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another angle on "interpretation"

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<p>Anders, your ability to communicate nuances of your intended meaning in English would put you near the top of any ranking against a randomly assembled group of native speakers, at least here in the USA.</p>

<p>You depart occasionally from "standard English" (whatever <em>that</em> may be), but only in minor aspects of idiomatic usage: details of phrasing, grammatical niceties, word choice between synonyms, etc. I can't remember reading a Photo.net post by you--ever--in which your intended meaning was unclear.</p>

<p>Most of us can only wish that we were as fluent, in a second or third language, as you are in this one.</p>

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<p>Thanks Ernest. And yet, foreign speakers do surely not feel words as native speakers. Words are somewhat "cheaper" for foreigners. The result being, that foreigners like me, do sometimes not fully master the violence (or weakness) of terms and formulations. Foreign speakers might find themselves launching wars of words that they themselves were unprepared for or find themselves in so-called "agreements" that they were unaware of. They might find enemies they have never chosen or friends they did not invite. Communication is a difficult art in any language. In a foreign language it is a constant struggle - that by the way never ends whatever fluency to achieve..</p>
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<p>I fully understand Ander's point above. Although it's not my maternal language. I live in French and use it in all but my occasional and mainly long distance work via Internet (albeit for a Swiss-French speaking company, operating In Ontario primarily in English). After thirty years living in a second language, I cannot say by any means that I understand all the nuances or subtelties of that beautiful language. Thus Ander's point is well taken.</p>
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<p>Arthur, I agree with you that Anders' point is well taken. I too have learned other languages, and depended on imperfect verbal skills while living for extended periods in other lands.</p>

<p>But we can compensate for gaps in verbal "technique" by employing other forms of communication--including, in many if not most cases, simple goodwill (even in online forums).</p>

<p>The inevitable mistakes we make in speaking and writing in a different language can even be instructive: they may serve as a "tip sheet" for navigating the vagaries of life's highway, with later, broader application. For example, a verbally-clumsy foreigner quickly learns that possibilities for misunderstanding are ever-present <em>whenever</em> language is used, whether due to ineffective word choices by a speaker (writer), or to misinterpretation of intended meanings by a listener (reader).</p>

<p>Therefore, in order to avoid "launching wars of words that they themselves were unprepared for", and to ensure they do not "find enemies they have never chosen or friends they did not invite", many foreigners become highly sensitive to the potential effects of their own words (as Anders has), taking pains to avoid needless provocation and, instead, framing their questions and expressing their views in ways that will generally be welcomed...and they may continue to do this, even as their "technique" in the new language improves, even when they revert to their native language.</p>

<p>Anders knows all of this, of course; in this forum he usually sets an example of polite discourse.</p>

<p>In short, I'm not discounting the difficulties Anders referred to. But to me they seem a small price to pay.</p>

<p>I wouldn't trade my own experiences as a foreigner in other cultures, learning and using new languages--and being able to see the world in new ways, with new friends--for anything.</p>

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<p>I have been working in international organizations all my professional life so I have been buried in multilingualism since years. What is interesting when many people work together in a foreign language is that it gives openings to new ways of thinking. It is profoundly creative and thoughts provoking all the time. Anglosaxons do think and work differently from Latins, Asians, Indiens or Russians . Work across these linguistic and cultural borders on concrete problems and solutions is highly gratifying for all. I'm convinced that also artistic creation (photography) is profoundly marked by these cultural differences. Maybe even "interpretation" is marked by it as I tend to believe. Not maybe; surely, but a challenge to detect.<br>

I'm not sure though that "politeness" is part of the game. Politeness comes in if one profoundly respects the point of view of others and your obligation to understand them. In foreign language communication you are tempted to interpret strong disagreements as your own lack of understanding of the point of view of others. With that comes of course also your obligation to engage and convince. Be convinced that when it comes to my photos, it is another story where nothing is like it appears.</p>

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<p>What's the difference, if there is one, between responding to music and to a photograph (other than foot-tapping)? @ No difference.</p>

<p>For me, they are the same. I respond or I don't. As in DH Lawrence, "The tragedy of love is indifference." If I respond, then I may seek out interpretations, or intentions.</p>

<p>For example, movie DVDs with commentaries. In the last two years, I've been re-viewing old movies. If I liked the movie originally, I look for DVDs with commentaries or analysis. Try the Criterion edition of Seven Samurai with the two sets of commentaries. I find it interesting. My original favorable response triggered my interest in interpretation, or analysis. But only movies which inspired a response originally.</p>

<p>Same with music CDs, or in the recordings on vinyl. Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4 and Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, or The Beatles' Revolver and Blind Faith's Blind Faith. They inspired a response, and they still do. I can't articulate it; I just like them.</p>

<p>As for photos, I rarely seek interpretation, but I do respond. The Time August 9, 2010 cover is a case in point.<br>


I was at the checkout in my local CVS where I get 8x12's printed. I didn't purchase the magazine or seek out the story.</p>

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