Monday, March 08, 2010


My husband's father is from Puerto Rico, and has quite a strong accent to his English. When I first married my husband, I had some trouble understanding his father. The hardest for me was when he would call on the phone. I remember almost panicking when he would call, and doing all I could to pass the phone to my husband. It's weird, but over the years, I have become so accustomed to his accent that I don't even think about it anymore. Can you imagine growing up as my husband did with a father who has a thick accent? I think the effect it had on him is that when he talks to people from other countries, it is easier for him to understand them. His brain has been trained to listen beyond the accent.

Recently I went with my husband to a doctor's appointment. His doctor at Kaiser is Greek, and has very strong accent. I was shocked I could understand him without any problem. In fact, to me his accent sounded much like my father in law's. Do you think Greek and Spanish are close? Or has my brain been trained too? While we were waiting for him to come in the room, we could hear him talking to an elderly person in the next room. He was talking VERY loudly, probably because their hearing wasn't the best. I think the patient was also having a hard time understanding his thick accent. I bet it was a relief for him to come to our room where he had patients who understood!


Nene said...

I think your brain gets trained to listen more closely. There are lots of nationalities in Ireland - Irish, English, French, Romanian, German, Spanish, Arabic to name some of the more common. When I first moved here, I couldn't understand ANYONE! Now, I understand most people. One of the ladies I have lunch with every Thursday (US wives) is Laotian. I could NEVER understand a word she was saying when she first started having lunch with us. She would hardly say anything at first, because she knew we couldn't understand her. But she talks lots more now. Most of the time I understand her - sometimes there's a word or two that I don't, but she usually knows when you aren't understanding her and says it again, or rephrases it. I also don't panic anymore when I know I have to talk to someone foreign.

Inklings said...

I think your FIL has a cool accent.:0)
When I was first married and Dee Ice registered late for college, I could not find a job anywhere and decided to do daycare. One little girl had speech problems, but I learned to understand her. I was surprised when I next visited Aunt Velma. Previously I had never been able to understand her, but after tending Jannie I understood her perfectly. So yes, I think your ear does get trained.

Lindsay Logic said...

The other day, my niece here started telling my husband a story. He couldn't understand her, he's not around her very much and she talks really fast. He said, "I can't understand you...say it again." It was funny, because she'd say it again...just as fast, but LOUD! lol

I think your ear gets trained to listen to accents, too. I can understand little kids better if I've been around little kids, but I think it's really hard if you haven't been.

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

In India, if at all you need to progress well, you need to be a linguist with at least three languages to help you through. Your own mother tongue, Hindi if it is not your mother tongue and English at the bare minimum. We learn to communicate with all kinds of pidgin and eventually end up talking a few languages.