Sunday, June 21, 2009

Breaking the language barrier-Japanese Tourists in Niagara Falls

I barely speak one language so I am greatly impressed when I see somebody who can command two, three or more languages. Such was the case this weekend when I hosted a small group visiting from Tokoyo, Japan.
Because I do not speak Japanese, all communication was coordinated through the one group member who spoke both languages.

As I tried to proceed with my regular tour, I could tell it was difficult on the interpreter. After awhile I learned to shorten my sentences and to speak in a measured cadence. I jettisoned specific dates and exact figures for more relative terms like "...around the turn of the century."

I discovered that the use of hand gestures, especially exaggerated gestures, helped the narrative. If there was one thing that I learned from this group it is that the Japanese are a very courteous people (at least the ones on my tour). They were very concerned with the welfare of the group and were always prepared so that they were on time.

I hope they enjoyed the tour as much as I did.


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