Author Topic: Language Barrier on the Phone  (Read 4747 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Raintree

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6035
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2013, 02:12:08 AM »
She got angry (up until this she wasn't exactly pleasant, but she was polite) and yelled at me, I speak English. I don't know what language you speak, but I speak English! And then she hung up on me.

"Yes, but not well enough that native speakers can understand you."

OK, maybe not, but that is what I'd be thinking. Not their fault, I am sure (I can't even imagine trying to converse in a second language) but I've also been yelled at for not understanding some thick foreign accent. I have sometimes asked people to spell the word they are trying to say. It works, except sometimes they can't pronounce the letter either. "B-A-N..." I write/repeat, "B-A-N...." and they say, "No, B!! Not B, B!!! B-A-N...." Turns out they are trying to say P. (I'm not picking on the ethnic group that can't say "P" because I am sure there are plenty of sounds I can't pronounce in other languages, but it does make communication difficult!!)

RegionMom

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 6240
  • ♪♫ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♪♫ ♪ ♪♪♫ ♪♫ ♪♫
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2013, 06:11:45 PM »
"P as in pterodactyl"

 >:D
Fear is temporary...Regret is forever.

Nebulous

  • Jr. Member
  • *
  • Posts: 36
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2013, 07:10:44 PM »
I can only imagine how long and frustrating it would be to have to spell everything out. And with so many letters rhyming, that is a chore in itself. I count nine with the "ee" sound: B, C, D, E, G, P, T, V and Z*. Then there's F and S or M and N.  Even with no accents, I often spell out websites or my email address using something like the LAPD Phonetic Alphabet because it can be difficult to hear the difference over the phone.

But it is something I will definitely utilize in the future. As long as I don't use anything like this I should be okay: The International Confusing Phonetic Alphabet.

*I know other other English-speaking countries pronounce it "zed" but it's just "zee as in zebra" in the US.

Arrynne

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 805
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #18 on: January 29, 2013, 05:56:59 PM »
After about 15 minutes I still did not understand what she needed. I kept saying I wasn't understanding the terms she was using and she just repeated the same information. In other words, the definition of insanity repeating the same thing expecting different results.  Sensing growing frustration on both our parts, I suggested that perhaps an interpreter may be able to assist because I was having trouble understanding. She got angry (up until this she wasn't exactly pleasant, but she was polite) and yelled at me, I speak English. I don't know what language you speak, but I speak English! And then she hung up on me.

I still feel bad that I couldn't help her. Perhaps suggesting an interpreter was the wrong move, but I wasn't sure how else to help. At the time I was the only one in the office available to take the call. I suppose I could have taken a message but I don't know what I would have written down.

Any suggestions on what I should/could have done differently?

I've found when I have trouble understanding the person on the other end of the line, asking them to spell the important words helps a lot.  Certain sounds (b/v, d/p/t, etc)  are  hard to distinguish over the phone, and an unfamiliar accent exacerbates the issue. 

I had a former coworker, Juan, from Central America with a fairly thick accent.  Once, he needed to communicate with a vendor in the UK.  Between his accent and the vendor's very thick brogue, he wasn't getting anywhere.  He ended up calling Language Line interpreter services to get help translating English to English. 


Lynn2000

  • Super Hero!
  • ****
  • Posts: 5360
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #19 on: January 29, 2013, 08:57:15 PM »
She got angry (up until this she wasn't exactly pleasant, but she was polite) and yelled at me, I speak English. I don't know what language you speak, but I speak English! And then she hung up on me.

"Yes, but not well enough that native speakers can understand you."

OK, maybe not, but that is what I'd be thinking. Not their fault, I am sure (I can't even imagine trying to converse in a second language) but I've also been yelled at for not understanding some thick foreign accent. I have sometimes asked people to spell the word they are trying to say. It works, except sometimes they can't pronounce the letter either. "B-A-N..." I write/repeat, "B-A-N...." and they say, "No, B!! Not B, B!!! B-A-N...." Turns out they are trying to say P. (I'm not picking on the ethnic group that can't say "P" because I am sure there are plenty of sounds I can't pronounce in other languages, but it does make communication difficult!!)

Very true! A former co-worker spoke both Spanish and English, and once I overheard her on the phone discussing something with someone who also, apparently, spoke both Spanish and English. At one point my co-worker was spelling something and said, "...and V as in 'cow'..." (In Spanish the word for cow is 'vaca'.)
~Lynn2000

AuntyEm

  • Member
  • **
  • Posts: 527
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2013, 11:59:56 PM »
My MIL lives in Copenhagen and often speaks in the course of her business by phone to colleagues just across the bridge in Sweden.  Though each can understand each other's languages in person, on the phone she said it is easier if they both just agree to speak English--a foreign language for both of them.

MissRose

  • Hero Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 2936
Re: Language Barrier on the Phone
« Reply #21 on: February 05, 2013, 09:22:33 AM »
My MIL lives in Copenhagen and often speaks in the course of her business by phone to colleagues just across the bridge in Sweden.  Though each can understand each other's languages in person, on the phone she said it is easier if they both just agree to speak English--a foreign language for both of them.

When I went to Denmark to see a friend who lived some distance from, Copenhagen, and 2 friends (one a Dane, one a Swede) came over to Copenhagen to see me when I was visiting from the USA, we all spoke English as I do not know Danish or Swedish.  All 3 of my friends have impeccable spoken English with a slight British accent as I can tell they have learned English from a young age.  When I was in stores or other public places with my friend, and if those helping us like cashiers heard us speaking English, they did revert to English also.