The Best Defense Is Not To Offend!

Many people travel outside their own country and when some of them do, they might believe that they can speak ill of anybody and that that person (or persons) will not be able to understand them because they are speaking in a language which is not that of the country they happen to be in. For instance, a group of people from Spain might travel to China and believe that because Spanish is not the language of China that they can say what ever they wish in front of the local population with the presumed safety that their perhaps words of malice will not be understand. I however, for my part have seen many examples in my life where this is perhaps one of the worst assumptions one can make along with thinking that a heterosexual can not become infected with the HIV virus.

My first encounter with something of the sort actually occurred in Spain when I was on a train and speaking to a fellow American in English. It was in the middle of the night that two men and a woman got on the train and upon hearing us speaking English started making comments about us in Spanish. These comments ranging from the way we looked to other matters yet definitely in what could be described as a derogatory fashion. I, for my part understood everything they said perfectly as I happen to speak not only Spanish but 5 other languages yet despite understanding them; I neither said or did anything to give away the fact that I was understanding every word which was being said in their conversation. I being one who believes that words and comments do not have any more meaning than the one we choose to give them and if we ignore them; they will be as harmless on to us as the air which passes by. I did however wonder what their reaction would have been had I made it clear to them that I did speak Spanish but I just figured that I would not bother with such people.

Of course, if had been a friend of theirs I would have advised them not to speak in such a way about anybody who is in hearing range because they just might understand and take serious offence. I, for my part did not but then again I am not naïve enough to believe that everybody would have reacted as I did. This being the reason that I avoid making the same kind of presumptions about people's ability to understand a foreign language.

I also experienced something similar once when I was in Poland speaking Spanish to a friend of mine. It happened when a group of men entered the place where we were at speaking German and I said in Spanish that one of them was wearing an ear-ring. Of course, I just mentioned it as a fact and left it at that however one of them turned around and asked me in Spanish if I did not like the ear-ring which did surprise me at the time. It being a case that though they were German, they studied in Barcelona which explained why their Spanish was more than fluent enough to understand what I had said. I however had not said anything insulting apart from pointing out a fact yet if I had been less cautious perhaps I might have offended which is the last thing one should ever look to do. It being like I once heard Chuck Norris say in a deodorant commercial. Chuck Norris claiming the following fragment of definite wisdom "sometimes the best defense is not to offend!".

As additional examples of this I can mention the following. A Polish man, whom I once met told me how on a trip to New York, he encountered a black taxi driver (did not mention if he was American or not) who upon hearing him speak Polish to his friend; made it clear that he too spoke Polish. This taxi driver having learnt the Polish language due to having had a Polish girlfriend. Another case of the same was the one which was presented to me by a woman from Barcelona, who told me that once she and a friend of hers were walking down the streets of Warsaw speaking; not even Spanish but Catalan. This being a language which is rarely if ever spoken outside of Spain yet strangely enough a young Polish girl started following them and eventually approached them and in Catalan told them that she studied this language in the university of Warsaw.

In conclusion, I would say to those who travel outside their own country or see foreigners in their own country that it might be preferable not to make comments which are insulting about those around them; as they just might be capable of understanding. This being a lesson which a woman from Holland learnt the hard way when she found out the meaning of the Polish word "kurwa" from a friend of hers. This particular word not being the kind one should say to a woman which is sort of like the Polish equivalent of "slut" or "bitch". This woman however chose to go around Amsterdam saying this word to other women with the foolish confidence that they would not understand. This woman however got a very rude awaking when she said it to a Polish woman. It being this particular Polish woman who in contrast to myself did not turn the other cheek when insulted but turned her cheek by slapping her across the face as hard as she could.

As an after thought I would suggest to those who feel the need to make such comments of the kind which may insult, that they wait till they are out of hearing distance from those they speak ill of. As not all will be so friendly as I was to ignore what was said about me.

My name is Gianni Truvianni, author of many an article to be found on the internet along with the book "New York's Opera Society". My works also include the books "What Should Not Matter", "Love Your Sister" and several others which still remain unpublished though I am presently looking to change this.
By Gianni Truvianni

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