Saturday, November 21, 2009

Communication & Comunicacion

Living in Central America and being surround by another language I quickly came to understand better the importance of communicative-relationships. Having to learn Spanish, and the frustration and loneliness that came from being unable to make myself understood, brought insight into difficulties of interpersonal communication. I was a college graduate, a capable thinking adult, and yet I couldn’t carry on an effective conversation with a six-year old child. I remember sitting on the floor and playing with two young girls not being able to follow what they were saying to me -- then when I would speak to them, they would turn to their mom and ask what I was saying. We just could not communicate. I believe many adults feel the same way in their own native language – that they just can’t seem to pull out the meaning from other's words. And there seems to be a poignant difference in an inability to express oneself in an effective and satisfying way as an adult as opposed to as child. It is changes from a simple lack of experience or maturity to a kind of conflict between minds.

The miscommunication that happens between reasonable adult humans happens so frequently and powerfully that it can go beyond feeling like we're just speaking a different language to seeming as though we aren't even the same creature. I wonder at times if effective communication and complete understanding is even possible. Learning another language, I came to find that no matter how many words I knew and how used I got to hearing native speakers – there was still a fundamental difference in how they spoke versus how I spoke. Even when I felt I understood what they were saying, a part of me still wondered if there were subtle meanings in inflections and word choice that I was just never going to be able to pick up on. We were the same people, speaking the same words, and yet not ever perfectly communicating.

Of course the "language barrier" was there but even communication between two native speakers seems to have the same "barrier" because of the inherent imperfections in our methods of communicating. But...Perhaps that imperfection is necessary, and part of what makes a truly dynamic human relationships.

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