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WWYD - being excluded

(87 Posts)
Noisytraffic Tue 09-Feb-16 07:28:29

My DP is British born but his family are Asian. All but the Grandmother speak very good or fluent English.

When they are talking to each other or DP, they speak in their language, which excludes me from the conversation. I've repeatedly been upset and cried to DP so he now replies to them in English to remind them to speak it too. It works with some of them, but not all. One family member is a particular problem (the one who is 100% fluent in English, ironically).

I let it pass when I am in their house, but when they visit us, AIBU to be very offended and hurt at being excluded in my own home?

Unfortunately, it is not a language that can be learnt easily, so that is not an option. They speak a dialect of a tonal language so there are no classes etc for me to do. DP teaches me odd bits, but in 5 years, I've picked up about 10 words because it is so difficult. I'm a natural linguist, speaking 3 European ones fairly well, but this one is just beyond me.

I'm also worried about when we have children as I don't want them growing up thinking that it is acceptable to exclude people. I've already told DP that I will insist they speak English when I am there when that day comes. They will speak the 2nd language with their family when I am not around.

Any advice? WWYD?

vintagesewingmachine Tue 09-Feb-16 07:39:17

That is so bloody rude. Especially in YOUR house. Can you try and speak directly to one of the family members to let them know how isolated it makes you feel when they are all chattering in their mother tongue?
If they were all fully aware and still persisted with this, I would talk with DP again and explain that they make me uncomfortable in my own house and

they are not welcome unless they are prepared to speak in a language I understand. Get firm ground rules before you have any children so everyone knows where they stand

vintagesewingmachine Tue 09-Feb-16 07:40:20

Posted too soon. Meant to Good Luck flowers

vintagesewingmachine Tue 09-Feb-16 07:46:41

say sigh. Bloody touchscreen

Habari Tue 09-Feb-16 07:52:09

Hmmm, it's a difficult one as either you or the grandmother will be excluded.

I think in your own home though you should be able to actually join in the conversations. Your DP needs to stick up for you more.

Noisytraffic Tue 09-Feb-16 08:04:09

The grandmother has been living here for 40 years so she does understand a bit of English. More than she lets on, actually!

Berthatydfil Tue 09-Feb-16 08:07:28

If the person is 100% able to speak English and they are in your home with you present then it's utterly rude to converse in a language you don't understand.
Can you ask your dh to translate everything they she says for you and then reply to her in English.
Your dh should tell her that speaking this language us rude and excludes you particularly in your own home and he won't tolerate it and they won't be getting as many invites if it continues.
I'm assuming rude relative is mil Sil who wants to keep you as an outsider,
Of course allowances can be made for anyone who can't actually speak much English but even so dh should actively make an effort to translate to ensure you aren't left out. It may be that granny understands more than she can speak so it might not be too bad,
The key is getting dh to adopt zero tolerance when you are around and especially in your home.
Have you though if it's possible to get some (non family ) native speakers in to do simple conversation with you?

MamDiddly Tue 09-Feb-16 08:12:18

Op, I don't have much advice but wanted to say I'm in exactly the same position, minus the grandmother. My DH's family are all completely fluent in English (and run their business in English!) but they have a different first language, and like you it's an obscure language and difficult to learn and I've only picked up a few words.

They do exactly the same to me and I agree, when I'm in their houses I just kind of try to smile through it. When they are in my house though and I am completely excluded it infuriates me.

DH does what yours does and constantly responds in English. A few times he has reminded explicitly, say across the dinner table when everyone is eating the dinner prepared by me and chatting, and I'm sitting there silent like the hired help in my own home.

We are expecting our first child and this really worries me. We've been together ten years and this has always been in the back of my mind when I think about having a child. DH doesn't want to bring our child up bilingual because of the effect on me and us as a unit, but I think that's a huge shame and want our child to have this language if DH wants it as it is a huge part of heritage.

When I'm just with BIL or SIL I've found it easier to remind, with a big smile on my face, English please, but that's as far as it goes.

I seem to have hijacked your thread, I didn't mean to, just want to say I feel your pain and am watching this thread to understand what others do. In the meantime, at least we know we can moan to each other! flowers chocolate

Eliza22 Tue 09-Feb-16 08:12:28

Rude. Just rude.

Noisytraffic Tue 09-Feb-16 08:20:00

Mamdiddly - you're not hijacking at all. In a way, it's reassuring to know I'm not the only one in this situation.

I spoke to DP about it again this morning and I don't think he fully understands why I'm upset. His view is that he can't control what they say and do. On a few occasions he has said "English please" around the dinner table but his family just look at him as if he is mad. His Mum once muttered "weird" under her breath. She is one of the better ones for remembering to speak English though.

Namechange02 Tue 09-Feb-16 08:45:07

Perhaps your DH should not answer at all. And when they ask for a response, he says "oh sorry I was waiting for you to say it in English for Noisy's benefit as this is an English-speaking household". And repeat ad nauseum until they either get the message or don't visit. And if they think it's weird, tough. It's so rude.

FeliciaJollygoodfellow Tue 09-Feb-16 08:57:49

My granny is the same. It's rude as fuck.

When my parents first got together, she used to talk about my mum to her face as mum couldn't understand. Except she'd use her name so it was obvious hmm.

I don't have an answer in sorry. It's horrible though.

Ohfourfoxache Tue 09-Feb-16 09:13:03

I know it would probably cause things to blow up, but I'd be so tempted to tell them to leave your home if they persist. And that they wouldn't be welcome back if they continue to exclude you.

Ploy Tue 09-Feb-16 09:18:03

It is rude.
But it is also really difficult to change language habits.
It's natural to speak the easiest language with people.
Even the one who is 100% fluent will be more comfortable talking in one language than another. And if they have spent all day running their businesses in their second language, I can see why they might want to relax in the evening with their family.
As a speaker of other languages yourself, you might understand these feelings.
Can you really not empathize?

In terms of practical advice, I suggest becoming more active in the conversation yourself. Think of a discussion you'd like to have ahead of time. Agree with your dp. You introduce the topic, and whilst on topic, your dp has to insist on English or interpret anything said.

That way you can gradually increase the amount of English spoken without having a massive conflict.

Noisytraffic Tue 09-Feb-16 09:27:26

Ploy - I do empathise and understand the importance of ease of conversation. Hence why I just suck it up in their home. The issue I have is when they are in MY home. The family members work bilingually - English with customers, mother tongue to staff. Unfortunately, I feel that they don't empathise with me!

Noisytraffic Tue 09-Feb-16 09:30:27

Thanks for your idea, Ploy. I've tried this a few times. All goes well but then the problem person twists it away from me and out of English.

What2 Tue 09-Feb-16 09:51:37

I have this with my DHs family and I don't think it is rude at all. If they are talking to each other then I think they should talk in their own language. When they talk to me they obviously talk in English and sometimes if there is a funny joke or interesting story someone will translate for me off their on accord or occasionally I will ask.
They mostly talk shite though so I don't feel I'm missing anything.
It has never crossed my mind to 'insist' that they speak English. confused

I bet some of them speak their own language a lot, lot better than they speak English.

Did you mention this potential problem when you were first dating your DH?

araiba Tue 09-Feb-16 10:01:56

you have learnt 10 words in 5 years? you have made no effort either

TooMuchOfEverything Tue 09-Feb-16 10:02:32

This would drive me mad.

Wouldn't it be great if you and your husband could have a conversation in a language none of the rest understand?

So they start speaking in 'their' language.
Your husband says to you in Trafficish 'I'm so sorry darling they are doing it again'
You reply in Trafficish 'lets give them a taste of their own medicine
They pipe up 'what are you talking about?'


wotoodoo Tue 09-Feb-16 10:02:41

I think you are being v unreasonable. How often do they come around? First languages are aways easier for people. What's the point of crying to your dp? Talk to them directly yourself! If they persist keep interrupting them so that it annoys them all enough to stop if it bothers you that much! It will make you seem extremely self centred if they have to pander to you in every conversation!

You married someone from a different culture and with a different language. Get used to the fact! It is not their fault you haven't grasped their language. You should let them relax and enjoy being around you and your dp and if you have dc you should learn their language at the same time your dc are learning it!

Itsmine Tue 09-Feb-16 10:21:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Noisytraffic Tue 09-Feb-16 10:23:50

I've explained why it is so hard to learn. It's a dialect of a tonal language that is notoriously difficult to learn. As it happens, the family find it amusing when I try to speak the few words I know and give me no encouragement. I asked if they can recommend someone who can help me learn more and they just laughed and said "there's no need". Short of going to the place where they come from and immersing myself in the language for a few years, I don't know what else to do!

We see them a few times a week as they live very close by.

I mentioned it from very early on, yes. DP said that previous girlfriends have split up with him because of the problem family member making them feel so uncomfortable and unwelcome. I have always been very supportive of multilingualism, hence wanting our future children to be bilingual.

Itsmine Tue 09-Feb-16 10:29:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

IJustLostTheGame Tue 09-Feb-16 10:31:39

Get irritating.
Every time (and I do mean EVERY time) anybody says anything say 'what are you saying' 'what did she say' 'what did he say'
And keep it up.

sparechange Tue 09-Feb-16 10:49:56

I would make out that you have been learning a bit of it and want to practice. Maybe learn a couple of set how are you/thank you/what is the time/where is the station phrases to throw into conversation as well, to throw them off

So when they are midway through a sentence, loudly say 'ok, stop, I think I've got it. You are saying that Eastenders was a bit of a let down last night. Am I right? Am I right?'
Next sentence: 'Ok, I got the first couple of words, but what was the last bit? Are you offering to wash up?'
Next: 'Oh, that's a new word, I've not heard that one before. What does it mean in English please?'

They'll soon start talking in English

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