Problems With English



These are some situations that happen when you are in a new place without knowing the language; some happened to me, some happened to friends from different nationalities that also didn’t know the language at the beginning.

-After asking for directions in a store, she was told the place she was looking for was in Colorado Avenue in thirty seconds. She thought: “That Avenue cannot be just thirty seconds from here!” It was Colorado Avenue and 32nd.

-A friend just arrived to the States was lost after going out for a walk to see the new place he was going to live in. After finding a public phone and calling home he was asked where he was so someone could go get him.

               (in Spanish)

            -Where are you?

           -I don’t know where I am, I’m lost!

           -Read the street signs to me so I’ll know where you are.

          -I am in “One Way” with “No Parking”

-Another friend had a hard time with hot and cold water. Every time he wanted to use water from the sink he got burned.

In Spanish cold is “helado” and hot is “caliente” so, forgetting things were in English here he always looked at the knobs and chose “H” for cold (Helado) or “C” for hot (Caliente). It took him a couple of months to get in his memory the real meaning of those letters in the knobs.

-I was told the story of a guy who was very happy with all the money saved in food after he found some specific cans in the grocery store; he didn’t know English so he couldn’t read, but he recognized the food by the picture of a dog in the labels.

-When they say Cowgirl, are they saying she is fat?

-How can I Get Lost if I’m standing in front of you without moving and I know my way around?

-Raining cats and dogs! Do the clouds get a lawsuit from PETA? (Just the thought of those poor creatures hitting the concrete floor! Bones, blood and flesh spread everywhere…yikes!)

Training: (noun) The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior

Your: (possessive determiner) Belonging to or associated with the person or people that the speaker is addressing.

Mind: (noun) The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think…

So “Training your mind” could be: “Teaching your dog for him to be aware of the world”

Strange indeed!

It is my belief that a language creates the way we think, so people who learned English as their first language think slightly different from people who learned Spanish as their first language, from people who learned German as their first language, etc.

The brain works in a different way moving the elements to associate in a different order, so conclusions and ideas take a different perspective and meaning.

That could become a barrier and a problem, but also can be a possibility to give ourselves the opportunity to see the world from other people’s perspective and learn something else from them.

Since living in the US I had the opportunity to meet many people from different countries and with different languages, and although some times it has been complicated to understand the way of thinking, it has always been a very rewarding experience.

The human brain is such an amazing thing!


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10 Responses to Problems With English

  1. Kelvin Kao says:

    This is very interesting. I had no idea that H and C can reverse in different languages. The “one way” and “no parking” shows that there’s not only a barrier in terms of written language. There is also the cultural difference in what street signs should look like!

    And yes, different languages do make you think differently. I recently read an article about a research exactly about this with a focus on the gender. I forgot which word it was, but there is this word that’s masculine in German but feminine in French. The researchers found that Germans tend to describe it in terms of functionality and how well it’s built, while French people talk more about the aesthetics of it.

    My first language is not English and I often came up with really weird puns and odd associations of words. I think language does shape the way you think.
    Kelvin Kao´s last post ..Walking with Dinosaurs

    Raul Ojeda Reply:

    Hi Kelvin,

    Yes, definitely there are differences between languages, for example, for what I understand, in English a car, an airplane, a boat, etc, is a “she”, while in Spanish they are all a “he”.

    When the same name is used for both male and female and just a letter is changed, in Spanish “o” is for male and “a” is for female (Carlo, Carla) but I believe in Japanese is the opposite (I’m not sure)

    It is interesting all the differences and many funny things do happen due to those differences.

    Raul Ojeda´s last post ..Problems With English

  2. Joshua Noerr says:

    Language is so much fun. One of my favorites is the term “start from scratch,” meaning to start over. A lot of people don’t realize where that comes from, it’s actually a dog fighting term.

    Dogs start a fight from the scratch line, when action stalls, they “start from scratch.”

    Just a little thing, but a term with violent origin. Thanks for a fun post Raul.

    Raul Ojeda Reply:

    Hi Joshua,

    I’ve heard and used that term myself, but didn’t know the origin. Thank you for the explanation :)

    Raul Ojeda´s last post ..Problems With English

  3. Joy says:

    Oh dear Raul I am so full of butterflies and glitter today, please understand my comment is love filled..
    My predominant thought as I read through is “This is why we turn off our minds and allow our hearts to lead”..While you did showcase some humor, misunderstanding can be frustrating, discouraging, disappointing..and some may isolate to avoid these feelings..thus missing so much around them…and tempting them to avoid adventure or stepping out..
    Yes, language is important, but can be so very let’s just lead with Love..still gets you to Colorado and 32nd just in a more creative way :)
    Joy´s last post ..Fearless Fun Friday- Say Hey I Love You

    Raul Ojeda Reply:

    Hi Joy,

    It is true that many people prefer to close themselves to the adventure of discover while diving in the differences of languages and ways of thinking, and maybe that’s another reason why some retort to discrimination, but when an open mind and heart are kept, a whole new universe can open up for everyone.

    As you mention, an open heart that leads the way can overcome any language barrier and allow us to befriend each other.

    Thank you for your insight :)

    Raul Ojeda´s last post ..Problems With English

  4. Raul, this was a FUN post. LOL. The human brain is such an amazing thing. I agree. We get caught up on what we think we know and we can shut out a lot of what we don’t know. I like this post because of the playful element of how language plays tricks on our minds. We can learn a lot if we just play and not take ourselves so seriously.
    Davina Haisell´s last post ..Inspired by Spider

    Raul Ojeda Reply:

    Hi Davina,

    Yes, as you mention, when not being so serious we open ourselves to learn more from many sources, like the differences between and within ourselves.

    Raul Ojeda´s last post ..Problems With English

  5. English can be difficult even for native English speakers. There are so many rules to learn. Whenever I finally make it to a foreign country, remind me to steer clear of the dog food isle.
    Eric | Eden Journal´s last post ..Eden Journal Blogiversary eBook Contest

    Raul Ojeda Reply:

    Hi Eric,

    Yes, sometimes English can become very complicated, but I believe that happens in every language (I know the number of words for a verb in Spanish can be overwhelming).

    When you travel out of the country just be aware of animal pictures when you get hungry; and always carry with you a picture of a slice of bread with butter :)

    Raul Ojeda´s last post ..Cherry On Top Award

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