Language is a remarkably complex system, one we continue to learn throughout our lives. It is also essential to many aspects of learning and socialization. Researchers have identified three broad and different aspects of language:
• Receptive language: How we understand the language of others.
• Expressive language: How we communicate to others through increasingly sophisticated speech and expanded vocabulary.
• Pragmatic language: All the subtle facets of language — facial expressions, body movements, tone, volume, inflection, ideas about when to speak and for how long. These additions are the amplifiers and fine-tuners of communication. They help all of us to better express what we mean, and to understand what others are telling us.
What is in a Voice?
Without a voice to show people your intelligence it seems the first assumption will always be that you are “stupid”; you must have nothing to say; there is nothing going on in “there”. Why do you think this is? I believe it is because speech is something that comes so easy and natural to most people. We don’t have to think about speech; it just becomes second nature.
Something as simple as an accent can cause people to make assumptions about you: to think you are smart, to think you are stupid, to think you are snotty or even think you are ignorant. Our voices have the ability to calm and also to create anxiety and stress. So when a person cannot talk, or struggles to talk, we have a hard time wrapping our minds around the intelligence of that person. When there is damage to one part of the brain, it does not mean that all the other parts don’t work just fine. The person you are assuming is not intelligent wants to tell you that you are the “stupid” one for not seeing past a voice.
If you just take a moment to get to know a person, your mind may be changed. When you meet someone without a “voice”, sit with them and pretend you are sitting with someone that speaks another language. Spend time with them and figure out “their” language. They want to communicate with you; you just have to be open to a different, a new, way to communicate. We all must adapt. If you break your leg you will have to use crutches; if you get injured you may need to be in a wheelchair; if you were wealthy and become poor you will have to adapt to a new lifestyle.
I wish all people could understand that without a voice a person can still make you laugh, make you cry, give you the time of your life, be a brilliant musician, or maybe, just maybe end up being the one who cures cancer, AIDS or even learns how to “fix” damage in the brain.