Context - Expository Essay
Thanh Nguyen 12C
Conflict is often the result of miscommunication.
In modern day society, a variety of languages are spoken and as a result people would often misunderstand each other. The language barriers introduced by the varying languages would then further cause brief or lasting conflicts between social groups in society. Conflicts introduced through lack of understand of languages would further escalate as a person or group of people's lack of understanding of a language would cause miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Kate Grenville's historical fictional novel, 'The Lieutenant' chronicles the life of Daniel Rooke, a discovered prodigy, whose astronomical work within the Royal Marines leads him to a voyage to Australia. Upon landing in Australia, the British discover the native Aboriginals, coming 'face to face' with them. In an attempt to impress them and show their power, Weymark flaunts his gun and shoots one of their shields. This attempt, however, 'frightened them' and in this brief part, the complexities of communications are explored. Due to both parties speaking entirely different languages, they are unable to understand one another and Weymark's attempt of impression introduces the notion of speaking through weapons. Despite the language barriers presented between the 'Cardigals' and the British, Rooke attempts to resolve it. Later on in the novel, Rooke is seen conversing with an Aboriginal child, Tagaran, teaching her his language and her teaching him her language. Within the moments of their bonding, dilemmas raised by miscommunicated languages slowly dissipates and as a result, Rooke is able to form a friendship with them.
Contrary to Rooke's approach on the language barriers is the Governor, who attempts to force them into understanding by allowing them to witness what happens to soldiers who disobey orders. However, this event leads to the Aboriginals to further view them in a negative light. As a result, the Governor decides to capture them in order to force them into submission and neglecting his previous order to treat them with 'amity and kindness'. Due to Rooke's previous communications with them, the Aboriginals are able to escape reinforcing the notion that although dilemmas are raised by miscommunications and misunderstandings between people, it can be avoided by willing to learn and understand the depths of their language.
The circumstances presented in 'The Lieutenant' can be likened to Nelson Mandela's quote, 'If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, that goes to his heart'. Language is simply a means of communication. A language that a non-native speaker understands has little to no emotional attachment to the spoken dialect. Speaking 'to a man in a language he understands' emphasises the fact that the language spoken is only a means to communicate, and the person being spoken may easily understand and comprehend what you are trying to say often resulting in misunderstandings. A person's dialect is the embodiment of the culture of the native speakers and encompasses their tradition, folklores, morals, norms, customs, belief systems and what has been handed down to them from generation to generation. With the indigenous, their language confers a feeling of common origin, ancestry and shared values thus speaking to them in their dialect instils a strong and passionate feeling of individuality and closeness. Being able to converse with them in their own dialect enables what is said say to go 'to [their] heart' while simultaneously eliminating all misunderstandings and ultimately preventing a myriad of conflicts.
If one thing is for sure, it is that humans are far from perfect. Miscommunication can be likened to misunderstandings and it is presented in our everyday lives. Despite this, conflicts can be resolved through numerous means. Bruce Beresford's classic