Multilingual people and their experiences

Most people in the world speak more than one language, people were asked their stories if they had any when people assumed they din’t understand the language. Here are the few interesting ones:

1.) I speak french, but not completely fluently, although I am a french/american citizen. At my first girlfriends house for the first time eating dinner with them. We go upstairs afterwards and her little sister (2 grades below us) comes in as we are selecting a movie to watch. Well they are canadian and speak french at home a lot. The girl come in and starts talking about how I am cute and so forth to her sister. And then her sister banters back about how she agrees and then turns to me and asks me in french if I agree. I responded in french that it I appreciated it. Cue bashful run up to her room.

I lived off that high all year.

2.) My grandma could speak Arabic fluently. One time we are out and some women behind us in line are mocking her calling her tacky, making fun of her bad dye job etc. She turned around and said in Arabic “I may be tacky, but at least I’m not stupid enough to assume nobody can understand me.” They were so mortified.

3.) Working at a front desk with two co-workers who were related. They are speaking Spanish and one of them is talking about how she thinks I’m weird/act too professional all the time”. She then asks “where is the stapler?” in Spanish. I picked up the stapler and without looking at her I extend my arm to pass it. She then asks if I speak Spanish and understood the whole conversation. I told her I speak fluent Italian and took Spanish classes in school.

Another story. At the mall eating McDonald’s when I was a teenager. Bunch of old Italian guys hanging around the food court and one asks “how can he eat that shit?” In italian, While looking at me. I look up and stare at him. I say “because I’m really hungry” in Italian. All his buddies started laughing.

4.)  I was waiting in line with my sister to take a boat tour in California and ahead of us was a group of 5-6 German-speaking people. The wait to board the boat was long and they got to talking. At first, it was about how nice the weather was, and then it turned to how annoying Americans can be, especially fat, dumb, tourist Americans. They cracked a couple of jokes having to do with American stereotypes. While this was happening, the line started moving and people started boarding the boat. But the group was too wrapped up in their own jokes to realize it. So I finally turned around to them, and in fluent German asked if they were part of the tour and if they were getting on the boat. They stopped dead in their joking tracks and said yes. So I replied that they had better get a move on, because the dumb, fat, American tourist standing right behind them wanted to get on the boat too. They all looked really embarrassed.

5.) I’m Mexican but I studied my college degrees in the US. When I was studying abroad in Germany I only spoke English to my German classmates. 4 months in, one time we were waiting for a train at a station and a group of young south american tourists were being loud and just waiting beside us. I could understand every word they’re saying (except for some slang) and they suddenly start talking shit about our group. I don’t blame them at all they were just bored at the train station trying to pass time but I smile and look at them. One of the guys looks back and says in Spanish: “Do you not like what I’m saying a** ****e?” I respond in Spanish: “It’s been a long time since someone insulted me in my language”

The guy has a speechless look on his face and all his friends look at me. We have a laugh and soon after that both our groups sat together and had a nice time talking, their English was good enough to have small chat with.

6.) Not me but my moms friend. Her and her aunt were on a bus. A very sickly looking woman sat in front of them. They just started talking between themselves and said something along the lines of “that lady looks like death.” She turned around and in Polish said “I have cancer.”

7.) I’m Japanese and live in Japan, I was drinking in a pretty small town in Niigata prefecture. It’s not known to get too many foreign visitors except in the winters when ski/snowboard season picks up, but this was in the spring so I was actually quite surprised when I walk in to an izakaya and a foreign couple is sitting at one of the tables. I was alone so they seat me at the counter and I order a couple of yakitori and a sake. As I was waiting I could hear the couple behind talking about how none of the things that came were what they ordered/expected and that its so difficult since noone seemed to speak English. Now the Izakaya we were at was like a hole in the wall, no pictures and the menu was handwritten in Japanese so I could understand how difficult it would have been. Anyways I come over and to their delight I translate the menu for them and help them with their order. I ended up sitting and drinking with them that night and still message each other on facebook!

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