Tuesday, 4 February 2014

29. Lost In Translation: the Wonders of World Languages

I would have thought that by 2014 we'd all have developed the ability to automatically communicate with others in a different tongue. But I guess that's what apps and other technologies are for, right?

One of the most uncomfortable situations for any human being has got to be standing amongst a group of people and having no idea what they are saying due to a mighty language barrier. There's probably nothing worse (for some, anyway - I imagine many of you will find it an intriguing position to be in) than hearing foreign sounds and not knowing what they mean; whether they are of relevance to you, whether they are insulting, or friendly, or intelligent. 

Despite numerous surveys and reports demonstrating non-verbal communication as equally telling of a person's message, I still think that there's something so interesting about the fact that I can hop on a plane to Germany and instantly become at a loss for words (except for perhaps declaring "Mmm - lecker!" in satisfaction not only of the meal that I would have just eaten, but also at the fact that I actually managed to remember some vocabulary from my Year 8 language classes). Umms and ahhs, extreme gesticulations and raised voices aplenty. Forcing the mind to work twice as hard in order to convey a simple point such as "how much" or "which way" or "do you speak English?" Lost in translation indeed. 

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