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by Abigail Van Buren

Wife Disapproves When Man Tries to Break Language Barrier

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I speak English as our native language. I also speak other languages fluently, although my wife does not.

When we travel to a country where I speak the language, she insists I speak only English. She says everybody in the world now speaks English and accuses me of showing off when I converse with a local in his or her language. She says it makes her uncomfortable.

I realize many people in other countries speak some -- or even a lot of -- English, but many do not. What do you think? -- SPEECHLESS IN ATLANTA

DEAR SPEECHLESS: Much as your wife might wish it, not everybody in the world speaks English. That you are able to speak to individuals in their native language is a tremendous asset when you travel. It makes for a warmer welcome and a fuller experience wherever you go, and I hope you will continue to use the skill you have worked to acquire.

However, to carry on long, involved conversations while your wife just stands there is rude, and if you find out that the person with whom you are talking also speaks English, you should make an effort to see that she is included.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics