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When People Talk, Watch Completely

17 April 2007

A Chinese student at Zhejiang Forestry College reportedly speaks five languages. So what – you may don’t think much of it - plenty people can do that. But how many hearing impaired people can speak just one language?

Zuo Li (左力) became deaf since he was 8-month old, the result of the adverse effects caused by medical treatment. He learned to talk purely through observing and imitating the mouth movement of other people, which is a skill he acquired at a special training class and mastered through his diligent practice on his mum’s face. She often had paper stripes adhered to her lips by her son, just as what Zuo Li did to his own lips. By comparing the movements of the strips on his mother’s lips and on his own while talking, Zuo learned a proper way to speak, and makes himself very clear to others.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Had he met Zuo Li, he might rephrase his line to say something like, “When people talk, watch completely. Most people never watch.”

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