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February 17, 2013

Average number of languages spoken by citizens of a few countries


Get thee to a translator.

[via Cheezburger]

February 17, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink


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In Joe's defense... I thought this was funny. I speak 2 languages (american), but I know many people who barely know English. And it is their native language. Its funny cause its true, kids.

Posted by: Stace | Feb 18, 2013 1:33:03 PM

Joe: overreacting much lately? If you head over to (I know you lurk there) failblog, you'll see this trend I call "Murican". I don't wish you to take anything down, did I ever say anything of the kind? Observations and criticisms are part and parcel of any interactivity especially in the internet age. Get to know me better: you might be surprised at who you meet.

Posted by: Leeroy | Feb 18, 2013 12:44:44 AM

Joe, Joe, please, your meds!

Pink in morning,

Blue in afternoon,

and the big red one when you look at the comments.

Posted by: joepeach | Feb 17, 2013 5:29:42 PM

Now we are the .7 ugly Americans.

Posted by: joepeach | Feb 17, 2013 5:25:13 PM

I am NOT happy to read that you are going `blow this pop stand` - it is one of my three MOST favorite blogs! - Oh Baby, please don`t go!

Posted by: terrence | Feb 17, 2013 1:47:45 PM

Leeroy, would you prefer I take down the post?

But wait - why stop with just this one?

I know - from now on, anytime someone lectures me on what I should or should not do or be thinking, I'm gonna delete the post that troubles that individual.

Judging from the comments - and the huge volume of FAR more critical, hateful, and even threatening email that pours in here every day from around the world - I calculate that it will take about a week for there to only be one post on the entirety of my site (the one that just appeared).

bookofjoeTV can't come soon enough.

Enjoy this site while it lasts, gang, 'cause I'm gonna be blowing this pop stand A LOT sooner than any of you can imagine.

nuf sed (my rap name)

Posted by: bookofjoe | Feb 17, 2013 12:08:05 PM

I agree with what 6.02 says and would like to add this: English (variations aside) is the language of commerce. It is required for anyone who wishes to become a commercial airline pilot. This means that those countries on your list that are not English-speaking primarily do use it as a second language for very many things. Also: Some countries (Belgium and Switzerland come to mind) have more than one official language. And consider this: look at the size of most European countries. They are elbow to elbow with the next language over, and like how German and French overlap in Alsace-Lorraine, they end up being learned, sometimes as a necessity as the boundaries change.

On the other hand America is a vast country which has not suffered invasions or changes of government that don't involve the voting population. It hasn't been necessary to learn additional languages, although I would encourage anyone to learn at least one (I speak Spanish fairly well, and can read French at about the 50% comprehension rate).

Last of all, this "comparison" may simply be a slur aimed at us Americans (usually by the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the grateful Europeans we liberated from their demented dictators in Germany and Italy). Folks who would not DREAM of making an ethnic slur seem bent on trashing the country that helped them rebuild decades ago, and whose legacy is "show up and fix" rather than "show up and colonize".

No, we're not perfect but this "Murican" treatment is as unacceptable as referring to those of sub-Saharan origin by the N word. I'm tired of it and frankly, Joe, you should be too.

Posted by: Leeroy | Feb 17, 2013 11:49:39 AM

Dang! Dancing through the thicket of composing on this blog I let slip a spell check error that changed "interpreted" to "implemented".

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Feb 17, 2013 9:48:57 AM

May I suggest that several variables have not been considered in the report of an appallingly low percentage of polyglots in the U.S.?

From left field: How many U.S. citizens "speak" a language truly understood only by a machine? From assembly language, COBOL, Fortran, BASIC, C, Lisp, and Fourth to Ruby, Python, and Java together with facility with compilers (yes, several the languages mentioned are implemented and not compiled) under unique operating systems? All impose a very strict syntax on the human who would "speak" with his/her Silicon-based pen-pal that vastly exceeds the rigor of the Académie Française!

From center field: American English is, by far, the most frequently heard/spoken language in the U.S. Spanish is the second most common language spoken in the U.S. We are a vast nation and our adjacent nations languages are Spanish, Canadian/British English and French. Unlike the comparator nations, today many of our citizens can be born, educated, and live out their lives without ever finding any personal need for even modest facility in a foreign tongue. This is a substantial change from prior generations where first generation immigrants spoke their mother tongue at home and in their communities all while facilitating their children's adoption of English (Joe, this is you). We have lost much due to the homogenization of our ethnic heritage. Yiddish theater, German, French, and Italian Opera have become scarce and costly commodities - when available at all - to say nothing of Chinese Opera, Kabuki, and Noh.

From right field: English has supplanted French as the language of diplomacy. English is the language of pilots and air traffic controllers across the planet. English is the language of commerce. That said, the U.S. is well on its way to becoming a bi-lingual state and I fully expect that Spanish as a first, or second, language will be the norm within two generations.

From the outfield: of course, there are still high concentrations of ethnic groups in certain areas of this nation and as I collect my Sunday morning papers I'm in the minority in my neighborhood - my neighbors are ten times more likely to speak only Hokkien (the predominant language of Taiwan) or Korean, than English, Japanese, or a standard Chinese dialect.

Moi? I can read German, French, and Spanish (especially scientific works and menus); and, I struggle reading Italian and Portugese (darn irregular Italian verbs). I am far from a fluent speaker in any one (including, on my off days, American English) language despite having started French lessons in third grade. I find a working grasp of 250-500 words in a handful of Oriental languages quite handy these days. Now, if I could just read all of the contents on those packages / cans / bottles at my nearby supermarkets...

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Feb 17, 2013 9:46:09 AM

I think it is a joke. I.e., 'Murikans can barely speak a subset of English, and the scope of the subset gets smaller and smaller every day.

Posted by: clifyt | Feb 17, 2013 1:58:54 AM

For the record, I speak seven. And I am American.

BTW how can anyone who is not brain dead speak less than 1? That is, 0.7 for the US seems suspect. Or should the title have been 'additional languages'?

Posted by: antares | Feb 17, 2013 1:44:48 AM

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