Jousse & Oskomon : when my objective is to communicate I must build something “common”. The first tool I must try to have in common is the language – oral, written, non-verbal.
Illustration : Marcel Jousse exchanging with American Indian Chief Oskomon about the Plain Indians sign language
There are many different questions on Quora that I refer to this more general title : “Speaking the language of the other.“
The term “language” may refer to :
1. Le main language spoken on a sub-continent – English for USA & Canada.
2. The official language for a Nation – French for France
3. The “other” language spoken in a Region – occitan for most of my ancestors – half south of France.
4. The specific language of a sub-region – the language in the South of Alsace.
5. The specific language of a person = a selection inside a language + some original uses of words or formulas
6. Non-verbal language
An example :
When I write harbour, colour or behaviour the American corrector of my Apple Computer underlines in red.
In WikiPedia the “American” spelling is first – harbor, color, behavior.
Elevator is over lift.
The ambiguous position of the education system
Any education system has a normative axe.
There is the “good way” to speak the main language.
Any education system should explain to pupils or adults that, for surviving (job, place for living, etc.), one must speak the language of the other.
Paul Watzlawick explains that Jews – in the hitlerian area and era – learned to speak without yiddish accent.
When they travelled to get out of the area they were betrayed by their body language that was “too” different.
Beware of books for tourists
It is not my first travel to UK but it is the first academic travel.
I buy a book and read : “U.K. people don’t shake hands !“
I am the first participant to come in the conference room and I am welcomed by an Englishman who … shakes may hand.
The second participant enters and I hold out my hand for a handshake : no handshake.
During the day I observed that :
– English people from the Jew community shake hands
– English people of “high rank” – business people, etc. – don’t shake hands
– For others “it depends” on the situation.
An answer … on Quora.
One of the questions on Quora
Should I work on developing a transatlantic accent to help me speak better in my journalistic career?
My answer :
There are three English languages – at least.
Commonwealth English, Europe English and North American English.
When I write harbour, colour or behaviour the American corrector underlines in red.
When UK was in Europe, UK MP’s were asked to speak European English in order to be understood.
Journalism is one of the jobs where you have to “be with” people.
Either to raise questions toward people or to give answers.
I was a teacher for communication.
I remember a communication experience.
I am talking with a woman about the winery of her father.
When she talks about her childhood in the place she has a strong Occitan accent – Occitan is the language spoken from French Riviera to Bordeaux and from Spain to Limoges.
When she talks about the present winery – she is now the boss of the winery – she has NO Occitan accent.
So the matter is :
1. Speaking the English of the Continent.
2. Speaking the English of the Nation.
3. Speaking the English of the Region.
4. Speaking the English of the small place.
5. Speaking the English of the part of the brain of your interlocutor !!!
I was about 40 when I got a phone call from Paris : “I need you for being the interpreter when Wyatt Woodsmall will come here.”
“But Jane, I am not an interpreter at all !”
“Yes, you speak great American !”
“Jane, I’ll do it only if you send me a book or texts written by Wyatt.”
So it happened and the experience was great.
I gave the same condition when I was asked to be the interpreter when Franck Farrelly came near Geneva.
Through this kind of experiences I noticed something very important.
A person always uses a precise set of metaphors. For example Franck is a fisher and he uses metaphors of fishing to speak about … provocative therapy !!!
As a journalist, if you go for an interview, it is important to study – beforehand – some texts written by the person to identify her set of metaphors.
Remember the Lakota formula : “Just walk a mile in his moccasins”
This formula is in a poem by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895 Judge Softly.
Who borrowed the formula to whom ?