English Only Please!


Bigotry begins at home

I don’t know what it’s like for players across the Pond but on the European servers for MMOs there’s usually a wide range of languages to be found. Although, depending on the game, there are often regional servers for French, German and Spanish, you still find a big mixture of cultures and countries inhabiting the English speaking servers. This is can be due to a number of reasons such as either the smaller countries (Poland, Italy etc) don’t have their own server or because there’s only one PvP or roleplaying server for everyone in Europe. Whatever the reason, this mix of languages sure makes things interesting and causes more in-game arguments than Gearscore and ganking put together.

Now maybe it’s because I was born and party raised in the Netherlands or because I’m too used to hanging around metropolitan cities filled with people from all ends of the Earth but I’ve got absolutely no problem sharing my game space with Johnny Foreigner. In fact, I quite enjoy seeing the odd flash of some gobbledygook language across my screen as two Eastern Europeans decide to have a quick chat in the global channel. So why the heck is it that every minor exchange in a foreign language is always followed by some pillock requesting the ubiquitous “English only please!”?

Of course this request then sparks an argument between the pro-native-language camp and the pro-English speakers which will last all the way until someone brings up Hitler (can require anything from 5 – 50mins but the invoking of the name of leader of the Nazi party is inevitable in any discussion about language, culture and race) usually either in the context of “don’t be like Hitler” or “we saved you from Hitler so shut the F up and speak English”. Funny stuff but I just don’t get it.

Yes, it does make things easier when everyone in the group/raid/PvP gank squad speaks the same language but is that really any reason to enforce English as the central language for every exchange through public chat channels? A quick quibble in the Devil Tongue of France never did anyone any harm so what’s the big deal? And us native English speakers usually forget that everyone else in the world has to contend with most MMOs in a language that isn’t their first and, quite frankly, I think that shows us English speakers up no end.

I think requesting that only English is spoken is a very narrowed minded approach to online gaming and the world in general. It may be a very common language that everyone knows a smattering of but it’s not the most widely spread native language by a long shot. Plus, whatever happened to embracing other cultures and all of the things that make us unique?

So the next time someone requests “English only please!” in public chat I’m going to give them a bollocking and maybe even compare them to Hitler. Yeah, that’ll shut ‘em up.


Gordon is going to champion Esperanto as the new communal language of MMOs. Je via sano, amiko!

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  1. Carthalis says:

    Completely agree and it really baffles me that people seem to get so all worked up and bent out of shape when someone in a global channel starts speaking their native language as if there must be talking about them and saying nasty things.

    I really saw this happening a lot in Aion and haven’t really noticed it as much in other mmo’s I play. But in Aion it really seemed to explode across the channels and some of the comments made by my fellow brits really made me feel ashamed. Appalling behaviour.

  2. Borror0 says:

    A rule of politeness that nearly all culture is that it’s impolite to speak in language that most people in the conversation don’t understand when it can be avoided. The same applies for whispering, by the way. That’s the reason why I think speaking in English is rude, and French is my mother tongue.

    When you’re having a conversation in another language than the server’s official language – not a few replies or a question but a real conversation – you are literally spamming the channel as most people don’t get what is written. I mean, what is the difference between “J’aime le hockey, le sirop d’érables et la poutine comme tous les bons Québecois.” and “W’nvzr yr ubpxrl, yr fvebc q’éenoyrf rg yn cbhgvar pbzzr gbhf yrf obaf Dhéoépbvf” to non-francophones?

    It’s just a matter of respect for others to talk in a language most can understand, if you’re going to talk in public chat. Send tells if it’s going to be a private conversation, don’t spam the channel.

    • Klepsacovic says:

      Should the same apply to any inside jokes? Culture references that a person might not get? Bits of lore that few people have read?

      I see no reason why people should be forced to speak in a language which is uncomfortable for them, especially in text which can already be slower and trickier for many people.

      I should hope we’re past the days of hearing people say something in another language and assume it’s because they’re saying something rude.

      • Bobbins says:

        and yet when people speak in a different language to the server they do force people to communicate they are uncomfortable with? Yet you say that is ok?

        When reading chat I wish to understand it I do not assume it is bad and I don’t think others do too. But I would like to know what is said on the public chat. If it is particularly offensive I would report it but how can you if you don’t know the language?

      • Borror0 says:

        “I see no reason why people should be forced to speak in a language which is uncomfortable for them, especially in text which can already be slower and trickier for many people.”

        Apologies, but where in my post do you feel I advocate anything like this?

        I said that, in a public channel with an official language, it’s impolite to talk in another language. That’s it. If I started to post encrypted comments (say, pig latin+ROT-13+binary) would it be anything more than spam? Sure, some people may be able to somehow decrypt it but it’s spam to most people and THAT is the problem.

        • Borror0 says:

          Oops, some part of my post is missing. The second paragraph is supposed to be two, and have two extra sentences:

          I said that, in a public channel with an official language, it’s impolite to talk in another language. That’s it. If they want to use their language in tells, guild chat, special user chats (provided the MMO has those), or party chat if most of the party speaks the same language, they are more than allowed to. It’s not like general chat was the only mean of conversation in MMOs, or was even mandatory.

          If I started to post encrypted comments (say, pig latin+ROT-13+binary) would it be anything more than spam? Sure, some people may be able to somehow decrypt it but it’s spam to most people and THAT is the problem.

    • Gordon says:

      Yeah, I can see your point. Still, I think people get too worked up about it :)

  3. Wasdstomp says:

    I don’t mind if you speak another language, but you better understand, and speak English if you are living in the U.S.

  4. Akely says:

    “…was born and party raised in the Netherlands…” Freudian mistype? ;-)

    I usually stick to English only. But that’s politeness. IT do happen on occasion that I/we use our native tongue when speaking in the Guild chat. It depends how many people there are that do not speak Swedish. And some of us Swedes are not so fluent in English that we can not discuss everything in English. Might be related to special subjects or what-not.

    But I do agree. I do not get why people get upset when others do use another language. Then again, it is easy for the developers to set up different channels [EN] Help and [SE]Hjälp for instance. It’s even easier to use the correct one.

    Whenever people say “English only” I usually remind the that they perhaps should have typed that in Swedish/French or what-ever to REALLY get their point across.

  5. Bobbins says:

    General chat channels require a common language so as not to exclude people. People who spam chat in a non-server language in order to only speak to a certain group do so with the specific intention of excluding people from that conversation.

    On english server I would expect everyone to have a grasp of the english language and therefore that would be the language of inclusion. I would not expect everyone to know chinese, indian, spanish etc. there using these languages exclude people from the conversation effectively turning a public channel into a private one.

  6. scrusi says:

    As a non-native English speaker on an English server I must say that I do get annoyed by people speaking other languages. In real life I consider it quite impolite to speak a language in the presence of others who don’t and in game it isn’t much different. We used to have a group of dutch players in the guild for example that liked speaking dutch in the guild and raid channels – thereby excluding everyone else from the discussion.

    Worst of all I find people who speak German or French or another language that does have servers dedicated to it. These people chose to play on an English server, why wouldn’t they be willing to communicate in a way that everybody can understand?

    When alone, speak whatever language you will. But publicly excluding players just isn’t a polite thing to do.

  7. Ysharros says:

    You tell em. I hate that too. Yes, I understand there’s a general culture and an “official” language and all that other crap in game but WTF — getting rude because you can’t understand someone is just total insecure crap. Move on. Read something else. Go travel. Get a fucking life.

    I probably shouldn’t be reading posts on subjects I’m passionate about before I’ve had at least 3 cups of coffee. /slinks away

  8. Dickie says:

    It’s interesting to me as an American to see that this is an issue in EU servers, but I suppose it doesn’t surprise me. We don’t run into the issue very often that I’ve seen, but it is down right vitriolic when it does…

    The most interesting approach I’ve seen was in FFXI. There were no Japanese servers or US servers, so people were all mixed. You’d have multiple chats going on in local/general chat. But they also provided some basic translation tools for English to Japanese and vice versa. It didn’t work perfectly but got the point across most time.

    • Gordon says:

      I remember that from FFXI and I thought it was great! I really enjoyed the exchange of languages and I think people accepted it because the servers weren’t labelled as English only and the devs provided translation tools. Very cool.

  9. Sharon says:

    Because I don’t play on EU servers very often, the only MMO I can really recall seeing people say “English please!” is in EVE. Non-English speakers were constantly being diverted to the channels set up for their languages, which I thought was pretty goofy, but when I jumped into a couple of those, they were dead quiet.

    Many of the most popular MUDs were based in non-English speaking countries, and it was common to see a variety of languages in chat channels. I’m not really sure why people feel entitled to understand everything that’s being said in a chat channel. It doesn’t phase me at all if people aren’t speaking English.

    • Gordon says:

      Thing about EVE is that there is only one server so everyone from all over the world is mixed together – I’m very surprised to hear that people demanded English only as I would’ve thought everyone would’ve accepted it more readily. I’m sure the Russian Corps would kick some ass if people pissed them off with that anyway ;)

  10. The only problem I ever have with someone speaking another language is when it prevents whatever our task is from going smoothly. If we wipe in a Heroic, and the tank did something wrong, and I can’t talk to him/her about it? Then I’m going to get annoyed. If I can run the flag in WSG better than the Shaman in quest blues and I can’t even request the flag? I’m going to be irked.

    Otherwise, it doesn’t bother me.

    Of course, both of those scenarios would likely end up with me being told “STFU McNoob” by an English speaker, so I’m not sure if I’m any worse off not being able to communicate.

    • Gordon says:

      Ironically most of the chattest people I’ve met in WoW have been foreign and usually the English speakers are the ones that don’t want to chat or just piss me off with silly demands and impatience!

  11. nugget says:

    Hah! It’s even funnier when the MMO you’re playing with people going ENGLISH ONLY!!!oneone!11eleven… is localised into English from Mandarin.

    Saw quite a bit of that, together with the posturing that English is the ‘best’ language (kid you not), while playing Jade Dynasty.

    Which, considering Jade Dynasty is a Chinese MMO localised into English, is really rather amusing…

    • Gordon says:

      I think I’m personally very used to it all because I’ve always had to play on European servers and comunicate with non-English speakers. Some of the fondest memories were from the mixed PvP DOAC server and trying to organise a group with a bunch of Latvians :)

  12. River says:

    Well to play devil’s advocate, half the english speakers, are horrible at english as well…so when people are talking in laughable half english, I just want to say…”Speak English please”

    Didn’t Hitler speak German? I would say something more like the lines like. “Do you work for the State of Arizona now?”


  13. nugget says:

    Ooh I has a new ‘Speak English Please’ story.

    You know sometimes your keyboard SNEAKILY TRIES TO GET AWAY! So it shifts to the right or left everrrrr so slowly in a stealthy attempt to elope with the mouse.

    As a result, you talk to someone and say, ‘Qjat sutruct uoi in?’ and as you watch the sentence winging away in horror, you wait for the inevitable reply… ‘Speak English Please’.

    >.> For the record, that’s my eloping-keyboard version of ‘What district you in?’


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