It’s A Different Language

As a teacher I learnt that children were bi-lingual. One language was appropriate and acceptable in the classroom; a different language was used in the playground. Children that had extensive vocabulary, interesting content and controlled tone in the classroom displayed different linguistic skills with their friends in the playground.

It’s almost a different language.

A child had been brought to me. He’d been in trouble. His Mum was coming to take him home. His offence had been dealt with and I was having a pleasant, gentle conversation with him… Mother arrived. His language, volume and tone changed. He started ‘effing and blinding’…

Their ‘home language’ was different…

The secretary chatting with her office friends, puts on her ‘posh voice’ with an important client … the salesman, confident and fluent with a customer, is stumbling and uncertain on his date… the director presenting a complex report to the board, goes home to a sick wife and needy family… watching people speaking to The Queen…

Different situations, different languages…

Yesterday I described Men’s Shed to my friend Jacquie…  It’s the only time in my life that I’ve been in an all-male environment… Men meeting with each other, doing stuff together… the practical and the personal… caring and sharing…conversations are often confrontational, humour is robust, the f-word can be a term of endearment…

It’s almost a different language.

Musing… The important skills I learnt as a child, language appropriate to situation, at home, school, church, with friends, I still use today.

…Speaking of theology, wayward children, hospital appointments, personal addictions… adapting the language to the person, topic and situation… St Paul talks about, ‘to the weak I became weak… I have become all things to all men…’

…But in all of my languages these there must be a consistency and integrity… Jesus sets me a good example… talking with both religious leaders and prostitutes at their level… without being too complex or patronising… adapting language but retaining compassion, generosity, empathy, goodness and understanding.

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