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To think saying “please speak English” is no longer acceptable

(137 Posts)
BooFuckingHoo2 Thu 25-Jun-20 20:28:11

I used to say this a lot to my friends if they were mumbling or using slang I didn’t understand. (I would never use it to someone who’s first language wasn’t English!). My parents also used to say it to me when I was saying like all the time or slang terms.

I feel like actually maybe I could be being offensive accidentally (I have ASD so it’s hard for me to gauge) but I wouldn’t want to offend someone by mistake. I’m aware that whilst I wouldn’t say it to a non native speaker I could be overheard and someone might take it personally sad

This isn’t meant to be goady or racist at all so please delete if anyone feels it is.

Should I stop using this phrase?

YABU - no keep using it
YANBU - stop using it

SchrodingersImmigrant Thu 25-Jun-20 20:30:23

We do the same in my native language. It's fine as long as you are not being nasty with it in my opinion.

ConstanceSalinger Thu 25-Jun-20 20:30:33

What would Miss Annesley say? grin English is one of the standard languages throughout the corporate world. The more people speak and write it clearly the better for clear communication.

Not sure I would say it to someone over 14 though. It does sound a bit patronising.

BooFuckingHoo2 Thu 25-Jun-20 20:35:03

Thank you cake

I just feel bad because I’m not bothered if someone speaks in another language unless they’re trying to talk to me and I can’t understand!

I’m just worried because I’ve seen people telling others to “speak English” when they’re talking in a foreign language in the UK.

silentpool Thu 25-Jun-20 20:37:47

I think you are over thinking this. It is a common turn of phrase and we still do live in England. If you went up to people speaking another language and said it, you would be out of line. Context matters.

TorkTorkBam Thu 25-Jun-20 20:37:48

I would switch to a different phrase because yours is rude in general

"Please speak in words I understand"
Or if comedy is required
"Please speak in words humans/adults understand"

Destroyedpeople Thu 25-Jun-20 20:38:30

Well it is a bit patronising isn't it?

Nottherealslimshady Thu 25-Jun-20 20:38:38

Its nasty anyway to comment on the way people talk. If you can understand what they're saying say "sorry I cant understand what you're saying"
See also "look at me whe I'm speaking to you"

Sk1nnyB1tch Thu 25-Jun-20 20:40:01

Just replace it with Please speak clearly if it's bothering you.

BooFuckingHoo2 Thu 25-Jun-20 20:40:35

Maybe I am being patronising.

I also use it when some of my engineering friends are explaining something really technical in terms I don’t understand.

Bunnybigears Thu 25-Jun-20 20:41:44

Sometimes if someone I am.close to, friends or family, gets their word muddled or cant be understood for some reason I may say "and in English?' Buy I would never pay it to an work.colleague, or a stranger because you never know if there is a speech impediment or if they speak English as a second language etc.

BaskinForAFriend Thu 25-Jun-20 20:46:23

I think it’s rude. Whilst not necessarily xenophobic/racist in itself, it does make me think of those sorts of people if I hear it (I’ve got friends who’ve been told to speak English in public by a stranger, for example when speaking to a relative on the phone in another language). I’d retire it.

BaskinForAFriend Thu 25-Jun-20 20:48:03

@Bunnybigears I don’t think that sounds anywhere near as rude, weirdly. Definitely sounds more playful/friendly.

KingofDinobots Thu 25-Jun-20 20:51:07

I think it’s rude rather than racist tbh.

It would be more polite to say something like “sorry, I can’t hear you properly” or “what does x mean?”. “Please speak English” is a bit abrupt and patronising.

SchrodingersImmigrant Thu 25-Jun-20 20:54:18

I don't think "speak English" aimed at mumbling English speaker can ever be considered racist.

And the example OP put later? That's just absolutely acceptable.

ToriaPumpkin Thu 25-Jun-20 20:54:55

If it's people you know well then I'd say it's fine. It's often said between my colleagues and I as they talk in technical jargon and I understand how certain software they use works and they don't.

BooFuckingHoo2 Thu 25-Jun-20 20:55:59

Just to clarify I don’t abruptly say “please speak English” it’s more like “can you say that again in English” whilst laughing with friends or “for gods sake X can you please speak English” when someone’s talking about something very technical

letmethinkaboutitfornow Thu 25-Jun-20 20:57:34

You know it’s the tone that matters.
I need to say it every now and then. I don’t think I offended anyone so far.

BooFuckingHoo2 Thu 25-Jun-20 20:59:24


* You know it’s the tone that matters*

As I mentioned I have ASD so I’m not necessarily conscious of tone.

DogInATent Thu 25-Jun-20 21:04:55

Are you really asking them to change language to English, or are you really asking them to use plain English, explain something in simple language, or to avoid technical jargon?

ilovemydogandmrobama2 Thu 25-Jun-20 21:04:57

Well, agree context matters - saying to an engineer who is being overly technical, 'and in English that would be...' OK

Saying to a person in a call centre whose native language is not English, 'speak English...' Not OK

BaskinForAFriend Thu 25-Jun-20 21:06:16

Agree it’s not racist in itself, it more sort of evokes the image of a xenophobe/racist. Like a branding thing.

Agree also that in the examples the OP has given – asking an engineer friend to explain something using less jargon – it’s teasing rather than rude.

BaskinForAFriend Thu 25-Jun-20 21:06:56


Agree it’s not racist in itself, it more sort of evokes the image of a xenophobe/racist. Like a branding thing.

Agree also that in the examples the OP has given – asking an engineer friend to explain something using less jargon – it’s teasing rather than rude.

Doingtheboxerbeat Thu 25-Jun-20 21:11:20

"I'm so sorry could you repeat that" x1000, is what I say when I can't understand someone. It might be rude, but being at both ends of a call centre call when no one understands what is being said is problematic.

CircleofWillis Thu 25-Jun-20 21:15:47

I feel that as Baskin said it evokes the image of a xenophobe. It suggests that English is a universal default and speaking another language is somehow wrong.
As I child I used to use the phrase "speaking double dutch" in a similar context and simply wouldn't now.

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