This weekend we’ve had visitors who don’t speak any English. Their native tongue is Spanish. Since emigrating to Quebec, they’ve also become functional in French. It’s been an interesting weekend trying to communicate. We have had the benefit of an interpretor, but when not present communication has been a cross between very crude sign language and pointing to objects. Fortunately, everyone has been good sports.
It’s interesting how vital language is in social inteaction. Entire elements of our personalities are linked to language. Removing language limits our ability to express ourselves to our fullest potential. I suppose that seems obvious, but what happens if an individual is completely alienated from speech? I have a friend who has severe cerebral palsy. We’ve known each other nearly twenty years. In that time she hasn’t uttered a word. In spite of that fact, we continue to communicate through a bliss board and experience. Over time I’ve learned to anticipate her communication. Because of this I’ve also been blessed to know some elements of her personality that are lost to others. Considering that her medical condition hasn’t affected her cognitive ability, she’s a human being trapped in an uncommunicative world.
I write stories because I want to communicate. Despite my best efforts, my stories are lost on those who cannot read English, like our guests this weekend. Translating my stories would make them available to other language groups, but some part of the story would be lost in translation. Even worse would be the loss of most elements of communication like my friend with cerebral palsy. I might have something to communicate to the world, but lack the ability to make myself understood.
I can’t really say I have a point to these ramblings. Perhaps I’m cherishing the fact that I can communicate so freely. It also makes me appreciate something I normally take for granted.