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Foreign Exchange Orger
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7,461 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Sorry to bother you with my "problem", but I was making myself crazy with it this morning when I was still lying in bed.

Since last June my brother has a girlfriend, she's from Germany. They've met in Italy during an international swimmeet.
Since then my brother spends most of the time at his girlfriends house and in time he has learned to speak German (as her parents can't speak any other language). Tanja, the girlfriend can speak some English by the way. Whenever we see each other (mostly that is in Germany) she only speaks German to my parents and I, while my mother can't understand her. Tanja makes no effort in learning some Dutch to at least have a nice conversation with my mother. No, she speaks English/German and my mother has to try to understand her.
Please note, that Tanja lives just 10km from the Dutch border! (2 hours driving from my parents house to Tanja's house)
My brother is twice a week here in Holland and has dinner at my parents house. Tanja we hardly ever see. I guess she will come next month with my brother as it's my mothers birthday nov12. It seems like my family is only good for visits on birthdays. As my parents have been over to Germany several times to help with the backyard and the garage.
I understand why my brother spends his time there rather than at his own apartment (big house versus apartment). My brother is known by all her familymembers and friends. My aunts/uncles and grandparents never saw her.

I've tried to let my brother know that it would be nice if Tanja learns Dutch for our mothers sake, but he says she's not good in languages. Tanja even said herself she didn't have time :mad: So I can predict that when ever they get married the service will be in Germany and all in German and that their children will only speak German! My brother is too weak to make his own opinion.

So, is it me? that I think this is a one way relationship and that Tanja doesn't even care about her boyfriends family (my parents and I)?
Of course it's their life to live, but it sure isn't nice.
It makes me really sad though, and angry at the same time.
 

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It's a shot glass!
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1,530 Posts
Maybe she expects your family to learn German just like your brother did. You would think that she would atleast make an effort to learn Dutch so she could get to know your family. But it doesn't seem like she wants to get to know your family.
Guess who's the one that wears that pants in that relationship. I wonder what would happen if the roles were turned. How would her family react?

I see why you're angry, that would piss me off(anger me) also.
 

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Premium Member
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4,319 Posts
My family is German. My wife is not... My wife has tried to learn some German but truth be told she is horrible at languages. My family speaks to her in what we call "Germlish" and even then I have to translate most of the time. My wife fears going over seas and going to a country where she can't speak the language. So it has been up to my family to come here and visit us. Which they have done many times at great exspense.

To my family it appears that she is not making an effort and that she is being selfish but that simply isn't true. She loves them very much and wants to visit them but finds it way too difficult to do so... either that or I am making excuses for her. However she is very kind and genarous in the other parts of her life so I doubt very much that this is the case.

Tom aka Fowvay
 

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a.k.a. porkchopzz4
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890 Posts
Here is a perspective from a personal (and similar) experience:

My brother-in-law is Mexican and does not speak English. My sister became fluent in Spanish while they were dating. No one in my family speaks a word of Spanish, nor has anyone made an effort to. My brother-in-law can understand English, but he is reluctant to speak English. I think he is embarassed and doesn't want to sound like a 3 year old (which we all do when we try to speak a new language...).

They have been married for 5 years and now have two kids - who can speak either language.

So... if she isn't making an effort now, it is doubtful that she ever will. However, if they do get married, the kids will probably speak Dutch and German, if that is what they hear around the house (this is assuming your brother would speak Dutch to his kids.. and not only German). Kids pick up languages like a sponge - so as long as the kids hear both languages while young, they will speak both.
 

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Foreign Exchange Orger
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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone.
There are always 2 sides to a story, I know.
And I know who's wearing the pants... :D

But if only they both come more often to Holland (instead of 4 times a year!!!), then Tanja hears more Dutch around her, than she can try to speak (she can already understand a little).

Maybe I'm expecting too much, I don't know :(
 

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That Crazy Belgian Guy
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Hey Mazzzzzzzzzzz ;)

I don't think you're expecting too much. I would be kinda pissed of ass well if my sister-in-law was reluctant to speak her own language...

I think it is just a matter of respect to at least try to speak some words... Showing you try is a very good sign to the family.

Learning a foreign language is almost kinda difficult in the beginning, but is she would show at least the intention to try, i'm sure it would be greatly appreciated by you and your mother...

And what she says about not having time, imho, that's bull***:mad:

Anyway, maybe it would be a solution that when you see her, to speak Dutch, and not German... And if she asks you to speak English or German, explain her that it would be appreciated that she ass wel makes an effort, not ?
 

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Super Moderator
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14,716 Posts
It's interesting to see that unique problem: so many different languages, in a relatavely small area.

Like Toms wife, I am terrible at languages. I can speak a little Spanish (poquito!), but could not have a conversation.

However, I did translate at McDonalds one day.....


Ahead of me was a hungry Hispanic man. He was pointing, and trying to order. The clerk was obviously having a difficult time trying to understand. So, I stepped in. I tapped the guy on the shoulder, and pointed to the menu "Numero uno? Numero dos?" He says "Numero uno". I tell the clerk "He wants a number one"..... True story! :lol:
 

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Foreign Exchange Orger
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7,461 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
dnyed said:
It's interesting to see that unique problem: so many different languages, in a relatavely small area.

Like Toms wife, I am terrible at languages. I can speak a little Spanish (poquito!), but could not have a conversation.

However, I did translate at McDonalds one day.....


Ahead of me was a hungry Hispanic man. He was pointing, and trying to order. The clerk was obviously having a difficult time trying to understand. So, I stepped in. I tapped the guy on the shoulder, and pointed to the menu "Numero uno? Numero dos?" He says "Numero uno". I tell the clerk "He wants a number one"..... True story! :lol:
Cool! It's always nice to help someone who is in need (of some food :D ).

I'll just wait and see what happens at my mothers B-day.
 

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Your mileage may vary
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7,566 Posts
When I visited Zurich a couple of years ago, I made no effort to learn German. Despite (or maybe because) of growing up with German granparents, I knew my german was terrible! I learned nothing.

I did smile a lot, hoping that my non-verbal skills would override my lack of language skills.

If I knew I was going to meet someone in particular (like a girlfriend's mother), I would have at least learned a few phrases. :)
 

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Foreign Exchange Orger
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7,461 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Alan From NYC said:
When I visited Zurich a couple of years ago, I made no effort to learn German. Despite (or maybe because) of growing up with German granparents, I knew my german was terrible! I learned nothing.

I did smile a lot, hoping that my non-verbal skills would override my lack of language skills.

If I knew I was going to meet someone in particular (like a girlfriend's mother), I would have at least learned a few phrases. :)
English is a universal language. You can go to any country and there are certainly people who speak some. At least you can order a drink or purchase an item with a few words.

My experience with German tourists (no offense to the tourists who DO make an effort!) is that they don't care in which country they are, they address the waiter or the clerk in German and expect that they are understood. I've seen it in Spain and Italy. A group of German swimmers were ordering drinks from a waiter in German. The waiter is Italian. The guys were kind of irritated that the waiter didn't really understand them. When it was my turn, I ordered in Italian (took a course) and English and the waiter was happy.
And if you don't speak the language, there are always phrasebooks. The locals really appreciate it. ;)
 

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Are Friends Electric?
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Mazzzja, I think in time she may pick up more Dutch.

Though I speak German, I have had the experience of hearing Dutch spoken a few times. For me, though it was a total different language, I understand every word that was being spoken. I have even been asked in Dutch if I understood, and I answered them in German. And they've understood me too. I always thought they were similar.
 

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2.5L 5 Cyl. killer bunny
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Mazzzja said:
English is a universal language. You can go to any country and there are certainly people who speak some. At least you can order a drink or purchase an item with a few words.

My experience with German tourists (no offense to the tourists who DO make an effort!) is that they don't care in which country they are, they address the waiter or the clerk in German and expect that they are understood. I've seen it in Spain and Italy. A group of German swimmers were ordering drinks from a waiter in German. The waiter is Italian. The guys were kind of irritated that the waiter didn't really understand them. When it was my turn, I ordered in Italian (took a course) and English and the waiter was happy.
And if you don't speak the language, there are always phrasebooks. The locals really appreciate it. ;)

I've heard a lot about this too, I don't remember exactly who told me, but case and point.

"Some" Germans are weird, if you are a tourist (American, Dutch, Mexican, Spanish, etc) they expect you to at least make an attempt to speak their language. I can understand that, and have no qualms with it What so ever. However, those same German folks, will not make any effort what so ever to speak to another foreigner in their language..."some times", cause they expect you to just know it.

I don't think you are nuts at all, it almost seems rude that your brother wouldn't want to see you or your family, but I know first hand how some women can be royal bitches and prevent their boyfriend, husband, or whatever from being allow to see his family. Hopefully he comes around and realizes he needs his family too.
 

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<-----No More Beetle :(
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I would be pissed too Marcia. I'm very protective when it comes to my little brothers (and I mean little only in the age sense. There once was a time when I had to protect them. Now they can protect me! lol) I think I'm worse than my mother when it comes to the approval of my brothers' girlfriends. One of them is now married and the day he got married I was very unhappy. I cried like a baby up at the altar. Noone in my family at the time liked his future wife. She had made a whole list of things that my brother needed to change before she would marry him. (He changed nothing thank god!) My future SIL made no effort to get along with any of us. We all tried so hard. We constantly offered to help her with things, invited her places and when it came to family functions she wouldnt let me brother go to any of them. I dont know what happened...I guess she finally saw that none of us were out to get her or take my brother away from her and that we geniunely wanted her to be a part of our family and now she's great! I love hangin out with her and she appreciates us now!
Just continue to be as sweet as pie to her and maybe she'll come around. Let her know you have any animocity towards her and she'll pull even further away and will resent you and your family and will either break your brothers heart or she will make it so you see him even less than you do now.
 

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Are Friends Electric?
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Forgot to add; No Mazzzja, you have every right to feel that way, I probably would too in the same situation. We can hope the "fog" that is clouding your brothers eyes will lessen soon. Give him some time before you mention it to him, because at this time he is so head over heels in love he will only deny. Hang in there!
 

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Customized Gifts For Sale
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Mazzz
I have lived in Germany for the last 2 year and have made the effort to try and learn some of the langage but none the less I can barely convey a simple thought sometimes. Maybe your brother's girlfriend is a bit intimidated with trying to learn dutch. Who knows. I do how ever have simpathy for those who try and master english cause it is a hard language to learn.

Hopefully things work out for you mazz
 
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