October 13, 2010

I Speak Fluent Venetian

How is it that after 22 years with the same man we still do not speak the same language?! Those of us in overseas work typically dedicate 1-2 years to language and cultural study (or more). We are not naive to think that we stop at that formal marker; it is a lifetime endeavour. Today I experienced that unfortunately all-too-common misdemeanour: trying to express a concern to my husband in Venetian (or was it Martian?). It produced a defensive front and I accomplished nothing except a linguistic faux pas.

When in language study there was an ebb and flow of "three steps forward, two steps back". There were good days and bad days. There were victories when I could rejoice in communicating a new thought, using a new word correctly or understanding a local joke. There were discouragements when I listened to someone, misunderstood and proceeded to make a fool of myself. Why did I think learning my husband´s "language" would be any different?

Oh how I yearn to be fluent in Venetian! I have studied my husband and we have many areas of understanding. We can even anticipate each other´s response on many occasions. But today was one big cross-cultural miscommunication. I choose to accept this as part of a lifelong endeavour in male language-learning. And I mean lifelong!

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