(Closed) Language Barrier

posted 7 years ago in Family
Post # 32
589 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Scottish Rite Cathedral (New Castle, PA)

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@mjp526:  Fellow Filipina here! 🙂 I definitely understand your pain. I agree with some PPs that a lot of it is comfort. My mom is Filipino and my dad is American, when the other Filipinos are over it’s all Tagalog everywhere. I understand more Tagalog than my dad does, I’m not fluent speaking it at all. My dad is totally clueless but he just knows it’s easier and more comfortable for all of them to talk in Tagalog. He doesn’t take it personally and by his example I’ve learned not to either. Generally, if it’s a conversation that my Fiance (also American) or dad would be involved in they’ll use English, or they’ll use Tagalog and then translate the gist in English immediately after. Often though the conversations are things that my dad/FI wouldn’t even be involved in if the convo was in English and in those moments they just speak Tagalog. If they say my dad’s name, he’ll ask what they’re saying but other than that he just lets it go. My Fiance feels a little awkward when he’s over, I translate if I think it’s important. I don’t translate everything because I think that’s even more awkward, and like I said often times they’re talking about things that he wouldn’t even care to talk about. I’m not going to translate everything just so he can be nosy (and he doesn’t want me to). I know that at least at our house, none of the Filipinos are ever being mean or rude, that’s never their intention. From what you said, his family is welcoming and hospitable (although, that tends to be the general disposition of Filipino’s with guests 🙂 ) so I would try not to take it personally. 

I definitely would never take some of the advice to be rude back or to stop visiting them! I don’t think that would help the situation at all! These people are your future in-laws, your family and more importantly they are your Fiance true family, people he loves and cares about. I would never suggest that you be rude to them, I don’t think that he would appreciate that and you’re not trying to hurt his feelings. On top of that, you don’t need his family telling him how rude you are and giving him negative opinions of you! Especially if they’re not purposely being rude to you. I don’t think it’s an absolute spectrum, just because they’re not purposely being accomodating doesn’t make them rude, it doesn’t mean they’re doing anything TO you. 

I would continue to try to learn the language as you said you were, as far as learning a new language goes it’s a real blessing and advantage to have so many native speakers and to have the opportunity to be frequently immersed in it!! I absolutely know it’s still hard but try to stay positive and learn as much as you can! 

I know we have this idea that everyone should speak English fluently if they can and that they should accomodate you but have you ever thought that maybe they see it as you being the minority when you’re with them and that you should accomodate them and try to learn their language? I know everyone here thinks it’s rude of them to be speaking Tagalog with you around but, it’s their home, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to say they’re being rude. I’m assuming you speak English in your home when they come over and don’t try to speak Tagalog so they’ll be more comfortable? It’s kind of a double standard IMO. Not putting you down at all, just trying to give a different perspective! Best of luck to you! I hope it works out and gets easier! 

Post # 33
195 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

No advice but I’m with you there. My husband’s family was from the middle east and they would only speak Arabic when I was around (when I wasn’t around too) even though they know English. I don’t speak Arabic and would get so frustrated!

Post # 34
1570 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I am an american women who grew up with a mexican step dad who spoke a lot of spanish with his family when i was growing up I learned to either tune it out or listen to ques that would tell me what they were talking about if I needed to. In my first marriage I married a mexican who was from mexico. He had a heavy accent and his mom did not know english so it was challenging at first. Then I moved to mexico with my husband and that was fun. It was really hard for me but everyone tried their best to make me feel like I was welcome and belonged…Lets just say there were more hand gestures then ever so it was kind of like spanish with horrible sign language. You will get past it. I lived there on and off for our whole 2 years of marriage and I was fine. You just have to try to follow conversations with verbal cues and watch their body language you will pick up what they are talking about or a generalization.

Post # 35
1352 posts
Bumble bee

I was JUST going to make a post about this myself! So I don’t have advice, only sympathy. 

These situations are just really awkward. I mean, when we visit my family and start speaking German, everyone asks my SO if he can understand (he knows some basics so he can). With his family, I just sit and smile. Although it doesn’t really matter, because they have such strong accents that I can’t understand when they speak to me in a language I know! 

I guess the only solution is to learn the language… 

Post # 36
832 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: City, State

@mjp526:  I’m going to have to go against the grain here. I get that it can come off as rude but from another perspective, I don’t get why an entire family’s communication dynamic has to change to accommodate one person. Add to that, since you are Filipina as well, maybe they think you have a better understanding than you actually do. They mean even feel that you look down on Tagalog as inferior to English. My FI’s first language is Spanish and mine is English. When his mother stayed with us for three months I did feel like a third wheel sometimes when they would only speak in Spanish. But at the same time, how could I try to change a relationship of 40+ years? She had been speaking to him in Spanish since the moment he was born and I didn’t want to force them into uncomfortably speaking in English! I found that the more I listened to them, the more I was understanding and this helps me as I learn to speak Spanish as well. Immersion is really the best way to learn a language. If I was in your position I would great efforts to learn Tagalog, even join into some conversations, they’ll appreciate that you’re trying, who cares if you make a few mistakes! I’m very grateful that Fiance speaks Spanish and we plan on making sure that our kids are fluent as well so that not only will they be bilingual, but so that they will have a strong connection to their roots, culture and Spanish-speaking family members as well. 

Post # 37
113 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

@mjp526:  When you find advice let me know. My Future Mother-In-Law is Chinese and speaks heavily accented English. I never know what the heck she’s talking about. We go to dinner and they just speak Chinese around me and I have no idea what is going on.

Post # 38
1132 posts
Bumble bee

@mjp526:  I was in the same situation. I couldn’t speak my hubby’s language (Hindi) when i first met hubby. I’m only half Indian and grew up in Australia so i never learnt how to speak Hindi. I enrolled in Hindi classes straight away and learnt the language, that was almost 8 years ago. Knowing someone’s language is the easiest way to gain their respect. Also learning my Dad’s language was such a gift.

My advice is to try your hardest to learn your language because your SO’s family will always speak in their mother tongue.

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