Have you ever been in a situation where someone doesn’t know you’re bilingual and begins talking about you in the second language you’re familiar with?
That is exactly what happened to Reddit user ripterrax.
Not sure whether or not what he did qualified as “eavesdropping,” he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for clarification.
“AITA for not making it known I understand Spanish to my GF’s family when they talked about me?”
Our original poster, or OP, talked about how he got to be fluent in Spanish.
“I’m (24M[ale]) not Hispanic or anything. I’m White and was adopted by my parents when I was 5. My mom is Mexican so I learned Spanish from her.”
“I’m pretty fluent and I guess that surprises people sometimes because I don’t ‘look the part.’ White, blonde hair, blue eyes, etc…”
The problem began at a Zoom first meeting.
“Anyways I’ve been with my girlfriend for a while, who is Hispanic. Never mentioned I’m bilingual because the topic was just never brought up.”
“A month ago her family wanted to meet me since we recently moved in together.”
“We did it through Zoom (safety and all). It was her parents, her grandma because she lives with her parents, and her sister. Everyone was welcoming and nice.”
“Her grandma was the first to say something in Spanish and her words surprised me because she was literally so nice talking to me then suddenly switched to saying something else.”
“‘Por que otro güero?’ (‘Why another White boy?’ Pretty much) Then she asked when can she set her up with one of her friends’ nephews.”
“My girlfriend told her to stop. Then her parents did the same. A couple times during the convo they switched to Spanish whenever making a comment about me.”
“My girlfriend at least always shut down their criticisms and told them to stop talking like that.”
OP, being curious, let it happen.
“Tbh I didn’t say anything cause I was curious what their real thoughts on me were. It kinda sucked that they were so freely talking about me right in my face.”
“I finally said something when her mom mentioned my gf told her I was in college and asked what I’m studying.”
“Her dad commented to her grandma in Spanish ‘ah no wonder he moved in with her if he’s wasting all his money in school’.”
At this, OP broke his silence.
“See the fact that we moved in together seems to be their hang up with me.”
“They’re not happy we moved in and think because she works full time and I part time, that we did it so I can mooch off her. Which isn’t even true because we split the bills for everything.”
“So I answered in Spanish, ‘We moved in together because we wanted to take the next step in our relationship and we love each other’.”
“Then I answered her mom’s question, also added that I have several scholarships that pay for everything so what I earn goes to living expenses.”
OP’s girlfriend and family were surprised:
“They all looked panicked and right away apologized a million times for what they said.”
“My girlfriend was shocked too but she didn’t have an issue with what I did and thought the look on their faces were hilarious.”
“She only felt bad that I did know what they were saying all along and apologized.”
But OP’s girlfriend’s sister was not happy.
“Her sister is telling us what I did was petty and mean because I embarrassed them. That I should’ve said I knew Spanish because that was a conversation I wasn’t meant to understand/be part of, therefore it wasn’t my business to listen in.”
“It’s like I was eavesdropping to her.”
“I get eavesdropping is bad and they wouldn’t have said anything if they knew I understood so I guess I can see where she’s coming from.”
“Was I the a**hole for not saying anything?”
Redditors decided where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agreed OP was not at fault for people making assumptions about him.
“Her sister calling you petty? If what you did is petty, what do you call sh*t-talking someone to their face in another language? It’s pretty much the OPPOSITE of ‘eavesdropping.’”
“They’re only mad because they got called out on their bullsh*t. Don’t let it bother you.”~IneffableB
“As a multiracial person, I get a million assumptions based off my appearance alone; including what languages I do, and do not speak.”
“I’m not fluent in anything other than english as of yet, but I have a general rule to not say anything in another language about someone that I wouldn’t say in english, to their face.”
“OP didn’t eavesdrop. They’re embarrassed that they made assumptions off his appearance and job status and he understood it all.”
“If anyone is petty here, it’s the judgmental arseholes in OP’s gf’s family.”~lastwesker
“NTA – It can’t be ‘eavesdropping’ because the conversation was right out in the open.”
“They are right to be embarrassed – but sister is wrong to pin any blame on you.”
“The fact that their instinct was to apologize right away is a good sign that they’re basically decent people, though.”~50MilesOfElbowRoom
“NTA. They were being rude right in front of you because they assumed someone who looked like you wouldn’t understand their language.”
“Haven’t they had racist A-holes assume they don’t speak English just based on how they look?”
“Well, it doesn’t feel good to anyone to be judged on appearance alone, so I hope they’ve all learned a lesson.”
“I think you were quite polite in how you responded. As for petty? Yeah, maybe a smidge, but I think it was pretty justified in this instance.”~Katt_ler
After all, should you talk about someone right in front of their face?
Or is that the petty move?
“NTA. What a priceless moment you got to have and their shocked looks must have been a feeling of payback! Sorry to hear your GF’s family is being so harsh and critical about you.”
“I can relate as I’m mixed Chinese and fluent yet I look white, so people often make comments in Mandarin that they think I can’t hear.”
“Sometimes I will respond in Chinese or sometimes I choose not to and just continue to listen. I don’t feel the need to announce ‘Hey I speak Chinese fyi’ every time I enter a conversation, and you shouldn’t have to either.”
“Especially with the rude things they were saying, I could see why you would want to hear what they truly think about you. They are clearly being the a**holes here.”
“Maybe they shouldn’t assume that people around them don’t understand them and shouldn’t talk badly in front of people even if they think they don’t understand.”
“My own family is guilty of this as well, switching to Chinese to make negative comments about others in public… but you never know who is listening.”
“I guess now that it’s out in the open that you know about their hang-ups, you can all have a conversation that includes you about the issues they have, rather than talking behind your back.”
“Maybe this can lead to some resolution of these tensions.”~tiffy360
“How is it eavesdropping if they are talking about you to your face, they were the one’s who were petty by speaking in Spanish so they could talk sh*t about you in front of you.”
“I aspire to achieve your level of brilliance though lol.”~Careful-Listen2277
“NTA – If they wanted to speak in private, they should have done so.”
“Speaking right in front of someone in a language they (supposedly can’t) understand was rude, inconsiderate, and foolish. You can’t eavesdrop if you are invited to the conversation.”
“Honestly, they are clearly just embarrassed that they got caught, and are trying to put you on the defensive.”~4zero4error31
“NTA. What’s even ruder than not telling people you can understand them gossiping about you, is gossiping about someone else in a different language in front of them.”
“Hopefully this will be a lesson to your girlfriend’s entire family to stop being rude. Spanish is a very common language.”
“If they didn’t want anyone to understand their conversation, they should have kept their disparaging comments to a minimum until you weren’t in front of them.”
“They deserved to be embarrassed. The way they behaved is embarrassing.”~sunny394
You can never assume somebody doesn’t know what you’re saying.
“NTA. Also it’s insanely rude to have an extended conversation in Spanish assuming that one person in the convo doesn’t speak Spanish. It sounds like they all speak English right?”
“So if they thought you didn’t speak Spanish, what’s the excuse for them completely switching to Spanish in the first place?”
“If grandma only spoke Spanish or something I’d understand a little bit more, but even if they weren’t talking sh*t it’s incredibly rude to effectively push someone out of the conversation like that.”~hareis
“NTA. The sister’s only mad because her family looked bad.”
“Talking trash about someone in front of their face in a language they don’t speak is rude and disrespectful. You didn’t eavesdrop.”
“They knew you were there, and you might have understood some of what they were saying including their tone and body language without even knowing Spanish.”
“So, you did nothing wrong, but they are the AH.”~AttemptedAdult
“NTA. They literally trash talked you to your face. That you retained your composure and had a sense of humor about things is to your credit.”
“GF’s sister owes you an apology and if she’s smart she’s learned a lesson about not making assumptions about people.”
“Actually reminds me of a story of a friend of mine from Venezuela who was very pale white with blond hair and worked in a medical clinic in NYC and when he called in Hispanic patients would often hear them grumble in Spanish ‘Oh, it’s a Gringo!’”~Even_Speech570
“Nope. NTA at all. Just because they’re old, doesn’t give them a pass to be rude.”
“I think it was great how you played it. Her sister is just mad because they got caught. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.”
“If they want to complain about you, don’t do it in front of you. Like other families. I wonder if now that they know you speak Spanish, if they like the idea of you more now. 😂”
“Although, I’m surprised it didn’t come up with your girlfriend, because you do live together, and I would hope that talking about your family background would’ve came up at some point.”
“Bonus points that your girl loved it and that she tried to shutdown the criticisms. 😆”~chyaraskiss
Overall, everybody agreed just because the family got caught talking trash doesn’t make OP at fault here.
Next time, maybe girlfriends’ family will think twice before talking trash in front of someone’s face.