Language Barrier

Anyone married to someone from another country knows how frustrating the language barrier can be, even if the spouse in question in from another English-speaking nation.  You know what I’m talking about–those slang words from England, Ireland, Scotland, or even Australia.  Right in the middle of a perfectly normal conversation, it seems as though you enter the Twilight Zone and nothing makes sense anymore.  You know, like when someone asks for “chips,” and you bring him a bag of potato chips, or when he wants “crisps,” and you have no clue what he’s talking about?

Yeah.  That’s what it’s like in my house all the time.  Granted, my Irish husband has been in the States for ten years now, and he’s pretty Americanized from all of his television time.  On occasion, though, he’ll throw a “knackered” or a “banjaxed” into the conversation, and I’m left scratching my head and wondering if he’s lost his.  After five years of marriage, I’ve picked up my own bit of Irish slang, but not nearly enough to keep up with his sisters when we visit Ireland.  I spend most of the time wishing I had a dictionary so that could ask the way to the “jacks.”

It’s caused a fair few fights in the Barry household because neither of us can understand why the other can’t follow a few simple directions in English.  It’s not like I fire off instructions in French, and he’s never tried to ask for something in Russian.  Yet, there are times when we both stop and stare at each other with blank looks while our brains try to process what was just said.  Don’t even get me started on the tirades of incomprehensible Irish slang when Manchester United is playing, either.  I can’t keep up, so I usually put in headphones and write (as I am now…though I looked up in time to see Chicharito score!)  I just don’t have the mental capacity to watch the game and translate the Irish slang in my head.

What kind of language barriers do you hit every day?  Sometimes it’s even a matter of differing regions in the States.  Do you have a friend or a spouse that leaves you confused half the time, even though he or she is speaking English?  Let me know!


One thought on “Language Barrier

  1. Living in the Lowcountry provides its own set of odd language barriers. There are still a lot of people here who speak Gullah or some form of it. I was in Wal-Mart one day (go figure) and heard two people talking and could not for the life of me figure out what it was they were saying. Of course, it was none of my business, but I was standing next to them and could hear them plain as day…plus, I’m nosey. 😉
    Another thing is having southern slang and interacting with others, especially those from New England. I told a friend who lives in Connecticut that I had a “crick in my neck.” She said, “What on earth are you talking about? You say ‘crick,’ and I’m thinking a small waterway from the movie Deliverance.” LOL! Other times, I get laughed at a lot when I say things like, “dag nabbit.” It’s fun to learn new words that come from different regions, cultures, or countries. But it can definitely be frustrating! My grandma was trying to tell me she was allergic to a specific medication, but because of her southern accent, I couldn’t tell what she was saying. “Bidryl?” I asked her. “Bentyl? Biddell? I don’t know what you’re saying!!” Eventually, she wrote it down: Benadryl. 🙂

Leave a Reply