Communications between Allies with different languages

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #1 Jenisch, Mar 19, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012
    Watching this interview:

    View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA9OJRzANSY

    Apart from the impossibility of communications, I thought: how the German and Italian pilots communicated when it was possible? The same question goes from other nations that were allied but spoke different languages. Britain had at the time the world largest empire, so English was already standard for pilots, or they had to improvise learning the basics from each other language?
     
  2. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Jenisch, never heard an account of the performance of the WW2 Italian airman (regia aeronautica) as viewed from the "other side" I had the impression from RN acounts their bravery was greatly respected. Never considered the difficulties under which they flew beyone equipment limitations.
     
  3. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Us english speaking folks know how to do it best rather then slowing down we talk louder:lol:
     
  4. andy2012

    andy2012 Member

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    That is a very good question!
    I was reading a book, I wish I remember the title the title, it was good, but a the German and Italian soldiers working together talked to each other in French. I wonder if this went on at all when the Germans and Italians had to talk to each other or would they just get a person who knew both languages to act as a translator? I wonder if anyone knows?
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Interesting conundrum. The majority of the Anglo-American alliance already had English as a Lingua Franca and those who didn't (French,Poles Czechs and many more) were in a minority which had to learn English.
    We tend to forget that the axis forces too spoke several different languages,not just German and Italian. How did a Romanian communicate with a Hungarian or a Latvian for example? Did the Germans impose their language as a Lingua Franca? It wouldn't surprise me if they did,how well that would have worked is another question.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    German language was almost a lingua franca for a big part of central and east Europe until 1945. Of course, it took a well educated person to use it, and those were to be found at higher levels.
    Don't think that Romanians Hungarians were much for talking in ww2, above what was deemed as necessary, since big part of Transylvania was 'amputated' from Romania and annexed to Hungary. The Romanians were fighting on South, Latvians on north - no much of communications needed.
     
  7. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    As a side tale...there were some misunderstandings between RAF Polish pilots shot down in the BoB and the Home Guard who mistook them for Germans...
    John
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Monty Python could do skits on the English not understanding the English :)

    More seriously, I believe someone once claimed that the Soviet Union during the cold war had at least 33 different languages spoken within it's borders, not including the Warsaw pact countries. Something that is rarely taken into account when considering the effectiveness or training problems of the Soviet Army.
     
  9. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    afaik russian study was compulsory in SU, and near compulsory in the Pact, i never met a human from the east who has not studied russian, obviously if he is enough old
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    There is one thing to consider when talking about the allies: the communication at high levels was not something to be done independently from German command. Ie. Romanian military debating with Lithuanians without the Germans knowing about that is a non-starter. Think that we can reckon German HQs as communication hubs.
    The diplomatic communication is something else, but there we talk about people that were fluent in foreign languages. The lower levels would rarely be in communication with each other, eg. Italian fighter squadron communicating with Hungarian fighter squadron in SU in 1942.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The east of where?

    and when?

    I have no doubt the Russians wished to have a common language through out the Soviet Union but implementing such a undertaking is not the matter of a few years. It may very well have succeeded or come close to doing that in the 1980s before the collapse but Russian as a universal language in the 1950s or early 60s might have been much further from reality.

    I could be way off though, have you traveled in the eastern parts of the Soviet Union much?

    I will say that I have not.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #12 stona, Mar 20, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2012
    I have travelled extensively in Eastern Europe. I visited the DDR,Poland and the USSR in the period of "Glasnost" before the final collapse of the Soviet Union. I don't know that the study of Russian was compusory,though I suspect that it was. It was certainly most people's second language.
    I found English and French,both of which I speak,to be mostly useless. German,which I can barely get by in,was of some use in Poland,surprisingly,and self evidently the DDR.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  13. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Not to mention an often deep hatred for one another. I wonder how long that coalition would continue once bullets were in the air.
     
  14. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    short
    east was referred to Pact countries
    when, i writed "i never met" so in my life tymeline
    russian was already language speaking in the empire so i've no doubt that was widespread in all SU also in the 50s.

    never traveled in SU only in Hungary, limitating the sample a Pact countries, but lucky many people from former Pact countries came here and a few met me
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I was trying to exclude the Pact countries and was thinking more like Ukrainian, Georgian, the "Stans", the areas along the Mongolian and Chinese borders and so on.

    I will grant that some of the 30+ languages might be present only among very small populations and some of the populations are far removed from Moscow but even if cut to 1/3 that leaves 11 languages. With the lack of radio and television and the lack of travel in the Soviet Union in the 30s, 40s, and 50s, there wasn't a lot of reason for many local populations to learn Russian or opportunity to practice it.
    Again I have little doubt what the leaders in Moscow wanted but their actual ability to do more than issue orders is more of an issue. How many thousands of 'teachers' would have had to been sent to local villages and towns hundreds of miles from the nearest paved road in both the far north or along the southern border from the Aral sea to near Vladivostok. Along the Trans-Siberian railway things would have been better but there is/was an awful lot of "Russia" that was a lot more remote than anywhere in Europe or the US.
     
  16. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    late in 30s around half soviet population was literate and this is good for a country so large and poor, in 1959 the SU get full literate (around 99%), since late 30s the russian was common teaching language in all the republics (before was gave more space of republic languages). the native languages in soviet union were over 100 but only repubblics languages got limitate teaching.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Prior to WWI French was the language standard of Europe. Almost all diplomats spoke French. International treaties were negotiated in French and translated into other languages only after the original copy was signed. European nobility such as Czar Nicholas spoke French and I suspect many senior business executives did also. Things changed after WWI but there would still have been many people fluent in French scattered across Europe during the 1940s.

    What about the modern day EU? Is French still the language standard of Europe?
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    We are really talking about an international business language in a modern context. Due to the influence of North America and Asia this is certainly now English,not French which was for many years the international language of diplomacy,a bit like Latin in the middle ages.
    I have sat in European hotel lobbies and heard Japanese and German or Brazilian and Malaysian businessmen carrying on their discussions in English. English is widely taught as a second language throughout Asia for this very reason.
    My youngest daughter is an English teacher and was recently offered a very lucrative package to teach English to Chinese people in Shanghai.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    For each 20 persons that speak English, you can find maybe one person that speak French in Europe (discounting the original speakers, of course). IIRC the French was 'discontinued' in schools in favor English some 30 years ago in Yugoslavia. Nowadays even the children in kindergarten lear Engilsh here; my daughter was 3,5 (three and half) years old when the lessons started, once a week, now (5 years) she can count till 10, knows body parts, colors, animal names, family relations etc. Foreign language (= English in practice) is mandatory from the 1st year in elementary school (years 6,5 - 7).
     
  20. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    English is the international language of shipping.
    I go on vessels with multi national crews whose common language is English.
    All H&S signs are in English too.

    As a side note, after the Norman invasion of Britain French was the language of the ruling classes, latin the langauge of the church and English came a poor third...

    John
     
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