Mechanical

Monolingual

A French friend told me the following joke:

What do you call someone who speaks three languages?

Trilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks two languages?

Bilingual.

What do you call someone who speaks one language?

French.


I used to hear that joke, but the punchline was "American". When I moved to the UK, the punchline was "British". Now I hear it again for the French.

Interestingly, it's doubtful that this punchline would be "Dutch" or "German". There are many countries for which this simply wouldn't be meaningful, but it's nice to know that Americans aren't alone in this.
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Nothing wrong with being monolingual; my mother is monolingual
Ah, stereotypes. :)

Thinking back, I'm not sure if I ever met anyone French, American, or British who did not speak at least two languages. (In most cases, the second being Norwegian, though there was this French woman whose second language was English.) But I'm pretty sure I've met Germans who appeared to comprehend no other language.

Still, even here in Norway, the stereotypes remain ironically(?) international. :)
On the door to the office of the linguistics professor* at my college there was a sticker on the door which read "monolingualism is a curable disease."



*When this man decided to give away his library of foreign language textbooks, we counted well over two dozen languages to be represented. We're still not sure how many of them he was functional in.
I always shake my head when I hear people make jokes like that. The most likely person from a foreign country you'll meet are highly educated go getters, many steps above the average person.

I knew many a German or Dutchman that only spoke their mother tongue when I lived in Germany.