bilingual or bye lingual…..

Silly sign. It makes a point though. I was recently bemoaning my limited ability to speak a second language. Oh, I have made efforts in the past. I can still recite my first French dialogue. It is useless unless I am chatting with someone named Marie (and she has a headache) and a pal name Paul walks up.

I listen to Spanish language cd’s in the car. Over and over. It is taking months to sink in and I still butcher the word cocina. Seems that the word for kitchen in spanish is cocina and in italian it is similar but if you pronounce it in italian it means something a great deal different that a kitchen to those that speak spanish.

A co-worked asked, why bother? You are successful and you have agents working with you that speak fluent spanish. I thought about that and the following was my reply.

The world is a wonderful place. Only the dead believe they have seen enough, heard enough and learned enough…the truly living are open, morning through night, to new experiences, new opinions, better understanding, and a richer life and a brighter future.

I am sure that my past is littered with thoughts, words and deeds that I would not claim nor would I honor today. The child of yesterday fought hard to become a young man. . .the young man of yesterday used as much duplicity and guile as he used skills and gifts to become the man today…..the man today may not have all the abilities and dreams of his youth..but he has come to understand that there is a better way to deal with life, love and happiness.

I know my place is but a fleck on the continent. I know my history is laden with half truths and a distorted perspective. I know, on balance, every day, every new opportunity, every event offers a chance to live a more full life. I want that and I want to use every tool to realize that life.

Yes, language should not be a deterrent but it is. The words that flow easily from my tongue and fingers do not always arrive at the listeners ear or the viewers eyes in the same way it was intended. Inflection has it’s place, but if the warmth of the sound is obscured by the perception of the word…the meaning is either lost or diluted. Internal translations take valuble time and effort and the reader or listener is always playing catch up. The interaction becomes much like the visual perception that occurs when one is watching a dubbed film. Mouths and words are not in unison and the humor in the presentation obfuscates the message.

Communication between different ages, sexes, races and ethnic groups must always find a bridge that travels both ways. It is not enough to almost share. If thoughts are important enough to give to another, it is equally important that those thoughts are shared in a fashion that carries all their weight. Language understood carries the true purpose of the message.

It matters, not just that one hears, no, that one truly hears and feels and comprehends the depth of the message. It is not a matter of respect. It is the embodiment of desire that what you offer is received in the same manner it was intended.

So I shall continue my quest. I hope others realize the importance of communication and understanding and set aside the fears that come when we are challenged. I hope others set aside the jingoistic arrogance that everyone must speak english. The goal of communication should never be dominance. The goal in my humble opinion is to offer thoughts, words and ideas in a comfortable understandable fashion.

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