A Thousand Words


Karen Neoh


2 min read

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Editor’s Note

It has been a tough few days. It wasn’t the haze or the insurmountable (no nothing really is when you love what you do) tasks at work.


It was the knowledge that 298 living, breathing, fathers, mothers, bosses, doctors, researchers, flight crew, the barista who may have made you coffee, the child you may have bent down to wiggle your fingers goofily at and say “harro!”, people you may have met, people you would never meet – gone.

We watched as the horrors were communicated to us. Wordlessly. We wept tears that they would never hear. We prayed as a nation for the loved ones left behind.

Language unites us

The languages we speak, but also the language of human compassion. The need to communicate, to be heard and be understood at different levels be it as a child whose mom speaks to him in Japanese and his father in Turkish, or a newbie at the office seeking acceptance.

Not being understood for not speaking the same language, and equally misunderstood as an entire community, compels at least one hearing-impaired blogger to blaze a trail impacting the working population who are hearing-impaired.

Language intertwined with culture causes some of us to wonder if being a “banana” affects our identities.

Our contributors also delve into the different benefits that being multilingual can bring in extending our reach.

And others yet, leading multilingual teams, look at how speaking a common language does not necessarily mean that we all have a common understanding of each other. Not for the faint-hearted, or uninitiated and unenlightened leader.

Body language goes beyond just understanding the words we speak to each other, and often it is not what we say but how we say it.

Language development at all stages

An interesting perspective is to whether the focus on English is at the expense of other languages.

Our youngest intern wrote about how we can, in simple ways, appreciate the people we spend so many hours with at the workplace, and also how to become a citizen of the world.

Last but not least, an article on developing language skills of children in a linguistically-diverse environment.

Sometimes it is not about speaking. Sometimes it is just about being.

Have a fantastic weekend all.


Karen has rather bizarrely maintained a childlike side to herself – always keen to see, learn and do new things. Yet she has remained grounded on finding the best way to help people – especially those who have the skills and heart to do incredible things. To contact Karen or to request a soft copy of the entire collection of Language articles, do email editor@leaderonomics.com. Click here to read more articles on language. 

(reference MSJ pullout published in Malaysia 26 July 2014)

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