Which nationalities are more culturally adaptable? Are the Brits really that bad?

Matilda

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This was posted by mountain annie in another thread:

"Well it must be Very Hard for a Brit to hide out here.. I would think that they would ALWAYS just stick out.. There are not many Brits here and they do not do languages or accents very well.. how can I say this.. they are not that culturally "adaptable" .. will always be so very very British forever"

Being a Brit I don't necessarily agree with this in that I speak 4 languages pretty fluently, each with the appropriate accent, would like to feel I have tried to adapt to the culture, and don't drink tea at 4pm every afternoon! Brits travel widely outside their own country, and second languages are compulsory at school, not that I am saying that everyone speaks a second language fluently.

It is hard to find accurate data on how many Brits live here, there was a thread on it on DR1 once but I can't find it, but I would would think there are a pretty reasonable number. All of the Brits I know here speak Spanish, many speak fluent Spanish, some not as good but they all do speak some. Having taught Spanish for a few years to expats of all nationalities, I would have thought that the statement would be more accurate for Americans, who tend to find it hard to lose their accent - Paydro rather than Pedro.

Anyway, not for this to develop into an international slanging match, I would just be interested to know if other posters agree with the statement, and which nationalities do you feel are more culturally adaptable?

Matilda
 

dv8

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brits i know in DR normally speak more than just english but generally the brits i met in london spoke english only. but i always found brits very accessible when i lived in the UK, very open to immigrants since in london there are so many of them. i hadly ever heard "go home, you f**king immigrant" :) and i never did mind anyway.
i like brits. it may come as a shock to people born and bread in great britain but i found english people very nice, sweet, helpful and polite :)
 

Criss Colon

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"Colonial Britain" used to try and make all their colonies,"Just Like Home" in any way they could.
They didn't inter-marry with, "The Savages" either.
They do enjoy traveling however.
I meet an "Older British Woman" when I was living in Thailand about 35 years ago,(My God,She Must be 90 Now!)
She asked me if I swam in the ocean there.I told her I did,"Don't You?" I asked.
"Yes",she said,"But I do not allow my head to enter the water."
"THEY",have a lot of "germs",you know!!!!
We Americans,LOVE to visit many foreign countries,it just that once we get there,we tend to kill everyone!
"Bombs Away"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We learned that lesson from "The English"!
But not until we take some "War Brides" home!
CCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCCc
 

pedrochemical

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I saw that post, Matilda, and had the same thoughts as you.
I was going to post something similar but held off.

I personally find no pleasure in learning new languages but have found that if one wants to live and work in a place successfully one needs to learn the language.

So now I speak French, Italian and Spanish and will learn other languages as and when I need to.

Am I the exception to the rule?
I do not know, but it is perhaps telling that US citizens have the lowest take up rate of passports of any of the OECD countries. (Someone else will have to verify that if they can be bothered)

As for being culturally adaptable, I loved living in Haiti, Senegal, D.R. and Italy and have held onto many of the varied facets of each of these cultures; the food, the music and the siesta being the main examples, although polishing my teeth with a stick is one that still draws stares.

The only thing that I am a stick in the mud about is decent Yorkshire English tea.(You know, tea from Ceylon, India etc....)
 

cobraboy

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I also like Brits very much.

There is a great reason why Americans haven't historically spoken multiple languages: we haven't had to. The US is a large country. Most Americans don't travel internationally because there is a LOT to see and do in the US without leaving.

I grew up in Georgia. Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee were border states. English is also spoken there. The same is true of every state, many of which are larger than some countries.

If Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee spoke a different language-in Europe, neighboring countries close by speak a different language, sometimes many-I might have grown up speaking a different language.

many of my college classmates were first-generation US born from Cuban refugees who spoke perfect English and were semi-bilingual, Spanish was a little weak. Their parents were bilingual with English being weaker. Their grandparents spoke no English and were highly disappointed in the grandkids Spanish skills. I also observe this with Alida's brothers' and sisters' families in NY and FL. The younger kids are losing their Spanish since they only speak ~some~ at home. One "complaint" the local family has is the grandkids "speak Spanish like an American."

Spanish has only become another "major" language in the US since the 60's, maybe 2 generations. Europe (the EU) is roughly the size and population of the US. How many languages are spoken there? 11? 14? More? And for how long? How many centuries?

Since WWII, English has become the language of international business and aviation. That is shifting somewhat, business anyway, but still primarily accurate. Other cultures learned English. Still are.

Apples and oranges.

While important, language alone is not necessarily the deciding factor in cultural adaptability. Certainly Matilda has assimilated. She HAD to because of her marriage and where and how she lives.

Seems to me "cultural adaptability has more to do with the acceptance of cultural idioms within your mode of living and not necessarily language alone. When one accepts the local quirks without comparing/contrasting to "back home" as a value judgement, adaptation is more complete.
 

EllaTO

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Seems to me "cultural adaptability has more to do with the acceptance of cultural idioms within your mode of living and not necessarily language alone. When one accepts the local quirks without comparing/contrasting to "back home" as a value judgement, adaptation is more complete.
This. It is risky to generalize about an entire nationality when adaptability is such an individual trait. While the rest of the world often views Americans as unadaptable and insular, Americans clearly don't view themselves that way...And often think that the rest of the world are the unadaptable ones...and are perplexed by what they view as an undeserved reputation of being loud and obnoxious when travelling abroad.

Some people are just more open to embracing different ways of life and living, regardless of where they come from.

Ella
 

dv8

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well, in europe there must be at least 30 languages spoken (each of the ex-USSR countries and each of the balkan states has own idioma). in most countries people would speak at least 2 languages (see cases above). so maybe for europeans it is normal to learn/speak languages. my neighbour from holland is fluent is six, darn :)

CC may be right, historically brits have been known to spread around the world. maybe they were not so keen on mingling with the conquered natives but i think they did manage to learn a lot about places they lived in.
 

cobraboy

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English may have stuck, but not Brit food...;) :cheeky: Or warm beer.
 

Africaida

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While important, language alone is not necessarily the deciding factor in cultural adaptability. Certainly Matilda has assimilated. She HAD to because of her marriage and where and how she lives.

Seems to me "cultural adaptability has more to do with the acceptance of cultural idioms within your mode of living and not necessarily language alone. When one accepts the local quirks without comparing/contrasting to "back home" as a value judgement, adaptation is more complete.

Totally agree.

I think it depends mainly on the individual. It is true that English speakers, particularly American, have it easier because A LOT of people speak English wherever they go and they tend to travel less or favor places where English is widely spoken.

However, despite the stereotypes, I know plenty of American who are fluent in other languages. To their credits,I find when Americans Do try, they try HARD and are very dedicated to learning (may be to counter the stereotype). I met a guy once from Atlanta who had lived in Senegal (West Africa) and spoke the local African language without a hint of an accent. Not only that, but he also spoke perfect French with a Senegalese accent !
 

Matilda

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I agree that the US is such a large country and so diverse that there is often no need for them to travel overseas. In the UK if you wanted guaranteed sun and sand then we had to travel overseas. dv8 and cc are also right in that in the days of colonisation the Brits travelled the world, I lived in Singapore for 3 years in the 1960's, and maybe at that time they did try and keep the British traditions and keep themselves separate from the 'natives'.

However, I think things have changed dramatically now. Thanks for the responses.

Matilda
 

Chirimoya

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Speaking a language other than English varies enormously according to background and educational level so it's difficult to generalise. Adaptability probably depends more on circumstances, personality and attitude than nationality and culture.

Many university educated/middle class Brits speak a second language, usually French, sometimes German. Then you have the stereotype expats in Spain who keep to themselves and their Spanish doesn't go beyond 'oona curvaytha poor fuvoar"...

Many of the Brits I know - like me - are from mixed/immigrant backgrounds so would speak another language anyway.
One exception I can think of was an English friend whose mother was German. Her family had lived all over the world because of her father's career, but she was completely monolingual.
 
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I think it is impossible to generalise for an entire nationality. Some may display these traits but not all.

"Colonial Britain" used to try and make all their colonies,"Just Like Home" in any way they could.
That wasn't always the case - in many places it was purely an economic relationship. "Just Like Home" applies more to France and its colonies (which it still thinks it has) in Africa.

As for the food and the language the British are IMO very open and willing to accept new additions. The national dish of England is now Chicken Tikka Masala. And at least we don't have some national academy to decide which are the right words. And good beer is not warm but cellar temperature. Many have to be served ice cold to mask the flavour!!!
 

dv8

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i think that when it comes to adaptability religion is far more of a factor than nationality. all immigrants want their kids to speak the language of the new land because they recognize the important of biliguality. but they will generenally stick to their sacral traditions more than to secular ones.
pues lo que del cesar devolvedselo al cesar, y lo de dios a dios (mat 22:21).
 

drstock

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Rule Britannia!

As an Englishman, I think it's an absolute disgrace that Dominican natives don't speak English. And where can you get a decent afternoon tea in this Godforsaken place? I can't find fish and chips for breakfast and have to heat my Presidente in the microwave to get it to a reasonable temperature. I say bring back Maggie Thatcher for a bit of gunboat diplomacy to add the DR to the British Empire! ;)
 

dv8

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and i wanted to give support to english food. english breakfast is a treat, chips with vinegar rule, i love bangers and mash, liver with mashed potatoes, shepherd's pie (you notice certain weakness for potatoes here), pies in general, fish and chips (i draw a line at mushy peas)... yummy!
but it has to be said that christmas pudding is a abomination and calls for a god sent plague.
 

AnnaC

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As an Englishman, I think it's an absolute disgrace that Dominican natives don't speak English. And where can you get a decent afternoon tea in this Godforsaken place? I can't find fish and chips for breakfast and have to heat my Presidente in the microwave to get it to a reasonable temperature. I say bring back Maggie Thatcher for a bit of gunboat diplomacy to add the DR to the British Empire! ;)

Thanks for the chuckle ;)