Language Difficulties in a multi cultural, different language relationship.

I must preface this story with a brief remark about the self-confidence of KL.  She is one of the MOST self-confident women I have ever known.  She knows who she is and what she is, and is proud and comfortable with both.

So here’s what happened this morning:  She had gone to the market to get some food for her card-playing friends and for my ever expanding quest for fruit, delicious, fresh VietNamese fruits!  When she returned with some delicious Shrimp Noodle Soup with liver, won-ton dumplings, noodles, onions, and great broth, I said, “Thanks for getting me breakfast!”  She HEARD, “Thanks forgetting me breakfast”–colloquial but easily understood warped grammar comprehensible to most ESL speakers.  She was really upset and angered, and said, quite loudly (her anger usually manifests itself by greatly increased volume), “I never forget my husband!  I don’t forget you ever!”

I tried and finally succeeded to convince her that I was trying to express my gratitude, not scorn because she might forget something for me or something I asked her to get.  It is perfectly acceptable English FOR HER to say, “… for to get” so for me to say “for getting” was immediately interpreted as ‘to forget’ or to not remember.

These issues are almost always resolved by slow, careful, explanations interspersed by great peals of laughter by me.  She has learned that my laughing so hard that I can’t speak is not a personal critique of her and is not meant as a rude act, and she listens to my explanations until I am certain that she understands I meant for getting, rather than forgetting.

Life is great if you can just laugh at yourself now and then, and not take anything too seriously.


One thought on “Language Difficulties in a multi cultural, different language relationship.

  1. Laughing we should learn to do early in our lifetimes, patience with our loved ones seems to take greater effort. I am amused by to forget and for getting, Methinks you have to be more careful in your expressions of gratitude. How about” I am really delighted that you brought me all this——“ No mistaken verbage there!


    Dorothy Shoichet

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