Archives for 10th February 2020

From The Rev’d Gareth Miller – March 2020

Brian Wood

The Rev’d Gareth Miller

Dear friends;

I was pleased to learn that the South Korean film, ‘Parasite’, had won the best picture award at the Oscars. I haven’t seen it yet, but was pleased because it’s the first foreign language film to win such an accolade.

The British (perhaps especially the English) are notoriously bad at other languages. We expect everyone to speak our own – a problem that is not helped by the fact that many of them do, in a lot of cases better than native speakers. My father-in-law believed that the best way to make a foreigner understand him was to repeat his English sentence over and over again but louder each time!

Whenever I go abroad I make a point to watching the TV news in the local language, whether I know it or not. I find it gives me a feel for the people, and a sense of how the language works and sounds. After a while, even if it’s a completely unfamiliar language, you begin to pick up clues and perhaps even understand a little. With films, of course, it’s easier, as there are usually subtitles.

Reading subtitles when they’re on the screen is pretty easy. But how good are we at reading each other’s subtitles? After all, we are all foreigners to one another. What’s my friend, neighbour, partner, child, parent really saying to me? Am I reading the signals well? Tone, body language, nuance? To do this requires practice, just as learning a foreign language does. It means listening carefully, asking for clarification, making sure I haven’t misunderstood or misinterpreted, not jumping to conclusions, putting two and two together and making five… It means responding rather than reacting – and there’s an important difference. As someone once said, it’s not a mistake that we’re born with one mouth but two ears!


01869 350224