Thursday, August 6, 2015

on Communication

There is an old (and accurate) joke that asks:  What do you call someone who speaks two languages?
The answer - bilingual.  Q.  What do you call someone who speaks three languages?  A.  trilingual
Q.  What do you call someone who speaks one language?  A.  An American. 

There are days when I feel like the last question should really be - What do you call someone who can't communicate in any language?  The answer would still be an American.  Some days, when I'm trying to communicate what I don't understand, I find myself tongue-tied (typing-tied). 

I am, as these things go, a very articulate person.  But this summer, I learned just how many colloquial Americanisms I use. 

My mentors are a native French speaker, and a native Chinese speaker, who live in Britain.  It took me several weeks to realize that when they said they didn't understand my question, it wasn't because it was an irrelevant question, but, usually, because, I was speaking a doubly foreign language.

Also, when I'm asking an irrelevant question, it usually means I'm confused, and either don't know it, or can't articulate what I'm confused about.

It has been a humbling experience.

1 comment:

  1. That is funny, an american having issues about communicating in English xD. One day I'll talk with you so I can understand which kind of colloquial Americanisms you use :)