Lost in Translation

No hablo Español!

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Comments (22)

(18) deborah wach, June 28, 2012 4:36 PM

im from mexico

I heard a lot from you and hope you can learn spanish soon so u can come more often!

(17) sheindl Tapuach a, June 10, 2012 3:37 AM

I was a idish teacher, and writer

keep on doing a comunication work

(16) Anonymous, June 5, 2012 4:46 PM

reminds me of a story

The Chafetz Chaim once travelled to speak to the President about a possible reform that could hurt the Jewish people. He didn't know the language so at first there was a translator. The president waved away the translator and asked the Chafetz Chaim to speak for himself in his own language. The president saw the tears and emotion and said that spoke to him even though he didn't understand the words and revoked the legislatiion, So many of us have eaten that humble pie moving to another country, When I moved to Israel very few knew English, I made mistakes left and right, and slowly learned to speak. If people reverted to Hebrew I tried to understand. It is a way to generate good will amongst people when people try to speak the common language and kind of the outsider to overlook the slip ups. This is a nice reminder to make Shalom, peace amongst all mankind, through communication, verbal or with loving facial expressions. Thank you Lori!

(15) SusanE, June 3, 2012 6:27 PM

I agree with Rachel, they weren't being rude.

Italian, French, German, I knew enough of each to be polite..... yes, no, thank you, please, excuse me, sorry, how beautiful, excellent, numbers, street names, etc. - - and enough to get food, lodging, transportation. Most under 40 knew English but were soooo much more accomodating when they saw I had learned some of their language. With the over 50 year old's in Italy and Germany, they knew about as much English as I knew Italian and German...... we communicated with gestures and a few words and had some great giggles. I never expected them to know English. I was in their country, so I needed to know their basic phrases to be courteous.

(14) Anonymous, June 2, 2012 12:22 AM

sorry for the inconvinience in mexico


(13) Anonymous, June 1, 2012 12:42 PM



(12) Normando, May 31, 2012 9:33 PM

Si hablo Espanol!

Quiero saber--porque una mujer mucha intelligenta no habla la lingua de 45,000,000 latinos-americanos (y 40,000,000 otro americanos).!!

Jorge, June 1, 2012 12:39 PM

What a ridículo commentary

There are hundreds of millions who speak chinese so every intelligent non chinese speaker should learn chinese???

(11) Anonymous, May 31, 2012 7:15 PM

If a person can speak your language and chooses not to, it's rude!

What Lori says is true, it can be humbling. But it can also be very rude of people, when they are at a get together, and they can speak the same language as the other guests, but choose not to. It's as polite/rude, as telling secrets in front of others. If someone has something private to say, they should take it private, and not speak this way in front of another. I'm a bit touchy on this subject, as my parents and I spent 20 years of family holiday meals with my sister's in-laws. (Meals at my sister's home, that my sister, who doesn't speak Hungarian, prepared.) The in-laws owned a business in the USA for over 30 yrs and spoke English very well. However, through out the meals, they'd speak only Hungarian. When we'd ask if they could please speak English, we were told, "When we have something we want to share with you, we will." ...They only said hi and bye to us, in English. When my sister got divorced, we were free of this...for a while. Later I married someone from Russia. Most of his family are very kind, and they speak English, or translate for us. And I've slowly picked up some Russian. But one (who came 45 yrs ago, and speaks English just fine), insist on speaking only Russian to my husband (in front of me). He knows how I feel and just chooses to anyhow. It is very hurtful, and makes family get togethers with him just miserable. The children don't understand what is being said either, so why should we all get together? We did for awhile, because, he's family, but it's gotten harder and harder. It makes more sense to me, that just my husband visit him. But he doesn't want to go without us all. For that reason, and because of other painful things that relative has said and done, we see that relative's family very rarely. It's sad.

(10) KELLY GUINDI, May 31, 2012 12:09 PM


(9) Edwin Rodriguez, May 31, 2012 3:43 AM

Very interesting

I speak spanish and english and understand perfectly this situation, specially when is hebrew. God talk to us in very different ways. We have to learn

(8) Eliana, May 31, 2012 2:55 AM

I have had a similar experience in a SNF where I am working for the summer as a speech therapist. There is a large population of Vietnamese residents with whom I am working with who don't speak any English. Unfortunately, I do not speak any Vietnamese. Since I am a speech therapist, I definitely rely on communicating with patients to be able to conduct my therapy sessions. These patients have dysphagia so if I am unable to work with them, they are at risk for aspiration pneumonia, dehydration, malnutrition, and other complications. Since starting to work with these patients I have had to come up with new methods for therapy. I use flash cards with Vietnamese on one side and English on the other for those who can see well enough to read and phrases recorded in their language for those who can't see but can hear. I also bring pictures and music from their home to help them feel more relaxed as that helps to get better results from therapy. Working with these people and their families has really been an amazing experience for me and one I will never forget. You just can never tell where the best gifts in life are hidden waiting to be discovered.

(7) ruth housman, May 31, 2012 12:14 AM

Babble as in babies, and, BABEL, and BABEL meaning, GATE

Thanks for this. Lovely, as always. Babel means GATE in Sanskrit and you are right about humbling. I love what you said about how people do communicate without language, as it is more than words. I am thinking how important it is to try to teach children, who are so easily taught languages, more than one, as it seems they acquire it by osmosis, and it's such a gift, as how we think is also deeply defined by our very words and how we put them together. It's a complex, beautiful subject that can be endlessly explored. I see we're actualizing the potentials of the letters and that all language is Divine.

(6) Moish, May 30, 2012 10:09 PM

Where Can I find that in the Rambam?

Where Can I find that in the Rambam?

(5) Aliza Rosenfeld, May 30, 2012 4:55 PM

The language barrier

Great topic Lori. Language barriers are not just a problem between different languages, but also within ones own language. I had a very uncomfortable incident several years ago that highlights this. I'm going to leave the details vague, to protect the people involved, but I think you'll get the gist. I was talking to a woman that had recently arrived from another country and spoke little English. During the course of the conversation, she kept complimenting me on my feet. I know this sounds strange, but she must have done so at least a dozen times, no exaggeration. After a while, it became very disturbing to me. I felt like she was making a "pass" at me. I walked away feeling "dirty". I was dreading coming across this woman again, but worse, I felt that because of her job, she could cause a lot of damage to other women/ girls that wouldn't know how to handle it, or that were struggling with this issue themselves. I went to the management of the place she works and ran the situation by them. They were in agreement with me about my interpretation. Fortunately, I couldn't remember much about the woman as far as looks or name. I put it down to trauma, but maybe it was just G-d's way of protecting this woman who was just doing a very poor job of communicating. If I was wrong, I could have ruined her life. There are several lessons I learned from that incident. First of all, don't judge others by what you think they said, give them the benefit of the doubt. Be very careful about accusing people of things, because one day, the shoe could be on the other foot, and you really want G-d to intervene on your behalf, too. If it seems like G-d is trying to tell you something, listen. G-d may be protecting you, not the other. I do believe I had to come forward, I had an obligation to protect others, but I should have emphasized the need to be absolutely sure that the problem existed, and if not, that the woman was enlightened about proper etiquette. Wishing you smooth language :)

(4) M. Hillson, May 30, 2012 9:18 AM

Reminds Me of the Joke:

One who speaks many languages is multilingual. One who speaks two languages is bilingual. One who speaks only one language is an American. And what a language! You write the word GHOTIGH and pronounce it "fish"!

(3) Gavin Marsden, May 29, 2012 8:36 PM


The only universal language is Belief in Hashem

(2) Alan S., May 28, 2012 10:06 AM

Communication involves more than the spoken word. But, one should expect to be not only humbled but frustrated by not being able to speak in a foreign tongue. Lets be honest. As gracious as her hosts were to fete her and include her in their Shabbat meal, they were also being rude by speaking in their native tongue if they knew she did not speak their language.

Rachel, May 30, 2012 3:22 PM

Speaking a second language takes effort for most

I disagree that the hosts were being rude. I speak only a tiny bit of a foreign language, and when I have to use it, I find myself deciding what I need to say, then trying to mentally translate it into the other language, before I even open my mouth! So unless I'm with foreigners who are fluent English speakers, I think it's asking a lot to expect them (in their own country) to attempt to speak English for me. I don't find it humbing to be in non-English speaking countries: there is almost always a way to communicate without speaking, whether it's with a smile, a gesture -- it is a reminder to me that we are all human beings and all the children of G-d.

SusanE, June 3, 2012 6:44 PM

I Agree with Rachel.

With the over 50 year old's in Italy and Germany, they knew about as much English as I knew Italian and German...... we communicated with gestures, a few words and phrases, and had some great giggles. I never expected them to know English. I was in their country (I was surprised that the 40's and under could speak 2 or 3 languages) .

(1) Rosen, May 27, 2012 8:45 AM

language beyond our comfort zone

It's important to understand that not everyone speaks English in the world. It takes much learning to know another language and be bilingual, thus what happened with the Tower of Babble...I may be going to China in a couple of months, so G-d-speed and G-d willing I'll be able to pick up on their culture and language, even though a growing number of Chinese are learning English, as I fly over there with my family to meet up with my brother.

Rachel Garber, June 2, 2012 1:17 AM

Some people are always prepared

One of my friends does a lot of travelling and he always picks up one of those English/*filll in the blank* books, so he can at least get around. I have several fb friends from around the world and they are all learning or have mastered English quite well, while I stumble to make sense of pictures they have posted with description in their native language. The interestig thing, as you pointed out, not only Chinese but most other nations can speak English as a second language. I have learned that it has become the Universal language of business, because when several people get together, most can ony speak their own language, so can't understand each other, however, they all speak English, so that is how they conduct business together.


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