Friday, April 27, 2007

Native languages and poisonous people

I think, over the past 3.5 years I’ve been working on free software, I have sent more than 5,000 mails, all in English, to various mailing lists, most of them with more than a few hundred subscribers. It’s always a bit weird (even after living in Massachusetts for more than 2.5 years) to use your second language and I believe it will stay that way the rest of my life. Which is fine and all.

Sketchy Dane

In general, I’ve found that native English speakers are very nice to non-native English speakers. In stark contrast, for example, are natives of my own country Denmark; whenever a foreigner attempts to speak Danish everything becomes a bit weird. One common thing is that the native Danes try to switch to conversation to English because it makes them less uncomfortable. I guess there are many reasons for this difference of behavior; first, Danish is a small, insignificant (and dying) language, most people speak English anyway and not a lot of native English speakers have a second language at all. But it’s also a cultural thing. In particular, I find that it’s very easy to live among the Americans; they’re friendly (actually, I jokingly tend to say “it’s like living with the smurfs”; many, not all though, people here are just more optimistic about the future than in Denmark and the EU.). The fact that English is a second language have never been an issue for me at all.

Sketchy German

Until today. I guess there’s a first time for everything, the topic of my native language came up on the Fedora live cd mailing list just recently. Response here. Time to watch How Open Source Projects Survive Poisonous People (And You Can Too) again I suppose.

The whole thing just makes me a little sad inside.

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