A journey of languages

Above is the longest place name in the world: It is Welsh and has 58 letters and many double or even quadruple consonants in a row! The top tongue twister place name I have come across.

Since I left Australia in April I crossed many languages zones, some familiar, others total alien to me.

After I left Australia I had a short stop in Malaysia on my way to Nepal. Bahasa Malaysia I cannot claim to speak, but I can read some of the menu, and speak some basic words, because it is similar to Indonesian, where I have spend some time in the past.

I have been to Nepal many times, so the sound of Nepalese (related to Hindi) is familiar and I can say some basic words to get by. Tibetan was also spoken in the area of Nepal where I was. That is a much harder language for me, so I stuck to English only and lots of smiles. Both languages have their own alphabet, un-decypherable to me.

Next stop was Armenia and Georgia. Armenian is a language related to no other, just like Georgian. If you look at the tree of languages, both languages are on their own on a branch. Both have their own alphabet, especially designed. It took me a while to remember the first few words because my brain could not find any reference for remembering even basic words.

Dutch (and double-Dutch)is my native languages, and despite having left 30 years ago, I understand it all, speak it all, but I doubt it if my grammer is fully up to scratch. I was also fluent in German, but due to the lack of practice I am much less fluent nowadays. In Switzerland I spent time in the Swiss-German speaking area. Swiss-German differs greatly from high German, but previous exposure means I can understand some. Speaking it is a different matter though. I also learned French at school, but that never got beyond the basic conversation level. through my knowledge of French I can decipher some Italian and Spanish as they are all related.

I love the sound of Goidelic languages: the Manx, Irish and Scottish Gaelic. I have been many times to Ireland, including to the Gealtacht area where Gaelic is still spoken. I even learned some songs in Gaelic. In Ireland all signs are bilingual and I was surprised how many words I still remembered after having been away for decades.

The Brythonic languages; Welsh, Cornish and Breton Gaelic, are a different cattle of fish and do not sound like the Goidelic ones to me at all. My ears have not had much exposure to them and listen with a puzzled look on my face.

Somehow I manage to make myself understood no matter what language is spoken. Possibly because I am very used to non-verbal and intuitive communication through my work with non-verbal art students  with intellectual disabilities, and recently through my work with non-verbal people living with advanced dementia.

Non-verbal communication requires a different way of ‘tuning-in’ to a person, it requires being 100% present, and lots of intuition. It forces one to be fully present. It intensifies a connection and can make interacting very enjoyable.

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Posted in On the road, boat, or in the air..

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