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Monday, July 18, 2011

Universal Language

Because I speak Spanish, I often find myself wanting to speak Spanish to anyone for whom English is not their first language. It seems logical, right? Anyone with an accent should be able to understand Spanish. A lot of people start speaking more loudly when it is clear there is a language barrier, I feel like I should be speaking Spanish. It actually works pretty well if they speak Italian, Portuguese, or even French, you can at least make yourself understood. Other languages, not so much.
So the other day Tim was speaking to a new client on the phone. She had a thick accent and he was having a hard time understanding and making himself understood. He finally told her that he was going to have his wife (me, the superstar translator), speak with her. I picked up the phone and introduced myself in Spanish, then asked a basic question about what type of home she was looking for. Silence... I repeated myself, thinking that maybe I hadn't spoken clearly or she couldn't hear me. Still more silence. She finally said, I'm sorry, I don't understand you, I'm Korean. Oops. Clearly Spanish is not the universal language. Poor lady. Next time I'll just speak louder, that should do the trick.

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