Enric Gonzalez, author of a perceptive and hilarious book on London, Historias de Londres, and former correspondent of El País, says the English are the most articulate people he has ever met, but that we use language as a shield. As a result a certain type of English person, who he defines as cultivated middle class, is uncomfortable conversing with foreigners who command only basic English and cannot aspire to irony. They are invariably too blunt, like children, some Americans and most Australians.
The opposite is the case in Spain, Spaniards thrive on bluntness, on simple concepts that have to be communicated, and they warm to foreigners struggling to express their most basic thoughts or feelings. This is because it is not so much the idea that interests them as the person behind it, and they know speaking a language badly can be especially revealing.
Justin Webster: Mind your language
The Independent Magazine, 4 March 2000