Every Mediterranean person knows those Friday afternoons in which you spontaneously decide to grab a beer at the bar around the corner, and somehow you end up in a massive party of a friend who knows a friend who knows a friend, and it turns into one of those legendary evenings to remember. Well, that scenario could hardly happen among Northerners. Take Germans, for instance. They make good coworkers, but when it comes to social life… they are as spontaneous as a Swiss train timetable.
If you have had trouble understanding locals lately, fear not. Your language skills have not vanished overnight. Rather, the communication challenge switched to a whole different level of difficulty.Deciphering messages in any (foreign) language is a complex task on its own. Not only do you need to hear the message loud and clear, but also share the linguistic code of the speaker. Furthermore, the visual cues convey as much meaning as the audible information. In fact, words only account for 35% of the meaning in a conversation 1.
If you prefer face-to-face communication over phone calls, there’s a perfectly good reason: non-verbal cues are absent over the phone. You might hear the words, but the absence of gestures, facial expressions and eye contact might leave you at a loss.
In the current situation, most of these non-verbal cues are gone. In addition, speakers are often too far away to be heard, and face masks act like a barrier that muffles sound. Remember those times at the dentist when you can’t understand a word they are saying? As if speaking a foreign language weren’t difficult enough under normal circumstances.
Long story short: if you are a bit rattled, don’t doubt your skills. They are still there, you are just playing this round of the game in pandemic mode.
Somewhere in a Spanish-speaking rainforest, the mischievous fauna spends the day messing around with personal pronouns.
Fun fact: the name of this bird comes from the Tupi word “tukana”, an extinct Tupian language that was spoken by the native Tupi people of Brazil. It made its way into many languages through the Portuguese “tucano”.
Would you like to find out more about the Spanish pronouns? Check out the Linguiputians’ masterpiece: Tú, usted, vosotros!
What happens when a foreign plug meets the local outlet.