Constantly humming engines each tasked for humanity’s various comforts, concerts where the pointless cheering of the audience surpasses the actual music being played, people shouting at each other for no good reason… the list goes on.
The world is getting more and more noisy each passing day. Naturally occurring sounds are much less heard and man-made clamor starts taking up most of our daily lives, especially in urban areas… It rains outside but frequent car honks replace the sound of raindrops. You cook but the soothing sound of crackling fire is almost always suppressed by a piece of metal or wood clashing into other cooking utensils in arrhythmic bursts of underestimated auditory disturbance. People downstairs argue in the loudest way possible about which side of the egg to pierce… the flat end wins by the power of extremely overused vocal chords.
We are living in a world where even complete silence is becoming white noise. When did we last enjoy watching the dumb night sky accompanied by silent but bright stars? The quiet of the sun rising over distant mountains? The soothing calmness of deep underwater? The mute work of art; a painting perhaps, telling us all kinds of stories silently if we have the imagination? The voiceless communication of two lovers carefully examining each other’s facial features while smiling occasionally (and sheepishly)?
The natural sounds on the other hand, add depth to whatever we are experiencing like condiments on fries… whether it’s sea gulls gawking over a deserted beach or logs crackling in a fireplace feeding it’s conqueror… but all these natural sounds have been exiting our lives silently, leaving their places to metallic, mechanic, digitized sounds.
Do you know how many words we have invented just to name all the different sounds that are being manufactured mechanically or electronically?
And add to this the fact that we use some words like “hissing” to describe escaping gas rather than the sound a slithering serpent makes.
Music has become the only cluster of man-made sounds that seem to work and change our moods for the better, but even so, it’s starting to decline in quality over the last couple of decades. More and more singers and bands pop out each year and soon forgotten… who could beat the satisfaction we got from the Beatles, the Doors, Queen, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Muddy Waters and all the Classical music composers that have fed our souls for years (or even centuries)…
Music is food for the soul, but it has become junk food lately… And just as junk food being bad for our physical health, bad music or the disturbing noises we hear everyday in our lives is equally bad for our mental health.
So, what can be done to enjoy the world without all the disturbing noises the modern life throws at us?
No, we may not get rid of our alarm clocks and replace them with roosters if we are urban dwellers, but we may still…
Refrain using shouting and yelling of any caliber as the main form of communication with others.
Allocate more funds to invent motors or machinery that make less sound.
Build more soundproof houses with thicker walls so that we won’t get to hear the neighbor flush every time.
In my last post, we explored the impossibility of successful communication with the first aliens we make contact (unless they are Hollywood aliens, which are all fluent in English). Before diving deep into the aspect of culture in the next post, which is vital in inter-species understanding, I’d like to give a short pause and share a freshly-written, absurd flash fiction piece I wrote to give a brief glimpse of what I think might happen in the event that humanity makes contact with an inter-galactic race. Let’s see what happens:
8 minutes 44 seconds in Earth time. The final stronghold fell much easier than its definition suggested. It was strategically a terrible location to fend off the final assault for the remaining few Orgics that had chosen to hole up here– weak concrete walls that could easily be bashed in, inviting, thin metal sheet reinforced glass doors, with no booby traps inside and all.
Lost deep in his own, proper stronghold of thoughts, Captain Anders lingered through the main hallway, pushing aside the scattered glass remnants of the display cases on the floor with the side of his boots after each step. The Orgics had chosen to sacrifice their lives for whatever those fragile containers housed. What could be more important than life? Still preoccupied, Captain Anders hadn’t noticed he was standing right in front of a shattered glass door. He gently pushed the massive crack barely holding up in the centre with his gloved hand and watched the remaining glass fall and break into smaller pieces beneath his feet. So fragile! Then, it made sense a bit- the last of the Orgics weren’t the military type as those were the ones first wiped out. What would they know about fortifications? Anders bent his head slightly and passed through the doorway.
Anders was greeted by Lieutenant Orrin once he entered the main room where a 10-feet marble sculpture of an orgic freshly riddled with bullet holes stood.
“We’ve secured the place,” Lieutenant Orrin said.
Captain Anders saw the dead bodies of half a dozen Orgics piled up in a far corner. “Any survivors?”
“One, but it’s in a bad shape,” Lieutenant Orrin pointed at the giant statue. “Fought well trying to defend this. Didn’t leave its side.”
“I am guessing this one was too heavy to move.” Anders touched the feet of the giant statue and drove his hand up. It was hard and cold… just like death. “Why sacrifice life to save something so lifeless?”
The lieutenant shook his head, but Anders didn’t notice. His gaze was still fixed on the the colossal hardened form. “Take me to it.” He finally said, first prying his looks, then his touch away from the statue.
The small storage room had nothing but a wobbly metal chair in the centre. On it, was a loosely tied female orgic. Judging by the severity of her wounds, the loose ropes were there for her not to fall off the chair rather than prevent her escape. She had a couple of hours of life in her at most. Maybe less.
Anders lifted her chin up and saw the diminishing light in her empty gaze. Time was of essence and he had to pick the right questions to be able to make sense of the orgics’ purposeless actions. “Why?” He asked. “Why did you sacrifice your life for a heap of stone?”
Laura looked up and came into direct contact with the android leader’s blinking crimson eyes. She knew she was dying fast, and there was nothing else left the android could threaten her with to get answers. Besides, how would she be able to describe an alien concept to an alien race in the very limited time she had left? How could she explain art to those that never experienced it? On one note, the android seemed familiar with the concept of ‘sacrifice’ as it was the word it’d used. But, sacrificing one for other lives was one thing and willing to die for inanimate creations of their own doing was another. Besides even if she were able to make a little bit of sense, would it not get lost in translation on the way from the AI underlings to the alien masters? The androids were highly adaptable. They were the foot soldiers created to learn and adapt… To do the dirty work of their masters. And that adaptability alone caused Earth to fall in under a week: Thousands of live Trojan horses, dealing the unexpected final blow to the unaware human race. But, the whole dagger and cloak thing wasn’t to take humanity by surprise, it was merely to learn and record a race that was to be annihilated for good. The events of the past week started playing in Laura’s mind…
The androids were sent to Earth by their extraterrestrial overlords. Humanity has always been naïve in thinking we would make contact with the real deal alien entities, but just as automobiles replaced horse carriages and factory workers with machinery on Earth, it was only logical to think dangerous space exploration or planetary invasions would be made remotely with easily controllable androids from the comfort of their spaceships by galactic conquistadors. The droids were a form of liquid machinery disguised in flesh that could take any shape and blend in for planetary missions and sadly, copying the physical appearance of humans were not that challenging for the creations of a far superior intergalactic race. The whole invasion happened in under a week and didn’t even requiring probing. Without humanity even noticing, the droids learned everything about humanity to ease off the invasion. Well, learned about almost everything… culture and art wouldn’t make any sense to them even if they stayed concealed on Earth for a millennia. They had never had art. Nor culture!
“Why?” Captain Anders roared in frustration of the fact that a lowly race had secrets they weren’t able to figure out.
“Art… Culture…,” Laura mumbled in pain. “It’s what makes us human.” With her last breath, she wanted to make them understand that humanity was something to be preserved rather than destroyed. She’d always thought art was universal… literally… They would understand. They had to. The ropes holding Laura tightened as her head dropped down.
Upon arrival, the droids learned that art was a way of expression and imagination of the human creative skill, and paintings or sculptures were the byproduct of… art. But, what exactly was ‘Culture’?
Anders looked at Lieutenant Orrin for collaborative brainstorming. The definitions he got by connecting to the planet’s database were conflicting. But, that wasn’t surprising. The Orgics spoke languages based on conflict. A stronghold didn’t always mean a difficult place to take over, yet he clearly heard an Orgic mentioning this place as one. They had names for non-existent concepts like god, religion, soul, magic, ghost, monster… and he would never understand why they used the same word to describe existent but unrelated concepts or things. For instance, among other meanings, ‘Coach’ meant both a ‘large wheeled transport to carry a large amount of people from one place to another’ and a ‘trainer in sporting events’. There seemed to be no logical connection.
Orrin started speaking; giving definitions of the term ‘culture’:
“The manifestations of human intellectual achievement-“
“That can’t be it,” Anders cut in. “Not worth dying for something you can recreate. Besides, humans are not the intellectual type.”
“The ideas, customs and social behaviour of a particular-“
“Not a chance. Creating a stone representation of yourself isn’t really an idea… as for social behaviour, there’s no scientific explanation to why they keep producing things that would never give them benefits.”
“Perhaps, it gives them benefits,” Orrin said. “We weren’t able to fully analyse them, yet.”
Anders shook his head. “They have 3D printers to create such things quicker and more efficiently. If one gets lost or broken, replication shouldn’t be an issue. Yet, they are willing to die for their own creations that can be recreated easily.”
“Thinking in Orgic’s way and speaking in their language affects my line of thinking and reasoning, is it necessary as I fail to understand even what you’re saying.”
“You know that total immersion is the best way to learn,” Anders coughed to clear his throat, which he felt no actual need to do so.
“I think I got it,” Orrin said. “It must be this one… maintain tissue cells, bacteria, etc. in conditions suitable for growth.”
Anders paused for a minute before speaking. “Have we detected any living organisms on… art?”
“Yes,” Orrin nodded. “Not on the newer creations, but older art is sometimes covered by vegetation and there’s also moss growth in time. It’s basically their breeding grounds! They ensure survival through inter-species transformation.”
“That’s it,” Anders agreed. “I am sending the report now.” He remained motionless as his eyes fluttered at intervals while compiling the final report.
And, a moment later he sent it. The final report that reached the outer ring of the 3149-R planet, read:
“The Orgics have found a way of immortality through creating lifeless representations of themselves and other things. Naturally induced tissue cells and bacteria are carefully preserved on these creations, only for them to spring out as a different life form in the future. This makes it possible for them to completely alter their DNA for a more suitable life form. Further study is not needed. Requesting permission to go on to the next planet.”
It’s always been mind boggling how humans in sci-fi movies could communicate with Hollywood aliens whether they’ve come to our planet in peace, or just for the kicks of a planetary invasion. I’m well aware that it’s just for the sake of viewers’ getting the hang of the plot, but the ease of communication and getting fluent in alien language in less than an hour of screen time, is still an illogicality that doesn’t make any sense, just like extraterrestrial beings speaking with a distinctive English accent. A massive, interstellar galactic federation consisting of hundreds of super advanced alien races with the universal language being standard American English is yet another cosmic mystery.
Xenolinguistics is a hypothetical subject which is basically the study and research of the languages of never-encountered-before extraterrestrial beings. Surprisingly, despite the missing extraterrestrials, xenolinguistics has been becoming more and more popular among linguists over the past decade. Surely, without ever encountering an alien race, allocating time and resources seems like a fruitless effort, but it might also be wise to brainstorm beforehand and be prepared to solve several issues likely to come up regarding the first contact with our very first aliens. For instance, the idea of using toddlers, who are just learning to speak, to communicate with aliens upon first contact, rather than expert linguists is the byproduct of such brainstorming. These toddlers would be the perfect candidates for picking up language in a natural way, as they’re just figuring out how to receive and give information in a world less known and somewhat still alien to them.
There is a fat chance that we will not even be able to communicate with aliens (unless they are gray and from Hollywood) through conventional methods like the use of sound, gestures, mimics, writing, mathematics or visuals. What if the first ones we meet are an advanced galactic race of invisible blob-like organisms that communicate through smell, giving bursts of different smells at various intervals to chat about a vast amount of subjects from interstellar travel to cosmic small talk. Will we even be aware of their presence, let alone communicate?
Before venturing into the depths of the universe to have a chat, isn’t it a better idea to solve the inter-species language barriers in our own tiny world as we aren’t the only intelligent life forms inhabiting this planet? (And, yes, I believe animals have intelligence, it’s just different from ours.)
Let’s have a quick peek at the communication patterns and our efforts in communication with the different species of our own planet… the ones (meaning all) we yet to decipher fully:
The meows! Kittens only meow to let their mothers know if they are cold or hungry. Once a kitten becomes a cat, they stop meowing to each other, and only meow to humans to get attention, let us know they are hungry or just to say welcome home. The irony is that they are the ones attempting to communicate with us…
The round dance and the waggle dance of honeybees is used to convey the exact distance, the direction and the quality of the pollen source discovered, to other honeybees. Yes, we’ve figured this one out, but understanding the method and even the meaning of communication between the members of a different species is very different from two species initiating communication with each other. You may think we are far more intelligent than honeybees therefore, there’s no need for us to communicate with them, but it’s another irony as far more intelligent extraterrestrials that might visit us in the future might think the same way, and just refrain from communicating with us.
Speaking of intelligence, dolphins excel at intelligence-based tests, are capable of complex problem solving, can individually learn and pass on their new knowledge to their young. They are also highly social and certainly do have a language consisting of a series of clicking sounds and whistles. So, have we attempted to communicate with them? Nope. At least, not in ways we are determined to communicate with equally intelligent extraterrestrials.
Just admit it, we will never be true horse whisperers in a literal sense with this attitude.
Perhaps, the first aliens we encounter would be pale humanoids? And somehow believe that sharing similar physical features is the key to bring down the intergalactic language barrier. It would really be easier to wave our arms, nod or just point at things! Or we could always try writing, drawing or typing in binary codes on a computer screen. If you think that can work, I suggest we have a look at our own world history and face the fact that we are far from deciphering most ancient forms of communication… ancient human writing, but let’s start with the ones we could decipher to lift up the spirit:
Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics is one… but it still was an indecipherable tough cookie until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone which was a slab bearing three scripts carved in two languages (serving as translation): Ancient Egyptian and Ancient Greek… So, it was more thanks to the efforts of translators rather than linguists (xenolinguists) that we were able to crack ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.
Ancient Babylonian was deciphered more or less the same way; using ancient Persian as a reference in bilingual texts…
So, on most occasions a reference source, a key, was needed to decipher an unknown writing system… and even after that it took years to decipher some of these ancient scripts created by and cracked by the members of the same race! As Yuri Knorozov, the linguist who cracked Mayan hieroglyphs once said:
“What is created by one human mind can be unraveled by another!”
So true! But, how about what is created by an unknown alien race? Can it ever be unraveled by us?
It’s a tough question as there are still ancient writing systems and languages in our own human history that is far from cracking like;
The Harappan script of the Indus Valley Civilization is suspected to use the Boustrophedon style, written from right to left in first line and from left to right in second line meaning the alternate lines were reversed, sometimes with reversed letters.
Reverse Boustrophedon, where the text in alternate lines was rotated 180 degrees rather than mirrored, just like Rongorongo, the writing of ancient Rapa Nui, which we could only decipher the direction of the text but are still mostly clueless about the content.
All these culs-de-sac were encountered in the attempts to decipher human originated scripts… now think about extraterrestrial language or writing systems! And, then add the effect of culture on top of that as culture, influences language greatly and it can never be ignored.
In the next post (Part II), we’ll look into how cultural elements influenced Earth languages up to now…
Establishing a shared method of communication is one of the key components of advancement into founding a civilization.
Speaking, talking, singing, conveying our ideas to others, teaching and learning in a faster way, verbalizing feelings, rallying crowds or manipulating masses… it’s no surprise that the ability to have meaningful, oral communication with others, has put humanity on the top of the planetary food chain and made it possible for us to found an advanced civilization, where much stronger animal species like dinosaurs, bears, lions, and such never could.
Oral communication is always considered the most viable inter-human communication since we were cavemen; talk well to inspire an army into a triumph, beg for votes on a political campaign for a chance to rule the world, or simply express inner feelings to foreplay mating in a ‘civilized’ way.
Sounds the best?
But, for the likes of me (and hopefully for the likes of you when you finish reading this), it can only come after writing. It’s just much more than speeches can ever offer:
Oral communication is lost in the present whilst writing can travel forward and backward in time. Or else we wouldn’t be meddling to decipher ancient hieroglyphs or send letters and emails to others for a future read. Writing is the best way of preserving memories, retelling history and transferring knowledge into future generations.
Writing grants immortality to its creator as spoken words are scattered in the wind and soon forgotten if not recorded.
The unnecessary components of oral communication such as small talk, echo questions and filler words can be mostly avoided unless a dialogue is being mimicked in a work of fiction.
Writing requires education of some level at least and that’s all the difference between a toddler mumbling about their needs to their parents and a scholar influencing millions.
It’s possible to translate a piece of writing into the reader’s native tongue as no immediate responses are needed.
Never forget that ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ and that a sword can cut a blabbermouth. Writing always wins.
So, despite all this proof, why do most people underestimate the power of writing in the modern world?
Why is being a writer not considered as a proper job?
Why are the benefits of hiring a professional writer is seen as an asset by only a few selected businesses?
You don’t build the house you live in unless you’re an architect and a bricklayer. Do you?
Would you like to know more?
Then, stay tuned in for the next part of this article coming up soon…
We are born… totally unaware of the world around us; an alien world…
We learn crying first… that’s our first attempt in communication… or attention seeking until we find more effective ways…
Then, we learn to stand on our knees, crawl and finally walk…
In the end, we learn to speak as we complete the totally helpless phase of our infancy. The comms link is finally online…
It takes us years to get familiar with our home world and its humanoid inhabitants. Yet, we are never fully familiar towards other life forms on our planet…
Nobody has communicated with a chicken…
Nobody knows how a potted sunflower truly feels when neglected too long…
Nobody has ever set their eyes upon the creatures living in the deepest parts of our oceans…
Nobody has tried to make a pact with deadly viruses for them not to make us sick… oh wait! Most of us aren’t even aware that viruses aren’t living organisms… but we try to kill these lifeless but contagious pieces of code anyway.
We still know only bits and pieces about the other life forms we coexist with, on our shared planet…
Yet, we seek intelligent life forms in deep space and still believe we can come to terms with these aliens through diplomacy once we find them and form an inter-galactic federation to rule the galaxy peacefully altogether… or crush the destructive, evil ones…
Before elaborating more on the ways to communicate with aliens, let’s take a short trip into some popular alien encounter plots in the sci-fi world:
A spaceship either makes its way to one of the largest cities in the world, or just crash lands in the suburbs where a small town lies nearby. The aliens’ agenda is always the same wherever they land though: to destroy us or strip our planet off its valuable resources. Then the war for our planet commences…
We beat them 9 out of 10 times. Perhaps because they look like us somehow… an uncanny resemblance of the unfamiliar familiarity: they’re either off-color humanoids, complete with all the limbs etc. Or some variation of earthly creatures like giant bugs or non-aquatic octopuses.
This physical familiarity must be the reason we believe we can communicate so easily with them.
So, let’s make it easier for the mankind and imagine the first aliens we encounter are not only humanoid in form, but also a nearly exact copy of our image. But even then… what makes us think we can understand each other? How easily can we communicate with other people? Can we even completely understand our fellow earthlings?
… in a world where,
… men can’t truly understand women…
… archaeologists can’t decipher most ancient writing forms… (such as the Rongorongo of Easter Island)…
… each Earth culture has its own beliefs and values…(even gestures)…
Still not convinced?
Try explaining snowflakes to a young Masai warrior…
what an ocean is to someone who has lived in a landlocked country all their life…
Over a 7 billion souls on Earth, with over a 7 billion distinctive characters, yet each person behaves and acts in unison defined by one set of outdated rules: The norms of society.
People laugh and cry as society dictates them to… even implying when and where to show joy or despair.
We spend our hard-earned cash by joining the race to get the jobs noone really wants. Getting involved in unleashing creativity like doing arts, crafts, music, writing, film-making does not pay, having connections do… we do everything to please the society and just to be accepted.
Freedom exists only in schoolbooks, yet everyone is directed into thinking they’re free as a bird. But, aren’t birds are freer in so many ways we can’t anticipate? They can fly forward, backward, up and down demolishing physical boundaries and… and they’re never judged for any action by their own kind. There are bird parks where they live in peace but never societies where they’re stripped off what they are. And yet again, we have the expression “bird-brained” to look down on them in a world where they literally look down on us.
Even the language tricks us: “Free will” is two words in which the latter can be considered as an indication of the future… meaning not now, maybe never. We live in a dystopia disguised as an utopia… where there are no “Free Won’t”s… not even in the language.
The society deceives us, breaks us and shapes us as if we were mass produced. Some unaware people may beg to differ but actually we “differ to beg” for so many things that we want happening in our lives. Them; acceptance… us; total freedom.
But, how? How do we achieve total freedom?
Here are some ideas:
1. Be totally honest with everyone even if you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Wounds heal but deception does not. Besides, total honesty removes any kind of communicative barrier.
2. Have no expectations from anyone, anytime. Expectations only bring disappointments but receiving without expecting is true bliss.
3. Treat your happiness as a treasure. Treat your unhappiness to feel better. If you are happy, you make everyone around you happy. It’s highly contagious.
4. Watch kids and learn from them. They can do many things that we long for.
5. Try humor if everything else fails. Try it if everything goes well, too. Humor is essential.
Language has never stopped evolving as more new words are added to the lexical pool every passing day. We are now using more words than ever, to express ourselves fully to one another. But, is it all necessary? Or are we simply dulling our senses and devolving ourselves, restricted by the limits of language itself?
In face-to-face encounters, language loses most of its function as actions take over the role of wordly structures. We never describe our actions in wordly forms when what we are doing at any given moment is so obvious. Imagine you’re in a cafe with someone, do you ever need the urge to make sentences like: “I’m now holding the cup of coffee with my left hand, preparing to take a sip.”?
Of course not, as each person is equipped with a behavioral decoder of their own. But, then again, why do we use words to describe our emotions to the other person accross the same table; saying we are happy, upset, depressed or scared… Have we disconnected and devolved so much that we can’t decode emotions without the aid of words anymore?
The joy of hugging someone and transferring our emotions in a silent harmony is what we should have been doing all along. “Wordless” does not mean it’s “worthless”, it’s just more. It’s actually feeling for each other.
We are taught to “apologize”, “praise”, “confront”, “encourage” and “congratulate” each other even before we start school… but even the words picked for such actions are random letters in tiresome, long sequences, …. difficult even to pronounce let alone understand each other’s feelings.
In writing good fiction, there’s one fundamental rule: “Show, don’t tell.” How come “showing” is more appreciated than “telling in words” at a medium where the reader and the writer is almost never in the same place?
Showing, not telling adds great value to writing, so, perhaps, we should implement this rule to our daily lives for a change to enhance our personal relationships.
Who is the culprit for demoting our emotions, then?
Is it the gibberish rules of society we are dictated since birth?
Is it the technological advancements causing the daily rush we find ourselves in, to get pointless things done in little time?
Is it because we are becoming more and more selfish and ignorant?
Whatever the cause, it is never late to share our feelings in an entangling bundle of limbs, enclosing two hearts within…
Alexander Graham Bell’s dream was to be heard over a distance; a mere voice projection and nothing else; a device solely responsible for communication. What would he be thinking if he lived now, in the era of smart phones; seeing his invention taking a weird turn and becoming a device of self isolation and addiction? I bet he wouldn’t be so content as we’re not really using smart phones for their main functionality which is basically to speak to people.
We can take photos, send letters (emails), log into our bank accounts, play games, watch movies, make movies, like pictures of cats, listen to music, apply for jobs, remember and celebrate birthdays, use them as flashlights, look for directions, check weather reports, plan our holidays, chat with complete strangers, absorb radiation and develop brain tumors.
We can do all of these without uttering a single word and most of them without involvement of a second body.
So, what happened to the communicative aspect of phones?
The answer is obvious: Nobody cares anymore as long as they have the latest device, access to social media and a wall charger.
This is all for now. I have to stalk some stranger’s profile and watch funny cat videos.
In our infancy, we were taught the wickedness of lying and that we should always be honest towards other kids/people.
Not much time passes before we learn that a society without lies is an utopia. You may have realized this at an early stage (if you’re smart enough) when your parents lie to you to protect you (or at least this is how they defend themselves). That’s the initial shock.
The next stage is in adapting to the society is conceptualizing the degree of lying; believing that white lies are actually necessary to secure a spot amongst friends or society.
Imagine your best friend asking how her new, but horrible dress (let’s say it’s yellow) looks… I can almost hear you saying “Nice”, especially avoiding stronger positive adjectives or exclamations like “wow!” which we consider to be a form of lying. The use of the word “nice” and rolling your eyes to avoid further eye contact really helps you to remain besties.
But, it’s still lying, isn’t it? What is worse is that you’re lying to your best friend…
So, what can be done to ensure not pissing your mate while uttering words of truth.
The answer is simple: Bending the truth! Or not having to lie but still sharing your true opinion/emotions. But how?
Okay, the first lesson is free: “Bending the Truth 101″…
All you have to do is to mumble something barely audible like “hmmm”, following a statement somewhat true : “I think, it would suit you much better if it was in blue”
The key phrase here is “much better”… as “better” doesn’t always mean good. However, it can make the transition from “terrible” to a plain “bad”. The real message you convey would be “Your dress looks bad!”
Another tip is to select words wisely. Here’s another case I once read in an ELT Activity book:
A little girl goes to her mother and asks if she could have ice-cream before dinner. The mother says no. Then, the little girl goes to her father to ask him the same question. The father asks her if she had asked her mother. The girl nods her head in confirmation. The father says “Then, I suppose you can have one”. The girl runs happily towards the ice-cream stash.
Does the girl have a hidden agenda? Yes
Is she lying? No.
Here’s a personal story; I used to live only a couple of blocks from my previous work place (which was on a very busy street) and it usually took me 3 minutes to walk to work. Nobody knew where I lived so whenever I was late for a meeting I would tell my boss that there was heavy traffic (which was indeed true although it never affected me).
No lying, no hard feelings…
As I got older, I mastered truth bending and got along pretty well with friends. But, it wasn’t enough. I started dreaming of a world of total honesty like in the Ricky Gervais movie “The invention of Lying”.
Then, I decided to give it a try; being totally honest with everyone. I lost many friends but the ones who remained… they became my true friends because when you’re totally honest, they become the same and you begin to share the most intimate secrets with each other…That’s priceless…The connection becomes concrete…
You should give it a try to see for yourself.
P.S: I do think this is not one of my best work… but it is to the point… and I admit I’m expecting a few good words about this entry nevertheless.
Languages are ways of communicating with fellow people whether it’s a blink of the eye, a bodily gesture or verbal gibberish uttered in a specific order. They all aim to serve one thing: making connections. There are no easy languages just as there are no easy people. It’s us who complicate everything; inventing sets of rules called grammar, training our vocal cords to sound each word alike like everyone utters them and making up words to describe things which could never be described like love, friendship, souls and even solid words like “apple”. Tell 100 people to describe an apple in one word and you’ll get 100 different words: Sweet, sour, red, green, small, big and nowadays even a computer. Tell 1000 people to do the same and you’ll still get 100 words as language is also a limited concept. So, what’s the use of languages anyway letting alone whether they’re easy or hard.
The true communication happens when you touch another person’s soul and your heart becomes the one that speaks. You don’t have to wail like a banshee to be understood. In complete silence, only the beating heart and the fluctuating soul is heard. It’s comforting, long-lasting and something positive.
Next time, exchange stares with a friend or a lover for prolonged times and value the share of silence.
P.S: Smiling while staring is perfectly okay, too and it’s far less creepy.