A U.S. Navy Admiral was attending a naval conference that included Admirals from the U.S., English, Canadian, Australian and French Navies. At a
cocktail reception, he found himself standing with a large group of Officers that included personnel from most of those countries. Everyone was
chatting away in English as they sipped their drinks but a French admiral suddenly complained that, 'whereas Europeans learn many languages,
Americans learn only English.' He then asked, 'Why is it that we always have to speak English in these conferences rather than speaking French?'
Without hesitating, the American Admiral replied 'Maybe it's because the Brits, Canadians, Aussies and Americans arranged it so you wouldn't have
to speak German.'
You could have heard a pin drop.
That explains so very well why there is a concept of "The ugly, brash American" all over Europe.
The point I'm making is that it's so one sided it's unbelievable.
It's not as though there was no French resistance.
Nor indeed as though there were not those from other nations involved.
Nor does it explain the appalling fact that so many anglophones can speak only one language.
Jmb, you have made several fine posts on historical subjects. Of the soldiers that fought to free France from German domination, how many nations were represented that did not speak English?
Is JMB the only one who knows any history?
What about the French themselves?
If you won such an award, you might know something about the involvement of other countries in WWII.
The Russians, the Poles, the French...?
Perhaps we could ask the gallery:
How many think that, when the French fought the Germans in WWII, the French won? How many think Germany prevailed over France?
How many think that Poland repelled Germany's attack? How many think Germany prevailed in that fight?
Now, how many think that it was chiefly the efforts of the English-speaking nations (including nations of the British Empire) that freed France?
Do you doubt that Janet has a valid point?
1944 Paris Liberated - Allied forces, led by the French Second Armored Division commanded by Major General Lecleric, liberated Paris on August 25. The liberation of Paris was hastened by an open rebellion by Parisians against the Nazis in the days leading to the liberation. The next day, US and British forces entered the city and were greeted by quite an emotional welcome.
The allies did not do it alone scholar.
Was there a wide knowledge of European history at your college? I found that people who were knowledgable about non-American history were few and far between when I lived there.
I think the comment of the original anecdote--that France would have stayed under German domination if English-speaking nations had not fought Germany--is true. I don't think it is "ugly" to face that fact. That doesn't say that no person from any non-English-speaking nation had any role.
So Russia had no part in the defeat of Germany?
The point, scholar, as I've said a number of times, is that this joke just shows why Americans are so often regarded as they are, in Europe.
It's no explanation as to why Americans and indeed people in the UK are so slack as to speak only one language - and indeed, the joke isn't really even true - up to about 20 years ago, one was not considered educated unless one was fluent in French.
My opinion is as valid as yours - and perhaps on this subject, more so, having lived in Europe for so long. This joke and its ilk are among the reasons that Americans are perceived as they are.
Most of us can get by in another language surely? I can "get by" in three other languages, especially about 24 hours after I land in the country where the other language is spoken. My dad speaks Spanish and that was entirely due to his National Service in Gibraltar.
I know very, very few Americans who are anything like fluent in another language. Many of us had a smattering of Spanish as we grew up, mainly
because we heard it spoken.
But when one puts that against the language skills of those on the continent - where people are able to speak at the very least their own language and one or two more, and study those throughout school - we do very poorly.
Thinking of my English friends - again, I know some who can order a meal in another language, and one or two who were raised in bilingual households. Other than that, a bit of "school boy French" here and there.
I'm ashamed to only speak two languages and read a couple more. That's really not good enough (and something I intend to address when I get my life a bit more sorted out).
That's why the French planted so many trees along the roadsides, so that the Germany Army could march in the shade in the summer time
Janet, there is nothing in the anecdote about being bilingual.
English speaking people have every reason to be proud of their historic contribution in WWII.
No one said that they have nothing to be proud of, scholar.
I realise there's nothing in there about being bilingual - I'm perfectly capable of reading.
You're missing my point, either because it's not clear enough or because you refuse to see it, so I see no point in continuing the conversation.
All I know is, a lot of people gave their lives/sanity in what was a fierce war, have we learnt from it? who knows until the next one surfaces
On your serious note, Dreamweaver, I would hope we have two lessons:
1-Appeasement doesn't work
2-It's better to fight totalitarian powers before their power grows.
I have come to realize that Janet's references to bilingual knowledge may have been cued by the title I listed for the topic, rather than the post which was the first in the topic.
Joke thread = trivia
The obvious question that is often asked is.... would the Americans have even entered WWII had Japan not attacked Pearl Harbour.
As far as the initial statement that began this discussion is concerned: Was it mean as crude attempt at levity? If so, then it should be in the Trivia Forum. If not; then it was a good way of attempting to "win friends and influence people"..... NOT!
Pesonally, I feel, much as Janet: That it further perpetuates the myth of the "Ugly and Brash Americans", of which, I am sure, that many would protest strongly at.
Actually, they don't.
A friend of mine - who is French - was asked about the French/British enmity.
She was bemused - as far as she's concerned, the French really just don't care.