Friday night I spent a few hours hanging out at my favorite bar here and met the boyfriend of one of the old waitresses. I remember her from my last trip here in May because I spent a great deal of time hanging out at this bar. I also remember that she barely spoke any English. She knew enough to say hello and when she waited on my friend and I, she used that international “want a drink” hand signal and I have mastered the way to order my signature drink in the former Soviet Union: Vooodka (using the O instead of ah sound) and Tonik (using the O instead of ah sound) so ordering was pretty easy.
The waitress is bilingual, Armenian and Russian and her boyfriend is also bilingual, French and English. Head tilt: I know she speaks like 10 words of English and he speaks 5 words of Armenian. How do they communicate you ask? I have no idea. According to some Armenian friends they don’t need to, they speak the language of love. I’ve had a few days to think about this and it still boggles my mind. Some couples have communication issues when they both have the same mother tongue so I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be in a relationship with someone I can’t understand and who doesn’t understand me.
This reminded me of someone I used to work with. He was Mexican and his wife was Turkish but they both spoke English fluently. I often wondered what they spoke to each other during arguments. Although they were both also learning each other’s respective languages I wondered when it came time for arguments how they coped. I speak French pretty fluently but when I was a child I was even more fluent since I spent so much time with non English speaking family members. However, when I was a kid and my cousin and I argued which was often we would argue in French but I would get so frustrated that I would automatically revert to English when I wanted to make a point. So I always wonder when arguments get to a boiling point and each party is feeling frustrated do they revert back to their mother tongue.