All the different languages caress my ears. The soft seductiveness of the French, the boisterous flow of Croatian and Slav, the emphatic insistence of the Italian and the guttural abruptness of the Germanic. All are so wonderful in their effectiveness of conveying the meaning of the orators.
I love listening to languages I don’t understand. I like not having to understand or think about my response or anything else for that matter, other than absorbing the melody and the energy of the sounds. When I don’t understand, I can listen with my whole body — my eyes, my ears and my heart. I can experience the language of the body, the placement of the hands, the shoulders that may shrug or soften, and the head that may nod or throw out a chin in defiance. There is so much I miss when I am listening only for the meaning and intent of the words.
The face and eyes say so much more than the words. The face, that may be frozen in fear or animated and open. The eyes, that may be present and engaged, connected and aware, or distant and protected, darting around never meeting the eyes of the listener. Then there are the pleading eyes filled with desperation, begging to be seen and heard. There are haunted eyes, these eyes have witnessed horrors that no human should have ever seen. And there are eyes that are soft, caring and appreciating for they have experienced the gift of love and nurturing.
Eyes may reflect more than the tone of the voice but not necessarily the meaning of the words. However, it is the sound of the language that captivates me the most. The timber, the lilt, the intonation, the rhythm, the tone, the speed and the flow, it all contributes to the melody of each of these languages and their intention. The beautiful sounds spoken, whether softly to convey caring or loud and intense to demand attention, delight my ears to unusual sounds of languages unknown to them. My ears bask in the symphony these strange words play on them and they are enriched by their foreign presence.
I realize I miss so much when I listen only to words. I become lazy in exploring and connecting to all the other nuances that are being communicated. Hopefully I will remember my experience when I leave this city with its wonderful mix of languages.