Robert (gurdonark) wrote,
Robert
gurdonark

Speak slowly

Lately I speak a lot on the telephone with kind business folks who do not use English for a first language. I have learned to slow my cadence and broaden my words. My first teacher in this pastime was the band Cheap Trick. I love on "Cheap Trick, Live at Budokan" (a classic by any measure) how Zander (and perhaps Nielsen) intone the words very slowly and clearly. It works! I can make myself understood to people with schoolbook English.

Simple monologue: "I....want...you...to....want....me!", which, if you think about it, is a good way to introduce a song titled "I want you to want me". Of course, my favorite song on the album is "Surrender", and perhaps this speaking slowly is a form of surrender. A surrender to the realization that sometimes you have to pace yourself to be understood. Surely not a surrender to a theme park. I find myself much too torrential for that kind of surrender, sometimes. But it's all communication.

I had a dear friend in college, who, also, coincidentally, made a lawyer, only instead of being my kind of lawyer, let's say a "Kenmore appliance" lawyer, she's the "globe-trottin'", Ivy League, "big firm partner" kind of lawyer. She started college at 17, which is when I met her. She was a torrent of words then. Her friends had just one word for her: "Breathe!!". She was young, then--I'll bet she speaks more slowly at 40.

But I argue for breathlessness in expression. I argue for putting all those ideas out there. I am shy by disposition, but I notice lately that I am willing to "risk" extending myself, just a bit. Never mind that I always cringe a little ("gee, I come off all wrong!", I think to myself). It's perhaps a virtue inspired by LJ, or maybe I'm just too old to worry anymore. But although I value sheer enthusiasm, I'll try to learn the lesson that I learn when I speak to my overseas callers. Speak in round vowels. Intone. Repeat words when necessary. Simplify. Use please and thank you a lot.But on the converse side, let me reach out a hand once in a while, and see what I learn.

A man told me how it is easier to understand long messages than short ones.
I pray this is true.
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