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Andrei in the office

lordandrei

Andrei's Universe

One man's journey from infinity to nothingness


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lordandrei

How to unnerve people on line

I'm standing on a long line in front of a pair of Asian women. They began carrying on a conversation in <<Insert glyph based language I sure as hell don't know>>. Normally, when on line, if you hear a conversation near you, you casually acknowledge it and may jump in or pay attention to it.. if it seems appropriate.

While the U.S. doesn't have a standard, primary language... I find the use of non-English in the US is a way for a group to cordon themselves off. It sets up an intentional wall in a manner similar to installing a fence around your yard.

While language may be foreign... tone, body language, aren't.

I found myself paying attention to the conversation I didn't understand. I was riding along with the tone. And found myself chuckling at a pause point that felt like a humourous statement.

I found the one woman unnerved that I chuckled with her friend. It was as if I'd walked through her gate. She seemed to be wondering. "Oh, crap. Does he speak my language?"

So not eavesdropping. But a very interesting sociological and psychological experiment.


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I pay attention too. It may be my sensitivity and that my filters suck so that I hear everything but I'm sure it's also the innate curiosity of my inner ethnographer. Even without understanding a foreign language, I also find it interesting that I can follow a conversation based on tone, inflection, facial expression and body language.

One day at a Vietnamese business, I overheard a mother talking to her mother in their native language and then asking for her child to be put on the phone who was then scolded and told to listen to his grandmother. I laughed as she confirmed in English what I had overheard. I found it funny that I was able to understand, even without speaking Vietnamese; some things are just universal.

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