Thursday, March 29, 2018

cross-lingual communication

I haven't heard the woodpeckers yet, but the birds-who-crap-on-cars (grackles?) are murmuring here and there in these urban skies and so are the Canada geese. The forecast today is for temperatures in the 50's (F) and this morning I sat on the porch for an early-morning smoke and a cup of coffee and left the storm door wide open. Real air, outside air is such a treat after winter's lockdown.

And in a continuation of long ritual, a couple of sparrow-like birds began researching a nesting spot up under the front eave. Thus it has been for years -- same research, same nest, same decisions ... different day.

As I say, the storm door was open to the outside and the sparrow-like companion was bound to research the scene. Which s/he did by flying about a foot into the enclosed porch space, not six feet from where I was sitting. S/he advanced like a less-kool humming bird, hovering as best s/he might, eyeballing the porch surroundings.

And before I could stop myself, the words, as always, were out of my mouth -- strong, but not too loud: "No, no, no, no, no...."

Without a word, s/he broke off hovering a foot inside the porch confines and returned to the outdoors where s/he would be more at home ... create a home. The voice had done it. "No" from my lips was "no" to his/her ear.

"No" meant no from where I sat -- don't get confused and snared by the porch. And "no" meant no from where s/he hovered. Two languages speaking precisely the same language. Cross-lingual communication that was precisely on target.

It reminded me a bit of the sweet scenes in the movie "Ghost Dog" in which the protagonist speaks English and the ice-cream truck operator speaks (with subtitles) French and they are both on the same frequency and, more interestingly, know they are despite the differences in language that neither can understand.


  1. I wonder if you have seen "Love Actually", in which an English writer and his Portuguese maid fall in love in separate languages. The movie also features your "Page Eight" friend ... as a raunchy rocker.

  2. MBR -- I thought the woman was Italian ... and in my newly-arrived sissy-movie mode, I love the scene in which he proposes to her.