Advanced search


(158 Posts)
londonandwhere Mon 12-Nov-12 12:03:13

I'm a permanent resident in the UK who comes from Far East and is married to an English man. When I met my English mother-in-law first time as a girl friend at that time, she nicely said Hello and then asked me 'Do you speak English?' I'd like to know if this can be described as racism or not.

BackforGood Mon 12-Nov-12 12:35:30


Fakebook Mon 12-Nov-12 12:38:47

I don't know why people are being shitty about this.

It's a very direct question. OP had obviously got to know her bf not through the power of mind, but by communicating in English. What did the mil think? They spoke in sign language? I'm not surprised the OP thought it might be racist.

redskyatnight Mon 12-Nov-12 12:39:27

I'm going to go against the flow here. I'm of Asian appearance, but have lived in the UK all my life and don't speak any other languages than English.

Lots of people ask me "do you speak English?" I assume they don't ask everyone they meet if they speak English, so deduce they are asking on the basis of my skin colour. In my view this is treating me differently because of my race. Therefore racism, although not maliciously so, maybe it should be described as "thoughtless racism"?

stinkinseamonkey Mon 12-Nov-12 12:39:51

WTF OP, what is racist about that?

I can say "hello" in many languages which I can't converse in

Blatherskite Mon 12-Nov-12 12:40:01

She asked you this the first time she met you, when you were still dating?

In the meantime, you have planned and had a wedding to become husband and wife and now you are asking if she was racist?

That's a long time to hold a grudge over a few words!

Surely her behavior in the intervening months/years has told you if she's racist or not?

BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 12:40:44


Kill her.

squeakytoy Mon 12-Nov-12 12:41:03

you were only a gf who she may have heard nothing about.. presumably you said "yes" and then had a conversation with her, and as you are now married, why on earth is this suddenly bothering you???? weird...

stinkinseamonkey Mon 12-Nov-12 12:41:55

redsky, if they come up to you in a bus and ask if you speak English, then go back to their mates, that's very racist! if they intend to communicate with you and ask how to proceed, then it's not! I've been asked what language I speak in countries where I look a bit different to most of the population, thats not racist that's just asking how to proceed with the interraction!

corlan Mon 12-Nov-12 12:43:14

When you say the 'Far East',do you mean Norwich?

If so, then I think it was probably a fair question.

ThatBastardSanta Mon 12-Nov-12 12:43:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

donnie Mon 12-Nov-12 12:44:08

gazzalw I assume you meant 'flamenco' ? I have visions of the swoonsome Mr Cortez in a pink suit replete with feathers and a long neck wink

Blatherskite Mon 12-Nov-12 12:47:10


BupcakesAndCunting Mon 12-Nov-12 12:47:19

grin Corlan

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 12:47:46

Oops...having a moment obviously! blush

gazzalw Mon 12-Nov-12 12:48:26

A flamingo dancer wouldn't have been anywhere near seductive enough for N.C.!!!!!

I don't think it's racist. I'm a kiwi chinese, and I won't be offended if people ask. But then I've heard stories of (white) kiwis being told to learn english by bigotted people. Sometimes it's not all because of your skin colour.

WorraLiberty Mon 12-Nov-12 12:49:01

Fakebook, perhaps the OP's DH speaks her language and that's why the MIL wanted to know if she spoke English?

redskyatnight Mon 12-Nov-12 12:50:21

if they intend to communicate with you and ask how to proceed, then it's not"

So if you met someone you didn't know, your first question would always be "do you speak English?" Personally I'd assume that if I met someone in the UK they did speak English unless I had a valid reason for thinking otherwise (such as them telling me that they didn't or obviously struggling to find English words). And them looking "a bit different" hardly counts as a valid reason. For example, I speak rather better English than (say) a Polish family who has just moved to the UK, yet you would presumably consider it ok to ask me if I spoke English (on the basis of my skin colour) and wouldn't bother with them?

donnie Mon 12-Nov-12 12:52:43

Hmmmm...............I've done a bit of digging and there is some history here. I can't do links but there is a thread in AIBU back in August this year called MIL which was also started by this OP. Maybe someone else can do the link.

OP do you still hate your MIL? is that why you are trying to convince yourself she is a racist?

IAmfromMars Mon 12-Nov-12 12:55:00

I will disagree with quite a few of you.

I think she probably wasn't meaning to be racist BUT
- if she was her son's gf, you would imagine that they could communicate.
- being of a 'different appearance' doesn't mean you should assume that the person can't speak english. As another poster said, some people of asian origin have always lived here and clearly have perfect english. This is true for lots of different nationalities/ethnic origins.
- Asking people outright 'do you speak english?' IS rude. I would always start very gently with english and then ask how comfortable the person is. I am grateful that my PIL have never asked that sort of questions, either to me or to any of my family members (whose levels in english varies a lot).

There IS this sort of underlying assumption that if you are a foreigner then you can't/don't speak english (or not very well). The other side of the same thing are people constantly praising me on how good my english is. I do appreciate that it is meant to be a compliment (and have decided to take it as such) but... why assuming this is such an extraordinary thing?

Blatherskite Mon 12-Nov-12 12:56:22

Link to the MIL thread.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 12-Nov-12 12:57:28

It's not racist, but it's a question that always makes the pedant in me snigger, because what's the answer?! 'Yes, as you see'. 'No, I have no idea what you just asked me.'

But to be fair, I think her asking you was probably intended to gauge how comfortable you are in English, rather than anything else. My DH isn't English and gets this constantly, and it is tedious but clearly it's people who want to make sure that he's not politely smiling and nodding while missing out on what they're actually saying.

squeakytoy Mon 12-Nov-12 12:57:48

well on the MIL, I would say asking OP if she speaks English was probably a fair question, because her posts on there are not really very easy to understand..

WorraLiberty Mon 12-Nov-12 12:58:06

if she was her son's gf, you would imagine that they could communicate.

Yes, but possibly in the OP's language if for example her DH is fluent?

Blatherskite Mon 12-Nov-12 12:58:45

Another I hate my MIL one

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now