Can language contribute to "a sense of closeness and professional spirit?"Have you ever been in a situation where you had to learn a new language in order to function within a profession or group...
Have you ever been in a situation where you had to learn a new language in order to function within a profession or group of people? What was the experience like?
I think this is a very interesting question. I do believe that language can contribute to a sense of closeness and professional spirit. In the workplace setting, people often speak a language that only their colleagues and people so closely associated with it can understand. It helps to bring a sense of solidarity and understanding to what happens in their workplace and how to articulate it. A great example would be an episode in “The Office,” where all of the coworkers are invited to a party. Two of the characters start discussing the pricing of paper products and their sales in an intense manner. Another coworker asks if they can “not talk about work,” and there is a dead silence. The language of the workplace ends up replacing the awkward silences that might result from a work setting where emotional contact is dissuaded. In my own experience, I can definitely say that my workplace helps to develop its own language that others don’t seem to comprehend, yet my coworkers and colleagues fully grasp or “get.” An example of this would be if I started talking about “AYP,” “Safe Harbors” and “Subcategories.” Most people who are outside of the educational field would thankfully claim ignorance of such ideas, yet those who are involved in teaching can understand these concepts. In this light, language does help to bring to light and to detail what our experience is and what our condition is in the workplace. Language itself might be an insufficient means to fully articulate such realities, but it might be a starting point in doing so.
Certainly, in the educational field, as in other fields, there is a professional jargon that has been created for various reasons. Some of this is created in order to discuss issues that are distinctly related to that profession; some are created as short-cuts to longer expressions such as the use of abbreviations and acronyms; some are words that have different definitions from the usual ones associated with them and are used so that those outside the profession are unsure of what is being discussed.
In some cases, there is alienation, rather than closeness created by the use of professional jargon and acronyms. When, for instance, the inexperienced are with the experienced in a certain field, and this experienced speak predominately in the jargon of their profession or job, it is apparent that the employees intend for the new ones to not comprehend. The use of jargon seems to say, "You are outside the inner circle." Therefore, the new employee must quickly apprehend this jargon in order to compete with the others and maintain a position. Often this situation exists among salespeople who are, of course, highly competitive with one another. Keeping the neophyte at bay assures that he/she cannot compete on the same level as the experienced.
If you are talking about professional life, no. But if you are talking about social situations, yes. When I was seven I moved from one Micronesian island to another. On the second island, I had to learn the language if I wanted to have any friends.
It really was not a problem. I think that that is probably because I was so young at the time. At that age, there was nothing embarassing about making the kinds of mistakes that you make learning a language.
I am happy that I had that background because (I think) it has allowed me to be more comfortable when put in similar situations. I also think that it has made me more understanding of people who are in unfamiliar and uncomfortable surroundings.