The language barrier
My husband and I were invited to a gathering at a friend's house this evening. We asked him if we could bring anything. He told us that his wife would be doing all the cooking and that we were just invited to come over, chat and eat.
When we got there, some of our other friends had come as well. One of the people brought some dessert she had made. I felt very awkward, as I hadn't brought anything. The other people had not brought anything either so it wasn't too bad for me.
The evening was sort of a let down for me. At first, everyone was speaking in English, and it was great that I could participate in the conversation. However, slowly the language changed to Hindi and some Bengali. I do not understand Hindi very well and do not speak Bengali at all. So I was a little confused as to what they were talking about. I asked my husband to switch the conversation back into English so that I could understand and participate. He was gracious enough to do so.
However, after a few minutes, the conversation again switched from English back into Hindi. I was a little lost. I didn't know how to ask them politely to speak in English so that I could understand the conversation. The friend who made the dessert came to my rescue and we began a conversation on our own in English.
It is really an awkward situation when people start talking in languages that are unknown by others. I am not sure if any of you out there have faced this similar situation. All I know from experience is that I do not feel comfortable sitting with people who don't speak in the same language as I do. It is a little disconcerting and a little rude. I know that those people felt more comfortable talking in their languages, but I don't think they thought about the other people in the room who do not speak their language.
What do you do if faced with a similar situation? Do you tell the other people in the room? Do you just sit and politely listen? Do you pretend to understand the conversation?
Comments, thoughts and ideas are welcomed!