I have had to contact the brother of my patient from Romania, who is here for a few months on a work visa. The brother knows little English, and I know little Romanian, but I thought that our combined knowledge would have an additive effect.
It doesn't work that way.
"Frate Florin este in spital" Yes, my brother is in hospital
"Minca prea mic. Baut prea mic. Medicament prea mic." Yes, he is not eating, he is not drinking.
"Sotie Cristina spune Calin in Washington." Yes, Cristina tells me Florin is in Concord.
"Pot lui vorbesc?" No. Is change. Is silence. Not can talk.
Ouch. We know the same words in each other's language. But of course! What does everyone learn first? You/me, good/bad, big/small, is/is not.
We had real trouble when I was trying to explain "guardianship" to him.