Monday, March 14, 2016

First Date with Electronic Translator

Today I’m going to tell you a love story. It’s my own.

I moved to Spain almost immediately after I graduated from High School. I lived there for two years while I studied international nursing. I was determined not to fall in love or get married until after I finished college. Famous last words, right?

Within my first few weeks in Madrid, I met a tall Bolivian. 

Unfortunately, we weren’t so impressed with each other. I thought he was making fun of my very poor Spanish (which he claims he wasn’t) and he thought I was way younger than I was, and thought I was trying to sneak into the older Sunday school group.

As we got to know each other, even though we didn’t speak the same language, we realized we definitely had a connection. We could make one another laugh without speaking. Finally, he worked up the courage to ask me on a date. Except, since he sent me a text, and I had to translate it, I thought he wanted to meet. I didn’t even realize we were dating until a few weeks later.

The first time we met, we went to a beautiful plaza in Madrid, called Plaza de España. Since he didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Spanish, we had a very fractured conversation, consisting of mostly typing into an electronic translator and transferring it back and forth. After a few hours, we walked into the palace gardens where there was an abstract art show, and being the helpful person he is, my husband insisted on making me describe what I thought each piece looked like, in Spanish.

It took us several weeks before we could have a semi-fluent conversation and even longer before we could converse without difficulty. Because of the language barriers, we learned how to read body language and expressions very well.

It was slow, and sometimes tedious, but it was worth it. When we moved back to the US, we went through the same process as he learned English. Except I was much less patient with him as he attempted to learn English.

It’s amazing how some people think not speaking the same language is a hinderment to communication. There’s so much more that goes into communication, often words can be ineffective. I’ve found that when speaking, I don’t know the right words, and find myself stumbling. Maybe it’s better to focus on the nonverbal cues, so we can get to really know a person.