LOST IN TRANSLATION; Do You Speak Himglish or Femalese? Men and Women Speaking a Different Language Is an Age-Old Problem and Writer Jean Hannah Edelstein Is Putting Herself Forward as a Translator, as LISA SALMON Discovered

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), January 24, 2010 | Go to article overview

LOST IN TRANSLATION; Do You Speak Himglish or Femalese? Men and Women Speaking a Different Language Is an Age-Old Problem and Writer Jean Hannah Edelstein Is Putting Herself Forward as a Translator, as LISA SALMON Discovered


Byline: LISA SALMON

IN A gentle way of asking her partner to clear up the messy kitchen, a woman remarks: "Look at how many dishes are in that sink."

Her unsuspecting husband replies: "Yes, there's loads" - and carries on reading the paper.

It's a classic case of a man not understanding what a woman is saying - and of a woman not saying what she means.

American Jean Hannah Edelstein, 28, has written a new book, Himglish & Femalese, in a bid to explain to women why men don't get them, and vice-versa.

She says: "Despite the fact that things have changed a great deal since the 1960s and the sexual revolution, we're still not really understanding the opposite sex.

"But there are things you can do to improve your ROLE PLAY: Femalese, by Hannah comprehension." She says the core premise of her book is to show how men's communication style tends to be brief and straightforward, while women use more metaphorical language, and often communicate in a roundabout fashion.

Or, put another way, women speak in code and men don't.

Researchers have found that the average man speaks 65% fewer words than the average woman, but Edelstein insists: "Often, Femalese can be a very functional way of communicating, particularly when you're trying to sound out the feelings of the person you're communicating with, or if there's some ambiguity."

Part of the problem women have with the way they listen to men, she says, is that they assume men speak in the same way they do, and infuse their simply-meant sentences with a deep meaning that wasn't intended.

"That can cause chaos," she warns.

Although she's currently single herself, Edelstein says she's learned plenty from her and her friends' experiences, as well as research.

For example, one man thought the way to get her interested in him was to take the mickey out of her American accent.

But he blew his chances: "I just thought he was rude," she says.

"The thing with playing games is that you may not be playing the same game."

Himglish & by Jean Edelstein, below She says she's found that the biggest mistake women make is not asking directly for what they want, because they've been socialised to believe that the worst thing you can do is nag a man.

"They also think another cardinal sin is asking for commitment from a man, and as a result, women have learned that the only way to get a guy to commit is to pretend they're not interested in him.

"But a lot of men won't, and then women feel stressed, upset and angry."

"It takes more courage to be straightforward, but ultimately it's the better way."

She advises women in relationships to sometimes try talking to their man using 'we', instead of addressing a problem as being his alone - even if they secretly believe he is the one at fault.

So instead of saying "I feel like you don't listen to me", say: "We need to listen to each other more."

This approach stops people getting defensive, says Edelstein, and makes it seem like you can both work on the problem together.

And if it is time to split up, telling your partner straight is the kindest way, rather than dropping hints or cruelly dumping them by text message.

"I see the value of using e-mail or phone to initiate issues, but ultimately you need to tackle the big issues in person."

She says rather than the explosion in electronic communication making it easier for men and women to communicate these days, it's actually even harder. …

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LOST IN TRANSLATION; Do You Speak Himglish or Femalese? Men and Women Speaking a Different Language Is an Age-Old Problem and Writer Jean Hannah Edelstein Is Putting Herself Forward as a Translator, as LISA SALMON Discovered
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