Petra Gavlasová: Symphony of tongues
In this composition, I have made the leap from notes, musical instruments, and sound effects to the simplest and most natural source of sound - the human voice. One fascinating characteristic of the human voice is the fact that, just like a person's fingerprint, it is absolutely unique and carries information specific only to its owner (unless we are dealing with a professional actor). A person's voice tells us about their character and temperament; intonation, melody, rhythm and tempo tell us even more about a person's current state of mind, and our voice sends conscious as well as unconscious signals to others and influences them.
All this is entirely self-evident when we are talking about our native language. But is this still the case if we are living in an environment which speaks a language other than our own? How do we hear other languages? And how do we even perceive our own mother tongue? Can we express ourselves equally individually in a language other than our native language, and can we feel, speak and think in a foreign language the same as in our own? What do we like or not like about our language and others?
I posed similar questions to nine foreigners who have been living long-term in Prague, who thus looked at their relationship to Czech and to their mother tongues. I was very surprised at the diverse answers I received. At the same time, I was amazed at the wonderfully colorful linguistic orchestra I got my hands on (or rather, which I loaded into my editing program, in which I ordered the various "instruments" into a vocal "score").
Whether we understand the interviewees or not - and it is not my intention to test the audience's knowledge of foreign languages, nor to encode the words with meaning and content - let us try to listen our way into the words as if listening to music. I am sure that you will have the same experience as during a concert, in this case a symphony of tongues.