Is it Rude to Speak Another Language in Public?

There are approximately 6,500 to 7,000 languages in the world… talk about diversity!

But, what happens when you know more than one language and are in the presence of others?

Is it rude to speak another language in public? Or is it acceptable in these new days?

Read on below and explore the full and in-depth answer to this question!

Is it Rude to Speak Another Language in Public?

Speaking another language in public is sometimes rude, but isn’t considered so automatically. The fact is, there is nothing wrong with speaking another language (even in public).

When you speak another language in front of people who don’t understand it, you may be considered rude.

Further, purposefully speaking another language in front of others in public, strictly so they won’t understand what you’re saying is extremely rude.

How Rude Is it?


On the rude meter’s scale of 1 to 10, speaking another language in public rates 5

Speaking another language in public, in general, isn’t automatically offensive, but is more often than not at the very least uncomfortable for those around you who don’t understand what you are saying.

In other words, when you are in a group of people, out in the public, speaking another language other than the one that is universally understood by the group is perceived as rude to some degree.

Why is it Rude?

People most often feel uncomfortable around the unknown, as we tend to fear the things we do not fully understand.

Thus, when we speak another language in public, there is a great chance that someone is going to feel awkward that they don’t understand what you are saying.

Why isn’t it Rude?

Speaking your native language versus the one others speak isn’t any more rude, in general, than having blue eyes versus brown eyes.

But, when you are surrounded by people who don’t speak your language, and you do speak theirs, even just a bit, the polite and proper thing to do is stick with the language everyone understands.

Common Questions

Why do other languages make people uncomfortable?

The bottom line about speaking other languages in front of other people (that don’t understand said language) is that it is incomprehensible to the others (which makes them unsure of what you are trying to convey). 

When people aren’t sure what’s going on or being said in this case, they feel uncomfortable until they figure out what’s going on.

That said, some folks simply feel less intelligent when someone is speaking in a language they don’t know. These feelings of inferiority may lead to rudeness or contempt from said person.

How many languages are there?

There are currently around 7,000 known languages in the world, with old languages slowly dying out and few new ones being developed.

Sumerian is the oldest known language on earth, to the best of our knowledge it is more than 5,500 years old.

Afrikaans is possibly the youngest language on earth, at barely 100 years old. Light Warlpiri and Esperanto are the runner-ups for the newest languages in the world.

What are the top languages to speak?

English, Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, French, Russian, Portuguese, and Arabic are the top languages to speak most frequently.

There are over 1 billion English speakers, as well as over 1 billion mandarin speakers. The other top languages have between 200 million and 600 million speakers.