What would you do if someone you're talking to pretends not to speak English

Canada
October 2, 2007 11:36pm CST
I have never spoken to the neighbor across the street because the opportunity never presented itself. At one point I was working in the front yard and they were standing at the end of their newly paved driveway. Perfect opportunity to say hello and give a compliment about the driveway. "It looks good", I say motioning towards the driveway With a confused smile on his face he looks but doesn't say anything "It looks good", I say once again slightly louder. Maybe he just didn't hear me the first time. His reaction is unchanged. I turned and walked into our home and told my husband that the man across the street does not speak English. Oh that poor guy! Fast forward several months and I hear him speaking in English. What???? So it isn't a matter of a language barrier as I had originally thought; he simply was choosing not to speak to me! So I make it a point to not speak to him at all. What would you do if you were in my shoes?
3 people like this
10 responses
@wotfpatty (2068)
• United States
3 Oct 07
I'd ignore him from now on. It's clear that is what he wants. I never heard of pretending not to speak English as a way to avoid talking to people. Maybe he has a hearing problem and would rather pretend he doesn't understand than admit he doesn't hear well. I only say this because my father went deaf at age 23 and he never told anyone he was deaf. He spoke fine and he faked it. Still, I don't see any point in trying to communicate with someone who clearly doesn't want to communicate. Maybe someday he will talk to you and you can figure out what the deal is. Weird.
1 person likes this
• Canada
3 Oct 07
I'm sorry to hear about your dad's hearing loss but the fact that he was able to fake it successfully, is amazing. I thought that might be the case as well with this situation. It isn't! Believe me, I'd like to find any reason other than the fact that they simply choose not to speak to me because I'm not like them. This group of people have moved into the neighborhood and proceeded to create a little sub-culture of their own based on ethnicity. They have derogatory names for each neighbor based on nationality. It's difficult to explain but let me just say they call the old guy that lives behind us, "the Iraqi and his Germaniun wife" and they roll their eyes and laugh.... It was said to me and I've heard even worse. They don't speak to the other Canadian, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, Greek, German, French..... neighbors either.
1 person likes this
@wotfpatty (2068)
• United States
4 Oct 07
Oh, now I see. I wouldn't speak to him even if he attempted to speak to me based on what you said. That is just plain ignorant to act the way he and his friends do. I thought that kind of categorizing went out with Archie Bunker (All in the Family). You certainly sound like you deserve much better friends/neighbors than ones who don't tolerate other nationalities. Ugh. That would make me crazy.
1 person likes this
• Canada
4 Oct 07
It's frustrating because they (collectively as a group) do things weird. The rude man across the street sits for hours in his garage staring into my house. His son sat in the driveway with a buddy drinking and ever time I went to the window, the visiting guy would try to stare me down and laugh maniacally
1 person likes this
• Canada
3 Oct 07
LOL If it were me I would have told him how rude it was for him not to reply LOL but thats just me LOL too straight forward sometimes LOL
• Canada
3 Oct 07
I wish I had that kind of courage. I'm more the type that will vent about it online or to my hubby or my mom without really ever doing anything about it. One day I just might surprise even myself and say something directly to him. oooooh wouldn't that be something?
1 person likes this
• Canada
4 Oct 07
LOL well either it would embarrass him or make him give you an explaination LOL maybe he is just really shy and when you call people on that kind of thing and are really shy it will give them the push they need to be more friendly LOL
• Canada
4 Oct 07
They're SUPER friendly to their own group. I don't want to be friends with these people but I always try and be neighborly. Maybe not so much anymore though LOL!
• United States
3 Oct 07
I would say something that are of interest to them like Do you want me to give you $100 and flash a one hundred dollar bill in front of them that will get their attention.
1 person likes this
• Canada
3 Oct 07
Unfortunately this isn't the kind of neighborhood where that amount would do any good. There are more BMW's, Mercedes, Cadillac, Escalades, Porches and other types of bling that I would have to flash a yacht LOL! If I can afford a yacht I could just sail myself out of here hmmmmmm!
@vokey9472 (1489)
• United States
3 Oct 07
I have a set of neighbors who for months acted like they didn't speak any english. Every time I tried to talk to them about their kids running in my yard, pulling up my flowers, etc, they acted like they didn't understand me and would talk at me in spanish. Well, a few months later the wife started hanging her wet laundry on the fence to dry. Well....I have four dogs. You can imagine what was happenign to her laundry everytime she put it on the fence. Well, turns out the wife sure could speak english when it came to complaining about my dogs and threatening to call the cops. Long story, short. I told her to call the cops. So she did. I calmly explained that my dogs were registered with the city, contained in my yard and she was the one putting her wet laundry on MY fence. If the dogs pulled it down, that wasn't my fault, it was hers. She was so mad when the cops sided with me and told her to put up clothes lines and stop using my fence.
1 person likes this
• Canada
3 Oct 07
Oh that would be so funny. She was probably furious - ohhhhhh poor lady NOT! LOL! Amazing how quickly she picked-up the English language though
@SViswan (12072)
• India
3 Oct 07
Did you consider that he might not be able to hear well? I'm just looking at it differently. Maybe he really was pretending not to know English. Or maybe he just didn't hear what you said. He could be preoccupied with something and didn't really get what you said. I'm sure someone with a hearing problem would have gestured that they couldn't hear. But just a suggestion that this might be a possibility.
1 person likes this
• Canada
3 Oct 07
Yep, I considered it. It's possible that's what it is.
@mamasan34 (6521)
• United States
5 Oct 07
That's funny! That happened to my dad. His neighbor is hispanic and she had two dachsunds that she kept in the back yard. They would bark and bark and drive my dad crazy at night when he was trying to sleep. He didn't blame the dogs, but he blamed the pet owner. He tried to speak to her when she was outside with her father and they both pretended not to speak english. He says he knows that this woman can speak english because he has heard her before talking with other people in the yard. She just didn't want to deal with the situation. Anyhow, a couple of months later, she and her boyfriend knocked on my fathers door and told him that they were sorry for the trouble and that the dogs were an issue and they took care of it by finding new homes for them. My father wanted to ask them why she pretended not to speak English, but chose not to. If I were you, I would go out of my way to be nice! I would always wave and say hello and be extremely pleasant to this person. Kill him with kindness!
• Canada
5 Oct 07
Kindness is a good way to go. Easier on the nerves too. We pretty much (think we) know why he doesn't speak to me but if we're right, I'm better off making myself invisible than have to try and deal with it.
• United States
4 Oct 07
What a jerk! I would make a point of saying something to him in passing that would make his ears perk up. Say something to get a rise out of him.
• Canada
4 Oct 07
That whole group are all jerks. I think it bothers them more when I happen to look towards them and don't react to their presence at all.
@vissy10 (82)
• Philippines
4 Oct 07
I will try one more time to befriend him, he's neighbor anyway, if he still proves himself to be ill-mannered, I'll forget about him....That's a cute picture that you posted in this discussion, hehe ^_^
• Canada
4 Oct 07
I don't want to be friends with these people. I only want to be neighborly and say hello just to be nice. That picture with the little kid reading a newspaper is the default for day to day topics - it's funny LOL!
• Philippines
3 Oct 07
I would simply choose to be indifferent...but perhaps if the man talks to me one day, then that's the time I will reconsider again if he can friend or not.
• Canada
3 Oct 07
If he decides to talk to me one day, I might look at him with a confused smile upon my face and say nothing.
@irishidid (8563)
• United States
13 Jul 08
This is going to get me into trouble, but it is the truth. I have worked with Hispanics who speak and understanding English except when they don't want to do something. All of the sudden it is "no speaka da English." I was in a car accident and the other driver tried to pull that with the police until his mother showed up and spoke perfect English.