Why Hunt When it Falls in Your Lap?

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I have a few story ideas, but they involve taking some photos and doing some research. I don’t want to do that much work today, so I started hunting for the topic to write today. Something that I can write off the top of my head would fit the bill. As I was kicking ideas around, I got a mail message on my cell phone from someone I offended. Provided the offense is easy to straighten out, this will all be amusing in the end. I sent off an apology and will try to write up this story that fell in my lap.

I was having a discussion with another teacher today in front of several Japanese people. She was raised in a country where educated families learn English from youth, so I would have to say she’s a native speaker; however, her pronunciation is not “American News Reporter English”. She was talking about Hugh Grant, but I couldn’t understand at first because I thought she was saying something about ‘you’. On the third try I got it.

Miscommunication between English speakers has always amused me. I really like the comment that America and England are “two countries separated by a common language.” So, I laughed out loud. The workers in the office were curious about what happened, so I gave them a detailed explanation about dialectical differences in pronunciation and associated difficulties. So, it seems like a simple situation: why did I get the mail message?

My colleague, not yet knowing much Japanese, couldn’t hear my explanation. And I, in my ignorance, didn’t consider what other impact my reaction might have. If someone made you repeat something three times and then laughed at you, what might you think? Yes, she thought I was laughing at her pronunciation. In hindsight, that is a pretty likely outcome and I should have seen it.

While there are tremendous rewards to working in a multi-cultural environment; one has to be more conscious of the impact of one’s actions. I’ll give myself a D on my performance today, and a C+ or B- on my apology. We’ll see how it all works out.

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