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Common language problem - at work place!

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Common language problem - at work place!

Postby Guest » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 10:37 pm

I have lunch with a bunch of my colleagues and I am wondering if I should continue joining them for lunch. I am the only non-Chinese in that bunch and I just love the group for its optimistic and jolly attitude which is why I choose to hang out with them.

Now, if you are wondering what is wrong - there is a major flaw in the dynamics. They slip into Chinese so very often. I mean dont mind it most times and listen hard for any English words that slip out every now and then figure out what they are talking about - eager to be an active participant .....trust me it can get really frustrating once in a while.

The past two days were really trying for us and this afternoon when we sat for lunch - I just felt like a complete idiot when all this serious discussion was going on about work and stuff in a language I didnt follow!

I usually ask what they were talking about at the end of the discussion or there is this girl who sometimes, looking at my embarrassed face, quickly translates.

I mean I dont want to be looking at faces with question mark all the time, I dont want to squint hard to try and understand; nor do I want someone to feel sorry and translate!

I wonder if you guys face the same at work. I have experienced this in business meetings! I find it ridiculous - as if what I thought doesnt matter, it doesnt count. We will sort out amognst ourselves and let you know of the outcome!

I suppose people tend to speak in the language they are most comfortable with - but a little sensitivity will be so much appreciated.

I do understand that sometimes jokes are best delivered in your own languages and I can imagine that one doest mean to be rude or does it on purpose but I guess if you make an effort to speak in English (which is common at work environment) you might be pleasantly surprised with suggestions that never were perhaps thought of due to denied participation.

What say you?

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Postby banana » Wed, 31 Aug 2005 10:46 pm

Just keep saying "Who says so?" to everything. Sooner or later someone will pay attention to you. Or take you into custody.
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Postby Guest » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 4:09 am

That's not very nice of your colleagues but it's hard on them too sometimes if they are so used to expressing themselves in Chinese. A friend of mine had a similar problem when she was working in Finland. All the Finns at her workplace were busy speaking in their own language and she felt a bit left out. Guess you have to tolerate that sometimes... Hope you find a better group of people to mix with anyway!

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Postby Strong Eagle » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 7:46 am

banana wrote:Just keep saying "Who says so?" to everything. Sooner or later someone will pay attention to you. Or take you into custody.


Either that, or, "That's easy for you to say."

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Postby dot dot dot » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 8:54 am

Back in Amsterdam, Holland I was working for an international marketing communications agency, we had about 20 nationalities working, in total 80 people. Ducth would be the main language you'd expect. No way: We all had tot talk English on the work floor. But on Fridays we could come in in jeans and we were all supposed to talk Dutch, every single one of us. We also had a canteen and there was a pool table, a pinball machine and a small mini - football area. That is where we were hanging out at nights and on Friday after 3pm. Here we all had to speak Dutch as well.

After about 2-3 years, everybody in the office spoke Dutch.

This company has an office here in Singapore (this is how I came to Singapore, to work for the office over here). Here they copied this strategy, English all week long, but Mandarin on Fridays.

I always liked this way of learning a language.

Eric

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Postby Vaucluse » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 10:22 am

language at work should be English and when not at work it should be whatever one wants. Is it a tad insensitive? Yes, but it's their right, as speaking English all day might also be a strain for them.

We've always spoken English at work and then people either cluster into their own langauge group or join a mxed one where English os spoken
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Postby riversandlakes » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 10:25 am

it is just you being unlucky to meet as such bunch of insensitive people...

back in Kuala Lumpur, when our bunch goes out for lunch, with 1/2 Indians in the midst, we speak only english. We know it's insensitive to do otherwise.
Goatboy will always cherish his former goatgirl.
But the world is full of fluffier ones.

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Postby Vaucluse » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 10:32 am

riversandlakes wrote:it is just you being unlucky to meet as such bunch of insensitive people...

back in Kuala Lumpur, when our bunch goes out for lunch, with 1/2 Indians in the midst, we speak only english. We know it's insensitive to do otherwise.


If they were 1/2 Indians, was the other half cowboys?


Hahahaha, in such a good mood today . . . such a sense of humour . . .
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Postby riversandlakes » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 10:52 am

I meant 1 or 2 Indians leh :P

Cowboys will be forced to down curry in Kuala Lumpur hehe

Vaucluse wrote:
riversandlakes wrote:it is just you being unlucky to meet as such bunch of insensitive people...

back in Kuala Lumpur, when our bunch goes out for lunch, with 1/2 Indians in the midst, we speak only english. We know it's insensitive to do otherwise.


If they were 1/2 Indians, was the other half cowboys?


Hahahaha, in such a good mood today . . . such a sense of humour . . .
Goatboy will always cherish his former goatgirl.

But the world is full of fluffier ones.

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Postby Wham » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 10:59 am

My wife's mother tongue is different than my mother tongue of English. When i am with a group of her friends or relatives, sometimes they will speak in English and sometimes in their native tongue.

HOWEVER, what i have noticed (in the home and out on business also) is that some people have an innate ability to quickly switch to English when i am around. I refer to these people as nice, polite, and intelligent people - and some people have a REALLY HARD TIME figuring this out - and i think of these people as rude and insensitive blockheads.

My adivce would be to try to politely make it known that you are having trouble following along - and if nothing changes - find some different people to hang out with - because if they REALLY wanted you around - they would figure this out... Also, (in case this is not yet clear) i personally find it extremely RUDE when people FORCE you to ask them to speak in a language that all can understand more than once or twice.

Good luck!

momo007

Postby momo007 » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 12:58 pm

:x it seems terrible,, but English is the main langiage to be spoken in Singapore. It happens even at my workplace.My chinese collaegues often ask me to follow them for lunch but I always avoid,,,reson being they speak a language that I hardly understand and that makes me feel like a pole that tagged along.

It even happens at meetings..i think people should be more sensitive to those sitting around them. Its just not respectful.
However, some women just have small brains...maybe guys too

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Postby Wham » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 1:10 pm

MOMO007 - I couldn't agree more. It is bad form to not be sensitive to the language issue - and in a business setting it is downright stupid. Some people do it in an attempt at a passive agressive attack - so that if you get irritated, they can then say "Oh sorry" but not really mean it. I take it very seriously.

What i do when i get really frustrated is to just leave the room if a side conversation gets going in another language. It usually makes the point.

And lest anyone accuse me of being a language nazi - I have learned several languages beyond English so i AM open to learning new languages etc.

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Postby banana » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 1:46 pm

Who says so?
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Postby Wham » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 2:04 pm

Banana... Interesting... In a discussion that is essentially about communication difficulties, you phrased a vague question...

clever...

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Postby banana » Thu, 01 Sep 2005 2:06 pm

That's easy for you to say!
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