An Informal Study on Assumptions

Posted: December 18, 2013 in Uncategorized

It began with a post on Facebook.

I’m going to do a little informal study. Normally, I can’t stand assumptions, but, for a change, I would like for people to make assumptions about me just to see what they are. Naturally, family members are not allowed to participate, because you already know most of the answers. First question: which languages did I learn to speak first?

While the small and entirely voluntary sample of friends and acquaintances is but one variable ruling this study out as scientific, it still surprised me that nobody answered correctly.

The first respondent said, “English for $300, please.” Well, he was half right.

The second assumed that I count, “fluent baby barf, gurgle, and fart” as languages. That made my day.

“French,” said the third, who then clarified, “I assume that you knew English because you grew up in the States, but I think you would have learned French first. I seem to recall you knowing that. Yet who knows? I might be way out in left field here.”

That respondent was not too far off, as she had indeed overheard me speaking French. But I didn’t start learning French until I was in my teens.

One guessed that because I know Irish dance, one of my first languages had to be Irish. I only wish! Sadly, the opportunity to learn Irish naturally, without sitting in classes or- as I did- listening to tons of recordings and poring over books is rather limited.

Another guessed German. That was a much better guess, as I do have German relatives who taught me a bit, making some German expressions a regular part of everyday conversation even while speaking English. However, it’s still not correct.

No. The two languages I learned to speak first are English and Spanish, and I learned them both simultaneously as a baby.

Why I don’t speak Spanish as well now is the result of something else I learned as a child. Some people don’t like seeing their assumptions proven wrong. They are uncomfortable with those who defy their expectations, so they spread the misery. One of my biggest childhood mistakes was giving in to those expectations and giving up Spanish.

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