Science of Communication - a study on how to make myself understood

Text-based work, English, DIN A3 format, written by Haegue Yang, completed and translated in English by Karl Hoffmann

I don’t know when I started thinking about the fact– or rather
when I became aware of it –that I feel quite impeded when
trying to make myself understood. I believe many things,
no matter if they’re personalor professional, have to do with
the problematics of language. If you master a language very well,
you have an advantage when attempting to achieve what you want,
and some things become much easier. Or is this opinion false
and also biased by language? I dislike writing, but there’s no way
around it. Writing is a terrible struggle and I am seldom satisfied
with what I write. But nevertheless, I make an effort time and again.
I often talked with my cousin, who has been living in America as long as
I have beenliving in Germany, about the fact that our long stay abroad
has hampered our tongues in regard to the foreign language as well as
to our native language. We almost always laughed while talking
about this, even though it is a serious problem for us in everyday life.
But I could very well sense the compassion we felt for each other,
which at the same time comforted me quite a bit.

Even at this moment I have the problem of how to describe the issue
correctly. It should not be regarded as a problem having only to do
with a foreign language, however. It’s about communicating knowledge,
all the way up to making oneself understood. At the beginning it was
as if I were deaf and dumb in Germany. I felt very empty, because I could
neither make myself understood to the outside nor understand the
outside world. Absolute isolation. But as time passed, this changed me.
Where I come from you would say the face has become covered with iron,
or that you have thick facial skin, meaning that you are brave or hardly
feel embarrassed. What often annoys me, however, is that you are easily
misunderstood as being rude or insensitive. I claim the opposite. You actually
live in an insecure state all of the time, and that’s why you fight not to lose
your self- confidence. Again, there are so many things that have nothing
to do with language, like I used to think. At that time I didn’t consider that
there would be other complications apart from those having to do with
the language. Many thoughts are difficult to convey through language,
but it is especially hard to express your personality with words,
to write a text or speak in a way that communicates your personality.
In the meantime, since being in Germany, I have the feeling as if
my person, like my use of the German language, were characterised by
incompleteness, as if it had a crack. This certainly has to do with the
many years I have spent abroad, but just as much with my development,
my age, the circumstances in life, etc. When I think about the fact that
one feels very lonesome because the chain between the inner thoughts
and the message conveyed to the outside is rarely uninterrupted, I feel sad.

This is not meant as a confession, but as an attempt or an experiment
aimed at reconstructing how I myself pursue my problems while
letting others observe me in the process. It may look as if a dog
were chasing its own tail; or I sit in the streetcar and watch the way
the end of the train bends depending on the curve of the tracks,
and somebody else in the streetcar notices me watching. For me,
such a situation suffices at this moment.

Translatability and communication are two different issues that
I’m somehow interested in concurrently. I would like to communicate
myself while experimenting with translatability; the main thing is
to remain complex and complete in regard to one’s thoughts. I have
never before questioned why so many things are the way they are now.
But I guess if these things become clear, then mostly on their own.

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