Language barrier


Back of the Yards, Chicago, Illinois.

When I was growing up, my parents always spoke Spanish at home. Once I began attending school, I was supposed to speak English at home. This way my parents would be forced to learn to speak English. This was a good idea in theory, but the reality resulted in bilingual conversations in which I would speak English and my parents would speak Spanish. To this day, I still speak to my father in English; whenever I speak to him in Spanish and he doesn’t understand me.

One day, my mother sent me to the store to buy pork chops. She specifically told me to buy pork chops, but she told me in Spanish. As I’m walking to the store, I realize that I don’t remember how to say pork chops in English. I kept trying to remember as I walked to the store. Luckily, there were two customers ahead of me. That gave me more time to think about what I had to buy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the English name for pork chops. The best I could come up with was “pig chops.” But I was too embarrassed to ask for “pig chops” because I knew that wasn’t the right term. So I walked home empty-handed and my mother asked me why I didn’t buy the pork chops. When I told her what happened, she said that I should have asked for “pig chops.” She didn’t know the English word for pork chops, either.

That night, we ate chicken.

Published by

David Diego Rodríguez, Ph.D.

I write about whatever comes to mind. También enseño español y escribo acerca de los mexicanos y la enseñanza del español.