• Language barriers don't always hinder love, writes Bernadett Pócsik. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Learning each other's expressions became a playful flirtation. Months passed with each of us teasing the other with words and expressions from our languages.
By
Bernadett Pócsik

16 Dec 2019 - 10:41 AM  UPDATED 18 Dec 2019 - 11:39 AM

My Australian partner and I barely made it through the first date, yet we persisted and went on to have many more dates. In fact, I always thought, part of our success story was not always completely understanding each other.

On our earliest dates, he talked way too fast and I kept repeating “Say that again?” or “What was that?” This went on until the point where I felt too embarrassed to ask him again, so I pretended I understood what he said and went “Ah, ok” or “Yeah”.

It didn’t take long for him to catch on to my tricks: “You didn’t understand what I asked, right?” he said. “Nope,” I replied, and we laughed it off. From that time on, as soon as I said “Ah, ok” or “Yeah”, he just knew I didn’t have a clue.

Our relationship developed further – and so did my English, or at least, I thought it did.

Our relationship developed further – and so did my English, or at least, I thought it did. However, every week, he would mention words like “quid” or “bickies” or “cuppa”, so naturally, that I felt I should have known them as soon as I landed in Australia.

“He’s doing it on purpose,” I thought. Alright, what could I do? I started to use expressions and words that he wouldn’t really get, either. How could he? They were Hunglish – English words but with a Hungarian logic or meaning behind them. Like “It seems you found the mouse way”, meaning he had found the way to escape from something.

Or when we were really looking forward to hearing back about our application for a rental property, I said: “I am sitting on needles”, which means “I can’t wait.” And finally, just as we were about to open the email revealing the application outcome, I said, “And now the monkey is jumping to the water”. He burst out laughing as I explained this was an expression we usually used in Hungary when excited to find out a result.  

Some months passed with each of us teasing the other with words and expressions from our languages.

Some months passed with each of us teasing the other with words and expressions from our languages.

After a while, I thought it was time he learnt Hungarian. So I started to teach him the most important expressions, like the ones for “Bugs Bunny” or “I want more meat” or “cheers” (the latter is probably one of the most difficult words to pronounce in Hungarian). One day, when I was talking with my mum on the phone, my partner just threw in “I want more meat” in Hungarian. My mum thought it was hilarious.

I also started to use the Australian slang dictionary. I was showing off with my new words, but I couldn’t use them in the right context, so my tailor-made Hunglish words turned out extremely amusing.

One morning, we were sitting in the car, with my partner’s six-year-old daughter in the back seat. While securing my seatbelt, I turned towards her and said, “Bucket on, please!” Both my partner and the six-year-old were looking at me like I had two heads. I explained that I meant to ask her to secure her belt, and that I had heard my partner saying this to her whenever we wanted to drive somewhere. My partner had an a-ha moment: “Did you mean ‘buckle up’?” he said. Now, whenever we drive somewhere, his daughter always lets me know she actually has put the bucket on already.

They say laughter is the best medicine. But I truly believe it’s not just a medicine. A regular laugh can actually make your relationship better. So why not use your language differences for some amusement? Start by having a look at the local slang dictionary or dropping in a few common expressions from your own language. I guarantee it’ll take your conversations to some entertaining places.

Bernadett Pócsik is a freelance writer based in Melbourne.

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