Snazzy title, I know.
When I’ve been in countries which speak a different language, I’ve always been with a large group of English speakers. And in Ireland last year, most spoke English so that wasn’t a concern at all. But here it is different. Not only do they speak a language I don’t understand, but they have no qualms about speaking it around those who cannot comprehend. In America, especially in the restaurant business, staff must speak English around customers. To do otherwise would be rude and unprofessional. I am accustomed to people deliberately speaking English around me. But here it is different. They don’t find it rude at all to have conversations by me or even about me in Icelandic. Even at dinner last night, they would only speak English if I asked a question. Otherwise Dan and I ate in silence, isolated from what seemed to be a great conversation.
Dan, the other WorkAwayer who hails from Romania, and I were discussing this during lunch today; Dan has lived in many countries and it’s pretty common for people to speak their own language regardless of another’s. I think we’ve come to the conclusion that the whole language thing is probably because America is xenophobic and we try to hide it under a mask of professionalism and propriety.
So I’ve been thinking. Instead of being offended (because these people are very nice and they wouldn’t do this if they thought it rude), I’ve decided to make this a social experiment. And I’m loving it!
I once watched a video (link below) about what English sounds like to non-English speakers and it’s pretty funny. I can’t understand, so I immediately try to read the other language we all use. That’s right, body language. According to Psychology Today, 55% of communication is body language, 38% is tone of voice, and only 7% is actual words spoken. That’s pretty interesting, if you think about it. I’ve always enjoyed watching body language. Probably because of my theatre/acting education and my intense love for Benedict Cumberbatch’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes. To have this opportunity to isolate body language and tone, observing them without any distracting words, is phenomenal. And I feel like a sociopathic detective, so what?
I encourage you to share any thoughts about language and body language in the comments below. So move your body! It’s more telling than you think.
[Notice how their tone really shows what they are expressing?]