only a foreign language and English. My Acadian friend was rather aloof and non-militant when it came to Quebec language politics and such, so we kind of just stumbled onto the topic. It was basically like... since X doesn't speak French, unless we're together X generally sticks to certain parts of town where English is an established lingua franca either moreso than French or jointly with French. This included not just language-specific stuff like bookstores and cinemas and educational institutions, but also cafés, restaurants and even shopping, recreational facilities to some degree. I found this quite interesting and so tested the waters with some other people I knew and found exactly the same thing.

I suspect that the same might be true in the Nordic capitals or a place like Amsterdam, where the anglo bubble city is considerably smaller than the wider city. (Even if it's not necessarily as geographically-focused as such a thing would be in Montreal.)

Not surprisingly, Acadian friend plus immigrant partner are now living in Ottawa.
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