Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Communication:Come Together,Worlds Apart

              At the age of 13 I was very excited when my family announced we'd be taking a vacation in Quebec City. Being an enthusiastically budding photographer, it was a thrilling prospect to have a camera in my hand surrounded by all of the cities classic European architectural and general flavor. Well aware that French was the language spoken there I did a small amount of studying of the language with my mother before we departed. What I did not know then (and do now) is that the Quebecois speak a different dialect of the language referred to as "Cunook French". The result was that I would would speak in all the proper forms,and not the substances. And with a than current air of nationalism in the area, my attempts were not particularly welcomed to say the least.

          That was an extremely valuable lesson to learn: that there are far more than one way to speak any given language. As I later learned, that went for English even more so than others. Each region,sometimes each state,of America actually has it's own turn of phrases and colloquialisms completely unique to them that may either puzzle or (at worst) offend some outsiders. A lot of people I've run into are actually rather arrogant about communicating. The refuse to learn much about a foreign language when travelling abroad, yet they expect the opposite from foreigners-for them to instantly know English as a second language. Along with some people in the world talking very fast when they believe you know even a hint of their own language, most cultures seem extremely protective of their different ways of communicating.

          So if different countries have trouble communicating, and perhaps even fight to the point of warring over this in the long and short of things,how do a small group of people or even just two of them manage to communicate among themselves? My observation of late has been that each individual human being is very much like their own culture when it comes to verbal, and for that matter most other kinds of communication. In the case of the individual two factors seem to play into this: environment and upbringing. As indicated wonderfully in a YouTube video about My Little Pony fans dealing with hateful comments (as an example) ,a causation man from Mississippi may have very little culturally in common with an African American family from New York City. This is likely to result in enormous communication breakdowns and misunderstandings.

           The same issues of upbringing and environment can effect communication between people living right down the street. Especially in strongly economically divided communities such as where I live, I may have as much trouble making myself clear to my next door neighbor as I would with an East Indian Fakir.  The conclusion that I've come to personally is that, especially with the dawn of the internet bridging cultural gaps and now even translating languages, that ethnicity and even religious differences are not the main source for human conflict as much. That it's our inability to communicate important ideas to each other, sometimes through our own arrogance and vanity, that create the majority of modern personality conflicts on many levels. Perhaps one way to begin to solve this is just trying to understand how one of your friend thinks. They will respect you for it, and you'll probably learn something for your own efforts as well.



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