Monday, October 17, 2011

The Language Barrier

Leïla and our daughter
Photo by Rudi Wells
No matter how hard you try, you're going to hit language barriers from time to time. Last night's was really interesting. Leïla and I were debating whether a criminal's good deed should factor into this sentence. In this case, we were discussing a thief facing life in prison for his third conviction, but risked that life imprisonment to turn in illegally-obtained evidence of a child molester.

While we were debating this topic, Leïla said something and I replied "you can't say that". That's when she got upset. You see, "you can't say that" in English, in the context of the conversation, means "you're saying something not supported by the information presented." Except Leïla heard, "you're not allowed to express your opinions."

Though she's fluent in English, it's easy for me to forget that French is her first language.