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people talking their 1st language at work.

(249 Posts)
ghostspirit Mon 09-Feb-15 17:22:54

im not going to say anything although sometimes i want to. because i think its rude. there are people at work that can speak English well. but they talk in their 1st language. im sometimes the only one in the room who does not understand. and it makes me feel quite isolated.

ivykaty44 Mon 09-Feb-15 17:23:58

Can you learn the other language just like they did?

PtolemysNeedle Mon 09-Feb-15 17:23:59

Don't know I what your AIBU is, but I agree it's rude and shouldn't be allowed in the workplace.

FreudiansSlipper Mon 09-Feb-15 17:24:47

why is it rude to want to talk in the language you are most familiar with

do you need to be included in every conversation

Arsenic Mon 09-Feb-15 17:25:04

That's a rather daft remark ivy

Arsenic Mon 09-Feb-15 17:26:54

The polite thing would be to converse in a language that everyone in the room understands.

But if you work with rude people, there's probably not much you can do.

NotSayingImBatman Mon 09-Feb-15 17:27:17

It's a bit like whispering though, isn't it Freudian? If you were the only person in the room who was not involved in a conversation I bet you'd start to feel pretty paranoid.

VitoCorleonePart2 Mon 09-Feb-15 17:28:40

Why on earth would she learn their language? Unless its something she always wanted to learn, which i doubt hmm

IonaNE Mon 09-Feb-15 17:29:26

ivykaty44, for the sake of the example, if the OP is a UK born person whose first and only language is English and she lives in the UK, why should she learn, say, punjabi or urdu, if her colleagues happen to be from ethnic groups speaking these languages?

OP, I used to sometimes experience this at work and I also think it is rude. (Just for perspective: English is not my first language either, although I am British.)

Hakluyt Mon 09-Feb-15 17:30:30

Is it a general conversation or just between themselves? If it's a general conversation, say something. My brother and his family are bilingual and sometimes forget they are not speaking English and have to be reminded. It's quite funny when one of them looks at you wondering why you haven't answered!

QueenBean Mon 09-Feb-15 17:30:45


Totally agree - it's so damn rude to be speaking in a different language when there is another person

FreudiansSlipper Mon 09-Feb-15 17:31:53

no not at all

and no I have often been in company where everyone speaks english and I can not speak any of the language or understand or or speak/understand a little of the language why do I need others to give me special treatment.

I doubt any thought is given it is just natural for most to speak in the language they are most familiar with and do so when they can

ghostspirit Mon 09-Feb-15 17:32:08

i just don't think its very nice. its not about being in every conversation its about feeling isolated. i have been there just over a year and have never had a conversation.

kelda Mon 09-Feb-15 17:32:59

Yanbu. I speak a second language at work. I never switch to my first language (english), because that's rude and it's important for me and my colleagues to all understand each other.

sticklebrickstickle Mon 09-Feb-15 17:34:15

For conversations related to your work it's definitely not okay.

For social conversations I think it's to be expected that sometimes people will want to speak in their native tongue when it's possible, speaking a second language can be mentally tiring and feel slow even when you are fluent. It's nice to be able to just chat without thinking. If people are talking among themselves in a group of 2 or 3 and are not welcoming anybody else to join them then whichever language suits is fine.

However I think in a more 'open' group conversation where anyone is welcome to chime in with their opinion. a common language should be used, it's definitely rude to speak in a language to the exclusion of just one person in that kind of situation.

Have you told your colleagues how you feel? I have been in a similar situation when travelling on my gap year in which I joined a group of German travellers. All spoke fluent English but would often slip into German, excluding me. I mentioned to one that I felt a little excluded and they stopped doing it.

I also agree that if you work in an environment with a lot of people who all speak one language which you don't speak perhaps it would be worthwhile to set yourself a challenge to learn some of that language. It might help you feel more included?

NutcrackerFairy Mon 09-Feb-15 17:34:38

I also think this is rude and excludes those people who do not speak the language.

I do think that in English workplaces, if everyone can indeed speak English [whether that be a second language or not], then English should be spoken.

It is about being a professional in the workplace.

If it is a social occasion, then yes, generally people can speak in whatever language they are most comfortable conversing in. It may still be rude though, if all people can speak English fluently, that two or three break off and start speaking Spanish or Portuguese [as an example] if there are others in the group who can only speak English and therefore cannot participate.


PinkSparklyPussyCat Mon 09-Feb-15 17:38:53

It depends on the circumstances. I worked at a company where many of the staff, including my manager, spoke Punjabi. She would have conversations in English and if I approached her she would switch to Punjabi. I found that rude but I was a lot younger then and didn't have the confidence to say anything.

Arsenic Mon 09-Feb-15 17:40:53

It's not very good for team building or group dynamics, if it is a regular occurrence, either.

DisappointedOne Mon 09-Feb-15 17:41:00

"I do think that in English workplaces, if everyone can indeed speak English [whether that be a second language or not], then English should be spoken."

Did you mean just English workplaces, or British workplaces?

honeysucklejasmine Mon 09-Feb-15 17:41:28

I went to uni in Wales. I do not speak Welsh. One time, in lab, my lab partner and I were a bit stuck, so called over the lecturer. My partner and the lecturer then started to discuss the problem and solution, entirely in Welsh. hmm

I know I was in their country, butility we all spoke English, lectures were given in English... I was v miffed and my lab partner then had to explain it all again, in English. I often wondered, WIBU?

Momagain1 Mon 09-Feb-15 17:42:45

You are feeling no more excluded than if you were the only one whose English wasnt good enough to join in on chatting in English. No more isolated than if you were the only one in the office still single, and all anyone talked about was their husband and kids, or vice versa. Or if you were the only non-sports fan in a football, or anything else in the off season, mad office.

If you want to talk, strike up a conversation yourself. Otherwise, it's work, not the social club. They are being rude, but no ruder than any other conversation you could be excluded from. Though at least you could enjoy being rude back by eavesdropping, that would be nicer.

CatThiefKeith Mon 09-Feb-15 17:44:54

I grew up in a Spanish town in the early 80's after my parents emigrated and bought a bar when I was nine.

My parents had a rule. If there were Spanish people in the bar, we spoke only Spanish. When in Rome and all that.

In mixed company (rare, it was a very Spanish town, few expats) if an English speaker spoke no Spanish, my parents or I would translate so nobody felt excluded.

It's just good manners, surely?

WetAugust Mon 09-Feb-15 17:46:36


ghostspirit Mon 09-Feb-15 17:46:59

momagain1 you cant really tell me how it makes me feel :/ . i know that everyone is chit chatting laughing and things. and im there like a dummy. and its not a very nice thing not to feel a part of things

FreudiansSlipper Mon 09-Feb-15 17:49:41

i am not sure the language is the problem here it is that if you have not had a conversation in a whole year either you are being excluded or they could feel you do not want to talk to them

could you not start a conversation

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