33 Responses I give instead of ‘Pardon?’

Imagine having to ask ‘Pardon?’ a million times a day.

Imagine having to say everything twice.

Being deaf can get a little boring and repetitive, for both myself and the person with whom I am talking, so I vary the ways I ask “Pardon?”.

I usually miss what’s said the first time and nearly always have to ask someone’s ‘pardon?’. This includes my husband (of 19 years) and my children (17 and 15). You’d think they’d have cottoned on by now to speak clearly and directly to me wouldn’t you? Yeah, no they don’t, so I have to use my stock answers.


When speaking to non-family, my favourite replies are:-




I can’t hear you, sorry.


What did you say?


Say again…


You’ll have to repeat that please.


I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch…


What was that?






Can you say that once more please?


I’m finding it hard to hear you.


Will you say all that again please?


I’m sorry, what?


I’m especially deaf today, could you repeat that please?


And these I reserve for husband and kids only:-


You’re mumbling.


Speak up!


You know I’m deaf!


Repeat all that again but louder.


Oh, for heaven’s sake, speak clearly!


I’m not listening as I can’t hear.


I can’t understand a word you said.


Arghhhh! What?


Can you not talk with your mouth full, it makes you difficult to understand!


Move your hands away from your mouth. I need to see you speak.


You do know I’m deaf don’t you?




Oh dear, I sound so cross! My poor family!


I notice that I dispense with the ‘pleases’ when talking to them. Poor things! But having a family discussion for me is quite difficult as they ‘forget’ that I’m deaf and interpretability is my main failing (apart from hearing, obviously). I estimate I miss as much as 25% of conversations and discussions where there are more than two of us present and realise I show my frustration in my responses.


Talking with people who are not my family is worse. On a one-to-one basis, it’s not too bad. Once I explain I’m deaf, the person with whom I’m talking usually reacts accordingly and speaks louder or more clearly. But in a crowd, there’s only so many times you feel able to ask ‘Pardon?’ until you become irritating, so most conversations end up being missed. In these situations, I have other stock responses…


How lovely!


(Laughing) I know!


Oh I say!




Well I never!




Well, there we are…





Or most of the time I just shut up and smile and nod; head-bob; roll my eyes; shake my head; tut-tut or look at someone else knowingly. (Or un-knowingly in my case.)

Unless I’m asked a question directly, no-one would ever know I haven’t a clue about what’s going on! It used to bother me that I missed a lot of friends’ conversations, but now, not so much – in my life over 50 I’m learning to let things go and not to worry about missing out.


After all, they say “what you don’t know, you don’t miss” and for me, as a deaf person it’s so true!



  1. 03/06/2018 / 5:39 pm

    I think I would be same as you are with your family. One tends to be polite to acquaintances, friends and strangers but with family you can relax and say it as it is. Especially as they should know better!

    Your last set of responses are exactly what hearing folk do when we can’t hear, usually due to too much noise. Its amazing how many people don’t realise you can’t hear them.

    • Helen
      03/06/2018 / 11:49 pm

      It is saying like it is! I’m back to school tomorrow so polishing off my “Wow!”s and “Lovely!”s as we speak…

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