Default to the language of the land

I don’t know why Japanese people feel the need to speak English to me. Most often they don’t, but every once in a while I get some people who insist on speaking English to me even when I speak to them in Japanese. What I really want to know though, is how people who look the same as me, Caucasian, but do not speak English feel, such as Russians. It must really bother them when people try talking English to them but they don’t understand. Anyway, my general rule of thumb is to always talk the language of the land first, and then switch if you are struggling to communicate, or if you know the person knows the language you wish to speak in.

What bothers me more than that is people checking my comprehension of Japanese partway through a meeting, having worked with me for more than two years and knowing my occupation as a translator or interpreter. When it’s someone’s job to translate, let them do it! Even if you think or even know you can do a better job. You’re taking away from their potential to develop, the very thing that got you in that position. Some of us take a split second longer to process things, or we don’t see the need to translate things as soon as the person has stopped speaking. Give us a chance.

Rant over.



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Tim Bunting Kiwi Yamabushi

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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan

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