Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

Language Barrier. Was there every a more apt phrase to describe the helplessness felt when trying to express oneself to someone who speaks another language?

Of course in Taiwan our friends speak excellent English, so there is no real language barrier. But somehow I still manage to feel a bit like the Ugly American expecting everybody else to speak my language. Yes, I know English is the universal language and nobody expects me to start rattling off fluent Mandarin, but what better way to show respect for them and their culture than to at least try to string a few words together?

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“Easy” is an entirely subjective term.

Easier said than done.  Let’s just say I won’t be hired as a UN translator any time soon.

But it’s also true that words aren’t the only way to express gratitude, friendship, and deep affection for one another. Small acts of kindness and little courtesies can bridge any language barrier.

A guiding arm holding yours as you navigate a busy street; your tea refilled at the instant you look about the table for the teapot; the choice piece of crab meat plopped into your bowl before you can object; an unexpected and perfectly thoughtful birthday gift arriving across the Pacific on the very day.

 

Our prompt this week was “express yourself.” Have I expressed thanks to you lately? If not, thanks for reading!

Barbara

 

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About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. Blogging about whatever happens to catch my fancy - sometimes nonsense, occasionally not.
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85 Responses to Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

  1. I really enjoyed these pictures!! When were you in Taiwan? Yes, definitely somewhat familiar with the struggles of learning another language. I tried to learn Spanish for some time. The words weren’t too hard but the grammar killed me! I can’t imagine trying to learn a language like Mandarin where there aren’t even relatable characters!

    Like

  2. joannesisco says:

    I love your interpretation of this week’s challenge!!
    …. and I’m totally impressed with your attempts to learn Mandarin. Holy cow!!

    I think you are amazing at expressing yourself. Judging by the smiles, I suspect your friends think so too!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Xie xie, wode pengyou!! Thank you, my friend. My autocorrect is ready to burst into flames!! COL!!

      Like

      • joannesisco says:

        COL!!! for a split second I actually felt sorry for the autocorrect 🙂

        When I was taking some German lessons last spring before our vacation, I could read and write ok, but during the vocal parts of the lessons, the damn software kept whining ‘I don’t understand what you’re saying’. Apparently languages aren’t my strong suit :/

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  3. Dianna says:

    Sweet post. And for some of us “vertically challenged” folks, 5’9″ is approaching amazon-like heights!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Heyjude says:

    What a lovely interpretation of the challenge. A great way to ‘express yourself’ 🙂

    Like

  5. Leya says:

    This is a great post – heart warming and I recognize the difficulties…I admire your efforts, thinking of the many immigrants I am teaching in school. How they struggle with Swedish…

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    • I am curious, Ann-Christine, are your students from all over the world and do you speak English as the classroom language? And thank you!

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      • Leya says:

        Yes, my students come from all over the world, and sometimes English is the only language in common – sometimes we have to use only body language. But, most students I have are ordinary classes in Swedish with Swedish students.

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  6. Jodi says:

    I LOVE the way you express yourself! I took Latin – lotta good that does me! 🙂 Oh – and the stories I could tell about that – for another day and time! Keep expressing your beautiful self – inside and out – just like you are – I LOVE IT! xo

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  7. Even speaking a few words in the language of the host makes for many smiles. Those countries that teach at least one other langauge at high school does the trick later in life for many to be able to have the basics in place when visiting different countries. I loved the photos which speak a language of their own.

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    • Thank you, Gerard. I know you speak at least two languages fluently, maybe even more? Yes, i have experienced the appreciation in foreign travels when I try to converse as much as is reasonable in their language. Mandarin, on the other hand, remains an enigma in actual practice.

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  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Yes, you don’t know what a challenge it is to express oneself in another language until you’ve had to do it. I admire your desire to learn Mandarin. Talk about mind boggling!

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  9. Aww, you’re such a sweet friend! ❤

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  10. Behind the Story says:

    I totally sympathize with the problem of not speaking the language. I studied Mandarin off and on for several years, and never mastered it. By now, I’ve forgotten most of what I did know.

    Chinese courtesies at dinner are so delightful, aren’t they.

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  11. When you see the word ‘easy’ on any learning device you need to beware…

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  12. I took 4 years of Latin… amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant! That’s about all I remember. Lovely post Barbara and a sweet interpretation of the challenge. Love the collage! Oh, and 5′ 4″ this year.. 🙂

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  13. nrhatch says:

    Always know a bit of the language before your go:

    1. Garcon . . . une autre bouteille de vin, s’il vous plait.
    2. Ou est la salle de bain?
    3. Je suis fatigue.

    Like

  14. menomama3 says:

    I have been trying to crack French for 35 years. I can understand a lot of what is being said but still am very shy (not my natural state) trying to speak it. And I live across the river from Quebec! There’s absolutely no excuse. Learning another language is utterly humbling and trying to learn an Asian language where the tones are so different from European languages is SO daunting.

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    • Hello Susanne, I am in a hotel room with tempermental wifi. I replied to your comment and it ended up under Barbara Pyett’s comment. She’s probably wondering what I’m blathering on about! Utterly humbling is exactly the right description. I used to think I was a pretty sharp cookie. HA!

      Like

  15. dorannrule says:

    What lovely friends you have Barbara and I am sure they love you for trying to communicate in Mandarin. The photos are great and how beautiful you all are. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • They definitely appreciated the effort, Dor, but they unanmimously felt the only way I would really learn it would be total immersion. Come live in Taipei for a nointh! Sometmes that seems really appealing……

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  16. bkpyett says:

    Lovely post Barbara. You deservedly had a wonderful holiday. Everyone likes to be recognised, and learning another language is certainly complementing the hosts. Great photos too!

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    • Hello Susanne. What a discussion we could have about language. I studied French in school and even after all these years, when I would be struggling to find a word in Mandarin, the French word would pop into my mind first. I so understand the shyness. You are so right, the whole experience is utterly humbling.

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    • Hi Barbara, my spotty wifi send the message I wrote to Susanne under your comment. I think my adventures in learning new languages will not go much beyond learning Aussie which is happening through osmosis reading the posts of my all my Oz friends. Chuffed, etc., all great words!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Lovely photos, Barbara. Sometimes language isn’t required to communicate and enjoy the company of others. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. ritaroberts says:

    ,Well ! learning another language is easier said than done. Love this post and the photo’s of your lovely friends Barbara, and I must say you are a very attractive lady.. We have lived in Crete for 12 years now and speak just enough of the language to get by on. ,It’s a very difficult language. The ancient Minoan script writing which as you know, I am studying seem easier for me to understand. I think I was from another life somehow.

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    • Rita, truly, I stand in awe of your being able to translate those ancient scripts. And to be able to speak a bit of Greek, is it?, is no small feat either. I sometimes feel that belonging to another life myself! And may I add you’re no slouch in the looks department either!!

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  19. I wondered why you had gone quiet, silly Roughseas, WP had unfollowed you. That really annoys the hell out of me.

    Anyway, you express yourself beautifully is all I can say. I’ve a drafted post about your generous sprouts share, but looks like you got there anyway. Gotta backtrack now. WP is such a pain sometimes. Sorry for my absence Barbara.

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  20. Parnassus says:

    Hello Barbara, As you have discovered, making forays into a foreign language pays multiple dividends–people appreciate the effort you make, there are more doors open to people who can at least manage the language a little, and the progress you make learning is a lot of fun.

    I noticed that your Mandarin exercises used Hanyu Pinyin, the way of writing Chinese using “English” or Roman letters. There was just an article in the news that the inventor of the system, who was interesting for a variety of reasons, just celebrated his 109th birthday! Here is the link:

    http://news.yahoo.com/china-linguists-109th-birthday-wish-democracy-041610779.html;_ylt=AwrSyCW9wMNUzSAAblnQtDMD

    –Jim

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    • Jim, you know I find stories likethis endless fascinating but this one is particularly so. Wall Street and Princeton, Einstein, Confucious, and Socrates. What an interesting man. I agree with his thought that “pessimists tend to die.” Survivors of the POW camps said much the same thing. Thank you!! Do you read Chinese characters or the pinyin?

      Like

  21. I loved your photos, Barbara! My mother-in-law is from Taiwan and I’ve had many experiences of visiting her family (some live in the US and others are in Taiwan or China) and being the only one who is not bilingual. I’ve picked up a few words over the years and so have my children, but it’s not the same as truly studying the language. Do you have plans to travel back their in the future?

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  22. markbialczak says:

    These pictures are priceless, Barbara. You found pure joy with your Taiwanese friends. I’m glad to read in ypur other comments that you and your huband are returning in June. Maybe a word or two of Mandarin at a time. But I think your friendship and love will show in your face and gestures, my friend. How could it not?

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Barbara, I have no doubt that you are entirely capable of expressing yourself in any country, no matter what language is spoken there. 🙂 But when it comes to spoken words in another language, that can be a truly humbling experience. And what’s the most embarrassing – to return to the country you were born in and not remember words in your mother tongue that you once knew; and speaking those words you remember with a foreign accent (ask me how I know) 🙂

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  24. ChristineR says:

    Such a wicked look in your eye in that selfie, Barbara! Excellent point you make.

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  25. Dixie Minor says:

    That is wonderful that you are learning Mandarin! I think making the effort means so much to people! And a smile, a touch, music, laughter, sympathetic looks, sharing food-all of these communicate so well; I think those things can also help when elderly people have difficulty communicating in words.

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    • What an excellent point you make, Dixie, about the elderly often living in a world of their own whether through dementia of something else and responding to these cues. Everything you list transcends language….also admiring of babies and puppies.

      Like

  26. It’s interesting how much you can tell about a person by just observing. Some people simply exude happiness from every cell in their bodies.

    Like

  27. quarksire says:

    same as when i was in peru but werse fer me i’d be lost without a translator ..wowza.. 😎
    safe travelzzzzzzzz 🙂 ……

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Barbara … The way you pick up on the kindness of strangers – and return the same – does not need a translation. Beautiful photos.

    Don’t forget Duolingo.com … I’m using it to learn Italian. It’s free and very helpful. Have a great trip. 😉

    Like

  29. reocochran says:

    The photos look so wonderful and your friends so sweet and kind in appearance. I think you have such a loving heart, this makes sense you wish to be able to use a few of their Taiwanese words. I feel we all need to at least TRY to use a few words or expressions of the other person’s language. Hugs, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Wes says:

    Kudos to you, my world traveling friend!!! I speak no other language than English, an I’ve just mastered it! I’ll stick to my southern vernacular for now! Y’all ….. LOL!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Sandra says:

    I think it’s a charming gesture, to learn a few phrases in the language of another. But I’d expect nothing less of you. 🙂

    Like

  32. cat9984 says:

    Great pictures. And kudos to you for trying to learn the hardest language in the world (no kidding).

    Like

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