‘Do you speak English?’

By Staff Writer
October 14, 2005

I have always boasted that I can talk myself out of any situation, but lately the questions I have been getting have made me question this assumption. Last semester was my first semester at Cabrini and it was boring because I was asked the same questions over and over again, “Why did you come here?” and “Are you Tutti’s brother?”

This being a small campus, I think someone has ratted out that I hate being asked the same questions. So now the questions have changed and my new favorite question is “do you speak English?”

Seemingly most people assume that English is the official language only in England and the United States. Unless one has been living in a walk-in closet for the past 20 years, you will notice that most countries have made English their official language.

People all over the world speak English, with some words here being different. We don’t say gas we say petrol, we don’t say candies we say sweets.

I don’t blame people for asking. When I first arrived in the United States, I asked many questions that some students may consider basic. I could not even name 10 states that made up the United States, and never knew that New York was a state, nor did I know the difference between a city and a state. But I feel that it’s time everyone woke up. Just because I speak with an accent does not mean that I do not speak English.

I cannot speak for everyone, because it is true that many people come from countries where English is not the official language.

But regardless of how many languages a country has, people in most, if not all countries speak English. I love compliments, but when someone says your English is “very good,” it is not a compliment.

When people tell me that my English is good I laugh but it’s not funny. From now on my answer will be your English is good too.

I realize that the question “do you speak English?” is not a compliment, if this question was a compliment, why is this compliment only posed to international students?

My brother says that I just like to take everything too seriously, and I shouldn’t read anything into it. People are just trying to know me he claims.

Maybe he is right. Maybe people are just trying to know me. But questions like “your English is very good,” in my opinion, are not questions that one should ask when meeting a person for the first time. Questions like that only bring the worst out of me.

Asking if a person’s English is good in my opinion is like asking someone from California if they know how to surf. So if you really want to know me and want to start a conversation rather ask “Are you new at Cabrini?” and “Where are you from?” will be better.

Posted to the web by Brandon Edwards

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Staff Writer

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