Bilinguals of r/europe, what was the most interesting conversation that you overheard when the people didn't think you'd understand?

His statement may seem surprising to you today, but I think his misunderstanding makes more sense in a historical context. I know you guys resent being lumped together, but in Soviet days the "Baltics" had a reputation for refusing to speak Russian, even though obviously everyone knew the language since it was mandatory in school. Even my parents told me a story that when they visited Tallinn and wanted to communicate with random Estonians on the street, they often had to explain that they were on vacation, that they weren't Russian, but their native language was Romanian, etc., to finally convince the person to engage them in Russian.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly can't condemn this attitude, in fact, I find it admirable. Speaking Russian in the Western republics of the USSR during Soviet times was not the same as speaking English, well... anywhere today is. English became the de facto lingua franca of the world through natural diffusion and voluntary learning. Russian on the other hand was the state language of an illegal occupying regime, which was imposed through force. Not speaking the language to people who were essentially colonists sent by the occupying regime was in a very real sense an act of resistance. Moreover, the fact was that otherwise the Russian speaking immigrants by and large would have completely refused to learn the local language. I remember that when I was growing up in Moldova in the early years after the breakup of the USSR, Russian speakers on multiple occasions became angry or frustrated with me when I couldn't communicate in Russian (since I only spoke the language extremely poorly at the time). This did not exactly kindle my sympathies for the plight of our national minorities and for a while I refused to speak any Russian on principle.

Tl;DR: Muie porcofonilor.

/r/europe Thread Parent