“A lot of native speakers are happy that English has become the world’s
global language. They feel they don’t have to spend time learning
another language,” says Chong.
“But… often you have a boardroom full of
people from different countries communicating in English and all
understanding each other and then suddenly the American or Brit walks
into the room and nobody can understand them.”
The non-native speakers, it turns out, speak more purposefully and
carefully, typical of someone speaking a second or third language.
Anglophones, on the other hand, often talk too fast for others to
follow, and use jokes, slang and references specific to their own
culture, says Chong. In emails, they use baffling abbreviations such as
‘OOO’, instead of simply saying that they will be out of the office.
“The native English speaker… is the only one who might not feel the need to accommodate or adapt to the others,” she adds.
I’ve been thinking about this post all day, and the article glosses over one important detail. All of the “native English speakers” the article mentions belong to the same niche demographic: white collar/corporate professionals
English corporate speak is it’s own fucked up dialect.
It’s so incomprehensible and exclusionary that even a native English speaker with a master’s degree in English will have difficulty parsing it. Trust me when I say that nobody who isn’t a business major knows what the fuck “synergy” means.
And the jargon’s just half the problem. The other half is the gross overuse of hobby-specific expressions and analogies.
Go to most corporate offices and you’ll be bombarded with sports analogies that only make sense to someone who spends all their free time watching ESPN.
I tracked down this quote I read in a tumblr post years ago:
“I remember working with a law school in which white men heavily dominated the faculty. They used lots of sports metaphors (doing an end run, Monday morning quarterbacking, and so on), with legal jargon thrown in for good measure. I suggested that this was not a particularly welcoming trait in their school, that in fact it was sexist, but they paid little attention. I made my point by speaking for about five minutes in dressmaking terms: putting a dart in here, a gusset there, cutting the budget on the bias so it would be more flexible, using a peplum to hide a course that might be controversial. The women in the room laughed; the men did not find it humorous….Language is power, make no mistake about it. It is used to include and exclude and to keep people and systems in their places.”
– Frances E. Kendall, Understanding White Privilege
My point is,
This kind of poor communication probably shouldn’t be blamed on monolingualism alone. It’s most certainly made worse by an exclusionary and elitist work culture.
You’ll probably encounter far fewer communication issues talking to a cashier at a tourist trap than you will talking to a lawyer or a stockbroker.
assuming it’s other people’s job to understand you, instead of your job to make yourself understood, is characteristic of people with unexamined and unchecked privilege.
The article makes a really good distinction on “escapist” gaming – gaming to escape or avoid IRL problems- which can exacerbate feeling of anxiety and lonliness when overdone and a sort of purposeful gaming – to work on creativity or high pressure situations.
This tracks for me personally. When i play aimlessly (ha) because i’ve had a bad day and i need to blow things up, there’s a definite shift between “Ok, i feel better” and “ugh I feel shitty again”. But when I’m playing because I want to learn a mechanic better, or I want to see where the story goes, I don’t really hit the feeling low part again.
(sometimes escapist play is what we all need! But sometimes it can be like “1 twinkie satisfies sugar craving. 14 twinkies makes me puke”)
when i was a kid i resented all the “homemaker” (aka basic human survival) skills i picked up – sewing, crochet, cooking, cleaning, what-have-you – because they were taught to me under the assumption that 1. i was a girl and 2. i would be a stay-at-home mother someday, and being expected to do and be all that shit pushed my dysphoria right over the edge
of course i realized down the line that having these skills is totally unrelated to gender and it all came in VERY handy because men need to know how to do those things too, duh, and now i just feel bad for the cis guys who can’t sew one button onto some pants because everyone in their lives who could have taught them neglected to do so on account of their gender
idk what the point of this post is but if any parents ever see it, please teach your sons cooking and cleaning and sewing! teach your daughters how to change the oil on their cars and fix a leaky sink! don’t restrict your childrens’ knowledge based on stupid gender roles! someday they’re going to need those skills and they will look back and thank you for not limiting them
I went on a date with a guy on vacation from Switzerland a couple years ago, and had almost this exact conversation with him when it came time to pay for the meal. He knew tipping was part of our culture and always left a few dollars because, as he said, “your minimum wage is so low compared to everywhere else” and I informed him that servers make less than half of minimum wage and the rest comes from tips, and he was horrified. Like he had just witnessed a murder. He about emptied his wallet out on the table and vowed to tip 25% anytime he was in America. As someone who has worked as a server/bartender, I know a lot of folks in our industry don’t like serving foreign customers because they don’t tip well/at all, but it’s because we’re the only country that does things in this fucked up way, and they truly don’t know that in many places, people are making $2/hr. Like, yes, sometimes you can get enough tips to be making $30+/hr, but then there’s all the side work you have to do that nobody tips you for, the hour before open/after close where you are prepping and cleaning, the complete lack of breaks despite it being illegal. The best industry job I ever had paid me the full minimum wage instead of the server min. That’s extremely rare. I wore the soles completely off my shoes and destroyed my knees and had no social life for an industry that considers $10/hr to be a crazy high wage.
Hospitals are struggling for nurses right now because people are leaving the profession entirely or leaving for temporary travel contract positions that pay well. They have been treated poorly, underpaid for the work they do, and inadequately protected this year, and they’re done.
My brother in law said they’re advertising for a position in his normal unit, offering twice his salary. But they won’t offer him extra to stay after risking his life working in the COVID unit for months, so he’s out. It’s absolutely insulting, and so many industries are going to have a major reckoning coming up.
My father retired early because they refused to hire just one person to help with the work load. They had to hire 5 people to replace him.
This is a common occurrence amongst his retired coffee group.
One lady was a head nurse that ran two floor at her hospital. They wanted her to take on more work. She agreed to do so oy if they gave her a small raise and hired an assistant for her. They refused so she retired early. They had to replace her with 20 people.
You are NOT replaceable!!! They tell you this to make you complacent to their exploration of you.
Fun fact! This sort of reckoning happened after the Black Plague, also! I’m no historian, (and history side of tumblr, please come in with the accuracy) but I did look into the history of the Black Plague for writing purposes, and in that case, it was because there were so few people left that peasants started agitating for better treatment and fairer wages, and because there were so few people who could do the work they had been doing that they were able to gain better wages and better hours.
Historically, the labour shortage created by pandemics means a heightened bargaining capacity for workers of all sorts – an if there was ever a time to take advantage of knowing history, it’s now. Because the thing is, in these “unprecedented times” there are precedents, and the precedent leans toward workers. During the Black Death, villages emptied, fields were left, and people migrated to find work that paid them better and offered a better way of life.
Wages for lower-class workers rose drastically. In Oxfordshire; a plowman who had earned two shillings per week before the plague could command 10 shillings per week afterward. Pay rates for artisans increased, too. In Paris, wages for masons quadrupled between 1351 and 1355.
This isn’t to say that the elites just let this happen, either. Laws were passed to limit wage increases, and threats were made, but the workers had economic bargaining power on their side. Labour was in such short supply that employers and landlords had to take what they could get. The people held out – and so can (and should!) YOU.
This was the start of peasant revolts, popular rebellions, and – ultimately, more labour protections, political representation for the lower classes, lower taxes, and an end to serfdom. People could afford to own their own land, the feudal system vanished, and eventually, the Renaissance would rise.
In these unprecedented times, there is a precedent, and that precedent is that when workers know their worth, agitate for better and for more, when they hold out and unite, they force the elites to loosen the reigns, giving more power, autonomy, rights, and profits back into the hands of the workers, and with that freedom, society improves.
Know your worth. Know that you have bargaining power. Let’s make this pandemic part of the precedent. <3
? “Historically, the labour shortage created by pandemics means a heightened bargaining capacity for workers of all sorts – an if there was ever a time to take advantage of knowing history, it’s now. Because the thing is, in these “unprecedented times” there are precedents, and the precedent leans toward workers. “