Is Speaking in My Native Language Rude?

On the September 30 issue of the MX daily newspaper, a Sarah from Box Hill wrote on the MX Talk section of the paper her experience one day while on a train to the city. Her husband and another man were speaking to each other in an Indian dialect when a woman sitting a few seats away started yelling at them.

The woman said, “Will you stop talking to each other in some other sh*t language? I have been hearing this for the past 20 minutes. You are not supposed to talk in my country in another language.”

Let me just quote the next part:

Once my husband got over the initial shock of such rudeness and arrogance, he said, “This is racism! We are talking to each other. We are not talking to you.”

Upon which the woman continued to curse them in a colourful language, which my husband and his friend completely ignored.

And to top it off, when the train approached the city, another passenger came near my husband and said, “Shes’ not wrong. When you are in Australia, you’ve got to speak in English.”

Unbelievable! Sarah’s husband is right. He wasn’t talking to the woman seated a few seats away from them. I mean, Raquel and I would talk to each other in Tagalog because it’s what we’re most comfortable with. Sure, as this blog can attest, we could speak and comprehend English rather well but when talking to each other, why wouldn’t we speak in Tagalog?

I understand that it would be rude to continue speaking in Tagalog if we were in the company of friends and companions who wouldn’t be able to speak Tagalog. In that case, we would speak in English because we wanted the others to be included in the conversation. It’s just plain courtesy.

However, if we are in a public place, like in a train with complete strangers, we don’t have to exert ourselves by conversing in English when we could easily communicate in Tagalog. After all, the strangers around us do not need to understand what we were talking about. If we were talking in English, it would have been rude of them to be listening in on our conversation anyway.

So, I think that Sarah’s husband and friend wasn’t being rude to anybody when they were talking in their Indian dialect. It’s probably just easier for them to talk to each other in their own tongue, is all. But the woman who yelled, well, she was being rude. Who was she that she needed to understand what they were talking about? Was she angry that she couldn’t eavesdrop on them?

Take a look at it this way. Imagine if two Australians went to visit Indonesia and they both know how to speak Indonesian, would they talk to each other in Indonesian in a bus when they could better express themselves to one another in English? Should all Australians visiting India, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong or some other non-English-speaking country be required to speak in that country’s native tongue when they are there?

It’s absolutely ridiculous! Next you would probably required Americans to speak in an Australian accent when they’re here! Then maybe the Americans can ban Australians from using Aussie-slang when they are in the US?

I wonder if that woman had any parents or relatives who weren’t born in Australia. Like, maybe a parent or relative that migrated from, say, Italy. Would she require her parents or relatives to speak in English to their Italian friends if they don’t have a good command of the English language?

It’s just stupid.

Fortunately, on yesterday’s issue of MX, a few people wrote to express their support for Sarah. However, there was a John from Broadmeadows who wrote in the following:

Sarah, the woman, although rude, was not completely in the wrong. It’s rude to speak another language in front of someone.

So, like I said. If John visited another country like Indonesia with a friend, he shouldn’t be speaking to this friend of his in English when in public places where locals (and complete strangers) could overhear them talking. After all, it’s rude to talk to your friend in a language both of you are most comfortable with in the presence of strangers in a foreign country. Right?

Published in: on October 5, 2005 at 5:27 pm  Comments (20)  

Serenity still shiny

Joss Whedon’s Serenity has started its regular screening here mid-last week and Gj has been itching to watch it again since. As we thought we need to take a break from routine, we thought tonight would be a good time to go to the movies and enjoy Serenity once more. Hoyts cinemas recently opened in Melbourne Central station’s mall and is currently offering an introductory price of $8 for any movie at any session time every day of the week. With the regular ticket price of $13.50 anywhere else (except for $9.50 Tuesday movie nights), this introductory price definitely offers big savings.

We bought our tickets for the 6:30 PM showing during lunch hour to get good seats, which are allocated at the time of ticket purchase. We planned to leave the office at around 6:00, take the tram, have a quick dinner and get into the theatre at about 6:30 – which we did. There is only a hitch in this plan since we had to go to the loo before watching the movie (who would want to answer the call of nature in the middle of an exciting scene?). The cinemas were located in the 4th level of the building and since we were rushing, we figured we’d use the toilets just outside the cinemas. Surely there’d be one, we reasoned. The big surprise came when we got to the toilets in the 4th level, it was cordoned off and there was a print-out taped outside with those horrible words – Out of Order. With only a few minutes to spare, we had to go down to the level below, rush to the other side of the building, find that there are only two cubicles in the toilet, wait anxiously for the people inside to vacate, do your business, rush out of the cubicle and remember to wash your hands, of course. Push on the soap dispenser, rub your hands together and hover your hands under the tap, easy. But wait, how come the water coming out of the tap is hot? No choice but to wash the soap off now but to use as little scalding water on your hands since there is no cold water!

Definitely not happy with the toilet situation but had to jog to the cinema now as my watch says it’s already 6:30. We got to our seats without incident as the previews were being shown. Hmmm… seems like the theatre is a tad warm but Gj surmised that maybe it was because we’re now starting to sweat from our jogging trip from the loo. Maybe, but at this point I joked that maybe we’re only getting our money’s worth (which isn’t much). As we settled in our seats, we watched a couple more previews and noticed that the movie is already starting with the lights still on. We were waiting for the lights to dim but it looks like someone forgot about it that someone in the audience actually yelled for somebody to cut the lights. A couple of minutes later and the theatre finally went dark.

The movie was still fantastic the second time around (mild spoiler ahead). And the untimely demise of two of the series’ regular characters still evoked sadness and regret. We also were able to enjoy the action sequences better this time as we’re further from the screen as opposed to being in the front row when we watched it during the special screening last July. As fans would say, this movie is shiny and will continue to be so for several more viewings before we get tired of it.

As for Melbourne Central’s cinemas, let’s just say we won’t be going back there in a hurry, introductory price or not.

Published in: on October 5, 2005 at 1:09 am  Comments (2)