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Monday, 12 October 2015

Universal language

While on our holiday, the wee girl made a friend at the pool. They started to play a game together. He was a Chinese boy, visiting from China. She learns Mandarin at school, but only a year's worth so far. The game involved her counting to him in Chinese, he counted back in English and then hand signals did the rest of the game planning.

One of my favourite things when travelling, is watching the kids play with other kids who don't share the same language. It's amazing what games can be organised when the participants are prepared to make themselves understood through action rather than words. It's a shame we become less resourceful with age...

Little kids don't seem to be restricted by the idea that they don't speak a common language. Adults, on the other hand, even with a little of the language, are often self conscious about their ability to speak it,  and so we shut ourselves off from interacting with others, and maybe miss out on seeing the world from a different perspective.

What makes us suddenly cut ourselves off from people, purely because we decide it's too hard to communicate?

When I was 23, I was on a small plane with only Japanese passengers and a French pilot. After we'd landed, the pilot came in and told me that the transfer was late, but it was coming (we had landed at a very small provincial airport). I then had to charade to the Japanese that it was all okay, and we would be late. At the tiny resort, all the Japanese would smile hello, and on tours out to the sites, they'd sit with me, even though we couldn't talk (but we could point things out to each other). A few days later, one of the staff came and said to me "Why do they all think you work here? They want to give you a tip". It's a fond memory for me, and a reminder that we don't need to limit ourselves.

I wonder if we saw ourselves as more universal and less 'us & them' if we'd have a more peaceful planet?  It certainly couldn't hurt.

Linking with #MummyMondays


  1. I'm sure it would be a very good thing. Aren't kids gorgeous how they make friends so easily? They have no inhibitions, see someone they want to talk to and go for it. My girls haven't come across any kids who speak a different language yet. I can't wait to see how they would handle the situation.

  2. So true. I know how K managed when we were in Spain with her school girl Spanish (6 months of it) but she did really well - much better than I would have after 6 months of school girl Spanish.

  3. Kids are so good at reminding us we shouldn't put up barriers aren't they?

  4. Kids teach us so much. They're genius's (is that a word?)

  5. I reckon we can learn so much from kids. Seems we forget quick a lot, or rather things probably just get overly complicated, as we grow older. We're in such a rush for our kids to grow up and be able to do things when maybe we should be the ones learning from them #teamIBOT

  6. There is so much we can learn from children - acceptance of others regardless of differences is one such thing!

  7. My barriers started to be built as a child now I push people away because it is easier

  8. I love watching littlies play - they're so accepting, so free from judgement. We could all learn a lot!

  9. What a really lovely perspective and yes, I completely agree. I also think it's such a shame that theres so much emphasis on learning English and English being the universal language. Very soon we're going to loose so many languages altogether. That's one thing I'd love to do when I get some time back, pull out my Spanish books and re-learn it. There's nothing better.