Fragments on an Unknown Language: Perplexed on a Sunday Morning

Listening to an unknown language, we are confronted with the limits of our imagination. Understanding nothing at all about a foreign language, yet listening closely, only results in a better understanding of not-knowing. In this case, we must ask questions. It is only through asking questions (learning how to ask the right questions) that we might be able to grow in shifting the limit of non-understanding.

If we are socially competent enough, we may be able to use our imagination to take account of the situation and come to some understanding (again, absolutely limiting) about what is being talked about.

We forget the wonder of being able to understand the language of another when we are always immersed in the language that we understand (that we speak). Thrust into a situation where absolutely nothing makes sense, we come face-to-face with awesome connecting power of language. As it connects, it can utterly disconnect. It is up to you to develop those capacities in yourself that will lead you to understanding it.

So, what is language for? And, how is it that we can understand or grow with another who shares none of our language? Is “real” talk only a function of spoken language? What is it that comes out from behind and through our language that makes us understandable to the other?

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