“Rather than concede that language was a barrier (the couple spoke only German, us, English), the older gentleman proceeded to speak to us in German, gesturing often and laughing to emphasize when appropriate.”
I was recently watching a television show about language. Amongst itemizing our brain activity, demonstrating rhythm and patterns, it showed the importance of gestures and non verbal signals in communication.
I’d had my own similar experience on a recent trip to Austria (read more on P40). While taking a nostalgic tour around the city of Klagenfurt, I met an older couple (I later learned the gentleman was to be celebrating his 94th birthday), who seemed infinitely curious and wanted to know more about us, despite his limited English. Rather than concede that language was a barrier (the couple spoke only German, us, English), the old gentleman proceeded to speak to us in German, gesturing often and laughing to emphasize when appropriate.
Surprisingly, we understood each other almost perfectly. Upon hearing we were from Canada, he pointed out Austro-Canadian business man Frank Stronach’s home on the lake. He asked where we had visited in Austrian about our profession and we ‘talked’ for hours. Albeit a simple conversation, by the end of our tour, we had taken a selfie together like we were old friends. It was amazing for us to meet this couple, none of us with a common spoken language, but able to understand one another fully.