DEAR ABBY: I've been dating a wonderful man for several months. We have a great relationship, and I know I'm fortunate to have him. His family is very kind and warm. They have always welcomed me into their home by inviting me to family events, holidays, etc.
The challenge is, his family is from Eastern Europe. He came to the United States at a relatively young age, and his English is perfect. However, his parents and grandparents do not speak or understand English very well.
I want so much to sit down and have a conversation with his mom, but I can't. I'm trying to learn their language, but their alphabet is different from ours. Also, I am dyslexic. While I will not give up on learning their language, it will certainly not happen overnight.
I can't afford classes to get professional help in learning the language, and my boyfriend can't always be right by my side to translate. I'm dying to be able to tell his mother that the dinner was good, or her blouse is pretty.
Can you help me? This will probably be my family one day. -- LINGUISTICALLY LIMITED IN PITTSBURGH
DEAR LIMITED: You don't necessarily have to learn to read a language to speak it. You can learn it phonetically, by memorizing words and phrases on tape. Ask your boyfriend to record some of the things you would like to say to his family, and then you can "surprise" them the next time you have dinner there.