Natasha McNeely's Author Blog

Never stop dreaming, 'cause the day you stop dreaming, is the day you stop living.

Languages: Not Just a Written Skill

10 Comments

In this post, I’ve decided to talk about something integral for all of us and something that I, personally, find fascinating.

Languages.

Europeans are known for speaking more than one language and in general, speak more languages that people from other countries and continents. Why is that? Because in Europe, traveling from country to country is like traveling from state to state in America. The difference is that in Europe, each country speaks a different languages, whereas each state speaks the same – English.

It’s a language barrier that needs to be overcome and the average European can speak at least two languages. Perfectly? Not necessarily, but enough to survive in foreign countries. At the very least, Europeans learn their native tongue and English. I know from experience that the Dutch can also learn German and French, or even Greek and Latin; it’s the same in Germany, minus learning Dutch.

However, one language is commonly forgotten.

Body language.

Take this in:

Body language makes up 60% – 70% of every conversation, regardless of the language the conversation is in. I’d call it a language of its own; it deserves that right.

Writing is one of my passions, but studying different languages comes as a close second. I speak four languages essentially fluently, namely:

  • English
  • Dutch
  • German
  • French

Is that enough? Hardly. I want to learn more. My plan is to first move on to Spanish and after that, figure out where to go from there. Languages that intrigue me are Japanese, Russian, and Arabic – not to mention Latin, Greek, and reading Egyptian hieroglyphs.

Okay, so maybe I don’t exactly pick the easiest languages. For me, it’s a challenge I’m willing to face. I love languages and I love communicating – do you hear that, teachers who called me anti-social? – and learning more languages just broadens the amount of communicating I can do.

Of course, it also shows in my writing. Characters from different countries with varying native tongues. Speaking multiple languages lets me create variety for my characters and add that little extra spice to my writing.

Learning languages is something I will always recommend to everyone. Speaking at least two languages opens up so many doors, and the more languages you speak, the more options you have, even if it’s just a matter of making holidays easier.

Languages help when it comes to communicating with other people, but don’t forget that it’s not just about the words you say; your body will show what you really mean with the words.

Okay, so maybe I like shows like Lie To Me and The Mentalist, but it’s true.

 

Do you speak languages other than your native tongue? If so, how many and which? What’s your view on learning different languages?

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Author: Natasha McNeely

I'm a writer, a reader, a gamer and a dreamer. I love losing myself to thought and considering possibilities. That is how I create my stories and weave the erratic tales into readable ones.

10 thoughts on “Languages: Not Just a Written Skill

  1. I’m going to be taking Spanish in a few semesters just because it’s a requirement and it wouldn’t hurt to know it, seeing as how it would come in handy sometimes. As for Japanese, I highly recommend trying it out. SO much fun, until you get into the tougher parts, but still fun. ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Ah, I’m a bit of a linguist, too! X3 (I speak English and Spanish fluently; I’m semi-fluent in Latin – more for reading and almost writing it than speaking it; and I know most of the grammar and syntax rules in Japanese, so I could almost be fluent if I knew enough vocabulary. <XD)

    And I'd love to learn Finnish and Italian…

    ANYWAYS.

    I completely and totally agree. There are people who get along in a foreign country by body language alone! (Playing charades, etc…) Oh, and sign language? I consider that both a speaking language AND a body language – if you've ever seen it, some of the signs make a LOT of sense. Take the basic thank you, for example – pulling the hand close to the chest is a general sign of emotion, and moving your hand towards someone is a natural gesture of empathy and thanks. How many people move closer when they feel more at ease, or throw their arm around someone as thanks?

    …I should probably add sign language to that list of ones I'd like to learn. <XD

    But about body language, I agree with you so completely. (I like watching The Mentalist, too 8F – in fact, I almost have that gift. I'm an expert at reading people, physically and emotionally. I tend to "see through layers".) Mmm, but, that's part of why I so prefer speaking to people face-to-face instead of, say, texting, or even speaking on the phone. You lose *sooo much* when you can't see how the other person is reacting, or what they're conveying through their facial expressions and posture and angles… even the way peoples' voices change…

    …though I'm not exactly sure if tonal fluctuation falls under "body language" or part of the speaking language. Probably the latter…?

    And oh, I know all about speaking multiple languages keeping your characters interesting. ^^ In fact, I'm kinda-sorta making up a whole different language for some original-universe characters of my own. :3 (Something with a vocabulary like Hebrew, Japanese conjugation and grammar [including separate honor levels and different ways of speaking for different situations], and word organization like in Latin.)

    • Those are some great languages to know! Nice job learning all of those.

      I actually did not consider sign language when writing this post, but you make a great point; sign language is also a good language to learn, if not to use it, then just so you know how you can express things without actually speaking. Sign language would be great to learn, at the very least the basics.

      I think that if you actually pay attention to the person you’re talking to, it’s fairly simple to see whether they’re lying or hiding something, etc; most people just don’t take the time to actually pay attention.
      I’ve never been one for texting or talking on the phone much; not so much because I prefer to talk face-to-face, but because it never really appealed to me. I do it, yes, but nowhere near as often as others my age.

      That’s an interesting thing to consider. On one hand, I think it might fall under body language, because it is a more subconscious thing… but on the other hand, it could be considered part of the speaking language. That’s a difficult question.

      That sounds like a difficult challenge, but one that will be worth it! Good luck with that; I hope it works out for you!

  3. Great post. As a language lover I totally agree with you. Keep up the good work.

  4. I think the saddest thing is how many children missed out on growing up bilingual because their parents only taught them the native language of where they lived. So many people have immigrated to English speaking countries, and don’t pass on the gift of their native language to their children. I have always said, even if I don’t know a second language fluently, any child I raise would be taught to be bilingual as they grew (and it helps now that I intend on inter-country adoption!).

    ~Ashlee
    http://ashleesch.com

    • I fully agree with you. I had the same thing; we moved to Europe, namely The Netherlands, when I was seven, but we always spoke English at home. At school and such, Dutch, but home was always English.

      That sounds wonderful! Having children be at least bilingual is great.

  5. Pingback: The More Languages you speak, the less likely… | Multilinguists’s Weblog

  6. I love this post and acquiring languages is my second passion as well. There are other languages that are also commonly forgotten: Sign Languages! Each country has their own sign language and most speaking language private school DO NOT offer any sign language as a course ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

    Its true what you mentioned about body language and that plays a huge role in sign languages and Deaf culture. Its like the main focus for communication over the “tonal/pitch” auditory cues for the hearing.

    Looking forward to more posts on languages ๐Ÿ™‚
    If you are interested in ASL ( american sign language ) check out my site. There are many ASL and other languages resources there.

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