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Woman Balks After Husband Refuses To Translate For Her Since She Hasn’t Tried To Learn ASL

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Learning a new language can be a very exciting prospect for many.

For others, their plate is already full.

So taking on that challenge isn’t a priority.

But what if certain language is an integral part of life?

Case in point…

Redditor Pretend_Dragonfly_68 wanted to discuss his experience and get some feedback. So naturally, he came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

He asked:

“AITA for not translating for my wife when she hasn’t put any effort into learning sign language?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“My (33 M[ale]) father is deaf.”

“Because of this, I’ve been signing for as long as I can remember.”

“My wife (33 F[emale]) is hearing and has never put much effort into learning A[merican] S[ign] L[anguage] beyond a few basic signs.”

“This has never bothered me.”

“But it does make it difficult when we visit my family since I basically have to play translator if she and my dad want to have conversations.”

“But I do it to facilitate a bond between them.”

“About two months ago, I learned of an opportunity at the local college in our city where volunteer native speakers could come converse with the students in the advanced ASL courses.”

“It was going to be a monthly thing in order to track the student’s progress.”

“I jumped at the chance to help out.”

“I’m very passionate about people learning ASL.”

“One of the other volunteers there was a non verbal man, Alex (29 M), who I found an easy comradery with.”

“We exchanged numbers and became fast friends.”

“We began hanging out and during the time we would spend at my place, I wouldn’t translate even if my wife was in the room (other than their introductions and small talk) because Alex never requested I do so.”

“After a few weeks of this, my wife brought it up as something that was bothering her.”

“She said she felt left out and like Alex and I were ‘keeping secrets.'”

“I politely apologized and went on to have a discussion with Alex about this whole thing.”

“He said he felt it was rude that my wife never even so much as made an effort to learn ASL, especially since I had very close family who were deaf, so he had no interest in conversing with her.”

“And honestly, I kind of agreed with him.”

“It didn’t rub me the wrong way at first, but now that she’s complaining about being left out despite having years to learn at least some of this new language feels silly to me.”

“I let my wife know I would still translate for my dad and her, but things were staying the same with Alex.”

“She’s still angry at me.”


Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared OP was NOT the A**hole… for the most part. 

“NTA – Purely because she’s made no effort at all to communicate with your father and she’s spent however many years excluding him from everything unless you are there to translate.” ~ Sloppypoopypoppy

“Agreed. This is so rude it’s unbelievable.”

“Inexcusable for someone being the only member of a family to make no effort after years.”

“Just rude. And NTA.” ~ Bitter_Grocery_4935

“He is NTA but I do take exception to your comment.”

“I’m white and have never had an ASL in my family or friend group.”

“But I have learned some basic sign language and have taught my 3-year-old so when he starts school if he meets someone that is deaf he can talk to them.”

“I took German and I say different things to him in German.”

“I also bought him a Spanish-to-English book that translates animals, sentences, and numbers.” ~ Stacy3536

“That was a swing and a miss because those two situations are VERY different.”

“The first reply has it right; it’s not a matter of wanting to keep secrets.”

“Because if his wife has been around someone who needs ASL to communicate for years and she hasn’t made the effort to learn basic signs for that.”

“Then OP has every right to deny playing translator even more than he already has to. NTA.” ~ Hgg1127

“Soft YTA. If I had a deaf child, I would 100% learn sign language.”

“But for a parent-in-law, I don’t think I would.”

“It’s not that easy for an adult to learn a language, you don’t just take a few lessons, it’s a years-long process.”

“Even if she started now it would be at least 5 years before she could even manage a basic conversation.”

“You need to keep encouraging her to learn but keep translating until she does.” ~ amylouise0185

“Hard agree. I don’t understand how this thread isn’t the top one.”

“He expects her to give up her hobbies, her self-care time to learn a new language just because she wanted to be included in some small talk in her own home.”

“Get outta here with your friend.”

“As a whole, should society do better to accommodate and include those who communicate using ASL? Absolutely!”

“Advocate for ASL to be taught in schools from a young age.”

“OP is so focused on his wife’s privilege of being able to speak, he’s ignoring his own privilege of being raised bilingual.”

“It is so much harder to learn a new language as an adult.”

“Our brains don’t absorb information as adults as quickly as they do as children.”

“Combine that with limited time and if you don’t have a knack for picking up languages, it could be very difficult and overwhelming for some.”

“OP’s wife has learned some phrases.”

“He even admits in the comments that he never expected her to learn so how could she know?”

“Also, how does he expect her to learn?”

“Is he going to give up his time and hobbies to teach her?”

“I bet if he had approached his wife about how upon some reflection, it would be important to him for her to try to learn ASL, she would have been open to it.”

“After how he treated her with his friend?”

“I know I would barely want to speak to him, never mind his a-hole friend who had the nerve to disrespect me in my own home.”

“YTA, OP. I understand being angry at how we as a whole treat ASL speakers.”

“but misplacing your frustrations and putting them on your wife is not going to go well for you.” ~ Calico-Kats

“He said in another comment she works full time and has hobbies of her own and that he never expected her to learn until this Alex guy came in the picture.”

“Absolutely ridiculous.”

“I have in-laws who don’t speak English that I maybe see every 6 months to a year.”

“Should I drop everything to learn theirs? C’mon now.”

“And how does he know she wouldn’t if he said ‘Hey, this would really mean a lot to me.'” ~ ffsmutluv

“I agree with part of this (learning for a parent-in-law) but the crux of their argument actually seems to be that she doesn’t understand seemingly a part of deaf culture.”

“If someone does not explicitly ask to be translated then you don’t just automatically do it.”

“You have to respect the ‘speaker.'”

“If she was making an effort to communicate and befriend Alex that would be one thing but it is moreso coming from a place of insecurity and plain nosiness/control.” ~ wdtgg

“Learning languages can be harder for some people than others.”

“If your wife AHS made true efforts to learn and just struggles with it, then I’d maybe rule differently but it sounds like she’s never really tried to learn.”

“That plus the fact that Alex did not want to include her via interpretation means you’re NTA.” ~ mxcrnt2

“NTA: As a Deaf woman, I’m tired of constantly accommodating hearing people.”

“She can attempt to make an effort especially if they’re married to you.”

“Sign language is not strictly a language as you and I both know, it’s a cultural thing and even basic ABC or how you’re doing is enough.”

“She could build up her receptive skills by watching the conversation” ~ Clear-Map8121

“I mean, it would be nice if she could learn some ASL to speak with your dad, but enough to actually hold a conversation would be a lot to learn.”

“Doubt she wants to constantly ask him what his name is, how old he is, where is the bathroom, etc.”

“The stuff you learn initially.”

“Signing is very hard if you are not good at languages.”

“I mean, I barely talk to my F[ather] I[n] L[aw] at all and I definitely would not bother to learn it for him.”

“He also did not bother to be there for my husband as a kid, so understandably I don’t really care for him anyway.”

“But anyway, it is not really fair for a new friend of yours to judge your wife like that.”

“Yes, I think she should try to learn some signs, but again, she would have to spend a really long time learning in order to actually be able to hold even a child’s conversation with your dad.” ~ Corduroycat1

OP came back for a bit…

“I addressed this in a comment but I saw it as a recurring question and someone suggested I put it in an edit as well — we usually visit my dad every other weekend.”

Well OP, Reddit has several ideas on this matter.

For the most part, everyone agrees with you, but there may be some other angles to work this through.

Hopefully, you and the Mrs can have a serious, calm sit down.

Good luck.