My bf and I were at a friend’s birthday party this weekend and had an interesting discussion on the way home. I know it may be Unpopular Opinions, but here we go.
My friend is American, her husband is not. He grew up learning English in school and doesn’t have problems communicating in it at all. However, I’m often a little uncomfortable at their gatherings because her family and their friends, with only a couple of exceptions, don’t speak his native language. She and I do, because we were Peace Corps volunteers in his home country and learned it there. So at their parties they will speak English with the other guests, but when they are directing conversation only to each other, its in his native language.
I usually don’t care when people speak other languages around me, but for some reason this bothers me. I think its because they clearly do it because their comments are only directed to each other, and since I understand it easily, I feel like I’m being involved in their conversation accidentally? And then I realize I’m the only one in the room who isn’t involved in the conversation but knows what’s going on. Once in a while they’ll squabble a bit that way, nothing mean, just you know, couple stuff.
I said something to the bf on the drive home, and he insisted that if he were in a bilingual relationship he would only ever speak English when other people were there. Just because his hypothetical bilingual spouse lives in an English-speaking country she can’t speak to him in another language they both understand? Why would English have to be their main communication method? I feel like that’s a little unfair too.
I mean, if I weren’t there its just a way to talk to each other about stuff the other guests don’t need to worry about. It’s usually party stuff, “Hey do you think we need more of this? Is the baby getting too fussy?” that kind of thing. And it also means he doesn’t have to only use his non-native language all the time knowing full well that she could use it if she tried. But sometimes I think they forget that their conversation isn’t really private when I’m there! And I’m not trying to eavesdrop!