I think I've just experienced what it's like in England..

(951 Posts)
Builtthiscityonsausagerolls Thu 25-Nov-21 21:29:31

To not be a native English speaker.

My natural first language is Welsh. I went to an English university and obviously have a native proficiency in English but when chatting im more comfortable in Welsh.

So... I'm on a train in the Midlands with a friend. Had a chatty conversation with the conducter in English, guy sitting across from us very friendly. The we switched to Welsh and the difference in attitude was immediate. Felt very hostile. Very hard to explain, but as soon as we switched languages it became almost threatening?

I'm used to speaking Welsh in maybe more border towns (mainly chester) where its quite common, but thinking about it not in 'deep' England smile 😀

We keep going over it, but the change in attitude was definitely when we changed language. Is this really the experienced of non-English speakers? The hostility really was quite overt

OP’s posts: |
camelfinger Thu 25-Nov-21 21:33:32

Perhaps he thought you were excluding him - were you speaking English to him and then abruptly switched to Welsh?

LittleDandelionClock Thu 25-Nov-21 21:34:42

Since when did people speak Welsh in Chester? confused

Goldi321 Thu 25-Nov-21 21:35:33

Hm, I wonder if he thought you were talking about him? My DH family speak English and Welsh and it makes you a bit paranoid when people suddenly go from speaking English in a group to speaking Welsh between themselves knowing you can’t understand. A bit like 2 people whispering when you are in the room.
I’ve got over my paranoia somewhat but still find it a bit rude…

LittleDandelionClock Thu 25-Nov-21 21:35:52

Oh and yeah, it was rude (IMO) to switch to Welsh just like that, when you started off speaking English . Why switch? confused

Indiana2021 Thu 25-Nov-21 21:36:19

He probably thought you were talking about him.

sparklefarts Thu 25-Nov-21 21:37:18

I 100% would have thought you switched language to either talk about me or to get me out of the conversation


nancy75 Thu 25-Nov-21 21:37:24

It sounds like he might have thought you were talking about him & had switched language to do it.

UtterlyUnimaginativeUsername Thu 25-Nov-21 21:40:06

Some of DH's family are more fluent in Irish than I am, and when they speak it in front of me, thus excluding me, it feels deeply alienating and nasty. Maybe that's what caused the problem?

Builtthiscityonsausagerolls Thu 25-Nov-21 21:40:21

You often hear people speak Welsh in Chester.
It's the closest city to North Wales... parts of Chester City are literally in Wales (the football ground for example)
Why would a complete stranger think we are excluding him? I turned to my friend and we talked in our native language.
Although interesting as to why maybe there is xenophobia. Is it paranoia that they 'might be talking about me

OP’s posts: |
Peace43 Thu 25-Nov-21 21:40:27

Why should they not converse together in the language that they find easiest? Why does a stranger need to understand their conversations or to feel included? Maybe I’m used to this… live in Wales but don’t speak Welsh. The Welsh speakers will break off a Welsh language converse as I pass to greet me before switching batch to Welsh to carry on chatting…. Totally normal, they speak Welsh not English as a first choice.

Rumplestrumpet Thu 25-Nov-21 21:41:12

You're perfectly within your rights to speak your mother tongue with a friend on a train. It's only rude if you're travelling with other people who don't understand - you'd had a friendly chat with a stranger, that doesn't oblige you to keep speaking his language for the whole journey. I presume you didn't cut him off rudely

WomanStanleyWoman Thu 25-Nov-21 21:41:35

Why would you expect him to continue being friendly when you’d deliberately switched to a language he didn’t understand? Even the most positive interpretation is that you were signalling that your conversation was now private - so of course he’d pull back.

BasiliskStare Thu 25-Nov-21 21:41:50

30 years ago DH & I went into a shop and everyone switched from English to Welsh - their choice obviously - but it felt a bit strange

I would not be slightest bit threatening to you if you spoke Welsh but it can feel excluding the other way round.

Theunamedcat Thu 25-Nov-21 21:42:09

He has probably experienced exclusion before it's not nice

Rno3gfr Thu 25-Nov-21 21:42:09

I’m a Welsh speaker but English is the lannguage I use the most. However, when I’m with a friend who also speaks Welsh sometimes we don’t even realise then we’ve switched languages, we sort of switch back and forth a lot. I don’t really understand why it’s rude for people to switch back to their preferred language? You wouldn’t say that about two French people using their preferred language.

Alaimo Thu 25-Nov-21 21:42:32

I'm a non-native English speaker but have mostly lived in bigger cities so when i speak my native language people probably just assume I'm a tourist.

In my experience is only monolingual (English) speakers who equate speaking in your own language with being gossiped about. Most people i know who speak more than 1 language understand that sometimes it's just easier to speak in your native language.

Quornflakegirl Thu 25-Nov-21 21:42:32

I have never felt this in my decades of living here or while speaking my own language. In fact, I find England highly inclusive of others and the minute I moved to London I felt welcome. I now live in the SW in a rural location and have never been made to feel like this. I have lived in 3 continents and always feel confused when I read things like this.

Builtthiscityonsausagerolls Thu 25-Nov-21 21:43:09

Why switch?
Because I was having a chat with my friend in our native language???
Should we do it in English so that strangers on a train in Birminham don't think we're talking about them.
Really hmm

OP’s posts: |
Luckyelephant1 Thu 25-Nov-21 21:45:16

In what way did he become hostile? Did he say something when you switched to Welsh or what?

Cocomarine Thu 25-Nov-21 21:45:25

I would potentially find it odd that you switched in front of me, unless there was a cue to do so.

If the conductor came in and said, “tickets from Newcastle please” with a Welsh accent and you launched straight into a Welsh reply, I’d think nothing of it.

If I overheard you chatting in English until one said, “so do you speak Welsh then?” before an immediate switch, I’d also think nothing of it.

One of you switching apropos of nothing? I’d probably feel a bit paranoid, yes.

Rno3gfr Thu 25-Nov-21 21:45:54

FYI I have a group of friends where the majority speak Welsh but two don’t. The conversation sometimes naturally starts to steer towards Welsh, I always try to make a point of speaking English as not to exclude, because it is rude. The same happened to me in a group of Greek/English speaking friends and it’s frustrating. This, however, is about a stranger on a train.

TheAntiGardener Thu 25-Nov-21 21:46:55


Since when did people speak Welsh in Chester? confused

I live in Manchester and (very) occasionally hear Welsh being spoken. Chester is lot closer to the border so much more common there.

icedcoffees Thu 25-Nov-21 21:47:14

What makes you think he became hostile?

Maybe he thought you were rude because you were being friendly but then proceeded to switch to a language that meant he was totally excluded from the conversation?

AnotherMansCause Thu 25-Nov-21 21:47:19


Oh and yeah, it was rude (IMO) to switch to Welsh just like that, when you started off speaking English . Why switch? confused

Possibly it was a private conversation the the OP didn't feel like sharing with a stranger?

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