THE LANGUAGE BARRIER?

When I went into the sauna at the gym yesterday, there were two older gentlemen sitting there chatting away in their own language, I think it was Turkish. I normally feel quite uncomfortable when I can’t understand a conversation going on nearby, it makes me feel excluded, and vulnerable. However, as I went in one of them said ‘Good morning’ to me in English, so I didn’t feel excluded in the same way as usual, and I could see that they were just more comfortable speaking together in their own language. So, not understanding any of what they were saying, I just listened to them talking. I heard sounds and intonation, the rise and fall of words and sentences, and realised that must be how I sound to non-English speakers. If you’ve read my blog before, you may have already discovered that I love words and sounds and rhythm, but my only language is English, so it was fascinating to concentrate on the pattern and flow of a different language. There was a rhythm, a cadence, and although I didn’t understand the words, there was a familiarity, because in essence many of the sounds were the same, just in a different order and with a different intonation. We may be separated by different cultures and different languages, but beneath those cultural differences, we are actually very similar. There will of course still be differences, but we should not be afraid of them; we should be willing to encompass and not try to change them, seek to include and not exclude.

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