AFAIK IANAL dual citizenships aren't legal(or maybe not legally recognized would be more correct?) in the US to begin with.
The US position on dual citizenships is generally to ignore them. So as far as the US government was concerned these kids would be solely American. They wouldn't get in trouble or anything.
while our son was born in Canada and I signed to forms to allow him to get a US passport. In hindsight I wish I had never done this.
If you were married at the time of your son's birth, then he was a US citizen regardless of what forms you did or did not fill out. There was nothing you could do about it. So don't feel too badly.
The dollar is not an especially strong currency.
While I agree with the gist of your posting, the dollar is in fact the strongest major currency in the world at the moment, with the possible exception of the Swiss franc.
US consular assistance is pretty worthless. They do the bare minimum and charge up the ass for everything else.
As a dual US-EU citizen, I never travel on my US passport or deal with the US overseas when I can help it, because it's a waste of time.
Also, as a EU citizen, I have the benefit of recourse to consular services from any other EU nation if mine isn't available.
The US isn't the only country that evacuates its citizens, but as far as I know it's the only one that will send you a bill afterwards. I'd much rather be evacuated by the French, for example, who have a far stronger record in overseas citizen protection.
In fact, the USA is the only significant country that taxes based on citizenship rather than residence.
Pretty much no other country taxes its citizens when they are living outside that country in the long term. Only the USA does.
For this reason American dual citizens and expats are at a serious disadvantage in the international job and investment market.
You can rant all you like, but the US can easily seize your assets by putting pressure on the foreign bank where you have them stored.
Any bank of any size will have international operations in the US which are much more valuable to them than you are.
US government threatens bank, bank caves. Every time.
the Chinese do not use QWERTY, either.
Uh, yes they do. Most people type in pinyin on QWERTY keyboards.
As an aside, I just had to correct myself after misspelling QWERTY.
in modern-day Poland, when you ride the train, there are multi-lingual signs instructing on how do do things like open the windows or operate the toilet. The signs appear in Polish (it's Poland, after all), German (much of Poland was Germany and vice versa), Russian (it was under the Soviet sphere of influence), and French (the international language). No English.
That's because they assume English speakers already know how to use a toilet.
I'll see myself out.
In large swaths of Africa, German or French is the dominant non-local language
You can't be serious. Like 85 people in Namibia speak it, that's pretty much it.
Google Translate works well with text about long-standing topics and which doesn't employ recently emerged idiom.
And it is far better with language pairs that share a lot of cultural exchange.
That's because it substantially operates without any real semantic analysis, but instead on statistical analysis of human-translated texts. They feed in books and articles which exist in both English and Spanish, for example, and the computer sees which words and phrases tend to match up.
This approach provides workable results, but it has its limits. In particular it's never going to get much better with contemporary idiom, since that's rarely used in translated materials in the required bulk. They'll have some best-selling novels here and there, but not the wide range of contexts necessary to make it really function.
Can you give us some first hand experience where you found someone in China who was not able to speak Mandarin?
I'm not the person you're responding to, but I traveled from one corner of China to the other with some colleagues from Beijing. They were native Beijing Chinese, I am a foreigner.
We had meetings in almost 100 cities and towns, and also did some sightseeing during free time.
The catchphrase of the journey was "why don't these people speak Mandarin?" I think they said it (in English) more in those few months than everything else combined. We had endless comical misunderstandings over food, meeting arrangements, transport, and everything else that didn't involve higher-ups or more educated people.
When dealing with people who could read and write, very often they'd clarify by making characters in their air with their hands or scribbling them out on a piece of paper, because that often covered the gaps better than speaking.
But sometimes that failed, and on occasion they became so frustrated that I ended up taking over by pantomiming or using my flash cards, just to break the tension and move things along.
There really isn't a language more simple that I know of.
The simplest one I know of, and one with which I'm much more familiar, is Indonesian (also Malaysian; these are essentially dialects of each other).
You can learn the basic grammar and vocabulary in a few weeks, something that would take months or years in many other languages.
And then you will not be able to understand 90% of what people are saying. Due to the lack of formal grammatical structure, native speakers have created a vast array of continually evolving tags and circumlocutions and helper mechanisms to provide missing semantic details.
I would assume it works the same way in Chinese.
Personally, I'd prefer a grammar that's baked into the language. Indonesian can be extremely poetic, and it's nice when you have the time, but it's a beast to truly follow the nuance of conversations unless you are surrounded by it all day long, and continue to keep up with changes year after year.
There's cases in English, but they are only used in some contexts, and some uses are optional and/or ambiguous (e.g. "who" vs. "whom" in embedded clauses can be ambiguous as to case agreement), thus making them substantially more difficult to deal with than languages that have regular case systems.
They're not "substantially more difficult to deal with" at all, because outside of pronouns, you can ignore them.
"Whom", like it or not, is dead in 50 years. Nobody cares and almost nobody will even notice if you fail to use it.
Spelling is more complicated by far than the grammar case system in Finnish.
This problem has almost completely been solved by technology. Context-sensitive spelling systems in everyone's electronic devices will put the issue to rest, because people aren't using pen and paper anymore.
Several of the sounds are among the rarest and most difficult to pronounce out there, and the inventory is larger than a majority of languages outside Africa.
Everyone can understand someone speaking with the typical substitutions found in, e.g., a German or Spanish accent. These things don't matter.
Uttoxeter, Billericay or Loughborough
Cherrypick much? 99,999 out of 100,000 English speakers will live their entire lives without speaking any of these names.
I come across a lot of very awkward English from very well educated people; I really do. They are not stupid - English is difficult to master.
Doesn't matter. It functions as a market language. The goal is to be understood. For those with the interest, it is possible to speak English well; a hobby for the refined, like the opera or collecting rare books. For the rest, getting one's point across is a satisfactory outcome, and one reached more easily than with Chinese, where people speaking poorly are vastly harder to comprehend due to lack of tonal fidelity.
China is already on the charm offensive in UK in a major way
And they're conducting this offensive in English. Once everyone in China learns English - and that, or something approximating it, is happening - there's little reason for people in England to turn around and learn Chinese. Perhaps it will provide an advantage for a tiny number of people in certain fields, but that's about it.
Everyone in Denmark learning English sure didn't turn into everyone in the USA learning Danish.
In any case, the Achilles' Heel of Chinese is the writing system, which you ignored in your reply. Even Chinese schools in China teaching Chinese to Chinese children start with the Latin writing system before they move on to characters. As long as there are alternatives that do not use the Chinese writing system, Chinese will never be the global lingua franca or anything like it.
The possession of a book becomes a substitute for reading it. -- Anthony Burgess