Tact filter: How do I handle friend making fun of how I speak?
August 11, 2014 8:01 AM Subscribe
English is not my native language and I have a bit of an accent, but I have lived in an English-speaking environment for over 15 years and nobody in my life (work or friends) is ever unable to understand me when I speak. I am currently hosting a friend who I haven't seen for a few years. During her stay, this friend keeps making a big deal out of certain words that I'd pronounce differently from her, and I found it rather immature and frankly infuriating.
posted by redwaterman to Human Relations (52 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Here is an example: let's say I had used the word "peculiar"in the sentence "It was a rather peculiar situation." My friend would say, seemingly guilelessly, "her juniper situation? a cubicle situation? a cupid situation?..." and goes on with outlandish guesses that are out of context, while I repeat the word "peculiar" feeling humiliated.
This would happen several times a day during her visit, and if I had introduced a new word that she doesn't already know (e.g. "gimbap"), she would assume it was because I was mispronouncing another word, and proceed to make a big deal out of it ("king pop?" "gimbap" "a gimp hop?" "no, gimbap, it's a loanword from Korean" "his mop?"). She doesn't do it when we are engaged in more complex conversations, and she doesn't do it with other friends of mine that she's met, or other "accented" English speakers we've ran into. When she and I hang out with my other friends, none of my other friends had trouble with words for which she mocked me.
I am totally fine with people not understanding words I've uttered, and it happens from time to time anyway. But I think "pardon me" or "sorry didn't catch that word" would have sufficed. It's the way she handles those situations that really bothers me.
We are in our late 20s. This is not middle school.
Am I being too sensitive and over-reacting? If not, how do I tactfully tell her that I am uncomfortable with her behavior, without souring the atmosphere (since she's here for another couple of days)?
p.s. she hasn't exactly been a great house guest otherwise. So I don't know if I am also somewhat irritated having to clean up after her all the time.