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Re: Excuse me, ...?

From:Scotto Hlad <scotto@...>
Date:Sunday, July 25, 2004, 14:45
Salve Carsten!

I have found myself in this situation more than once in my life. I have
always been so interested in language that curiosity always gets the best of

I have always asked politely, "Excuse me, I couldn't help but over hearing
and I'm curious, what language was it that you were speaking? I found it
most intriguing." One time in a shop I was working in, I heard a couple
speaking an unusual language. I was particularly interested in how
forcefully the R was trilled.  Whey thay came to my till I said something
similar to the above. The gentleman replied that they were speaking Turkish
and that if I found it so interesting he was surprised because they were
arguing at the time.

Speech in public is something that we all hear. What is different between
that and say, a particular item of clothing that a person is wearing? If you
are really curious, you might ask, "Where did you buy that," and no one
would be that alarmed.

Curiosity is common to all. We want to know what is going on. The person who
was speaking an unfamiliar language is still doing it in public and futher
knows that it will be heard. When out with my kids, if I want to say
something that I only want them to understand, I will speak in French. ("Put
that down! If you break it I have to buy it!") You automatically make
yourself a spectacle by doing so. How many people will stop to pet the dog
of a perfect stranger?

From my north American perspective, I'd simply suggest to use a liberal dose
of politeness and courtesy. I have never had anyone be rude in return.
Generally I've found that people will smile and reply.

> -----Original Message----- > From: Constructed Languages List [mailto:CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU]On > Behalf Of Carsten Becker > Sent: Sunday, July 25, 2004 5:13 AM > To: CONLANG@LISTSERV.BROWN.EDU > Subject: Re: Excuse me, ...? > > > Hello! > > From: "Carsten Becker" <post@...> > To: <CONLANG@...> > Sent: Monday, January 05, 2004 6:39 PM > Subject: Excuse me, ...? > > > > Hello everyone, > > > > I wanted to ask you what to do (/what you do) when you hear someone > talking > > in an interesting sounding language you do not know but it would be > unpolite > > to ask in that situation (e.g. someone is speaking to his/her > > telephone/mobile, the table next to your one in a restaurant, ...). > > I had this situation recently, I'm still wondering whether I should > have > > asked or not. > > > > Carsten > > Leafing through my archive of mails, I found this one. It's still > unanswered. I'm just curious. Perhaps to make it clearer what I mean: > Someone talks in a language that sounds interesting, but you absolutely > do not know which language this might be. As I said, this occured to me > "recently". A woman answered her mobile speaking a language I did not > know what it might be. Standing there, waiting and asking *then* would > seem a little odd and would make the person feel uncomfortable. But > disturbing a person you don't know while he/she is speaking with someone > is also impolite I think. What could I have done? > > -- Carsten