When was the last time you: heard someone speak Hittite, answered a question in Moabite, attended a lecture in Kitan or saw a movie in Alsean with Bina subtitles?
Chances are never – because all of the above are classified as dead or extinct languages.
Now I could be wrong – and if there are any Bina scholars out there I deeply apologize, and if you and your family regularly SMS in Kitan or Hittite I grovel at your feet.
That being said, there are distinctions between dead and extinct languages-
But for the sake of my ramble I will stick with the overly simplistic view that they are all languages we don’t usually hear on the street, use in casual conversation, make love with or use to write client contact reports—although some might argue the last point.
What makes them die then, what drives them to extinction, is the lack of a partner – someone to share the dialogue, to communicate with, to be a part of your conversation.
And there the light bulb lit up for me.
“All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.” Robert Louis Stevenson
And that is the point. Once again we are back to listening – to hearing. The onus is on you, me, us – to be a willing and open participant…a catcher if you will…the tuned-in and attuned receiver who is ready to focus on the “transmitter” and make the communication a living, breathing, vibrant entity.
Think of the possibilities – personal, global, and in business.
We say relationships die and maybe what we really mean is that the language of the relationship died. We talk about negotiations that were killed and again…sometimes maybe it was just the language that we let become extinct.
Imagine where we could go, where we could get to if we taught listening the way we teach public speaking. If we taught hearing skills the way we teach presentation skills.
So English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Arabic – you name it – are all in danger – unless we all learn to listen more.
What do you hear?