One thing I did on my previous OkCupid profile was that I advertised an arrangement of casual sex, which type of sex many other people were offering/looking for on that website, but the thing about my offer was that in exchange I wanted a language partner. A good language partner is hard to come by and I thought that maybe the promise of good payment would motivate people to take me seriously, not interrupt me while I’m trying to speak in my L2, respect my linguistic ability level, etc. unlike many of my previous language partners had done.
Not only did I not find that, which isn’t super surprising, but I got a bunch of bizarre and awful messages from people responding to my request. After a while I noticed that they fell into four main categories.
Type 1: The Naive Faker
The Naive Faker probably doesn’t understand how obvious his faking is because he doesn’t know anything about the nature of language and/or he doesn’t know about the world or life at all. I got one message from a 19-year-old (even though I very clearly said I would not date men who were younger than me) who either (a) thought that English is the only real language and other people’s languages are gibberish and don’t have any structure or exact meaning or (b) had no idea that online translators are unreliable. He sent me a message that contained a bunch of barely-readable Google-Translated mish-mash from which I think I managed to decipher the phrase “I don’t actually speak Arabic.” He didn’t think I would be able to figure that out.
Type 2: The Guy Who Thinks I’m Stupid
This guy knows just enough Arabic to write me a message in it. He may have taken a class one time for his college foreign language requirement, or maybe he is a heritage speaker who knows a few words because they were used around his household growing up (although as I recall there were surprisingly few of these, but I can’t think of any other possible background for these people). The Guy Who Thinks I’m Stupid believes he can write me a first-year-level sentence and I won’t be able to tell that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, even though my profile very clearly says that I speak “Arabic (Okay).” I know to test him, though. He is of course unable to demonstrate his abilities and responds to me with an example sentence that was obviously copied and pasted from, again, an online translator, along with an excuse about how he doesn’t really know what to say and it’s kind of hard, “lol.” The oddest thing about this type is that some of them tell me they use Arabic in their jobs.
Type 3: The Nice Try
I don’t think negatively of the Nice Try as much as I’m just disappointed by him. This guy and I are probably at the same skill level. But, he knows that what I wrote on my profile is that I’m looking for someone to practice with, particularly on speaking, and he knows he cannot help me. Sometimes it’s cool to discuss advanced study with this type but ultimately it’s going nowhere and he’s just another person in the crowd of people hoping that I’ll sleep with them even though they give me no reason to want to.
Type 4: The Total Bullshitter
Sometimes I respond to this guy’s messages because I am fundamentally curious about how another thinking human being could believe that this is a good way to approach me. This type does not speak any Arabic, knows nothing about linguistics or language acquisition, and still thinks that he can use language-partnering as an angle to get me to go out with him. I actually had this type say to me that he could “work with [me] to make sure [I’m] pronouncing things correctly,” even though he speaks “no Arabic whatsoever.” I can’t tell if this guy is more like Type 1 and knows nothing about the nature of language or if he’s more like Type 2 and thinks I’m the one who doesn’t know anything. This guy thinks that we can watch a foreign film together–that is, I will watch and understand the film and he’ll sit next to me while it’s happening, and then I’ll fuck him at the end of it. Pretty much all the main reasons I hate OkCupid could be summed up in this guy.