Language barrier, problems reaching out

20 Feb
My parents sent me to the UK for 3 weeks, one summer, when I was 10. I stayed at the Carvers’, in Frome, not far from Bristol and Bath.

I don’t know why, but today I was reminded of watching TV during a weekend afternoon with their daughter, who was 13 years old. A soap opera was on and I was struggling (and quite failing) to understand what was going on.

I thought I had figured out the main female character was in early pregnancy. At this point I was barely paying attention to the show. I was looking for ways to speak to my companion. So I was rehearsing my side of the conversation, over and over.

Is she waiting for a baby?

That was the translation of “elle attend un bébé?”, which is the French for “is she pregnant?”, which I had never learnt to say.

And I rehearsed it (and other variations) for so long that eventually, it wasn’t worth saying anymore.

I had been concerned not only with the language barrier –I suspected my words weren’t right–, but also it was difficult for me to initiate the conversation. Yet, I wanted to. I didn’t.

I am not sure whether I wanted to find out if the woman was actually expecting, or if I simply wanted to talk.

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