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Saturday, June 10, 2017

No, We Aren't Making Fun of You

A while back, my classmates were talking about how they feel judged when they hear someone speaking another language around them in public.

"I swear they're making fun of me." 

This comment was met with resounding agreement around the room. It took a lot of willpower on my part not to tear into everyone around me. It's been a while since this happened, but I definitely regret not speaking up. Truthfully, I was afraid to say something. Communicating how I felt to my classmates that speak mostly or only English at home was daunting. The way they expressed their discomfort with hearing languages other than their own frustrated me to no end.

For me, speaking and hearing Greek is a comfort. For other people, speaking a different language with their family is necessary for communication. Whatever the reason is, we aren't using our ability to communicate in a second language to pass judgement on those around us.

I have been learning Greek since I could speak, and writing Greek since age six. The Greek language has always been part of who I am. It is damaging to hear the assumption that people similar to me are only using other languages to be secretly judgmental.

I realize that I can't necessarily change peoples' minds on this subject, but I still implore you all to take into consideration how hurtful these assumptions can be. Language is a beautiful tool that has evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. It brings people together and allows us to share knowledge. Reducing somebody's actions down to simplistic thought such as “they're gossiping about me" devalues the power of language and communication.

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