2020/01/24

Bridge


(1)


You and I have different native languages.
You don't speak my mother tongue, I don't speak your mother tongue, so we meet halfway and speak English, my second and your second or third language.

We talk, we argue, we exchange ideas, we joke, we cry, we laugh.
We seem to be able to communicate. And I like you.

Then your phone rings, it's from someone who shares your first language.
"Excuse me," and you start talking in your mother tongue.

Suddenly, you become like a different person.
Different language, different intonation, different pitch.
I feel more natural flow and confidence in your voice.
You sound more emotional, more chatty, and more controlled.

"....OK!"

Then you hung up the phone, and you get back to the person I know.



(2)


You and I have different native languages.
You don't speak my first language, but I speak your first language as a second language, so we speak English.

We talk, we argue, we exchange ideas, we joke, we cry, we laugh.
We seem to be able to communicate. And I like you.

Then your phone rings, it's from someone who shares your first language.
"Sorry," and you start talking.

Suddenly, you become like a different person.
Your pace gets faster, you use different range of vocabulary.
You switch from world standard English to your vernacular English.

I feel more natural flow in your voice.
You sound more emotional, more chatty, and more relaxed.

"....OK!"

Then you hung up the phone, and you get back to the person I know.



* * *


I know that the personalities are not defined only by words. And I do understand that our message can go beyond languages, and that strong words and texts cannot lose its meaning and power by translations (when it's done sincerely).

But I can't help but wish... if only I could understand you in your mother language. And, if only you could understand me in my mother language.

All the nuances, puns, rhymes, cultural and local and generational references and jokes. I wish we could communicate with all these elements, as if we put the Babel fish in our ears, or as if we ate Honyaku-Konnyaku.

Whenever I face the situation like (1) and (2), I recognize there's this unfillable gap between us. I feel sad, despair... and a drive in me.



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