Down in Third Class at least, you would have found passengers who spoke a virtual potpourrie of languages. They came quite literally from all over the map. When the crunch came, that may well have been the downfall for some since they wouldn't have been able to read or speak English.
On your last point, Mike, that was generally not the case. It's notable that the large contingent of English people in 3rd Class had a very low survival rate, whereas many non-English speaking groups like the Lebanese fared much better. Since the crew's instructions (in English) tended to be along the lines of "Wait down here for further orders" a lack of understanding might well have saved many lives.
Also many of the immigrants in 3rd Class were traveling in family or neighbourhood groups which included at least one English-speaker (often an established immigrant returning to the US from a visit back home) who could act as their spokesperson.
Lynda, aside from the staff of the A La Carte restaurant there weren't many crew members who were not native English-speakers, and in those days foreign languages were not part of the standard school curriculum. Those who had worked longest at sea would probably have picked up a smattering of words and phrases, but the steward's line in ANTR which goes something like "You get lifebelt, chop chop, savvy?" was probably a good indication of the best that many of them could do. Only one of the 3rd Class stewards was not British-born, and that was the interpreter, who was German.
Small correction to my last statement above. Among the 3rd Class stewards was Matthew Leonard, who was resident in Ireland but American-born. Apart from some of the postal clerks, he was I think the only American working on the ship. Does anybody know of any other?
I assumed that Mis Aubart spoke both french and english or maybe it was Mr Guggenheim who spoke french and english...It depend which language the two chose to communicate... I read that Mrs Baxter spoke french very well, as Mr Allison...
Sorry for my english,I'm from Quebec province and my native language is french
Thanks, Mark. Looking again at the crew records, I see there was also Henry ('Renny') Dodds, born in Wisconsin and signed on as an engineer.
With the records to hand I checked the numbers overall. As to be expected, the vast majority of the crew (over 800) were born in the British Isles. Of the rest, only two nations reach double figures - 31 Italians and 20 French, all employed in the A La Carte Restaurant.
Margaret Hays was reportedly fluent in French, which is why she took charge of the Navratil boys in New York.
Molly Brown reportedly spoke several languages. Several passengers - Lady DG, Edith Pears, William Augustus Spencer, Ann Isham, the Lamson sisters, the Goldenbergs, Mrs. Lines and her daughter - lived or had lived in France at some point in their lives, so it seems likely that they spoke the language.
The Countess of Rothes' family had a home in Normandy, according to the article on her here on ET, and Edith Evans was reportedly close to some French relatives, so perhaps both ladies spoke it as well.
The Italian waiters in the a la carte restaurant all lived in the UK, so they assumedly were fluent in English.
Peter Daly was English by birth, but had a French mother and lived in Peru, where his wife was from, so he assumedly spoke Spanish and quite possibly spoke French.
I'm sure there were many others, especially among the ladies of first class and the American passengers of more recent immigrant stock.
In third class during mass on morning of April 14, Father Thomas R.D. Byles, an English priest, gave a sermon in both English and French, if that's any indication that he knew a second language. Since Byles had spent a significant time in Germany in the 1890's before becoming a priest, it's probable that he knew some German as well.
Meanwhile, back on the Titanic on April 14, during the same above service, Father Josef Peruschitz, who was German, followed Byles with a sermon in German and Hungarian. So Peruschitz also knew at least two languages.