49 votes

Polite way to ask how to pronounce name with sounds outside local language?

I'm not sure I will be able to pronounce that correctly, but I would like to try my best. Would you be willing to help me try to get it right? I've encountered this problem often, and I've never had ...
Chris Sunami's user avatar
  • 2,851
47 votes
Accepted

How do I correct my daughter's teacher's grammar?

Don't. It is a minor thing, and one that our (American) culture is used to. Forty years ago everyone said "Mary and me went to the store", and faux-erudite people jumped on that bandwagon so hard ...
Michael Thomas Greer's user avatar
38 votes
Accepted

Asking someone to use their native language without being rude

Here's what I would say: You speak [whatever language]? How lucky I am! I love learning new languages. Do you mind if we try speaking in [whatever language]? Would be great for me if I could ...
avazula's user avatar
  • 14.3k
34 votes

How to get roommates to speak same language

I was in your situation when I was in Erasmus in France. I used to hang out with this large group of Spanish people. They were all very nice, easy-going, open, and almost all of them spoke an ...
LinuxBlanket's user avatar
  • 9,773
29 votes
Accepted

How do I respond to children slightly younger than me laughing at my accent?

Just be proud of the fact you're putting in the effort to try and improve your accent. If anything it'll be a great way for you to know when you've successfully gotten rid of your accent. Having been ...
Edlothiad's user avatar
  • 413
29 votes

How can I explain to others that I'm not comfortable with the word 'queer'?

Asking people not to use the word "queer" to describe you personally is a completely reasonable thing to do, but I would caution you about asking people not to use it when describing themselves. I ...
apaul's user avatar
  • 54.9k
28 votes

How do I correct my daughter's teacher's grammar?

There's no reason to correct the teacher, unless it is something you see often repeated. Everybody makes miskates. And in case you wish to correct this, do so as an aside to something else, subtly. I ...
NVZ's user avatar
  • 10.2k
26 votes
Accepted

How can I explain to others that I'm not comfortable with the word 'queer'?

Yeah, and, by the way, not sure why but I don't really like the term "queer". Probably it's just me, or maybe I personally disagree to a certain extent, anyway... mind if you skip that word? The "...
Markino's user avatar
  • 3,391
22 votes
Accepted

How to deal with people whose English is not good enough to be understandable

Let me start this by stating that I'm Dutch, fairly straight-forward and very disagreeable, in the sense of the Big 5 personality test. I think it is respectful to reply to them with a request for ...
Willem's user avatar
  • 723
21 votes

How do I respond to children slightly younger than me laughing at my accent?

I just want to raise a perspective that wasn't necessarily brought up by Edlothiad. For many of these kids, hearing someone with an accent in their language is very different. They may be looking at ...
Zizouz212's user avatar
  • 954
19 votes

How do I correct my daughter's teacher's grammar?

I don't believe there is a way to correct him without a serious risk of causing embarrassment and/or offense. Grammatical and spelling errors are unfortunately quite common, particularly in email, ...
Beofett's user avatar
  • 6,381
19 votes

How can I switch a conversation from a language to another?

This answer is more a frame challenge, since I focus more on talking German instead of get them to talk in English. While this is not what you ask, it will result in two things you want: your German ...
Peter's user avatar
  • 1,390
18 votes

How to share a flat with people who don't speak any language I know?

If you're willing to, show interest in their culture. I faced this a few times. At 1st lunch/dinner time opportunity, I usually "share and compare": I show a vegetable, and say the word in my ...
OldPadawan's user avatar
  • 22.2k
17 votes

How do I communicate what I want to say in the language that the conversation is taking place in when I don't know the word?

There is always just saying the word in the language you know, and coupling it with other cues such as gesturing. But don't make the thread of the conversation pause for too long. There will be the ...
John's user avatar
  • 4,239
16 votes

How do I decline conversation in my native language?

I'm not sure but, based on what you've said, I might recommend slightly different phrasing. I talk in a slight dialect (Norddeutsch), speak very fast and often kind of unclear. Even other Germans ...
sumelic's user avatar
  • 258
16 votes

How to avoid semantic noise during a regular conversation?

I'll challenge the phrase "semantic noise" a little bit. It makes me think of fluffy language, extra words thrown in that add little (if any) additional information (somewhat related note: ...
Upper_Case's user avatar
  • 16.4k
15 votes
Accepted

How do I communicate what I want to say in the language that the conversation is taking place in when I don't know the word?

Gesturing and paraphrasing, as suggested here, are good approaches. (In your case you probably know the words for "up", "down", and "move", which should help you get your point across.) Another ...
Monica Cellio's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

Ways to deal with someone who uses expletives?

This is a tricky question, and one I deal with every day. Cussing is in every second sentence with most of the people I work with currently, and for the rest, it's in every sentence. Here are ...
anonymous2's user avatar
  • 2,821
14 votes
Accepted

How can I call attention to a casual acquaintance's mispronunciation?

One way may be to make your calling attention to the correction a little subtle, and not directed at them. You can take note of which word you want to correct, and then use it yourself correctly in a ...
John's user avatar
  • 4,239
12 votes

How do I respond to children slightly younger than me laughing at my accent?

Kids laugh at almost anything they find unusual. Your accent is just that. Unusual. Perhaps like the others said, it'll be an indication for you that you've improved your accent when they stop ...
NVZ's user avatar
  • 10.2k
12 votes

Polite way to ask how to pronounce name with sounds outside local language?

When I worked with patients in a hospital I encountered this situation nearly every day. My scripted lead-in to this became: Hello, [Mr./Ms.]… I'm sorry, I'm sure I'm going to get this wrong, [best ...
Upper_Case's user avatar
  • 16.4k
11 votes
Accepted

How to tell foreigners they don't need to speak English when near me?

From your OP I understand it, that there is no interaction in between that group and you, nor there is anymore than assumptions of why they decide to speak that language. Given that, I'd rather ...
dhein's user avatar
  • 2,542
10 votes

How to get roommates to speak same language

I have been in that exact situation years ago. 38 different nationalities at the same time, at least 30 different languages. Rooms of 2 or 4. Shared dining-room and break room. English was the ...
OldPadawan's user avatar
  • 22.2k
10 votes

What are the practical ways to minimize dead-naming of someone behind their back?

I have several friends who have changed name and/or gender while I've known them. I know one who has changed her last name (but not her first name or gender) 5 times in the decades I've known her. I ...
Kate Gregory's user avatar
  • 44.6k
10 votes

How can I politely indicate that I know Spanish (or any other language)?

One of my children is fluent in Mandarin while not looking as though he might be. This has resulted in multiple situations where he thought someone was talking to him and has responded, to tremendous ...
Kate Gregory's user avatar
  • 44.6k

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