Monday, November 5, 2007

The Nodding

I'm never going to get it.

When I order a coffee and get a shaking head, the first thing I want to ask is why can't I have a coffee? But the shaking head is not telling me no, I can't have it. Bulgarians shake their heads in the opposite way from the rest of the world (except part of India).

Shaking and nodding the head is such an ingrained nonverbal form of communication that you don't think about - until you are confused and distressed about your coffee or your beer or your food or whatever other thing you think you can't have!

We've had great fun with Bulgarians on this subject. Those in the hostel and some of the university students have taken to kind of rolling their heads around in a sort of confused response to our own confusion. Not one day goes by when we don't confuse each other!

Nodding and shaking is especially important in a place where you don't speak the language and they don't speak much English or French or some other language of which you can at least spit out a word or two. I've been here long enough now that I can get by with some words, but at the beginning, it was terribly difficult to communicate, and showing me "no" for "yes" and "yes" for "no" exacerbated the situation.

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