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The House of Many Languages: Thoughts about the verbal and non-verbal languages all around us, and about a friend moving away.
Posted by Douglas, Apr 9, 2008. 2859 views. ID = 1094

The House of Many Languages

Posted by Douglas, Apr 9, 2008. 2859 views. ID = 1094
This post was written in 39 minutes.
About my friends Jason and Ita.
This post has been awarded 55 stars by 14 readers.

Theirs was a house of many languages.

There was the language he spoke: the slightly accented speech of someone who grew up in a foreign land learning another language side by side with the language of his family.

There was the language she spoke, which consisted of long pauses followed by short answers, all accompanied by a shrug and a cheerful smile. Over time I grew to understand that this combination of verbal and non-verbal cues was part of her own unique and special dialect; it was her way of saying, "There is more I would like to tell you, but vocabulary has failed me."

Then there was the language they spoke together: the sudden onslaught of rapid-fire Spanish that left me both amused and bewildered. Too fast for me to follow, but slow enough that I could catch a meaning here and there, it tantalized me, made me wish I had taken more time to study languages.

And the children had - as children do - a language all their own: a language which consisted of coos and giggles and sudden outbursts of tears. They, like their mother, were adept with non-verbal communication: a stare, a pout, a quizzical and curious look - these all said as much as words ever could.

Above all there was the wonderful language of family love and devotion which transcends all other communication; it is a powerful and expressive language no matter where in the world you find it.

I visited the House of Many Languages on occasion - less often than I would have liked, but as often as my schedule and their schedule would permit. We would sit together and visit over a meal that was occasionally quite American, but often foreign to my tastes. We would sit on the sofa with our laptop computers side by side and work on his website while I chuckled to see Windows Vista with foreign menu options. Sometimes we would all sit together and watch a movie - always in English with Spanish subtitles, because they were far too polite to ask me to watch a movie the other way around.

Today the House of Many Languages stands silent and empty. I can't say I spent much time there, but the times I did visit enriched me more than I realized, and I am sad to see it emptied of life. As I stand on one side of an airport security window watching my friends pass through, walk slowly away, and disappear at last behind walls of steel and concrete - taking their many languages with them - I am surprised to discover: I miss them already.

Copyright 2008 Douglas. All rights reserved. has been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work. For permission to reprint this item, please contact the author.

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This post has been awarded 55 stars by 14 readers.
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Apr 9, 2008
Did they move away?
   ~Posted by Mathax, Apr 9, 2008

Apr 9, 2008
Yes - to Argentina.
   ~Posted by Douglas, Apr 9, 2008

Josiah T.
Apr 12, 2008
I knew that....
   ~Posted by Josiah T., Apr 12, 2008

Apr 21, 2008
I had something like that happen and this wrting really brought it back to me
   ~Posted by outgoing, Apr 21, 2008

Aug 5, 2008
   ~Posted by overmortal, Aug 5, 2008

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