Languages in the Office

Is it unprofessional for people to have conversations daily on the floor in foreign languages even if it’s work related at times? If a client from China calls and you speak Chinese it’s understandable. If your grandmother calls and you speak to her that’s fine. But if a group of employees sit around the desk and chat in another language when only they speak it is that rude? I am inclined to say yes.

You’re not from Canada, are you.

Lx, usually i view you as the voice of reason but in this case i disagree with you. Leaving absent the fact that they are having a conversation, the language in which it is conducted should play no role in deciding if it is rude or not. The one exception, of course, is if you are one of the intended audiences but i presume this is not the case.

Are you?

Absolutely its rude. I don’t know what’s worse though, horribly accented English or street vendor yammering while you’re trying to work


Why is it rude? If you are in the conversation and they are aware you cannot understand the dialect then it is rude, speaking among themselves in a language that they feel comfortable with?

Nope, don’t see the problem here at all.

Not at all. If they’re not talking to you, it’s none of your concern what language they’re speaking.

Anyone that doesn’t speak English American all the time should be considered rude and a possible national security threat.

My whole thought process outside of just saying 'MURRICA" is that they knowingly choose to speak a foreign language to exclude people. I mean this isn’t in the break room while grabbing coffee this is a desk pit. Maybe I’m just xenophobic, but I don’t see why fluent english speakers would do this throughout the day.

Perhaps they’re trying to exclude people, but maybe they’re just more comfortable with their native language and speaking it reduces the possiblity of misunderstandings.

Speaking a foreign lanaguage in America is rude and doing it in a public office around others is also inconsiderate. If I’m working and someone next to me starts speaking Spanish I’m going to be distracted 2x as much because my brain can’t translate what they’re saying therefore making it confusing and harder to ignore. If they were speaking English i’d be familar with the frequency and able to just tune it out.

Most people in this country can barely speak English so encouraging another language is just plain stupid.

If they feel more comfortable speaking in their native tongue, then so be it. You mad brah?

Maybe they want to exclude you. I recall you told everybody at your office that you’re not their friend. You should rethink that.

I don’t think it’s the language that matters so much as how the conversation is conducted. If some guys have a very loud and distracting conversation next to you in some foreign language, or in English, that sounds pretty rude. Just speaking a different language is not rude by itself - like the Chinese quants huddling around talking softly about math models in Chinese is ok to me, particularly since they suck at English and this way is more efficient.

This isn’t about me. I’m one of twenty people sitting here. This is two of the twenty people. If they changed their behavior for me then I feel honored by the power I wield. I never explictly said “I’m not your friend” I just never confirmed that we were friends :wink: The closest I come to understanding is as a few have said they may feel more comfortable in their native tongue.

I agree with this. If it’s loud and there’s laughing and people are pointing at you while laughing, that’s rude. If people are quietly discussing their project or their weekend adventures in their own language, that’s something else.

Some of us also like to practice our foreign language skills when we can.

Europeans are used to dozens of languages around them. Indians too. Even Chinese have to deal with dialects. It’s mostly Americans that get their panties up in a bunch that someone is speaking some funny sounding words.

Former trader put it well: if you’re not supposed to be part of the conversation, what language they use is none of your business. They might be whispering smack about you whether it’s English or Maori.

I think it’s a bit rude if it’s work related in a working area. Even though I can understand/filter out other languages, I still think it’s a workplace and you should use the official language when working.

Of course, I’m not going to call out some Chinese or Indian guy especially if his english is not good, but if you’re using your street vendor voice, I’m going to be pissed.

Good thing I’m not in your office because I’ll invent a language just to pi$$ you off.

There’s absolutely no problem Those that do have a problem with it have underlying issues with others that don’t speak their language. Maybe it doesn’t bother me because I live in one of the most multi cultural cities out there and the most bilingual city in the world and I got used to hearing several languages since I was in kindergarten.

to be fair FT, you seem the type who does things just out of spite, so no points for inventing a new language.

I already stipulated that I would only find it an issue if anyone did it while working. Whatever you do on non-company time, I don’t care. And for the record, I grew up probably the most multicultural and multi lingual areas in Toronto. My highschool was 10% white, 20% Persian, 25% Assorted Brown, 20% Korean, 25% Chinese. It’s not whether someone tolerates a language or not, it’s whether it’s appropriate while working in the work place. Inclusion vs Exclusion.

To be honest, it doesn’t even cross my mind that others speak another language around me. And I’m being frank. Maybe it’s because I got so used to it, or that I speak 3 languages myself (all 3 were used in the household growing up) or that I’m simply more open minded.

I don’t think you can necessarily say you are more tolerant because you went to a racially diverse high school.