In a discussion, Person A expresses his view that he finds it irritating that some immigrants in the US could barely speak English even after coming to the country for 15 years. Person B then responds:

Agreed. Here people move into areas that cater to their home language, street signs aren't in English, store signs aren't in English.. the people they live with don't speak it, the people they hang out with don't speak it.. they NEVER actually get put into a situation where they NEED to know English.. IN FUCKING CANADA. Seriously. If I'm going to travel, I at least pick up a few basics instead of just assuming everyone will cater to me.

What does pick up mean above? I'm assuming it means to learn? but I just wanted to make sure if that's what it means precisely.

1 Answer 1


Yes, in this context it means to learn.

Pick up has lots of other meanings too. See this link for details.

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    It's more specific than just to learn. It implies that the learning occurred without formal teaching, such as by paying attention to social interactions, practicing, and self-correcting, rather than by being taught in a classroom. The author means to convey that they are upset not that people haven't gone to school and learned English, but that they don't care to even try to learn basics from simply being immersed in an English environment.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Aug 14, 2013 at 16:48

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