Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Pitfall of Speaking a New Language

In India, my accent caused some confusion with native Punjabi's trying to understand me. Of course, with any non-native speaker there can be confusion with understanding syllables and such while speaking.

I know some Punjabi and some Hindi. I would not call myself an expert, fluent or even good at speaking either language. But I do try. I also try to keep up with hubby's family and not that many of them speak English. Such is the case with his cousin. She's the only family member I have added on my Facebook and she messages me pretty regularly to see how I'm doing.

She does speak English but, like me, lacks the confidence to speak it much. So I do my best to speak to her in Punjabi. I want to share with you a recent conversation which I think is mildly funny. Not the actual conversation, but something that transpired.

She knows I don't speak much Punjabi so I'm sure that's why this happened. If you notice during the conversation I tell her that my "dadi" is sick. I was certain when I wrote her that this is the word for grandma in Punjabi. I guess she assumed since I didn't know much Punjabi, she read that as "daddy" and got all worried.

Just fyi - h r u means how are you. I don't know why she always writes it this way but she does and so I use it to respond. And yes, I'm aware this is broken Punjabi and Hindi mixed lol.

Ash: hai dear h r u ?

Me: Mai patee miss kardi hai. Meri dadi sihat theek nahi hai. Mai udhaas hoon.

Me: h r u?

Ash: ooooooooooooo dear kya hoya a uncle ko. do worry dear ok be happy bonny also miss u

Me: Meri dadi (Grandma) nu cancer hai. Mai ohna di dekh rekh kar rahi haan.

Poor thing, after the misunderstanding (and before I wrote her back that last line) called my in-laws worried sick about what had happened to my dad. Hubby explained to her that it was my grandma and now all is well with the situation.

This is the first time this has happened to me in writing. Though I imagine that it's happened verbally as well and I may not have realized it. Still, despite these little issues, chatting with her is helping me build my confidence in speaking the language and noticing these pitfalls also helps me strengthen my skills. I hope, when she speaks English with me that she feels the same way.

What are some pitfalls you've noticed when speaking in a new language?

Want some tips for how to be more confident and speak the new language better? Check out Jennifer Kumar's services over at Authentic Journeys.

Want to learn Punjabi. Check out the resource links on the sidebar for all the best learning systems and aides. I highly recommend the Gurmukhi keyboard stickers as they help you with writing and spelling.

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