I’ve been considering again the question of how to work with different languages as we try to express a shared vision for the future. I have been helping to develop a multi-lingual action research project into organisational transformation using English and Arabic - and many of the ideas and concepts that have been evoked just don’t seem to translate.
How we express meaning is a common problem in this kind of work. Even in a shared language, a conversation can be rendered lifeless when we reduce it to a transcript or, seemingly worse, a collection of abbreviated notes. Assembling supposedly valid ‘data’ for reports that become office doorstops is easy. Much more difficult is finding ways to develop a rich, lively, vital rendition of the meaning uncovered in conversation and dialogue. But it is something that is absolutely essential if we are to inspire each other to take action that counts for each of us.
I was pondering these questions during my other-world visit to Sealine and this picture seemed to express some of the struggle. I’m sure that there was an explanation somewhere that might have helped me, but it seemed that I needed more than words to ask the question.