Aug 23, 2011

I Say Tomato, You Say ДОМАТ

One of my family's biggest questions about my life in Bulgaria is, "How do you deal with the language barrier?"  It's really not something that I give much thought to myself and I think it's because I take it for granted that I will always have Martin by my side to translate for me.  Obviously, that isn't always going to be the case.  There will be times when I'll venture out on my own and I'll need to communicate with others.  

There's been a few incidents already in stores or public restrooms where someone is talking to me and my mind goes blank.  I'll bump into someone and say "sorry" or "excuse me", then I think to myself  "you idiot!  You know the words in Bulgarian, why don't you just say them?"  It doesn't help that I'm a bit shy and I'm afraid of sounding stupid but I have found that when I put in the effort to speak to someone in Bulgarian, they truly appreciate it.

I have a pretty good understanding of common words, basic phrases, questions, and answers.  If we're out to dinner or drinks with family or friends who don't speak English, I can usually figure out what's being discussed.  It's interesting to me how in any language, the same words and topics come up over and over again.  People will always discuss the weather or the big news story of the day.

Eventually, I would like to take some formal lessons.  I think in order to feel more comfortable here I'll have to increase my language skills.  It can be very isolating when you don't know what everyone else is laughing about.  In September, my mother-in-law is hosting a party for Francie and I.  It's the Bulgarian version of a baby shower that's held after the baby arrives.  No men are allowed and no exception will be made for Martin- I'll be on my own with a non-English speaking crowd.  This will be my first real test to see how I can make it on my own.  

No translation necessary.


  1. Hi Lauren, I've just started reading your Blog and enjoying your insight to living in Bulgaria.  I'm also married to a Bulgarian and we have 1.5 yr daughter.  My in-laws don't speak English, I know it can be hard at times.  I've picked up a few words but not enough to have a good conversations.  I depend on my husband to translate a lot.  We live in the US but travel to Bulgaria every year.  My husband is talking only in Bulgaria to our daughter, as I want her to be able to speak to her grandparents.  My dream is to learn Bulgarian, a girl can dream :-)

  2. I'm sure you'll do great! Does your mother in-law speak any English..I think I remember my mom telling me she doesn't. Good luck!

  3. Thanks Er :)  My mother-in-law doesn't speak any English!  And my father-in-law only knows a little.  It makes life interesting, haha 



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