Intercultural Version of Your Mom Dresses You Funny

Correcting Grammar during a fight

“Simple Rules during an argument: If you are losing, begin to correct the Portuguese errors of the other person.”

Remember as a kid if you knew you were losing a fight and were grasping at straws for something to say, and came up with “Well, your mom dresses you funny too!”

Now, as an adult you have a new tool that helps you win the argument and makes you look really smart, too.

This is particularly effective in an intercultural relationship, where the argument is in your native language (say, English) and your partner is accommodating you by speaking your language.

Of course basic grammar correction is an option, but that may come across as petty (think of the Harvard/Yale joke about ending a sentence with a preposition). Plus, it was probably in 8th grade when you last diagrammed a sentence for proper structure.

So, perhaps you can simply go with “that’s not a word in English.” Chances are it’s just a mispronunciation, or perhaps it’s a word in Portuguese (Hindi, etc.) that has been Anglicized. But make a big deal about it not being a word (but, remember, it’s kind of like challenging an immigrant who has just passed the US Constitution test on a point of US History–they’ve studied more recently). If you find you are wrong, counter with “sure, it’s a word, but nobody uses it.”

This strategy is helpful in that it diverts attention away from the fact you are losing the argument and most likely will escalate the situation, to the point where the other person will get exasperated and walk away.

Leaving you feeling superior in your pronunciation. But definitely not going out for drinks and dinner tonight.

C’est domage, que pena, qué triste.

Photo Credit: Lingua Portuguesa