Saudi Diplomacy

When having exchanges with individuals with whom English is not their first language can at times be a challenge as well as sometimes quite amusing! Most Saudis who have learned some English welcome the opportunity to practice English with a native English language speaker although they may also be shy and fear making a grammatical mistake. These individuals just need some encouragement, positive reinforcement and support and their confidence and English speaking capability soars by the minute.

Then you may have others who are indeed confident and if they do not speak English correctly, that’s okay. They are at ease with themselves and pleased they can make an effort. And these individuals, even if making a grammatical faux pas, do speak with all good intentions and never mean any harm by their words.

We had a distinguished Saudi gentleman at our home a short while ago. He is a lovely man, over 60 years of age and was well traveled. He always enjoyed opportunities to meet Americans and other Westerners and practice his English language skills. He had not seen me for some time and I knew I looked somewhat different since having had surgery plus getting my hair cut real short. However his first words took me by surprise and certainly put a smile on my face “What happened to you? You used to be so fat!”

While such words would typically not be chosen in a conversation amongst Westerners (or maybe so depending how well they knew each other!) he was simply speaking the pure truth as he knew how to say it.


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