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Old 08-29-2011, 05:22 AM
 
Location: Olympus Mons, Mars
5,734 posts, read 8,642,511 times
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I know this isn't a scientific survey but I was browsing this online dating site called OKCupid, profiles from Southern California and what I noticed is that a large majority (I would estimate 75-80%) of these people have not only been all over the world but also speak some other language with claimed "Fluent" or "conversational" ability. This really goes against the stereotype that Americans don't travel much and cannot speaking anything other than English.

So, is this stereotype just a myth? Or do American women travel a whole lot more than American men?
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:19 AM
 
Location: Murika
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I don't think that it's a stereotype. Traditionally, the majority of Americans have not held passports and thus, never travelled outside the US/Canada.

In recent decades, things have changed and a much larger percentage of US Americans can be met abroad. Still, numbers are nowhere close to the percentage of Germans who travel abroad - I think they hold the record.

If the study you saw profiled Southern Californians, is it possible that the 75-80% of people in this study where Hispanic-Americans? This would certainly explain claims of "fluent" or "conversational" ability.

The reality is that most Americans can probably not make such a claim - unless they have ties to somewhere else. Most people don't even seem to manage basic Spanish, although one would think that knowledge of Spanish would be quite helpful these days, especially when traveling or living in parts of the Southwest or in the Miami area. And still, in my experience, most people there don't speak any Spanish unless they have personal ties to the Hispanic community.
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Old 08-29-2011, 06:30 AM
 
Location: Victoria TX
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Consider your own circle of friends and co-workers. How many people do you know who were born in the USA with English-speaking parents, who can speak a second language? I'm going to bet zero---that you can't name a single American that you know, who has learned to speak another language outside his home.

With very, very few exceptions, an American who grew up in an English-speaking household can speak only English.

I just went to OKCupid, and selected for females, anywhere, age 20-40. and scanned 40 profiles. All said English Only, except the following:
1 Italian, but had lived in Italy.
1 Vietnamese, but of Asian ethnicity
2 Spanish OK, but one of Hispanic ethnicity.
1 Spanish Poorly.
3 French Poorly.

So not counting the three who were of foreign "ethnicity" or who had lived abroad, that's 5 out of 37 (13%) who could speak another language OK or Poorly, none fluently, and 32 out of 37 who could speak English only.

I live in a city that is about 50% Hispanic. Very, very few young 20-something Anglos can even ask a simple question in Spanish, but among people over age 50, most can get by in basic Spanish and quite a lot are fluent, and it is quite common to hear older Anglos carrying on a conversation with Hispanics in Spanish.

Last edited by jtur88; 08-29-2011 at 07:17 AM..
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Old 08-29-2011, 07:12 AM
 
Location: Chicagoland
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A lot of Americans vastly overestimate their own linguistic abilities. They think being able to order off a menu or buy train tickets in a foreign language makes them fluent in it.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:25 AM
 
4,044 posts, read 6,220,293 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josef K. View Post
A lot of Americans vastly overestimate their own linguistic abilities.
A lot of Americans vastly overestimate their abilities period.

As a comedian/show host was recently pointing out..."We're not no 1. We're no 1 at thinking we're no 1".
I keep praying that this hideous "self-esteem" movement that started in the US in the 60-70's will somehow be turned around; but the evidence points to the contrary. It seems to develop deeper and deeper roots, yielding increasingly narcissistic generations.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:28 AM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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I think it is very true. The number of Canadians I meet overseas dwarfs that of Americans. I've been to a fair number of places around the world and can say that there is a definite lack of other US folks.

I think part of it is financial ability and part is sheer disinterest. The average US household barely gets by. How is Joe Bob supposed to go to the Bahamas or Thailand when he is overloaded on debt, and lives paycheck to paycheck? Then a lot of US folks don't care all that much of the world outside their little bubble. Geographic isolation us one part. A lot though is lack of knowledge of what's out there.

The ratio goes up with more educated, wealthy folks I bet. A lot of people I worked with have traveled.
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Old 08-29-2011, 08:56 AM
 
12,863 posts, read 14,163,506 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josef K. View Post
A lot of Americans vastly overestimate their own linguistic abilities. ...
Not least of all in English.
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:48 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Since when is ok cupid a representation of the average person?
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Old 08-29-2011, 09:59 AM
 
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If the U.S. Mormon population continues to grow exponentially fast, like Time magazine says, then you will see more U.S.-born foreign language-speakers, since young Mormon men traditionally spend a year on overseas missions, which requires their fluency in a language.
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Old 08-29-2011, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Yorkshire, England
5,599 posts, read 8,316,593 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowlane3 View Post
If the U.S. Mormon population continues to grow exponentially fast, like Time magazine says, then you will see more U.S.-born foreign language-speakers, since young Mormon men traditionally spend a year on overseas missions, which requires their fluency in a language.
Ah, that explains why I saw so many American Mormons in Germany (who couldn't speak German all that well by the way). Back to the OP, anybody can write anything on the internet, doesn't mean it's to be taken all that seriously. Unless your current location actually is on Mars of course, in which case I take back all I just said
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