Misunderstanding in the English Language: Sarong, yet it felt so right.

I handed the small items to the cashier, who was in training, as his supervisor stepped away to help another guest. I then handed the larger items over, including a sarong and held up the suitcase last.

“I want to put all this stuff into the suitcase,” I said. It would save us the cost of a plastic bag that wasn’t needed anyway.

“Okay,” he scanned the suitcase price. Then he rang up the smaller items. Then he reached for the hangar with the sarong. “Do you want these two?” It was clear English wasn’t his first language.

“Yes, I want this, too.” I indicated the sarong on the hanger.

His trainer, who also wasn’t a native English speaker, returned and asked, “They want this two?”

“Yes, they want this two.” He replied.

“Yes, we want this, too.” I said simultaneously.

“No, we don’t want those two,” my wife says. “We just want one.”

The trainer pulls two sarongs off the hanger and hands us one. I didn’t realize there had been two sarongs there and apologized for the confusion. The trainer assured me there was no problem and that the overring was easily fixed.

Creativity requires a change in perspective. Learning a new language can help provide a different perspective. Alternatively, speaking with people who have English as a second language can also improve creativity through culture and connections they make that Americans would not. Read more about creativity.