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Linguaholic

When you don't understand something even after it's been repeated


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I have a situation that I find frustrating. It can also get pretty awkward at times. I hate it when I don't understand what someone says, even after they've repeated it several times.

What do you do when that happens to you? Do you just smile and walk away? Do you ask someone else to translate it for you? Do you just say "I'm sorry, I really just can't understand you"?

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It depends on how well I know the person. If it's just a stranger, I'll just smile and try and communicate that I can't understand the person at all.

But if it's a teacher, I be sure to let him/her know that I have no clue what's going. Learning a foreign language is not something you can afford to bs; you either know or you don't. So being proactive with teachers/family members who might be helping you learn the language is important to not fall behind because it's just a large snowball if you fall behind.

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This has happened to me more than a few times before, often when it's noisy, and when it does I just pretend I heard it and walk away unless I know it was something really important. If I know the person well enough I'd keep asking but most of the time this happens only with acquaintances so I try and not to irritate them by asking them to repeat themselves that many times.

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I got to be honest I do this with English, which is my native language. It just kind of goes in one ear, dodges the brain, then out the other ear. I ask people to repeat themselves. If it keeps missing my brain, I just try to repeat the sentence in my head, and see if it makes sense. I hate it when it happens.

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When this happens, usually I apologize or say that I don't know the answer. Usually the person you're talking to will try to help you with what they're saying/asking. It's best not to pretend that you know what they're talking about, though- one time a student was speaking to me in Spanish and asked me about something. I didn't what she was talking about because she was speaking too quickly, and after a few times I still didn't understand her, so I said 'yes' to her question, and I ended up shocking her. I still have no idea what she was asking me. Usually, though, people will help you out, and if you still don't get it, you can try to move on to a different topic. I wouldn't suggest walking away from the person because that can come off as being rude.

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I don't think you are alone, it does happen to much more people than you would know. It all depends on how well you know the person though, and whether or not what the person is relating is important. If it's a stranger or what's been said is not really important you can always smile and act as if you get it. However, if it's the other way around you may want to clear your head, swallow your pride and ask the person to go much slower so you'll understand.

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I'm currently in Italy studying abroad and when I don't understand something being said to me, I either say "Non capisco" (I don't understand) or "Parli ingest?" ("Do you speak English?"). When Italians don't understand me when I am speaking in English they tell me to "slow down please".

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Ahh , it seems I miss understood the thread. You seem to be talking about how you have to explain to someone that their language is not the one your native to, thus you don't completely understand them. I was talking about a brain fart I get sometimes. Hopefully you can all forgive me and get a laugh from my embarrassment :D.

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When you don't understand something even though he is repeating it, the worst thing you could do is leave. Tell him to help you understand even though it can be frustrating for him. He would be glad to help you out with it. Show eagerness.

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When you don't understand what the person say even if s/he repeat it, remember to always be polite no matter situation. People will likely hear you when you are being kind and gentle, being rude just irritates them. I would normally say "Come again?" or "Can you kindly repeat it because I didn't catch what you said". I am sure they will be glad to repeat it and say it slowly.

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To be honest, I'll ask someone to repeat the same thing a couple of times before I give up and just ignore them or pretend that I understand what they said. At a certain point it just becomes awkward and embarrassing. At times it's just a lack of communication, but at other times it's just me not picking up on what they are saying fast enough. It happens to the best of us.

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It depends on the person I am talking too. If I'm comfortable with him/her, I'll say straight up that I don't understand the word s/he's saying then apologize or joke about it with that person. But if I'm not close to that person, then I'd simply be honest that I don't get what s/he's telling me and I would apologize. I think it is better that way rather than assume because it would put me in an embarrassing situation and him/her in an awkward place.

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Same thing that you do with English. Walk away awkwardly and pretend you knew what they said.  :tongue:

No, but really, just ask them again until you get it. If you are scared they are thinking its because you didn't understand what they were saying and actually couldn't hear them, just tell them. If you actually didn't understand them, just tell them to put it in simpler terms. If it is not your native language, they will know. No embarrassment in that.

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