Dialogue, language, learning LO25505

From: Pixie Delite (pixie_delite@hotmail.com)
Date: 10/21/00

Replying to LO25223 --

There are certainly a lot of questions raised in this dialogue. Complex -I
am not sure. Even though i am waaaay late since i have been busy with my
thesis, I would like to partially communicate a few thoughts that rushed
into my mind while i read this. Atleast I will attempt to do so knowing
the limitations of communication that is not complete in its form and
spirit over an email.

Let me pick out the points from your write up that i would like to address
and then do so in a pointwise manner. How does that 'sound'? :)

1."We could see language as the most important carrier of thoughts and
knowledge from one person to another. "

Language is the most exentisively used carrier of thoughts and knowledge i
agree. About how that makes it the most important I find debatable. After
all, sometimes a hug can mean more than any number of words spoken in any
tongue, tone or level of tuning!

Thus it would be more correct perhaps to say - some of us place language
above all else in terms of importance in the way we communicate. This
partly justifies how we make fun of differing accents, or pick on people
who make mistakes in spellings or usage etc.

As you correctly added, "....language is like the train to fascilitate the
transport from one place to another.....". There is then the airoplane,
the car, the truck etc that can transport just as well. Thus the way we
communicate and find easiest to communicate in a given situation is
dependent on the circumstances and environment set up at that moment. for
example right now i rather talk to you but i chose to write but
circumstances shape my restrcitions.

2.".....if the sending and receiving persons are on the same 'wavelength'.
Language should have the same value for both of them. Only then, the flow
meets less resistance, without barriers....."

How many wars could have been avoided if this were true - even amongst
that spoke the same language on the same wavelength and valued it equally!
How many wives could have been saved from a battering husband if what you
state above is true to all situations. Once again, the statement you have
made holds true only in a given situation at a particular time and place

"....In this case, the source of miscommunication lies mainly in the
You are right without knowing what you said here. If we add a deeper meaning
to this statement it can be taken as correct. However, for that we must
redefine what communication means to you.
Barriers are always there even amongst those in total tunage e.g. a couple
who have lived over 40 yrs together and know each other pretty well.
Miscommunication in content is like saying a hammer did not strike the nail
but my thumb means there is a design flaw in the hammer.
It is not the tool but the holder where the key lies. It is not
communication or the content of what is being delivered - a blow to the nail
- that is to be scrutinised.

It is a deeper interplay of things than just this. I shall conclude with
what I think this is.
The 'content' here consists of:
1. what person A was thinking when they communicated what they did.
2. what mood were they in and what had they been through in the day when
they said this.
3. who did they say it to and what is their relationship with B
4. what predispositions does A have. i.e. before even communicating what
mind sets does A have towards B + what mind sets does he have about the
place and time they are being said at + what mind set does A have towards
the relationship with B
5. when A has thought of what to say in language to B - one has to consider
what A thinks of B, what A percieves of all Bs in their lives, what is A
feeling towards B at the time the communication is delivered.
6. all the above but reversed for B - the listener.

You get the drift. And all this is processed in A and B's minds in split
seconds without knowing. And all that is communicated might be a HELLO or
just a shrug of shoulders or nasty eye roll.

3. "There is another picture possible. Language is the "visualisation' or
'audiosation' of thoughts"

When two blind people or two deaf or a deaf and a blind person
communicate....do we not call that language? Braille, sign etc.?

4. "The intimicy of language and thinking is so intense that for
optimal communication the language patterns of sender and receiver should
be simmilar and also the senses for sending and receiving the
electromagnetic waves should be 'tuned'."

I feel this is true in todays world unfortunately. All because we place so
much emphasis on spoken form of language rather than the totality of
language. We are too busy hearing what is being said rather than listening
to what is being exposed to us. Even the communicator is too busy getting
him/her self heard rather than understood. Hence the e.g. speak louder
please instead of 'keep speaking over and over again until i listen
please, as i am only hearing you right now'.

Similarity does not ensure optimal communication. Honeslty some days i
communicate with my dog better than i do with people. He is really in tune
with me more than any human i have known! To be electromagnetically tuned
it takes more than similarity. It takes awareness of the differences. But
that is another whole philosophical essay i have written years ago when i
was about 12 i think!!

5. "In any of both cases, language plays a crucial role in thinking and in
the transfer of thoughts (and thus with learning). The barriers that
different languages cause or create in a learning environment (with
different persons) could be so high, that vast parts of knowledge and
ideas of a person or even whole nations or tribes will never reach people
with another language."

Yes i agree with you here. However, my reasons are different.

Firstly, the man who made the wheel never spoke to me in words or any
language. he just gave me wheels. He communicated and passed on learning to
me in a totally effective way across generations. Thus language, once again,
is a widely used tool to facilitate communication of thoughts etc but not
the only way.

Secondly, the barrier is self made - by person A and B. otherwise
interculturallly (is there such a concept i wonder - to the monkey we are
all bloody apes that walk funny) married couples would never be able to
love and communicate!

If that is so then i think i rather stick to my dog - atleast i can be
sure he understands my thoughts in all ways i communicate to him - even
the odd slap on the ear!

There is so much more that floods my mind from reading all you had to say.
But i shall cut short (hahaha) and come to the 3 points you made for

POINT 1 - How to deal/overcome with language barriers in a learning

Here i shall qoute some or the other prominent person in LO literature. It
is something said by someone great as usual but discovered by me in my own
life before i read it as a theory as a grown up. All credit thus goes to
life not a person. Here a JOY STORY :)

if you encounter a barrier in anything in life ... what do you do? you
panic! well yes thats human to do so. But then you want to live through it.
You are being human again with your keen survival extinct. You gather your
thoughts and access the situation. what is the barrier - you define it. then
you see your options - you plan and plot out all. then you elminate those
that are most unlikely to succeed or have limitations - you revisit and
reaccess. then you try out what is on your list - action. you either pass or
you fail. if you fail - you panic....well yes thats human to do so. But then
you want to live through it. You are being human again with your keen
survival extinct. You gather your thoughts and access the situation. what is
the barrier - you define it. then you see your options - you plan and plot
out all. then you elminate those that are most unlikely to succeed or have
limitations - you revisit and reaccess. then you try out what is on your
list - action. you either pass or you fail.......

now if theres another person involved as the barrier e.g. in language
across cultures.....this is what this wheel looks like:

you both encounter a barrier - what do you both do?....panic!...well yes
thats human to do so. But then you both want to live through it. You are
being human again with your keen survival extinct. You both gather your
thoughts and access the situation. what is the barrier - you define it. then
you see your options - you plan and plot out all. then you elminate those
that are most unlikely to succeed or have limitations - you revisit and
reaccess. then you try out what is on your list - action. you either pass or
you fail. if you fail - .........

surely there should be something different when two people meet from when
only one is knocking their head against a nonliving barrier! But sadly in
life the above example is the harsh reality.

The way we approach a communication barrier is a barrier in itself. Thus
the flaw lies beyond the CONTENT of the communication as you had related

And when we do invlove each other the whole time the pressing question in
our minds is "oh man! how am i going to get my point across. how am i
gonna make this THING understand what i am trying to say." How many of us
think "let me put aside what i wanna say. let me LISTEN to him/her and see
where theyre coming from. then perhaps i can understand them enough to be
able to restructure my communication to be understood better!"

If you see the paragraph above - you will see who the culprit is - not
CONTENT...but the THOUGHT PART 2 - that is the thought that follows the
thought to be communicated - the thought that processes the very content
of the communication!

And that thought in turn is linked to the5-6 odd questions i gace earlier
in this discussion about what A and B access unknowingly before they
communicate...i.e. predespositions in ways of thinking and behaviour
patterns and the immediate environment at that moment. You gotta love
Heisenbergs Uncertainity Principle through everything in life. Enough
babbled. Moving right along.

POINT 2 - "Sustains one language creative thinking more than another

Even though the question sounded incomplete - due my great communication
skills i understood what was being asked ! Yay!

Creativity is not a function of language firstly. Although some forms of
creativity require language, not all creativity is linked to language -
not the kind you have defined in your discussion anyhow.

The question is not why beethoven is a better musician than aspara gus (old
joke) but why is beethoven better than all his own countrymen who spoke the
same language. simple.
Then we can see obviously it is because he played better and had the talent
for it rather than how well he spoke! On the basis of only his fingers he
communicated more than all this countrymen could in words!

piano keys and notes are a universal language not related to a culture.
the way they are played is no doubt molded by culture and tradition but
not the notes themselves.

thus it is not communication but in whose hands it is that makes the
making or breaking difference in a multicultural environment. it depends
upon our personal predespositions, prejudices and barriers within how well
we respond to global communications and how easily we are able to
communicate thoughts across the barriers that are much more personal than

POINT 3 - " Language has a spoken and a written side. Some languages are
more 'musical' than others, in some languages (Chinese) the pitch is even
important for the meaning of the word. But does the type of characters of
the written language plays a role too? Is that why Japanese and Chinese
think different from the 'western' world. Has the Arabic world something
different in their thinking because of their special smooth, fluent and
unhooky writings and reading from right to left?"

Firstly, i think i have stated that language is beyond words - spoken or
written. it includes signs, jestures, sounds, beats, rhythms, waves and
much more. Language the way you describe it is nothing but that hammer
built by a person once and is used with the same design over years.
nothing special about the way it looks. it just is the best way the
inventor thought it would be. someones thoughts in the form of a tool.
where the tool is made may change the quality of it but not because it was
named in german or hindi or english! but because of the materials it was
made up of.

Often the main error made about communication is when it is treated as a
dead object - like a hammer - in conjunction with what we are.
Communication is a part of human cognitive processes and thus is more
intricate than a simple hammer!

To conclude all my loooooong gabbling, there are a few points i thought of
through all this that i think is important learning for me - more like
reenforcement of learning actually:

1. the essence of human communication is the human and the relationships it
has with 3 things - the communicator, the person(s) to be communicated to,
dn the environment at the given time.
2. in most cases we hear words not thoughts even though those words are
supposed to convey thoughts. This is vastly due to the fact that most people
spend too much time thinking how to say the words right rather than
concentrate on the content of what the thought they need to convey.
3. one should put on the shoes of the person you are communicating to before
you mould how the thoguht is to be conveyed and vice versa for the one who
4. Be aware of all around you. it is an importartant part of any
communication to be effective and optimum as you use the word.
5. Miscommunication is oftetn from lack of understanding and grasp of our
own thoughts before the communication rather than the other persons or the

To end this, i turn to the qoute that was at the bottom of your very
dialogue Dr. Minnigh:

" Let your thoughts meander towards a sea of ideas."

It does not mention language anywhere does it? :) Thoughts giving rise to
ideas.....so the relationship to be studied for improvement has to be
this....not the postman called language!


Joy Vatsyayann Bsc Phys.(Hons), BSc Biology (Genetics Major), PGDip. Management Systems, Masters in Management Systems (current) pixie_delite@hotmail.com Waikato Unveristy Hamilton New Zealand

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