What if partners come from different cultures and speak a different first language?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 14,927
    Founder of Perfect Partners Gloria McDonald discusses the obstacles faced by speakers of different languages in a relationship.

    Host: What if partners come from different cultures and speak a different first language?

    Gloria MacDonald: So, if two people are maybe from the same culture the same ethnicity but they have two different languages as their mother tongue. So, let's take the example of someone is from Germany and they end up marrying someone who is from England. Well, they are both Caucasian. Yes, they grew up in different countries but they are Caucasian. So they are going to look the same, but they are going to sound very, very different and they will probably act differently because they grew up in different cultures. We are talking about someone grew up in Germany, someone grew up in England and they get together somehow or other. They are going to act differently and they are going to think differently, but the biggest thing here I believe that will create challenges for a relationship is the language barrier. I don't think we can underestimate the nuances of language. Even if both of them are fluent in English and German, I still think that there are potential issues here and of course, it will vary depending upon how fluent both partners are in the other person's language or does -- for example, does one partner not speak German and the partner who is German speaks German in English. It's something to really be aware of.

    Just an example that happened to me quite recently. I made the statement that every single person should thus and so, and I don't even remember what it was, but whoever I was talking to misunderstood me and the person I was talking to was a native English speaker as obviously, I am, but it was interesting because they interpreted because of my dating service business that I meant every person who is single as in not married, not in a relationship should do thus and so. I meant I was using a single for emphasis, I meant every individual should do thus and so. It had nothing to do with the marital status.

    So there is a situation where both people are native English speakers and the nuance was misunderstood. Another example is inflection. You can easily say, "I would like chocolate ice-cream for dessert.

    " Now if you say I would like chocolate ice-cream for dessert that implies you would like chocolate ice-cream over pumpkin pie or chocolate cake whereas if you say, "I would like chocolate ice-cream for dessert.

    " That implies you want chocolate ice-cream as opposed to vanilla or strawberry ice-cream. So just again that nuance of where you put the emphasis on the word. If you are in an intimate relationship with someone who doesn't speak your language as their mother tongue those things can be misunderstood, they can be lost and that can create all kinds of communication problems and we already know that communication between the sexes, between male and female is challenging enough because again, going back to our first segment Anthropologists and Psychologists have said that there is a greater difference between males and females than between any two cultures or races on the earth. So communication is huge and it's such a challenge already without any language barriers. So, if there are any kinds of differing languages it's really important for you to understand and think about what impact that will have on your relationship.