A barrier within the English language

One of the main reasons that I chose to study in Ireland was because it was English speaking. I knew that studying abroad would be a challenge in itself so I didn’t want the added stressor of not knowing the language as well.  I had the preconceived notion that everyone would be English speaking and I would have no problem understanding or communicating with others. Over the last two weeks I’ve laid that notion to rest, as I realized that though two regions {The United States and Ireland} speak English, there’s still a barrier with in the language and the dialect-It’s not as cut and dry as I perceived it to be.

From the choices of words, to how they’re pronounce- from the tone in one’s voice to the volume in which they speak, these are the factors that can cause even a slight barrier between two English speakers.  These are the same things that I’m finding are making it so difficult to understand those around me.

In general, Irish speakers seem to speak much different than Americans. They speak with their mouth mostly closed, but they also speak soft and quieter. They also speak significantly faster than Americans. Though this seems like such a small thing, it can make it surprisingly difficult to understand them. I’ve noticed it’s especially hard when talking to old timers and Irish males. I’ve almost given up trying to understand them, because I spend most the conversation sking them to repeat themselves. Anymore, I just nod my head and smile. Irish people also love to shorten words. For instance, a girl in class was speaking to the professor and she said, “sorry I missed class, I had a deb” confused, the American professor asked her what she meant and she tried to explain that was similar to a prom. The girl had no idea that word was short for ‘début eon’. These simple changes in the dialect have made it increasingly difficult to understand native Irish speakers.

Another factor that plays in the barrier is the word choices. In America we have elementary school, high school, college, and so forth, whereas in Ireland or Europe in general for that matter, they have primary school and secondary school. When a peer asked me what grade level I wanted to teach and I told them “third grade” they looked at me very confused. It took some time before we could understand each other, in that third grade is elementary school which is their primary school. Another example of this ‘word barrier’ so to speak, is when a peer asked me what courses I was studying. I was confused so I asked “oh you mean what I’m majoring in?” and then she too was confused. Apparently “major” in school is not a term that they use.

Though these are only a small examples, it goes to show that even within the English language, there can still be barriers and differences in the dialect. It was naïve of me to think that because two countries were both English speaking that I would be able to understand them, and be understood by them.


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