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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 06:40 PM Thread Starter
 
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Language Barriers

Today I recieved a message from a friend of mine who speaks natively Japanese and a little English. We have talked for some time now and have been very good friends. In one of our previous messages, however, she misunderstood what I said. I explained that I understood this, and that it was ok because I knew that it was difficult for her to understand, I even offered to teach her more English.
Well, today I recieved a reply from her entirely in Japanese with a link to her blog. I go there and it says in English that for all English speakers that because we are inconsiderate to her and that she will write to us in Japanese now so that we know what it feels like to not understand. She also said that "English is not the best language in the world and they should at least make an effort to learn other languages." The problem is, I am learning Spanish in class right now and am very busy with many things, also Japanese is notoriously difficult to learn to speak if you are not natively speaking it. I feel that she carries a grudge against me now, because she thinks that i was being intolerant and inconsiderate when really I didn't mean any of this at all.
Can someone please give me some advice on how to have a friendship that crosses language barriers?
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 07:32 PM
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Re: Language Barriers

I suspect that you may have inadvertently committed a cultural faux pas.
Try apologizing and asking your friend if they were insulted by something you said. Explain that you are sorry, and no insult was intended.
Hope this helps

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 07:38 PM
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Re: Language Barriers

As an ESL teacher, I deal with language barriers daily, so I'll try to help...

It sounds like this is an internet friend. If so, that is challenging. Internet communications lack context, making it that much harder to understand. You say she speaks some English -- again, if your communications are only written, her oral English skills are of limited use. But you say you are friends, so she must be able to communicate fairly well on some level...

You could send her a message in very simple English (short sentences, simple vocab, no idiomatic expressions, etc.) telling her you are sorry again, accompanied by some sort of universal symbol of goodwill (maybe a smiley face or the like) to help convey your emotions. It could be a cultural misunderstanding.

If you could explain a bit more about how you communicate, I can try to help you

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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 07:58 PM
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Re: Language Barriers

What a shame. I hope you can help her to understand that it was only a misunderstanding.




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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-17-2009, 08:06 PM
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Re: Language Barriers

Quote:
Originally Posted by victorianrose101
I feel that she carries a grudge against me now, because she thinks that i was being intolerant and inconsiderate when really I didn't mean any of this at all.
Can someone please give me some advice on how to have a friendship that crosses language barriers?
Well, I hope you have better luck mending the fences of misunderstanding than I did. My problem was with someone who spoke the same language as me, though it was through an internet BB forum. I am not sure what I could have done differently, but enough time had passed between when the person took offense at my 'off' sort of attempt at humor and when they brought it up to me, that none of my honest bewilderment and heart felt apologies made any bit of difference. They had made up their mind that what I had done was calculated and deliberate and that was that.
Please try to mend the rift, but if the person is unresponsive and unbending in the face of your honest and from-the-heart apology...well...at least you know in your heart that your intentions were clear and true.
Wishing you the best of luck,
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 02:46 AM
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Re: Language Barriers

Yep, pretty much what I would say. Grovel, and if she doesn't accept, then you've done your best.

I've had similar things, but they've been completley rectified and sorted out with apologies on both sides..
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 10:46 AM
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Re: Language Barriers

I guess I would apologize, maybe even in Japanese...I'm sure you could find a translation. But I would also seriously reconsider my friendship, her response is over the top. She's punishing all the English speaking people she knows for your one transgression. She will end up paying the price, because she's isolating herself.

There was an interesting conversation here several months ago about why most Americans don't know a second language. The conclusion was that it's not necessary....most Americans never leave the country and for those that do, English has been pretty well adopted as a universal language, particularly in the business world.

So, the reality is, your friend needs to learn English a lot more than you need to learn Japanese (unless you plan a career where it would be beneficial). So in that light, her response to your offer is even more ill advised.


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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 12:54 PM Thread Starter
 
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Re: Language Barriers

Thank you everyone. When I replied to her (after taking about 30 minutes to translate her message to me that was written entirely in Japanese), she replied back that she was happy that I had taken the time to translate what she had said to me. She explained that this was what she had to do when speaking with her English-speaking friends, and that she wanted us to see what it was like, and how there could be misunderstandings. She said many of her English-speaking friends merely didn't bother to translate the message and only wrote back to her "huh I don't understand this." or they didn't reply at all. So it was a good thing that she was happy to get a reply from me at least, hopefully there won't be anymore cultural misunderstandings^_^
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 04:08 PM
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Re: Language Barriers

There is a lot I could missunderstand. (Hope, this is right. )

But if I donīt understand all of a messages, I translate by myself - or I ask someone who knows the language.
English is not so easy for me, but I try my best.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 04-18-2009, 05:06 PM
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Re: Language Barriers

Well it's better than some people (even here) who speak only English.
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