Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Language barriers

by : 
CharlotteM

For the next year I will be living in Italy, working as an English language assistant. The town I’m living in is very nice and the people I’ve met so far are very kind! It took me a few days but I finally found a place to live. It’s a very nice flat with a kitchen, bathroom and my own bedroom. There is also free Wi-Fi! I am living with one of the teachers from a local school, who is very kind. At the moment, it’s a bit tricky as we don’t always understand each other! This is known as a language barrier, when two people cannot communicate because they don’t have a language in common.

Over the past few days, I have learnt that it is very different speaking a language in real life situations than speaking it in the classroom. My teachers could explain things to me in English when I didn’t understand. My housemate doesn’t speak any English whatsoever. When I don’t know the word in Italian I try to explain it and when that doesn’t work I try to mime the thing I’m talking about. It seems like we are always playing a game of charades!

Yesterday, the internet wasn’t working and I had to ask my housemate where the router was so I could find the password for the Wi-Fi. I had no idea what the Italian word for  'router' was so I tried to explain it a couple of times. In the end, I called it the “internet box” and she understood what I meant! The funniest part was that the word is actually the same in Italian as it is in English, but she had no clue what a router was!

However, it isn’t all bad! When we finally understand each other, we both clap and have a little celebration. Sometimes I feel very embarrassed because I keep making a lot of mistakes, but my housemate corrects me nicely and tells me that I’m doing well! I can also feel my language improving because I have no choice but to speak Italian! I hope that I will be speaking like a real Italian by the time I leave. I’m determined to climb over this language barrier!

Discussion
Have you ever had to deal with a language barrier?

 

Comments

gianggiang's picture
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gianggiang 17 October, 2015 - 07:39

I rewrote this story base on the pictures in a Japanese's comic. It is a part of this comic- Conan famous detective.

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gianggiang's picture
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gianggiang 17 October, 2015 - 07:33

I have never lived with a foreigner so I haven't had to deal with a language barrier. And......I am going to tell you a love story which relates to our topic " Language barrier" I read it in a Japanese's comic.
.... Mark- a twenty five- year-old man,who comes from the USA, had a visit to a mountainous province in Japan. When he was hiking in the forest and discovering the nature,suddenly there was an earthquake. Mark was injured and his situation was so bad ( He thought about the death). Luckily, he was rescued by Misa- a twenty three- year-old nurse. After the earthquake, so many people were taken to the hospital so it was very crowed. Therefore, Misa- with a kindness of nurse, left Mark at her house and took care of him. Day after day, Mark's health was getting better and better. They started talking to each other. Misa neither speak nor write English but Mark could speak a little Japanese. They found that their hearts had the same beat. Mark realized that he fell in love with Misa and so did she.......Time went by quickly, it was time for Mark to return his country. Misa was busy with her work in local hospital so she couldn't see him off at the airport. Before the plane took off, Sae and Emi- six-year-old children ( They are Misa's younger sisters) had asked Mark :" Mark, How did you feel about Misa?" Mark didn't reply,he smiled and gave them a piece of paper. It said " SHINE" .
Of course all of us- who learn English, know the meaning of the word, (Mark wanted to say that Misa was his sunshine.) but Misa doesn't......
Misa misunderstood Mark, she thought that SHINE means SHI - NE, this word has the meaning in Japanese is DEATH. Misa was very depressed, she burst into tears and finally she killed herself. After a few years, Mark came back, but it was too late.
It was hard to say....Does this fault belong to Mark? Or a language barrier?
How do you feel after reading the story? It was a tragedy. I felt very sad and I cried a lot. If only Misa had known English, if only Mark hadn't written that word, if only......
I am not a pessimistic girl but I am quite sensitive to this topic. Be careful with language barriers, everything can happen, from comedy to tragedy,

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Ken's picture
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Ken 28 November, 2015 - 13:20

OMG! Language barriers took the shine off Mark&Misa!
Well, we can blame nobody for the tragedy because of ignorance or misunderstanding… As it happens, as though physical phenomena happen. I've heard another real tragedy due to 'language barriers'. Want to hear?
On Halloween Festival, when Japanese teenagers studying in the USA paid a visit to their neighbor's house to say 'Trick or Treat', the neighbor who got surprised at seeing guys showing up in masquerade cried, 'Freeze!'. Unfortunately, the boys mistook /f/ as /p/ and /r/ as /l/.………..
Then, as soon as one of the boys stepped into the house, he was shot to death….OMG!!
Again, language barriers…?? I don't want to totally attribute the accident for language barriers. What if the boys had known more about habits and customs of the land he was staying…..??

By the way, to me the comic story seems to be a bit fishy (!) but actually I also heard our Prime Minster said the same thing in public!!
'SHINE!' -realizing Japan where all women can shine-
OMG!

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hadia 18 October, 2015 - 09:12

Gosh!!!! It's really a pathetic story :( It happens with me as well , whenever I read a pathetic story , I always burst into tears.......I'm sensitive too!
Giang! It's really a very pathetic story! I felt really bad for Mark and Misa!!
No one was at mistake but this was all due to the biggest demon i.e. Language barrier!.........Oh! That was really a big tragedy ......

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gianggiang's picture
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gianggiang 19 October, 2015 - 15:10

Hi Hadia.In my opinion, I think that Mark was at mistake! ( This is a very confused story. Even the author didn't know how to say!)

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CharlotteM's picture
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CharlotteM 27 November, 2015 - 09:59

Hello! I apologise for taking so long in replying to your comment! The story you told is very sad and I agree with you, it is hard to tell who is at fault! Mark probably should have been clearer when he wrote the message!

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iva10's picture
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iva10 1 October, 2015 - 14:30

No i haven't .But someone is better at english and someone is a good artist,math.I 'm good at english i realy love it.

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