Monday, May 11, 2009

Lost in translation

My family from Korea is visiting Seattle this month and I am so thrilled to have them here, but also bummed that I am a three hour drive from them and am still in school, thus limiting my time with them to a couple extended weekends.

My Grandma, my Aunt and my cousin are so much fun and the good times roll especially since we can’t communicate through our words. It’s been a long time since I have experienced this extreme language barrier. In my trips to Malawi, language was hardly a barrier as English was one of the national languages and we were encouraged to speak in English to help the kids practice their language.

To communicate with my Korean family, we are both stretched. Communication comes in the form of wildly exaggerated movements and actions that looks similar to championship charades combined with even more laughter and head nodding, even if you have no idea what is going on. It is pretty hilarious. Even if we can’t have deep and meaty conversations which I so love, we can be in each other’s presence and bond over our many failed communication attempts and hilarity. My Grandma will talk to me in Korean just as if I speak Korean too, and for a few minutes. I have no idea what she is telling me, but I will talk to her in English for a couple minutes, too. If only my mom were there to translate the completely unrelated conversation we are having with each other.

I’m remembering my communications classes from UW and how 80% of communication is nonverbal. It’s amazing how much we can communicate purely through facial expressions and actions. I communicate through laughter and big grins. My cousin communicates through crayon colored picture gifts and enthusiasm. My Grandma communicates through back slaps, dancing and deep belly laughter. My Aunt communicates through charades and gentle laughter. It may not be the most effective communication style, but it brings us closer, which is all I can ask for.


I am Kate Maxwell said...


Derek Gillette said...

Is hilarity a word? I guess so, cause when i typed it here there was no little red line underneath it...good job knowing that hilarity is a word!