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The Paris Hours


One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.
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Discuss The Paris Hours by Alex George:
What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

Created: 05/19/20

Replies: 10

Posted May. 19, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2245

What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

Although Souren speaks Armenian when he performs puppet shows, his audience can't understand what he is saying. When he overhears two men speaking to one another in Armenian, then, he is deeply affected: "What moved him about the conversation ... was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean? Do you agree that there are forms of connection that can only be achieved through one's native language?


Posted May. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janen

Join Date: 06/01/11

Posts: 52

RE: What moved Souren

I think he meant that he was really understood in a way that only someone who spoke his language could understand him. He didn’t have to explain subtleties in the language. He was “at home “ with another native speaker! I felt that this is what he missed the most in Paris.


Posted May. 22, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyl

Join Date: 06/01/11

Posts: 27

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

The purpose of language is to communicate. At the puppet show the audience could hear the sound of Souren's voice but could not understand what he was saying. There was no verbal communication. When he hears the two men speaking Armenian he knows they understand each other and he understands them both. Obviously that experience was very powerful to him. A little slice of home on the streets of a foreign city affected him greatly.


Posted May. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 291

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

In the puppet shows Souren functioned basically as a mime. Children drew story from their actions, not his words. He had no way to convey any sort of nuance or subtlety, and since they could not understand his words, he couldn't be sure they got the message he was conveying. Remember, these were some pretty scary stories. Hearing and seeing an adult level connection took him back to the time when he could convey a message and know that within reason it was perceived as intended. It's good to be able to confirm your efforts at communication.


Posted May. 23, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
katherinep

Join Date: 07/16/14

Posts: 235

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

He was overwhelmed with the desire to be able to interact totally with another person--not to have to depend on actions of puppets or hands or facial expression or tone; not to have to intersperse words of another language with your own to be completely understood simply and clearly by another person. No extraneous additions to the simplicity of a sentence spoken and a sentence understood--instantly, easily, completely.


Posted May. 26, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
gerrieb

Join Date: 09/03/19

Posts: 46

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

When Souren speaks in Armenian during his puppet shows his language is communicated by his and the puppets gestures and actions. To his knowledge no one understands exactly what he is saying. He must use the actions of the puppets to actually communicate. The fine inflections of language - those nuances that are so telling - are absent - think of how texting is different than speaking to someone and that is even when people "speak" the same language. When he hears the elderly men speaking his language they are understanding it, they are actually conversing with another human being , not via a puppet or other artifice. There is no barrier - there is the complete experience of the language - with all the simplicity and complexity it entails. They are not speaking - as he has been with his shows - into a void and hoping his "voice" and meaning actually- though not completely - make it through. What a relief it would be to him to be able to speak and be understood - without all the gestures and forethought and the uncertainty that he was completely understood. Regarding the nuances of native language; I am reminded of moving from my home in PA to a small IN town. Wow. Culture shock. I missed so many things from home. Yes, we all spoke English, or a version of it anyway, but the vocabulary was sometimes different, and pronunciation - "peony" was "piney" and a meatball wasn't a "real" meatball, ask for a hoagie and you get a weird look and good luck finding a pizzelle or even anyone who know what one was. English was all our native language but those simple regional differences were stark, and immediately you are tagged as being from "somewhere else - not here, and different", so my heart goes out to anyone who is not a native speaker and all alone in a foreign land.


Posted Jun. 02, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Kathleen V

Join Date: 06/02/20

Posts: 14

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

I can relate to the feeling of saying something--even to someone who shares my native language--and knowing they don't understand or share my opinion. And then there is the other, better feeling--when you express personal thoughts or views or feelings, and the other person clearly understands, empathizes, or agrees. The difference in those interactions is palpable. So I related to that passage partly in that context--the idea of someone hearing you speak and "getting" what you're saying.

More literally, I agree with what others said about Souren having used his language frequently but not with any other native speakers and how good it must have felt to speak his native language and have the other person comprehend his words.


Posted Jun. 03, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
louisee

Join Date: 06/29/15

Posts: 118

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

I think it takes much less effort to communicate with someone who speaks your language. Souren had to work at communicating to his audience in other ways because they didn't understand his language. He must have been doing a good job because he always had an audience who enjoyed his shows. Hearing the 2 men communicate in his native language may have helped Souren feel less isolated in Paris.


Posted Jun. 07, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 63

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

I dont know a second language, only English...I can only imagine what that would be like to be in another country where no one could understand what I am saying..they can hear me speak, so they do hear me, but to understand, is a different story. What delight that would be to feel the kinship of someone in a foreign place who understands the language you are speaking.


Posted Jun. 09, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
swchis39

Join Date: 09/26/12

Posts: 95

RE: What moved Souren

Communication is enhanced by being able to be understood. So much is left out if you don’t hear the inflections, understand the nuances, etc. It made me think how much the deaf miss when they can only communicate with sign language.


Posted Jun. 11, 2020 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Lois Irene

Join Date: 01/20/16

Posts: 76

RE: What moved Souren "was not hearing his native language spoken, but hearing it understood. That sense of connection is what he misses so badly." What does he mean?

I think that Souren really missed the beautiful flow of dialogue in his native language. It was so wonderful to hear his language responded to. This shows his level of discomfort in the foreign country.


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