Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Forms of communication

There's a cute You Tube video of two babies having an unintelligible conversation. They seem to have their own language and understand one another. Maybe. It appears to me that one is telling the other he wants his sock back and then they mimic one anothers' babbling. All things are possible, perhaps this is a true language.

The first conversation is between mother and newborn. Infants identify their mother's smell and voice. Mothers can detect their baby's wail out of a dozen other newborns in the nursery.

Communication is two-way, even if it is non-verbal, and can be as simple as a smile, frown, nod, raised or knitted eyebrows, a caress, a posture, a smack. You get the picture.

I try not to overtalk in the classroom. After I state an instruction and repeat it once, I then use non-verbal communication. If I need a distracted child to sit, I will point to the chair, and if I have to say a name, I will. But no more. If I need children to be quiet, I look at the child, dramatically fold my hands and PLOP my hands in my lap, until I get a like response. It works! Children need to read non-verbal cues. It is difficult for children on the autism spectrum to understand non-verbal communication, but I use it just the same, and they eventually respond.

When I was a little girl my parents learned that they couldn't spell in front of me, so they spoke pig latin, that silly 'language' where you move the first letter of a word (or syllable) to the end and add the long "A" sound. My name would sound like Indalay. I caught on and responded fluently to their conversations.

My dad thought he could out-smart me, so he developed Chicken-Latin. Same principle but he added ca-hae-ckle instead of the long A sound. Cat would sound like "at-ca-haekle". I mastered that in a New York minute. Too bad I didn't do as well in French when I was in high school.

So my brother and I, at about age 9-10, developed what we considered our own language and we called it OP. We spelled words and added OP to every consonant and spoke the vowels. My name would be "Lop-I-Nop-Dop-A" We became proficient spellers and drove our parents crazy.

I think the most profound form of communication existed between my late mom and me, and also between me and my late friend. My husband and I have the knack. To be able to speak with our eyes, head movements and grunts and to be understood ... it's incredible when the other person GETS IT!

A nudge in the side or a gentle kick in the shin under the table usually garners the response, "Hey! What'd you do that for?" But not with Mom, Rose or Bill. We understood each another.

I've been out with some people who are brilliant but very literal instead of interpretive and intuitive. If I whisper, "Over there," and shift my eyes in the direction of a suspicious person or just a freak, they will flip their head around and loudly say, "Who? What? Where?" and then I must smile deflated and say, "Huh? Nothing. Nevermind."

I think you either have it or you don't. What do you think?


Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Linda,
Fascinating topic, although I'm still trying to figure out the OP language.
My siblings and I oke-spay ig-Pay atin-Lay, oo-tay.

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Dop-o-Nop-Nop-a, thanks for stopping by. See you at the onferncecay.

Chatty Crone said...

It's funny, I put the video of the two babies talking, another person did too, and then you - there was just something fascinating about it - the two having a conversation with out 'words'.

I think it was amazing.


Susan said...

Hi Linda...I don't have it. When anyone spoke pig latin, I got immediately lost and still do. I don't consider myself a "literal" thinker, but maybe, with regard to languages, I am. Thanks for the post. Susan

Southhamsdarling said...

I'm amazed that you weren't fluent at 'real' languages later on, having coped so well with all those other made-up languages when you were young! Sounds like great fun.

Unknown said...

A very interesting topic for sure and you seem to be a master. Communication has always been one of my weaker skills.

jabblog said...

I agree, definitely!
We called pig latin backslang when I was a child and I still use it with my family occasionally.
Non-verbal communication is very important - it's a skill that can be learnt, I think.

Sioux Roslawski said...

I agree. Some people are just tuned in, and others get easily lost. I think devious people (apparently you, Bill and your friend Rose) are always on the "look out" for crazy people to observe, something suspicious or funny to watch, etc.

Catherine Rankovic said...

Whisper to your non-intuitive friends, "Don't look now, but over there is...."

Linda O'Connell said...

Ha! you guys all made my day with your comments.

Sandie, those babies sure were cute!

Susan, I'll help you learn pig latin :)

Jabblog, 'backslang' is a new one for me.

Thisisme, I still remember a few phrases, but am not fluent by any means.

Odie, You do okay, I'd say.

Catherine, sometimes I just don't have the time to whisper a clarification, and with some folks even if I did, they'd say, "Huh?"

Sioux, don't make me come over there! :)

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Most of my family is clueless when it comes to non-verbal communication. On the other hand, my late husband and I could speak without ever using words.

Lynn said...

My two daughters have their own form of communication they've created (starting words with a d sound, but not all words, just certain ones) and sometimes it drives me crazy, much like you probably drove your parents crazy. I think I can go both ways - "getting it" and then being totally clueless, what? where?

Linda O'Connell said...

Susan R,
You know exactly the connection that I'm talking about.

Knowing you, I think you get it. Would love to hear your daughters' language.

Tammy said...

As usual you brought back some memories. My dad and I had those non-verbal conversations all the time. Now I find his cocked-eyebrow expression invaluable when teaching high school kids. Most of them get that it's Step One of knock-it-off-or-you're-really-in-trouble.

Kathleen said...

Fascinating stuff. I'm the youngest of eight and none of us talked in our "own" language. I wonder why not now. I'm going to try the Pig-Latin with my girls though especially when we don't want little ears knowing what we're talking about. I think we'll have some fun with it.