MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “speaking”

Say nothing

https://getwallpapersinhd.com/images/big/watch_the_world_go_by-192412.jpgHis grandmother had told him when he was young that “when you don’t know what to say, it is better to say nothing at all”. The same is true when you having nothing to say. You shouldn’t speak for the sake of saying something. That’s just noise.

So he grew up being laconic with his speech. He wanted every word he uttered to count. The people around him often thought he was too introvert; didn’t open up too much. Others saw his silence as apathy or ignorance.

But often it is in the silence that most is said.

He knew the value of placing quality over quantity. And much of that was valid for speech too. He disliked people who would talk for hours about nothing simply to maintain attention drawn onto them. Instead he relished the moments when he would retreat from the world and gaze at it passing by without having to say a word.

It is in those moments that you find yourself. That you realise what you need, what you want, and sometimes what makes you tired or happy.

It is those moments that make you grateful for all you have and for simply being alive.

And it is right after that moment when you don’t know what to say, that your mind is flushed with all the things you wish you had said…

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Sound

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Talk, speak, utter, shout

http://cliparts.co/cliparts/pTo/jr6/pTojr6pTE.jpgEvery person, when given the chance, wants to take the time to express themselves. Aaron knew that well. An introvert by nature, all he really longed for was someone who would understand him by the few words he said.

Like everyone from time to time, he too felt the need to speak, to shout, even scream at times. But it was rarely that he found the chance to actually truly talk.

Once made to feel comfortable, however, he would speak more often, open up a bit more and begin to share all those thoughts that so frequently hovered inside his mind.

It is always easy to talk about others, down to them, or simply to them. But it is more difficult to actually talk with them. That is where communication comes in. And that is the reason Aaron never really liked talking. It just seemed too hard.

But when he met Denise everything suddenly changed.

He found himself waiting anxiously for the time they would sit down for a chat. One that would forcefully end three hours later because either of them remembered they had an appointment, or work, or something they (hesitantly) had to do. They would talk about anything and everything at the same time. Expressing their deepest feelings, their reflections, their regrets, and their dreams. They didn’t need to ask each other questions; it just happened naturally. And they felt comfortable doing it because they trusted each other completely and knew that criticism had no room among them.

You can tell a lot about a person by the things they’re willing to express about themselves, and what they desire to know about you. But most of all you can understand that person even more by the depth of the words they are willing to fire your way.

10 ways texting can make you smarter

TextingTalking is defined as the action of communicating or exchanging ideas, information etc., by speaking, or by uttering sounds of some sort. In the modern digital world, talking is equivalent to texting. We spend so much time in front of a screen that our way of communicating has evolved to be through instant messages, emails, or simply put, texts of any kind.

In whatever way it may come about, talking is essential. Because it is always better to share something with others rather than keep it locked up inside of you. Particularly when something good comes along, not having anyone to tell and join in the excitement, sort of sucks out half the joy.

So here is a short list of why talking (in any form, and preferably with others) can make you smarter:

  1. In the quest to share ideas and find conversation starters or goers, you will eventually be incited to read more, thus learn more and expand your intellectual capacity. You will discover worlds out there you never knew existed and will be amazed by how isolated we used to be. You may even be shocked at how things we still take for granted are daringly fought for by others.
  2. If you can’t express what it is you think or desire, then perhaps you are not clear about it either. Albert Einstein had said that “you do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.” Just remember you can’t (or rather, shouldn’t) comment on things you don’t know about.
  3. There is no other way of getting your point of view across (well, no other peaceful way) other than clearly stating your position. Don’t expect others to guess what you want unless you state it. The struggle to develop a coherent and solid argument will open the door to interesting information for you too.
  4. You will learn to appreciate the views of others. It’s always easier to criticize than comprehend. Every interaction should celebrate the diversity of views among us. Voltaire vowed to “defend to the death your right to speak”, even if he did disapprove of what you say. Freedom of speech and opinion is a fundamental right we so often take for granted and are so willing to boldly proclaim whenever it is violated.
  5. Twitter’s limitation of 140 characters has made every word count, forcing us to squeeze our minds into making those few words mean the most they can, and constraining us to say everything we need to in the fewest amount of words possible. Consequently, it has made us appreciate all the more the power of words. And spelling. And perhaps enticed us to flick through a dictionary. Or thesaurus.
  6. Talking to others makes you look at the other side of the coin. We all view life through our own one-sided perspective. But what about asking someone in a different situation how they view things? It will give you a different lens through which to view the facts and will open your mind to new thoughts and ideas. It may even bring you a step closer to understanding this world we live in.
  7. Through conversations you can learn how to do a lot – about how to turn a pessimistic person around to having a glimpse of optimism for things in their lives. How to become witty in order to respond to petty comments. Perhaps you will find like-minded people out there, or someone who challenges you intellectually and stimulates a dialogue from which you may all gain. It may lead to arguments you didn’t know you had until someone made you think of them.
  8. Talking may lead to the next great discovery. The innovation we’ve been all waiting for. Exchange ideas, develop them, compliment them through conversations. You’d be surprised at the outcome.
  9. The more you talk, the more you learn. And it is not just about the gossip. The more information and points of view you hear, the more you will be able to distinguish between the truth and the lies; between propaganda and realism. And the more you will be able to develop your own informed opinion about the state of things.
  10. Ultimately, talking and being able to express your thoughts makes you more attractive. It shows you are not a feeble by-stander in this exciting world. You take part and have a view. And there is nothing as powerful as a mind in action.

Everyone’s a postman

postman-segway-22647375They are only a handful of academics that truly inspire you. The others just put you to sleep. Why do academics always think that talking endlessly is a sign of knowledge? And this incessant numbering of everything they say? It’s like a journalist trying to write a news report and using bullet points. It’s simply…silly!

It would be so much more effective to say a few things to the point that could stay with you even after that speech or address or lecture. Talking for 30 minutes straight will drive people insane-out-of-their-minds, and no-one will ever pay attention after the first five minutes, or will they even remember what on earth it was you were talking about, five seconds after that speech. Heck, they won’t even remember the speaker’s name. And the cheering when s/he’s done is only because everyone’s glad they stepped off the podium.

It’s frightening actually how everyone thinks of themselves as a speaker, just as everyone considers themselves a writer this day and age. Yet, these are both things that take skill and a little bit of talent. If everyone could do it, then the good ones who excel at them would be no more special than the postman delivering your letters (no offense to the postman).

N.B. Written during a very boring 40-minute speech for the presentation of a book which I could have actually read in the meantime

Becoming the Ulysses of Europe

languages_of_the_worldMulticulturalism makes us more human, and in turn more European. When we are receptive to external stimuli from different languages and cultures we ourselves become richer in every way. Coming from someone who speaks 32 languages, both active and ‘dead’, who has studied the history and origins of most known languages, and who has travelled the world in order to speak them, this statement carries considerable weight.

Ioannis Ikonomou is one of the hundreds of translators that work for the European Commission. What makes him stand out though is his thorough knowledge of dozens of languages and the enthusiasm with which he expresses his passion for learning languages.

‘I don’t learn languages to have them in dictionaries gathering dust’ he explains. Languages are learnt to be lived. And the best part of learning a language is that it enriches your life, it allows you to travel to different places and communicate with the locals in their own language, to delve into new cultures, new mentalities, and different ways of life.

Language learning should begin from a young age, from the moment the mind can start soaking up new words and new worlds and when the sound of different tongues serves as a stimulus for a life of globe-trotting. That is what happened with Ikonomou who says that it was the sounds made by foreign tourists on his home island of Crete that inspired him to start learning languages. Indeed, learning to communicate in the language of the ‘other’ opens up more doors than a ‘common’ language ever will. The late Nelson Mandela said, ‘if you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.  If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.’

Ikonomou tells me how his knowledge of languages has helped him read literature he would have never been able to discover had he not known the corresponding languages. He says that many Hungarian, Turkish, Polish, Romanian and other great writers have not even been translated into English. When you invest time to learn a language, you expect to reap the fruits of your labour – and just as money breeds greed, language learning breeds a burning desire for life experiences, memories, and friendships. This is what it really means to be European. Breaking monolingual language barriers and stepping into the realm of the ‘other’ – that’s what it’s all about. By learning languages you allow yourself to engage and interact with different cultures, values and traditions.

Every language is a different world, a different way of life, a unique mentality, and as such even the simplest of words (for example ‘bread’) will have different connotations in every language. Translators and interpreters have a difficult job. Ikonomou knows this well, having served as both. But at the same time he relishes the mental challenge offered by his job, because, as he says, leaping from language to language is a fantastic exercise. It is like balancing between worlds.

Having studied linguistics, Ikonomou knows that learning the history and origins of languages helps you to better understand your own. In the words of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, ‘those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.’

Multiculturalism and multilingualism imply openness. They suggest that you are able to escape the introvert phobias that are prevailing in Europe with the rise of the far-right, and that you are able to live with and learn from the ‘other’. Ulysses was enriched by the cities he encountered and the people he met, says Ikonomou as he recites a lyric from Homer in ancient Greek. Ulysses was much more prosperous than his son Telemachos who stayed in Ithaca all his life, and as such Ikonomou declares, ‘I want to be Ulysses,’ living in an open society. He dreams of an open society receptive to stimuli and different people from around the world, because it is only when we embrace each other’s cultures and languages that we will truly be able to live harmoniously with one other.

Ikonomou says that he doesn’t want to live his life stuck in a daily routine.  What better way to break free from schedules than delving into a different world, culture and way of life? By truly learning what ‘united in diversity’ means, and by being able to acquire an insight into the customs and life of our European neighbours.

This article was published on cafebabel.com on 18 December 2013, under the title “I speak 32 languages”. It has since been translated into Spanish, Italian, French and Polish.

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