MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “language”

Finding new worlds

https://www.mergersandinquisitions.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Which_Language_Should_You_Learn_1.jpgLearning a language is like opening up your mind to new worlds. Because if you can train your brain to think, read, speak, communicate in more than one language, you are pretty much ready to open yourself up to anything: new cultures, new ways of thought, new people, new traditions, new…everything. Languages open a door to another world. And this is no exaggeration.

People who love to read, love to learn. They are the people who can not sit still for too long. They are too restless to understand what it means to literally do ‘nothing’. They are the people who will be constantly seeking new things to do, new activities to keep their mind occupied with. The ones whose brain is always plugged, associating everything with anything and searching for more things to do, even before finishing previous pending ones. These are the people who are active learners, who read things and try to find something worthwhile to get out of them and who will make use of their new knowledge as soon as they can. These are the people who make learning seem like a game. And these are the same people who have a talent in learning, especially languages.

For some, it is easy learning a new language. It is like playing a game – you learn new words, new grammar, new phrases; you hear people talk in a different way; and you obtain another way of looking at the world. Your perspective changes because you become even smaller in a world that is so vast. What changes is that you can now communicate with a few more people in it.

Learning languages are essential. Because it makes us acknowledge that there is so much more out there for us than the narcissistic walls in which we confines ourselves. If we open up our minds to new things, we will create the new opportunities and a worthy future we so strive to find.

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Riding in the plane with noise

aerial-view-vi-airplane-flying-over-valencia-in-spain-headed-east-towards-the-mediterranean-sea-john-a-shironFedra was traveling for the first time after news of the serious plane crash had surfaced in the media. Although she was a very frequent flyer and never faced any severe plane-related episodes other than the occasional turbulence during bad weather, this time she was a bit afraid. Falling planes had become a kind of a notorious trend lately and the media depiction of the situation was not helping. Just in case, she took a light sedative before boarding.

Everything had proceeded normally. So far.

She noticed the flight was full of many foreigners. And old people. But she took no notice. What difference would it make anyway?

As soon as the plane took off, though, it began.

The noise. The unbearable noise. And it was not coming from the engines.

It was emerging from the old ladies sitting exactly behind her. They were separated by an old man who was unlucky enough to be seated in the middle of this missile exchange of very loud words. Foreign words of a language Fedra could not detect. Maybe something Arab-related? Or perhaps it was Dutch? For some reason the unfamiliarity of the words also made them sound all the more louder. She couldn’t understand whether the women were excited of traveling, of being on a plane, or simply chatterboxes. But they were so loud, even the person ten rows further down complained. Not even the flight attendants could do anything about this. The old ladies couldn’t hear well either, so even telling them to keep it down had to be done loudly and then everything simply became worse.

People all across the plane were hoping food would be served soon to get them to shut up. But that didn’t work either.

Food just made the old ladies even louder, as they were munching and chatting at the same time, probably criticising the food, the service, and who knows what else.

Then the on board purchases had their round and the old ladies got so excited that they stopped the cart and were asking to see things – mostly jewelry – for about ten minutes. The stewardess was not able to accurately decipher what the old ladies were saying, as their foreign language differed greatly from English, and this caused even the stewardess to sigh numerous times. She eventually walked away fifteen minutes later without having managed to sell anything.

The noise continued though.

Passengers trying to get some sleep were now complaining of living a nightmare, while literally everyone was checking the time, hoping the plane would land soon so this martyrdom would end.

It is unavoidable to travel with noise. It is part of human behaviour. But why have we all become so insensitive to every one else around us that we simply do not give a chicken’s feather what anyone else thinks, or if we are causing them discomfort?

When the plane finally landed, the pilot himself opened the cockpit door and requested to see who was making all that noise. When he saw two elderly women picking up their canes and holding on to the unfortunate old man-in-the-middle, he was stunned. How so much noise could be coming out of such a feeble “container” was a mystery to him. And to the control tower to whom he had been reporting.

What the old ladies (and the other passengers) didn’t know, is that right behind them sat a reporter from their hometown who had been recording everything they were saying. Something which he later used for his own reportage. Fedra still didn’t know how, but a few days later she had seen the two familiar faces on a foreign news bulletin during a TV zapping surge one afternoon.

The moral ending is, be considerate of others around you. If nothing else, you never know who might be listening and what consequences that may have.

Also part of Daily Prompt: What a Twist!

The world in a box

Opened empty heart shaped box isolated on white.When Matteo gave Chiara the little red heart-shaped box he wasn’t expected the shrill of delight that came out of her. He was always amazed at how much noise could come out of such a small person. But seeing a three-year old sparkle with joy and jump and down with excitement, was enough to wipe every worry from his mind. She was simply adorable. And that little box would change her life forever.

Chiara was a curious child to begin with. She loved learning and accumulated knowledge like a sponge. When she was three, Matteo thought she was ready to delve into a new world. That of languages. And he was right. Chiara loved it. She found learning a language was like playing a non-stop game. Having fun, but all the while learning. Learning things you never knew existed. About different traditions, cultures, people, who were in a country far away. But knowing how to speak their language also increased her chances of meeting them, of being able to communicate with them, of visiting their land, of entering their world. And that was the most precious of all.

From them on every five years, Matteo would give Chiara a little box. One that would hold the key to a bigger box with all the necessary material to learn a new language. Within five years, Chiara had become proficient in that gift-language and was thirsty for more. She couldn’t hide her excitement every time Matteo appeared with a box in hand. The lust for knowledge grew as her world expanded.

By the time she was twenty-five, Chiara could already speak six languages (her mother-tongue and the five gifts). She was much more open-minded, informed and knowledgeable than other people her age. For while her peers spent hours on social media and digital screens, she used her time more productively, playing language games, reading foreign media, and making friends from abroad. So when she decided to take a month off to physically visit the places whose language she had so profoundly studied, she had people ready to welcome her and show her the life of a local and not just the tourist sights.

Learning languages, prevented the clouds from shadowing Chiara’s sight. She was able to grow up with a more extensive view to the world. With friends across the globe and with a deeper understanding of how the world works that she could ever learn through a single educational system. She became wiser, simply for wanting to learn more. And for that she was richer than Matteo could ever hope she would be. Solely because he thought of a special gift, hidden in such a small box.

Seven Wonders of the Word

flickr-wordsKhalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be?

This is a funny exercise. Funny in more than one way. Because, can you really reduce an entire language to only seven words? And could those seven words you choose be utilised in a conversation on their own?

Well, there’s a challenge!

The interesting part in these words is that each can mean something different depending on the tone of voice you use, and the circumstances of course.

I chose to include seven words which are widely used and broadly understood to even non-English speakers. And as all ‘good’ vocabulary has it, they include a term of endearment, a term of profanity, an adjective, an abbreviation and…well, words that seemingly mean nothing but are used in pretty much any conversation you have… Just pay attention next time and you’ll see it’s true!

So here are these seven words:

Like – used in for example “it’s like totally awesome!” usually accompanied by twirling of hair around a finger and chewing of gum

Whatever – in like, saying this to avoid continuing a conversation you don’t want to or can’t win

Hello – because it’s easy to have you at it, and everyone in the world knows what it means

F*ck – in many uses, another widely comprehended word

Nice – can be used ironically or truthfully depending on your exclamation and tone

Sweetie – Snoopy’s favourite, it adds a, well, sweetness to anything you say

OK – because everyone knows what this means, and it can apparently never be used too much

But wait, there is something more that can be used in every occasion and in every language, it’s not exactly a word, rather than a sound: “mmmm”, and no, it is not the sound a cow makes (that’s moo), it is a very legitimate sound that if accompanied by a nod and a smile can get you pretty much out of any situation. OK, sweetie?

Nice, huh?

Whatever!

 

Part of Daily Prompt: Seven Wonders

A galloping tale

stock___chestnut_horse_2_by_moodymand-d51rk0dIt was an amazing feeling, running free on the beach, with the waves washing up on your hooves and feeling that you’re sinking in the wet brown grains of sand. It was a feeling of freedom. Comparable only to that of running fast across an infinite field. That was what it was like. If you hadn’t lived it, you wouldn’t know.

Chestnut was lucky enough to experience it every day.

And he absolutely loved it.

Cheeeestnut! Come on boy, are you ready for a run? We’re going up the valley today. Would you like that? Max may come too with Bella, so you might get some flirting going, lucky boy!

Caroline is such a doll!” thought Chestnut. “She always cares about what I want and if I’m well. Heck, she is even setting me up with a beauty! How did she know I wanted to see her again? Did she realize we clicked? Hmmm, was it that obvious?” Chestnut almost blushed, if horses did…

He loved Caroline because she loved him. And it was like an action-reaction, you give something and they give it back. Except if they give you an apple, or sugar, then you don’t have to give anything back. Usually a gentle whisk of your long soft tail would do it. And a smooth petting of your owner (or occasional feeder if different) with your clean and freshly washed snout.

Chestnut was always clean. He was brushed and taken care of very often. More often than usual. That’s what he was told at least, by the other horses he met on his excursions. It made him feel special. Like royalty. Only he was more than that. He was family, and that meant the world to him.

But now, now he was off to sparkle some charm on one of his own kind. Because all’s well and fun, but once in a while he does need some of his own to speak his own language. You know what he means… 😉

IITYWTMWYBMAD?* (or How the Internet created a new language)

ACRONYMS1Once upon a time, in this same galaxy and not far away, there was a period when the world had no internet, there were no mobile devices, no smartphones (not even not-so-smart-phones), no tablets, no PSP, nothing of the sort… Yes, that was possible and it did happen, although today hardly anyone can recall what that was like. The Internet and the ‘connecting people’ technology has taken over our lives to such an extent that now it is impossible to imagine a world without them.

But have you ever considered the impact that this new technology has on language? The very onset of the Internet itself sowed the seeds of a chat language that would soon branch out across all spectrums and propagate the already numerous cut-down words. Abbreviations and acronyms are used so commonly in everyday language, that sometimes you don’t even realize that you are using them. For example, e.g.  and etc. are two of the most commonly used acronyms; as are SOS, ASAP, RSVP, AKA; or even things we see daily all around us: Ave., Str., Blvd.  There are also the political ones: EU, USA, NATO, ECB, IMF, ESM, NAFTA, ASEAN, Mercosur, are a few examples. Then there is the computer language of jpegs, mp3s, pdfs, docs and all those types. And don’t forget to use cc. and bcc. when sending emails – although not literally carbon copies, they are still important!

Before broadband connections developed, during the early days of the Internet, users developed short-hand writing, mostly acronyms, to conserve bandwidth and to make typing faster and easier. A whole new language developed as a result, which rapidly progressed into SMS writing and all sorts of other written or verbal communication. It is dubious whether this has become due to a force of habit or because the next generation is getting lazier as it goes…

Internet acronyms (or slang) proliferate by the day. From the ‘oldies’ BRB, FYI, TLC (not to be confused with the BLT meal), THX, OMG, WTF, ICT, etc., there are a range of others sprouting all over the web, that sometimes you need to actually Google them to understand what they mean. BFF is the celebrity and girlish favourite, while LOL has so many variations it’s not even ROTFL funny! GR8 and L8R show how you can also introduce numbers to your speech, while IMHO (in my honest/humble opinion) is the variation of TBH (to be honest). Then there’s the frat (see? = Fraternity) favourite – BYOB – which can be widely interpreted as Bring Your Own Bed, or Bring Your Own Booze, depending on what kind of party you’re going to.  There are even some acronyms that take longer to write than if you spelt out the entire phrase in the first place: MIL-TFD-41 seems like a space formula, PMFJI for some reason springs a set of pyjamas to mind, while TANSTAAFL seems too much work simply to spell out that There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

All in all, we are bombarded by all these short-hand versions of words and phrases that are supposed to shorten the time needed to communicate the message, but sometimes that very msg is lost not in translation, but in comprehension – the time gained typing it is actually spent double in searching what it really means! So you see the Internet has created a new language. But we need to keep up with it, if we too are to evolve alongside it. Even businesses have caught up with this trend now – do you know the difference between B2B and BforB for example?

Well, TTYL then! XOXO

* If I Tell You What This Means Will You Buy Me A Drink?

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ

Η διαφορά μεταξύ του τι λες και του τι ξέρεις

Λένε ότι η ημιμάθεια είναι χειρότερη της αμάθειας. Και έχουν δίκιο. Άν όμως δεν παραδέχεσαι κιόλας την ημιμάθειά σου είναι ακόμη χειρότερο. Πόσοι άνθρωποι παινεύονται για γνώσεις και ικανότητες που στην αλήθεια δεν έχουν, απλά και μόνο για να εξασφαλίσουν μια καλύτερη δουλειά, μια ψηλότερη θέση, ή απλά να ανέβουν στην εκτίμηση κάποιου άλλου. Καταλήγουμε έτσι στο να υπάρχουν σε υψηλές θέσεις πρόσωπα που στην ουσία δε θα έπρεπε να είναι εκεί αφού δεν έχουν τις ικανότητες ή τις γνώσεις που αρμόζουν.

Ένα ιδιαίτερα εμφανές παράδειγμα σήμερα είναι η γνώση των αγγλικών και το πόσο φτωχή είναι σε μια χώρα που όχι μόνο προεδρεύει του Συμβουλίου της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης αυτούς τους μήνες, αλλά και που καυχιέται τόσο για την άριστη γνώση αγγλικών των κατοίκων της. Κι όμως από απλά πληροφοριακά δημοσιεύματα, σε ανακοινώσεις, δελτία τύπου και ειδήσεις, πινακίδες στους δρόμους και αλλού, μέχρι και στον προφορικό λόγο, αποδεικνύεται όλο και πιο τρανά πως η “άριστη αυτή γνώση της αγγλικής” πολύ απλά δεν υπάρχει. Τα λάθη που παρατηρούνται στα κακογραμμένα αυτά αγγλικά κείμενα δεν είναι μόνο ορθογραφικά, συντακτικά και γλωσσικά, αποδίδονται επίσης και στο γεγονός πως τα κείμενα είναι εμφανώς μεταφρασμένα κυριολεκτικά από τα ελληνικά σε βαθμό που δεν γίνονται καν κατανοητά. Και το χειρότερο βέβαια είναι πως φαίνεται έντονα το γεγονός ότι δεν πέρασαν από διόρθωση ή έστω από μια δεύτερη ανάγνωση όπου σίγουρα θα εντοπίζονταν αμέσως.

Λάθη σαν κι αυτά χαρακτηρίζουν τα αγγλικά κείμενα και του εθνικού πρακτορείου ειδήσεων, κάτι που εκθέτει το δημοσιογραφικό σώμα γενικότερα στα μάτια ξένων δημοσιογράφων που αποτείνονται στο πρακτορείο για ειδήσεις που θα χρησιμοποιηθούν ως βάση ή ως αναφορά για τα δικά τους κείμενα. Ιδιαίτερα τώρα που ψάχνουν πληροφορίες για τις δραστηριότητες της Κυπριακής Προεδρίας. Το πρόβλημα όμως έγκειται στο ότι κανείς δεν παραδέχεται ότι όντως τα κείμενα είναι κακογραμμένα, γεμάτα λάθη, αλλά και στο ότι συγχρόνως δεν παρατηρείται καμία απολύτως βελτίωση στην ποιότητά τους. Κι αν οποιοσδήποτε προσφέρει μια συμβουλή ή παρατήρηση για το πως θα μπορούσε να βελτιωθεί το γράψιμο, η νοοτροπία του “βολεμένου” υπαλλήλου υπερισχύει με τη λογική του “ποιός είσαι εσύ που θα μου πεις τη δουλεία μου”.

Είναι κρίμα όμως μαζί με τα ξερά να καίγονται και τα χλωρά. Γιατί τέτοια κείμενα – και όχι μόνο – και η ανάλογη αντιμετώπιση τους εκθέτουν όχι μονο τους άμεσα υπεύθυνους, αλλά και ολόκληρη την κοινωνία στην οποία ανήκουν. Θα έπρεπε άρα η παραδοχή ελλέιψεων και ημιμάθειας να γίνεται η αφορμή για βελτίωση και διόρθωση του προβλήματος, έτσι ώστε η επερχόμενη πιθανή προαγωγή να οφείλεται στις πραγματικές αξίες του καθενός, και η ημιμάθεια του να μην γίνεται απλά αιτία για να διαιωνίζεται το πρόβλημα.

(25 Αυγούστου 2012)

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