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Have you every been embarrassed because you couldn't speak a language?


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Has anyone ever been in a situation where they have been to another country for example, where they are spoken to in a different language and they couldn't reply because they couldn't understand the language?

This happened to me in France. I thought I knew enough to keep me going, but it was no help to me at all. I felt so ignorant!  :sad:

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This also happened to me in France. I was studying French for almost a year so I went to visit France for a month. I thought my French was fairly good since I had been practicing for so long to go on this trip. So naturally when I got there the slang they used caught me off guard and they spoke very quickly. I didn't understand what they were saying and I was so embarrassed because sometimes I couldn't reply, or I would have to ask them to say it slower, or please repeat. I felt so foolish. So I am in the same boat as you.

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One time in my work place, two of my co workers and I went to lunch. During the meal they are both talking in their own language continuously and I was just sitting with them, without knowing what they are talking about. I was not embarrassed, but more on offended because they did not consider my feelings at that time.

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I am often embarrassed that I cannot speak, understand or read Irish. It is a bit silly of me, as many Irish people barely speak the language, and no one expects a foreigner to learn, no matter how long they've lived here.

Still, my husband speaks Irish very well, his father grew up in an Irish speaking family, and my in laws are from am area where Irish is still spoken a good bit. Also, there's so many signs and things that are at least bilingual. It frustrates me not being able to read them even though I can get by with English perfectly well, obviously.

It is high on my to do list, to learn Irish, but I can't seem to get around to it. It is quite a difficult language to learn. It's a Celtic language with a grammar very far removed from the Germanic and Roman languages I'm used to. For example, there is no verb 'to have' in Irish.

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I haven't gone to another country yet but I do go somewhere far from the city where most of my relatives speak a different dialect. I'm used to it so I'm not really embarrassed even when they tease me and my sister about it, saying they'll sell us to bad guys. D:

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For a couple of years I worked at a Spanish restaurant that had a lot of Spaniards and Spanish speaking clientele. I can't count the number of times I was spoken to in Spanish, and although I knew some basic conversational Spanish, half the time I failed at conversing properly in Spanish, which of course was embarrassing for me. That was a big frustration of mine back when I was working at that restaurants.

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I am Indian and this thing happened me to even in India. Hindi, our national language is spoken different way with lot of local words confusing. For example, in Norther India, " KAKA" is the word to address a lovely small child but in Southern part of India, " KAKA" is word to address an elderly man.

I just keep rolling the conversations, any way, I assure people forgive these things.

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I wasn't actually embarrassed, but it was a strange moment. A French tourist asked me directions, I understood what he said, but when I opened my mouth to speak French nothing came out...  :speechless:

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Yes.  I was embarrassed when I moved to Texas and couldn't speak a word of Spanish.  That was kind of awkward at times.  I was pronounced the restaurant El Gallo with the l's in the word Gallo, like a moron.  So, I started to learn Spanish little by little.  I'm still working on it :).

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This also happened to me in France. I was studying French for almost a year so I went to visit France for a month. I thought my French was fairly good since I had been practicing for so long to go on this trip. So naturally when I got there the slang they used caught me off guard and they spoke very quickly. I didn't understand what they were saying and I was so embarrassed because sometimes I couldn't reply, or I would have to ask them to say it slower, or please repeat. I felt so foolish. So I am in the same boat as you.

It made me feel worse as I was told in advance that the French like you to at least make an effort with the language while you are there. I couldn't even do that. It just wasn't happening at all. The poor hotel man tried with me everyday and I just looked at him with a blank face and said sorry!  :confused:

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One time in my work place, two of my co workers and I went to lunch. During the meal they are both talking in their own language continuously and I was just sitting with them, without knowing what they are talking about. I was not embarrassed, but more on offended because they did not consider my feelings at that time.

Actually, that is probably a little ignorant of them to do that, especially if they could both speak your language. That would make me really paranoid, as though they were talking about me or something.

That is very naughty of them to do that.

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Actually, that is probably a little ignorant of them to do that, especially if they could both speak your language. That would make me really paranoid, as though they were talking about me or something.

That is very naughty of them to do that.

Absolutely.  I agree.  That is such rude and inconsiderate behavior.  Very inappropriate, especially in a work setting. 

As for my own experience of not speaking the language as well as I wanted to, I remember several years ago when I had a job interview and the position I was applying for gave preference to bilingual Spanish-English speakers, although being bilingual was not an absolute requirement. 

I thought I would give speaking Spanish a try.  I was feeling bold that day.  Being that it was a job interview, I was a bit nervous from the outset -- job interviews in one's native language are tough enough after all!  --  and then having to speak Spanish during part of the interview so that the interviewer could assess my level of proficiency made me even more nervous.  So I felt disappointed  that I didn't do better. 

But the interviewer was very kind and understanding.  I didn't get the job, but I did wind up feeling better because I could see she appreciated that I had made the effort.  Ultimately, it was a positive experience. 

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I have been embarrassed about many things in my life, but I don't think not speaking a foreign language has been one. I mean how can you be embarrassed because you can't speak a language? There are tons of people in the world who can't speak a language as well as the next man.

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  • 2 months later...

Even though we get embarrassed, i don't think we really need to. People from that country that speak the language as their first language will understand that we are trying so it is hard for us. They probably don't find it that bad when we sound awful.

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Once. A long time ago when I was in high school, I was asked to give a speech in a language [you'd call it the local patois] everyone else in my class knew and I knew it too but since I hardly ever used it, couldn't speak it right. I couldn't find the words to speak, man. I just stood in front of the class staring at the teacher like I was some moron. . .

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I have felt embarrassed because I didn't take the time to learn it beforehand when I knew I would be around a different language. I lived in China for half of a year, and I just jumped in headfirst with really no knowledge of it aside from the very basics. I was able to get around easily enough after picking up some general terms (they had a Walmart there and the pronunciation of the Chinese symbols read "wa er ma"). My trip was more about teaching English than it was about learning Chinese, though, so I don't feel too bad.

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  • 1 month later...

I wouldn't say that I was embarrassed but I was certainly offended. Here in my country, we have a lot of Chinese operating business. One day I brought something that I was not satisfied with back to one of their stores for exchange. A female Chinese started to talk Chinese in my presence, words that I would assume were curse words :confused:. Shortly after a male came and they both spoke then argued in Chinese. After which the female took the item and gave me back my money. I tried to tell them that all I wanted to do was exchange the item but they ignored me so I left feeling quite insulted :sad:.

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No that hasn't happened to me yet, mainly because I haven't been to another country, and the people in here mostly know how to speak English and Tagalog. But even if I couldn't speak another language, I doubt if I will be embarrassed by it, since I'm not really sensitive.

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Yes. Actually in my own country, I've been embarrassed but not to a great extent. I couldn't speak my native language because I have not gone accustomed to it since I never heard or seldom hear people speaking the language. Although today, I already learned some few words and I can understand the things that hey are saying but speaking it fluently is still a mystery.

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Oh yes. I was on a dinner with some Japanese clients of ours when I was still working in the corporate world and I totally couldn't understand a word they were saying. So all I did was nod. Which apparently, means a lot to them. LOL But still it was embarrassing.

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