Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workplace?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:45 pm

The question was if it is rude to speak in a foreign language, not whether it is in violation of the organization's policies. There are other aspects of one's behavior such as attire, grooming, and table manners that can be utterly unpleasant without violating a policy.

Most people try to avoid confrontations. If the woman referred to in the OP went through the trouble of pointing out these foreign-language conversations, they must have exceeded her tolerance threshold. It is likely that others are also annoyed.

Alienating coworkers is a dangerous sport.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
User avatar
VictoriaF
 
Posts: 11031
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby investnoob » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:49 pm

To me, this thread is bizarre. It seems to me that many unilingual people think it is rude. I personally don't find it rude. However, I'm guessing it would depend upon context that is missing. If you normally speak in English and switch languages when the complainant is around, sure I can see the point. That is really the only instance where I would think speaking a foreign language in an english workplace is rude.
investnoob
 
Posts: 197
Joined: 16 Oct 2009
Location: Ottawa

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Bob's not my name » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:52 pm

We probably have it wrong. The workplace is not in an English language country:
rylemdr wrote:in a foreign language other than English
Also, the OP may not share respondents' views on multilingualism:
rylemdr wrote:French sounds beautiful and sexy, but really, all it's useful for is to not sound like an idiot when reading from the menu at a classy restaurant.

As for the Scandinavian (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian) and Germanic languages, there is really no need to learn them because the people from these countries are all taught English in schools anyway.

With Hindustani (the language of India), you will find that the only people worth knowing already speak English.
Bob's not my name
 
Posts: 6559
Joined: 15 Nov 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:01 pm

kraftwerk wrote:Email her a link to RosettaStone.com


It's not scalable to all languages one can conceivably encounter at the workplace.

Victoria
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
User avatar
VictoriaF
 
Posts: 11031
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby investnoob » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:05 pm

Bob's not my name wrote:We probably have it wrong. The workplace is not in an English language country:
rylemdr wrote:in a foreign language other than English
Also, the OP may not share respondents' views on multilingualism:
rylemdr wrote:French sounds beautiful and sexy, but really, all it's useful for is to not sound like an idiot when reading from the menu at a classy restaurant.

As for the Scandinavian (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian) and Germanic languages, there is really no need to learn them because the people from these countries are all taught English in schools anyway.

With Hindustani (the language of India), you will find that the only people worth knowing already speak English.


Wow. Well, I personally think speaking a foreign language where the majority is unilingual is not necessarily rude. To my mind, context does matter. However, it seems that many unilingual people (and in the case of the OP, even some multilingual people) do not agree. I wonder why that is? Many people have been able to express that it is rude, but not necessarily why.
investnoob
 
Posts: 197
Joined: 16 Oct 2009
Location: Ottawa

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby gkaplan » Tue Jan 03, 2012 10:34 pm

Bob's not my name wrote:We probably have it wrong. The workplace is not in an English language country:

rylemdr wrote:in a foreign language other than English

Also, the OP may not share respondents' views on multilingualism:

rylemdr wrote:French sounds beautiful and sexy, but really, all it's useful for is to not sound like an idiot when reading from the menu at a classy restaurant.

As for the Scandinavian (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian) and Germanic languages, there is really no need to learn them because the people from these countries are all taught English in schools anyway.

With Hindustani (the language of India), you will find that the only people worth knowing already speak English.


Thanks for finding that. I guess we know where the OP is coming from.
Gordon
gkaplan
 
Posts: 5141
Joined: 3 Mar 2007
Location: Portland, Oregon

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Cyclone » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:32 am

I thought of another angle. In this age of paranoia and litigation, someone may try to claim that you are sexually harassing him or her using your non-English language.
Cyclone
 
Posts: 176
Joined: 10 Jan 2010

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby madpunster » Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:46 am

French works really great in Cambodia and Vietnam, not to mention Quebec and France.
madpunster
 
Posts: 68
Joined: 2 Nov 2008

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Bob's not my name » Wed Jan 04, 2012 5:17 am

investnoob wrote:I personally think speaking a foreign language where the majority is unilingual is not necessarily rude. To my mind, context does matter.
You keep saying unilingual, but many of the comments here are from multilinguals.

I agree that context does matter. Some respondents are imagining an office shared by three people, one of whom is isolated by the others' routine and gratuitous use of Hokkien for social conversation. Others are imagining that the context is a diverse team of United Nations delegates assembled around an unexploded nuclear device, where a Portuguese nuclear physicist and a Portuguese sapper are discussing how they're going to defuse the bomb in their native language to make sure they clearly understand each other, while a unilingual American teenager chewing gum and gliding by on a skateboard is complaining in a New Jersey accent that she thinks they're talking about the size of her nose, which is rude.
Bob's not my name
 
Posts: 6559
Joined: 15 Nov 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Qtman » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:47 am

No, this is America, speak whatever you please, wherever you desire. You are blessed to be multilingual, if others are so concerned, they can study another language.
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; be wise enough to control yourself. | Wealth can vanish in the wink of an eye. It can seem to grow wings and fly away | like an eagle. - King Solomon
User avatar
Qtman
 
Posts: 337
Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Bob's not my name » Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:08 am

Qtman wrote:if others are so concerned, they can study another language.
What if she's studying Russian, Japanese, and Farsi, but her office mates are speaking Hokkien? How does her studying other languages address the deliberate exclusion problem?

Frankly, I suspect both sides are being rude here.
Bob's not my name
 
Posts: 6559
Joined: 15 Nov 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby gd » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:35 am

Late to the party. I speak in a foreign language with my foreign-born wife to add a layer of privacy in public-- her language in this country, my language in her country (not so safe with English, of course). So if people are insulted by that, yes, they will be. We used to do it around friends and family both places out of habit but tend not to any more, in implicit recognition of that. With a conversation In a situation where the third party is usually free to join in-- work coffee break, for example, it is exclusionary. It does come in handy in stores, on telephone and at car dealers.

My spouse works in a health care facility where lots of African-born workers routinely chatter in their native languages around staff and patients. Bluntly, many of the patients (almost all elderly white) have some racial bias and this really doesn't help the situation. Throw in some dementia, and they're not only rude but making their jobs much harder.

I once worked at a career where we'd occasionally have customers of my wife's nationality, and I'd speak to them (in public) in their language, as a sort of complement to them that someone in the USA actually had some practical knowledge of their culture. They were always entertained, and often would request my services when making appointments. I speak in a rural accent (intentionally) and with very bad grammar (unintentionally), so maybe they were just laughing at me. As long as the clients were happy, the owner was.
gd
 
Posts: 555
Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Location: MA, USA

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby investnoob » Wed Jan 04, 2012 10:41 pm

Bob's not my name wrote:
investnoob wrote:I personally think speaking a foreign language where the majority is unilingual is not necessarily rude. To my mind, context does matter.
You keep saying unilingual, but many of the comments here are from multilinguals.

I agree that context does matter. Some respondents are imagining an office shared by three people, one of whom is isolated by the others' routine and gratuitous use of Hokkien for social conversation. Others are imagining that the context is a diverse team of United Nations delegates assembled around an unexploded nuclear device, where a Portuguese nuclear physicist and a Portuguese sapper are discussing how they're going to defuse the bomb in their native language to make sure they clearly understand each other, while a unilingual American teenager chewing gum and gliding by on a skateboard is complaining in a New Jersey accent that she thinks they're talking about the size of her nose, which is rude.


Yes. You are right. I guess the first three of four responses bugged me. I painted a lot of people with a broad brush. My apologies.
investnoob
 
Posts: 197
Joined: 16 Oct 2009
Location: Ottawa

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby XtremeSki2001 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:25 am

Kuota Rider wrote:
Never speak a foreign language where it can be overheard by others.
That is tbe best policy...


+1

It will help avoid any mis-conceptions.


+1
A box of rain will ease the pain and love will see you through
User avatar
XtremeSki2001
 
Posts: 1362
Joined: 9 Mar 2007
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Qtman » Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:32 am

I am amazed at all those that think the OPs scenario was rude. I think it was clear that the conversation was between two people, not including the offended "over-hearer".

How would all those feel if you were having a conversation with a friend in English, and a third party overhearing you, inserted themselves into it?

Freedom of speech is not freedom to speak only English speech.
Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich; be wise enough to control yourself. | Wealth can vanish in the wink of an eye. It can seem to grow wings and fly away | like an eagle. - King Solomon
User avatar
Qtman
 
Posts: 337
Joined: 29 Jun 2008
Location: Rocky Mountains

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby JennMcNeal23 » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:02 pm

I think it IS rude. First, you are alienating your co-workers. Second, they will not only feel that you are alienating them but, they may go as far as to assume that you are talking about them. This seems to be the thoughts of several posters. The OP was not doing anything wrong but, it is perhaps more considerate to speak in English in the workplace.

In the end, it is your personal choice - you aren't violating any rules but, if you want to continue the team dynamic, consider your coworkers feelings and perhaps their over-reaching possibly assumptions. The OPs coworker was perhaps out of line saying that but, at least they were putting their feelings on the table. No one likes keeping issues to themselves in the workplace.

OP, you can take the high road and not say anything OR you can just let them know the famous adage that we all know..."when you assume, you make...." :lol
JennMcNeal23
 
Posts: 8
Joined: 29 Dec 2011

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby new2bogle » Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:41 pm

I can't believe the responses of some people here. This is America, since when are we restricted to which language we speak? At my work, people who are in a private conversation speak in their own tongue a lot, whether they are walking down the hall, at the cafeteria or in a break room. I've heard Chinese (not sure what dialect), Indian languages (again not sure if it is always the same dialect), Arabic and of course Spanish. The caveat being that these are all private convesations between friends. During meetings and while doing work, everyone speaks English so that the work can move forward. I do not see how speaking a different language in a private conversation affects anyone else.

Like someone else said, if a co-worker thinks the private foreign language converstions are about him or her, then there are much more serious issues going on.

Shall we also restric our choice of language at the grocery store so that the feeling's of the person in line in front of us don't get hurt? Give me a break.
new2bogle
 
Posts: 426
Joined: 11 Sep 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby magician » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:25 am

I work in an office (in the U.S.) with roughly 50% native English-speakers (I even include the Mancunian and the Glaswegian in that group, albeit with a bit of reluctance) and roughly 50% native Japanese-speakers whose English fluency ranges from fair to excellent. I work closely with a Japanese engineer, and the nature of our work (project risk management) requires that we interview many of the engineers about complex ideas, frequently made the more complex because they're hypothetical.

There are many occasions when we are interviewing a Japanese engineer that my colleague will ask my permission for the two of them to converse in Japanese. (I do not speak, nor understand, Japanese.) Clearly, in these situations it is much easier for them to converse, hypothesize, ponder, debate, consider, and so on, in their native tongue. I tell my colleague that not only is it perfectly fine that they do so, but that it is unnecessary to ask my permission: their talking in Japanese is eminently sensible.

This is, of course, a vastly different scenario from that presented by the OP: diametrically opposite, I might say.

As a magician, I have had occasion to entertain people whose native tongue is not English; frequently, they will react to my performance by talking to each other in their native language. I recall a thread on a magicians' forum in which the OP felt quite stridently that that was rude, to the point that he learned to say, roughly, "It's rude to speak in a language I don't know" in a few dozen languages. The interesting outcome of that thread was that, after hearing the responses from the other posters, he has changed his position, and realizes that speaking in one's native language is frequently necessary to express one's thoughts and feelings fully and accurately.

I'm all for promoting harmony in the workplace, but there must be a point at which people can say to someone, "It's none of your business." This is one reason that offices have doors that can be closed.
Last edited by magician on Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
User avatar
magician
 
Posts: 1526
Joined: 2 May 2011
Location: Yorba Linda, CA

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby HongKonger » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:30 am

magician wrote:I work in an office (in the U.S.) with roughly 50% native English-speakers (I even include the Mancurian and the Glaswegian in that group, albeit with a bit of reluctance)...



Ahem. That would be Mancunian ...and we Mancunians most certainly are native English speakers :annoyed
HongKonger
 
Posts: 657
Joined: 21 Jun 2011
Location: Deep in the Balkans

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby magician » Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:38 am

HongKonger wrote:
magician wrote:I work in an office (in the U.S.) with roughly 50% native English-speakers (I even include the Mancurian and the Glaswegian in that group, albeit with a bit of reluctance)...

Ahem. That would be Mancunian ...and we Mancunians most certainly are native English speakers :annoyed

Corrected the typo. Thanks for noting that.

What's funny is that to my Japanese colleague, the Mancunian, the Glaswegian, and the gentleman from Lincolnshire (I don't know the proper demonym) all sound the same (and are incomprehensible). One of my rôles is to translate their speech into language (English(!)) that he can understand. ;)
Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
User avatar
magician
 
Posts: 1526
Joined: 2 May 2011
Location: Yorba Linda, CA

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby HongKonger » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:00 am

magician wrote:
HongKonger wrote:
magician wrote:I work in an office (in the U.S.) with roughly 50% native English-speakers (I even include the Mancurian and the Glaswegian in that group, albeit with a bit of reluctance)...

Ahem. That would be Mancunian ...and we Mancunians most certainly are native English speakers :annoyed

Corrected the typo. Thanks for noting that.

What's funny is that to my Japanese colleague, the Mancunian, the Glaswegian, and the gentleman from Lincolnshire (I don't know the proper demonym) all sound the same (and are incomprehensible). One of my rôles is to translate their speech into language (English(!)) that he can understand. ;)


That's amusing to me out here in Hong Kong where most locals understand me perfectly yet most UK expatriates seem to think that based on my accent I come from Liverpool. Aside from the very thought of coming from Liverpool being utterly offensive (there is only 1 true red team :lol ), it is bizarre that anyone from the UK would confuse a scouse and a manc accent! It's chalk and cheese.

And re the OP, then of course it isn't rude. If the paranoid third party stopped ear-wigging, she'd have nothing to whinge about!
HongKonger
 
Posts: 657
Joined: 21 Jun 2011
Location: Deep in the Balkans

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby magician » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:36 am

HongKonger wrote:
magician wrote:
HongKonger wrote:
magician wrote:I work in an office (in the U.S.) with roughly 50% native English-speakers (I even include the Mancurian and the Glaswegian in that group, albeit with a bit of reluctance)...

Ahem. That would be Mancunian ...and we Mancunians most certainly are native English speakers :annoyed

Corrected the typo. Thanks for noting that.

What's funny is that to my Japanese colleague, the Mancunian, the Glaswegian, and the gentleman from Lincolnshire (I don't know the proper demonym) all sound the same (and are incomprehensible). One of my rôles is to translate their speech into language (English(!)) that he can understand. ;)


That's amusing to me out here in Hong Kong where most locals understand me perfectly yet most UK expatriates seem to think that based on my accent I come from Liverpool. Aside from the very thought of coming from Liverpool being utterly offensive (there is only 1 true red team :lol ), it is bizarre that anyone from the UK would confuse a scouse and a manc accent! It's chalk and cheese.

And re the OP, then of course it isn't rude. If the paranoid third party stopped ear-wigging, she'd have nothing to whinge about!

When our gentleman from Lincolnshire goes home for holiday he's ostracized because he sounds posh.

Years ago I chatted with a gentleman named Shami Maxwell from Phoenix, AZ, where he'd lived for 20 years. You'd have sworn that he just stepped off the boat from Dublin. I recognized his accent as Irish, but apparently (according to him), many people mistake it for an English accent! That's chalkier and cheesier than scouse vs. manc.
Simplify the complicated side; don't complify the simplicated side.
User avatar
magician
 
Posts: 1526
Joined: 2 May 2011
Location: Yorba Linda, CA

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Bungo » Fri Jan 06, 2012 11:57 am

I worked at one company (Silicon Valley) in which I had to attend meetings which were held in Mandarin. I was the only native English speaker in the group. Whatever they considered the highlights would be translated for me. I didn't last long at that company.

As for private (non work-related) conversations, I would say that pretty much everywhere I have worked, people who share a common foreign language feel free to converse in it whether or not there are others around who don't speak the language. I find it a bit cliquish but not really rude. I imagine I would do the same if I were working in a foreign country and had some American co-workers to talk to.

Much more annoying is my officemate, who is going through some kind of mid-life crisis, and chooses to carry out his personal phone calls (in English) in my office instead of stepping outside.
Bungo
 
Posts: 487
Joined: 28 Sep 2011

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby p14175 » Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:00 pm

These days rudeness seems to be socially acceptable even to the point of being politically correct.
p14175
 
Posts: 243
Joined: 20 Sep 2007
Location: Central Arizona

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby brianplycatu » Fri Jan 06, 2012 7:47 pm

I wonder if the appearance the action produces is the important element in the situation described. I can remember a circumstance in which the two interlocutors where insulting a third person in their native tongue not understanding that the defamed recipient understood every word and returned the favor with his fist. All three were suspended immediately.
brianplycatu
 
Posts: 226
Joined: 12 Oct 2008
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby wander » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:29 am

The Wizard wrote:Never speak a foreign language where it can be overheard by others.
That is tbe best policy...

I agree.
User avatar
wander
 
Posts: 1414
Joined: 4 Oct 2008

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby natureexplorer » Sat Jan 07, 2012 1:44 am

There are few exceptions to the rule, but speaking in languages others don't understand is usually not a career-advancing move.
natureexplorer
 
Posts: 4163
Joined: 3 Sep 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby GregLee » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:00 am

Whether it's taken as rude will vary, since that is just a matter of local custom. But you don't necessarily have to feel excluded from a conversation just because you don't know all the languages in use. Informal conversations don't have to be monolingual -- let everyone choose his own tongue, and everyone can follow along as best he can. Gestures or pantomime can help. It can be fun. If someone is looking puzzled, one of you can do a little simultaneous translation for him, as an act of friendliness which is sure to be appreciated.
Greg, retired 8/10.
User avatar
GregLee
 
Posts: 1748
Joined: 27 Oct 2010
Location: Waimanalo, HI

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Epsilon Delta » Sat Jan 07, 2012 2:24 am

brianplycatu wrote:I wonder if the appearance the action produces is the important element in the situation described. I can remember a circumstance in which the two interlocutors where insulting a third person in their native tongue not understanding that the defamed recipient understood every word and returned the favor with his fist. All three were suspended immediately.

Is it any better to insult people English? If not then the foreign language is a red herring.
User avatar
Epsilon Delta
 
Posts: 3083
Joined: 28 Apr 2011

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby brianplycatu » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:29 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:
brianplycatu wrote:I wonder if the appearance the action produces is the important element in the situation described. I can remember a circumstance in which the two interlocutors where insulting a third person in their native tongue not understanding that the defamed recipient understood every word and returned the favor with his fist. All three were suspended immediately.

Is it any better to insult people English? If not then the foreign language is a red herring.


The foreign language was English. This incident didn't occur in the United States and the answer is no because of the consequences the behavior produced. When mocking somebody in a language alien to that person one should never feel comfortable because people recognize certain words, gesticulations, inflections, sneering facial expressions, laughing and pointing. The conversation may be harmless but many suspect a hidden insult and they are often correct in that assumption.

If the language changes immediately when a person enters the copy room this is an indication of subterfuge in some form. However the conversation might not contain an insult. It could involve an obscene subject or a murder plot and be completely unrelated to the person who entered the room. One can never be certain though.

I had a friend who was recording his wife's telephone conversations and took the device to an interpreter only to discover banal boring subjects being discussed.
brianplycatu
 
Posts: 226
Joined: 12 Oct 2008
Location: Los Angeles

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby sscritic » Tue Jan 10, 2012 8:45 pm

Let's change the question. Is it rude to turn your back to a third person when you are having a conversation with another person? If you are not expecting them to join in in any way (you are arguing about computers and the third person knows nothing about computers), then perhaps not. [This is a previous example with turning your back substituting for speaking Mandarin when arguing about computers.]

How do you feel about whispering? Any self-respecting 10 year old would go nuts of two of his friends started whispering whenever he approached. Is a 30 or 40 year old going to react any differently? The real issue, as others have pointed out, is exclusion, not language. Exclusion takes many forms. What about a company membership in a country club that won't allow Jews to walk in the door (a not so long ago reality)? And let's not get started on letting Mormons into the Presidential Club. :)
sscritic
 
Posts: 19680
Joined: 6 Sep 2007

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Inserttitle » Mon Mar 25, 2013 3:11 am

Yes, it is. I speak french and english. When my french-speaking co-worker speaks in french, I translate what she is saying, (much to her distaste) so as not to isolate the speakers of our new country's language. I know that it isolates them, he does too, (as do many french speakers I know). The question is, do you care that you're acting inconsiderately towards the native speakers? Most people will not care, and I find that reprehensible. As for people 'naturally' wanting to speak their native language, well there's alot of things that feel 'natural', that are still reprehensible. Say what you will, but it is inconsiderate to expect that people who cant understand a communication, should just 'deal with it'.
Inserttitle
 
Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Mar 2013

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby reggiesimpson » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:19 am

Reverse the situation and see how you feel.
reggiesimpson
 
Posts: 1237
Joined: 19 Dec 2011

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:23 am

Inserttitle wrote:Yes, it is. I speak french and english. When my french-speaking co-worker speaks in french, I translate what she is saying, (much to her distaste) so as not to isolate the speakers of our new country's language. I know that it isolates them, he does too, (as do many french speakers I know). The question is, do you care that you're acting inconsiderately towards the native speakers? Most people will not care, and I find that reprehensible. As for people 'naturally' wanting to speak their native language, well there's alot of things that feel 'natural', that are still reprehensible. Say what you will, but it is inconsiderate to expect that people who cant understand a communication, should just 'deal with it'.

Inserttitle,

Welcome to the Forum. And thank you for entering the Forum on the side of politeness and good taste.

Victoria
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
User avatar
VictoriaF
 
Posts: 11031
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Munir » Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:54 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Inserttitle wrote:Yes, it is. I speak french and english. When my french-speaking co-worker speaks in french, I translate what she is saying, (much to her distaste) so as not to isolate the speakers of our new country's language. I know that it isolates them, he does too, (as do many french speakers I know). The question is, do you care that you're acting inconsiderately towards the native speakers? Most people will not care, and I find that reprehensible. As for people 'naturally' wanting to speak their native language, well there's alot of things that feel 'natural', that are still reprehensible. Say what you will, but it is inconsiderate to expect that people who cant understand a communication, should just 'deal with it'.

Inserttitle,

Welcome to the Forum. And thank you for entering the Forum on the side of politeness and good taste.

Victoria


Victoria, I hope you are not saying that people who disagree with your views are impolite and have poor taste :happy !
User avatar
Munir
 
Posts: 1667
Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Location: Oregon

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:00 am

Munir wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Inserttitle wrote:Yes, it is. I speak french and english. When my french-speaking co-worker speaks in french, I translate what she is saying, (much to her distaste) so as not to isolate the speakers of our new country's language. I know that it isolates them, he does too, (as do many french speakers I know). The question is, do you care that you're acting inconsiderately towards the native speakers? Most people will not care, and I find that reprehensible. As for people 'naturally' wanting to speak their native language, well there's alot of things that feel 'natural', that are still reprehensible. Say what you will, but it is inconsiderate to expect that people who cant understand a communication, should just 'deal with it'.

Inserttitle,

Welcome to the Forum. And thank you for entering the Forum on the side of politeness and good taste.

Victoria


Victoria, I hope you are not saying that people who disagree with your views are impolite and have poor taste :happy !


Munir,

It depends on which of my views they disagree with. With respect to the use of foreign language, I have been on all possible sides of the issue, and my opinion here is stronger than in some other areas.

Виктория {русский смех}
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
User avatar
VictoriaF
 
Posts: 11031
Joined: 27 Feb 2007
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby jon-nyc » Mon Mar 25, 2013 9:11 am

I always refrain from starting a conversation using a language not shared by all present if it can be helped. On more than one occasion I've switched languages when a third person approached.


Having said that, I certainly understand your desire to speak your mother tongue. I remember as an expat getting off the phone with my mom, realizing I hadn't spoken English in a week before that conversation.
jon-nyc
 
Posts: 888
Joined: 15 Nov 2009
Location: New York

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby winglessangel31 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:13 am

I think that those of us who think it is rude should take a step back and consider the possibility that we are wrong. ;) and try to honestly justify to ourselves why we think so, without reverting to the quick and easy "that was how I was brought up".

America is known to be a very English-centric country, and I think this lack of multicultural/multilingual influence is the reason why so many people still think that speaking in a foreign language when others are within earshot is wrong and rude. Of course, the assumption is that the people in the conversation are not making secret remarks, and would gladly translate if asked, all in good faith and humor. I've been on both sides of such conversations, and usually smiles and quick synopses get us back to what we're doing very smoothly.
winglessangel31
 
Posts: 201
Joined: 12 Feb 2013

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby winglessangel31 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:27 am

JennMcNeal23 wrote:I think it IS rude. First, you are alienating your co-workers. Second, they will not only feel that you are alienating them but, they may go as far as to assume that you are talking about them. This seems to be the thoughts of several posters. The OP was not doing anything wrong but, it is perhaps more considerate to speak in English in the workplace.

In the end, it is your personal choice - you aren't violating any rules but, if you want to continue the team dynamic, consider your coworkers feelings and perhaps their over-reaching possibly assumptions. The OPs coworker was perhaps out of line saying that but, at least they were putting their feelings on the table. No one likes keeping issues to themselves in the workplace.

OP, you can take the high road and not say anything OR you can just let them know the famous adage that we all know..."when you assume, you make...." :lol


Eh, since they are speaking in the foreign language, they are alienating themselves. ;)

People who go so far as to assume that you are talking about them should be, what, entertained and encouraged in their paranoia? I think it is a perfectly good time and place for them to learn to be more secure in themselves, and should they ever feel threatened, ask "hey what was that about". More often than not they weren't talking about said person, and said person would receive a decent translation of the conversation. The team dynamic you want is one where people trust each other and make each other feel comfortable, right? Shutting down speaking in a foreign language is one way to "make sure" that even if there is distrust and discomfort it doesn't show. In my opinion, the only way to build team dynamic is to have people get over these little things and trust each other when they do something or say something you don't understand and be comfortable when that happens.
winglessangel31
 
Posts: 201
Joined: 12 Feb 2013

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby KyleAAA » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:29 am

I work in an industry where there are many foreigners and spoken languages being spoken all the time. Nobody has ever been offended. I think you'd have to be really oversensitive to be offended by something like that.
KyleAAA
 
Posts: 5186
Joined: 1 Jul 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby hoppy08520 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:48 am

I work in a tech company in the Washington DC suburbs. In my department, there are more non-native-US people than native US-people. As a native-born American who speaks English (and some French), I'm used to hearing conversations in Turkish, Hindi (or maybe a different Indian language?), Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, etc.

I don't really care. It's no big deal to anyone that I'm aware of and I don't think it's ever been an "issue" except maybe for a closet xenophobe. I kind of like it, it makes me feel like I work in a cosmopolitan place. I also think that most/all of my colleagues are sensitive to not start a conversation in their native language if I or non-speakers are right there in the middle of the group. But if they're having a chat in Turkish and I walk by, they might just keep speaking Turkish. I don't expect them to drop their conversation just because I walk by.

One dynamic at my company is that within the internationals, there's really no dominant group, so most of the conversations in foreign language are just casual conversations. I could understand that if everyone is from the same region in India, and they regularly speak their language even in larger group settings that are about official business, then that might be offputting. But business talk is done in English, unless it's just a couple of people having a side conversation, which is actually kind of funny...you'll hear something like "blah-blah-blah ALTER TABLE blah-blah-blah FOREIGN KEY blah blah blah ERROR MESSAGE blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah, I HAVE NO IDEA WHY IT DOES THAT. Blah-blah-blah."
hoppy08520
 
Posts: 1223
Joined: 18 Feb 2012

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby midareff » Mon Mar 25, 2013 11:14 am

Recently retired from a government, open top cubicle workplace. Constant two, three and four person loud conversations in Spanish from the next cubicle. I don't know if it is rude or not ..... I do know that twenty + years of it becomes extremely annoying.
User avatar
midareff
 
Posts: 1789
Joined: 29 Nov 2010
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Bob's not my name » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:01 pm

winglessangel31 wrote:America is known to be a very English-centric country, and I think this lack of multicultural/multilingual influence is the reason why so many people still think that speaking in a foreign language when others are within earshot is wrong and rude.
Review the thread again. The OP's question is not what you're thinking.
Bob's not my name
 
Posts: 6559
Joined: 15 Nov 2009

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby winglessangel31 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:09 pm

Bob's not my name wrote:
winglessangel31 wrote:America is known to be a very English-centric country, and I think this lack of multicultural/multilingual influence is the reason why so many people still think that speaking in a foreign language when others are within earshot is wrong and rude.
Review the thread again. The OP's question is not what you're thinking.

Review what I wrote again? I have no idea why you think what you think.
winglessangel31
 
Posts: 201
Joined: 12 Feb 2013

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby hoppy08520 » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:11 pm

midareff wrote:Recently retired from a government, open top cubicle workplace. Constant two, three and four person loud conversations in Spanish from the next cubicle. I don't know if it is rude or not ..... I do know that twenty + years of it becomes extremely annoying.

That's rude in any language! Although you're actually better off that it was in a language you don't understand since it's less distracting that way.

I used to sit near a Russian woman who would have all these arguments with her boyfriend and her mom on her cell phone. It was annoying, but at least I could tune it out. When my English-speaking colleagues chatter, by contrast it's hard not to follow along whether you want to or not.
hoppy08520
 
Posts: 1223
Joined: 18 Feb 2012

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby midareff » Mon Mar 25, 2013 1:27 pm

hoppy08520 wrote:
midareff wrote:Recently retired from a government, open top cubicle workplace. Constant two, three and four person loud conversations in Spanish from the next cubicle. I don't know if it is rude or not ..... I do know that twenty + years of it becomes extremely annoying.

That's rude in any language! Although you're actually better off that it was in a language you don't understand since it's less distracting that way.

I used to sit near a Russian woman who would have all these arguments with her boyfriend and her mom on her cell phone. It was annoying, but at least I could tune it out. When my English-speaking colleagues chatter, by contrast it's hard not to follow along whether you want to or not.


After 48 years in Miami I have enough of an understanding to know how little of it was actual work. .. :annoyed
User avatar
midareff
 
Posts: 1789
Joined: 29 Nov 2010
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Munir » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:15 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Victoria, I hope you are not saying that people who disagree with your views are impolite and have poor taste :happy !


Munir,

It depends on which of my views they disagree with. With respect to the use of foreign language, I have been on all possible sides of the issue, and my opinion here is stronger than in some other areas.

Виктория {русский смех}[/quote]

Great response. I guess your signature is in Russian. The last statement in your resposnes is from Nessim Taleb with whom I can converse in Arabic. Would you object to that? :happy

I agree that carrying on a conversation in a language not understood by others included in the same circle is poor manners. Loud conversations in nearby cubicles at work are offensive regardless of the language being used.
User avatar
Munir
 
Posts: 1667
Joined: 26 Feb 2007
Location: Oregon

Re: Is it rude to speak in a foreign language in the workpla

Postby Mel Lindauer » Mon Mar 25, 2013 5:15 pm

This thread is off-topic and is locked.
Best Regards - Mel | | Semper Fi
User avatar
Mel Lindauer
Moderator
 
Posts: 21195
Joined: 19 Feb 2007
Location: Daytona Beach Shores, Florida

Previous

Return to Personal Consumer Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: heartwood, stemikger and 21 guests