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Has another language given you the ability to 'pass' in another culture?


True2marie
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Pass is an old school term that refers to a person's ability to pretend to be another nationality without being detected by others.

When I lived in Puerto Rico, people thought I was either a black Puerto Rican or possibly from St. Croix. Unless I spoke English and identified myself as being from the mainland, they had no clue.

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This is a funny thing but another language has not given me the ability to pass in another culture, but not even my mother tongue makes pass as my own nationality.

I don't know why people says I have a "curious" accent either speaking one or another of my two languages.

Who knows, probably is the influence of growing up in the middle of a Greek family where nobody spoke Greek nor taught me this this language, but my father had a remarkable Greek accent.

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I speak three languages easily well. Like MyDigitalPoint, my accent is implacable. When I speak you're left clueless as to what my nationality is. That's true for all the three languages I speak so I've never 'passed' as a native anywhere.

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It depends on the people though. I would think if you can speak the language in that particular country and am able to survive, I think you have 'passed'. I don't think knowing a new language has given me the ability to 'pass' in another culture because there are a lot of areas I still don't understand. Perhaps, I would have to spend the rest of my life living in that particular country then.

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Oh yeah!. Here in New Mexico, there are just as many Spanish speakers as there are English ones. How it usually works for me is I am known for speaking English and nobody knows I speak Spanish so they usually compliment my looks or something in Spanish thinking that I can't understand them. It doesn't help that when I say my last name I say it with an English accent  :grin:. My last name is Spanish. Then as time goes by I usually end up speaking Spanish to someone who doesn't speak English and people who haven't heard me speak before think I only speak Spanish. After about a month or two everyone eventually finds out that I speak two languages. It can be lots of fun!

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Seville009,

The funniest story I remember while 'passing' is getting a haircut by a beautician who talked about me to other customers in Spanish.  She explained to them how my hair was a mess when I came to her (and it was) and how she made my hair look so much better. The entire time I sat quietly taking in her every word.

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No, I do not believe that a person can "pass" in a culture just by learning a new language. Language is a verbal thing and cannot change physical appearances. A Japanese person fluent in English would not look like an American/Caucasian person, and a Korean person fluent in Japanese would not look like a Japanese person. Unless a person's physical appearance looks extremely close to the usual being in the other culture, then the person will "pass."

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I haven't been able to travel outside my country yet so I can't say that I can "pass" for another culture, but I think from looks alone I can be mistaken as Spanish, since Filipinos and Hispanic people look alike, for example, Michelle Rodriguez or Mario Lopez.

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