In the contemporary world, English is the most predominant language, which at least one-fourth of the entire population of the world can speak. Learning and speaking in English has made us very easy to share our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs with people with different languages, but we do not reckon if the listeners have perceived the same thing what we wanted to tell them. Can’t there be some misperception or misunderstanding or misinterpretation? Of course, there can be.

The way we perceive depends on what kind of society we live in and what kind of culture and tradition we are practicing. For example, in most of the South Asian countries, children are taught not to look into the eyes when they talk to elders because it is a gesture of respect. On the other hand, in Western countries, eye contact while speaking is supposed to be a gesture of respect. The similar thing is the case with the way of speaking and the words we use while talking. For example, when an Israeli person says to a native English speaker, “Your presentation was OK,” he means to say that he does not agree with the native speaker, but he wants to discuss further to get a persuasive deduction. On the contrast, the native speaker perceives, “I didn’t like your presentation” (“Karmona Pragmatic Blog”). Therefore, the environment in which our mind is accustomed to plays a very crucial role in what and how we think.

The misperception problem exists within a family when the parents are immigrants to the countries like the United States, where English is used all the time, and children born there. Similar is the case with Lena St. Clair and her mother in The Joy Luck Club. For instance, the mother points to the mirror saying she could already see her grandchild in her lap via the mirror with an intention of warning Lena not to have pre-marital sex. However, she does not understand it due to her Americanized mind as she was born in America and has been living there since then.

I too, personally, face this problem when I want to express something in English as it is a foreign language for me.


Karmona, Moti. Karmona Pragmatic Blog. 2010. Web. 7 Apr. 2011 <http://blog.karmona.com/index.php/2010/09/30/american-israeli-cultural-misinterpretation/>