Body-language and nonverbal communication

Chinese language is body-language –giving birth to words- (3)

Chinese language is body-language –giving birth to words-  (3)

While writing this I remember Lola and Volker. Lola is Chinese and Volker is German. Both work as documentary filmmakers, especially in intercultural contexts, just as in China or Germany.

We were talking about the Chinese language, about calligraphy and the way a Chinese will translate a German word or sentence into Chinese.

Volker said a simple sentence of three words. For a European it was very easy to translate this into a foreign language. Lola, after she had heard the sentence looked down on the table, was very concentrated and ………………………..thinking about her task. You could see that she was thinking about something very intensively by the facial expression. It was not necessary to be an expert in body-language to realize that something important was going on in Lola, trying to translate the simple sentence. (By the way, she is very good in German and a German wouldn’t expect this hesitating and this concentration of her.)

Then, after about thirty seconds, her lips moved a little and it seemed as if she tried to find words and to form words which she did not say yet. It was some kind of inner process which slowly found a shape via the moving of the lips. Another minute later, she is still looking down on the table, her facial expression still moving, she pronounced some Chinese words which ought to give birth to a Chinese sentence. Then she looked up, still hesitating a little, to look into our eyes and to present us the final result of this process of giving birth to the translated sentence.

Chinese language and communication between Chinese language and any other western language seems to be a really hard job, a process of an inner world which, so it seems to me, is always unique until it is finally born in the translated sentence.

In contrast to that, if we in Germany or in England, pronounce the world “apple” or “Apfel” in German, we know what it’s about and finally it doesn’t matter how we pronounce it. An apple is an apple. It´s seems to be that simple.

And again I got the impression that translating, speaking and communicating for Chinese seems to be some kind of body language, namely a process in which the body processes and expression is that important.

1 comment
  1. Language communication | Fotosnap says: 26.06.201220:49

    […] giving birth to words – Body-language and nonverbal communication […]

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