martes, 26 de abril de 2016

1 Language, 1000 Meanings

Life is challenging, everybody knows that. I've known that for a long time but I didn't realise it as much as I do now that I speak more than one language. Actually, when I think about it, I notice humans have always used more than one language to communicate with each other. There are so many languages available, as animals populate the earth. We feel this need of sharing our perspectives about life, and I found 'that' tricky. Languages are about sharing meanings but... what is a meaning? It is an idea about something, of course. Usually, it's related to a feeling or a perspective that we want to express in some way. To me, that is one of the most difficult things to achieve in the world.

When you choose a language to explain what you mean, you're putting a barrier in front of you, but you're also building a bridge to be able to connect with others in some way. The problem with this is that you never know if people really understood what you meant when you were trying to express something, especially if it was something related to your feelings or abstract subjects.

My first language is Spanish, and I could say that people understand what I mean when I try to explain something in my own language. However, I have experienced moments in which I have communicated my ideas in Spanish and people were not able to fully understand them. Why? Because they might have assigned different meanings to certain phrases or expressions I have used to explain something.

Not only verbal communication is the problem but also nonverbal communication... things related to intonation, facial expressions and lack of attention are some of the key factors in relation to misunderstandings. It's all about what we think, and verbal communication is not easy to use to express our own meanings. Animals, however, have proved it's possible to communicate effectively with each other without using any kind of words (at least not human words). Amazing!

I'm writing about this because I have been living in Ireland for about 3 years and I still get confused about some expressions, phrasal verbs, and tricks of the language in general. *The home of online English* has helped me a lot with these issues, though. English42 provides online tools and lessons for students, foreign people like me, who need to improve their English skills every day. This is something I feel passionate about.

Culture is another factor that influences meanings, and although I feel more adapted to the Irish culture now, I still feel like another person when I'm communicating my thoughts in English. It's like another part of me has been born and it's growing every day, even while I write this post and try to communicate this particular meaning!

I recently decided to learn a little bit more about computer programming, and now I see clearly how we communicate with computers using another type of language: java, php, c++, phyton, etc are some of the coding variations. These languages are very complex! Humans care too much about meanings, on the contrary, machines do not care about what you mean... They care only about what you type in, and they expect "black or white" instructions/meanings. That's why developers tend to be so picky about the requests we make. They need to "talk" to the computer and ask her to do A or B using a weird kind of language.

Sometimes humans hide what we really mean using nice words. We mask our thoughts because we judge them, and we use certain words to make them sound better, but we don't even know if people got the message we wanted to (not even if they told us they did). However, sometimes we mean to say something positive, and people interpret it the other way around. It's crazy! Those sort of things are the ones that make this subject so complicated to me.

Despite all these "negative" facts about languages, I feel profoundly in love with them. I believe life is about understanding our own meanings and connecting with each other. It's also important to realise that everybody is trying to figure out the true meanings hidden behind verbal and nonverbal communication.

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domingo, 31 de enero de 2016

Life goes on along with your identity...

I came to Ireland almost 3 years ago! I've spent 3 winter seasons here and this experience has turned my life around. I'm not longer involve with my birthplace problems as much as I was when I was living there. Now I can only hear what they tell me on Skype calls about it; read the news and pray for my family. I know Venezuelans are living a terrible experience with the current government ruling the country. Sadly, I can't do anything about it.

It hasn't been easy for me, though, living here I mean... Many people think I was courageous because I made the decision to emigrate my country to come to an unknown place like Ireland, more than 10 hours away from my loved ones. What they don't know is that I had always dreamt living abroad... However I've noticed that living your life so far away from home does change you. I've changed a lot. I certainly feel different about myself. I'm a 27-year-old lady who came to Ireland eager to explore the country and live this amazing European experience I had always heard of. I became an immigrant, which is nice at the beginning when you feel like a tourist. After that period of excitement something else comes. I can't describe it entirely, I'm not sure if it would be easy to write it down (even in Spanish). The thing is that I want to express my feelings from my new perspective in English. Have I changed? Am I someone different when I speak in English? Maybe... I'm not sure if I'm gonna get to the point where I feel as comfortable as when I speak/write in Spanish. I have several friends with whom I communicate in English, and of course being able of doing that is a wonderful experience. Beyond that, I have thousands of philosophical questions about my life here or anywhere else.

Sometimes I feel that my identity is not longer defined by my country ideals or anything related to my "Latin personality". The Venezuelan people I know here are leaving the country looking for new opportunities. Laws for Latin American immigrants are not as friendly as you might think. My connection to Venezuelans is slowly reducing to online chats and phone calls. So I have ended up making new European friends instead.

I'm still figuring things out. Nevertheless, I think life is a unique journey from which I still have a lot to learn from. My true identity seems to be more related to my essence than to my personality after all. Moreover, my spiritual beliefs are the ones shaping the new way I define my true self now .