But having some understanding of language makes me appreciate communication even more. At NAB, so much of the experience is about understanding what the heck someone is talking about. Sure, some of it is experienced simply walking the floor. It can be like a United Nations field trip, without all the translators (or angry political disagreements). I've heard people here from parts of the globe I didn't think had TV!
And it's not just on the floor. Even jumping in a taxi cab can be an adventure. It's a little strange that so few native English speakers chose the profession, but it is rare to find a driver that you can clearly understand.
(Side note to Vegas cab drivers: I love you all. Now please don't circle the block three times to run up the tab. I promise I'll tip!)
And sometimes you wonder simply if you heard them correctly. My last two trips here in cabs have both degenerated in to conversations about where to find the ladies, even though I never mentioned it. But if I heard the driver correctly, I can get a very special massage at the right price if I just ask.
I didn't ask.
But one of the biggest challenges for me is the language of technology. I'm not super techie, but in my job I have to know enough to hold a fairly intelligent conversation. The language of technology has a horrible habit of degenerating in to a level of complexity boarding on World War II crypto systems if you let them. What happens early in the conversation is that I usually have a split second decision to make. As my contact begins to devolve in to words and phrases that sound like the Teletubbies to me, I can either stop them and admit I have no idea what they are talking about, or I can nod intelligently, smile, and pray there isn't a test.
More often than not I chose the latter. I assume I'll figure it out, and if not, it sounds much better than saying, "can you repeat that using monosyllabic words commonly found only in Dr Seuss books, please?"
But the great thing about NAB is that it is all about learning. Spend a day on the floor and before you know it you're an expert in third dimensional transwarp storage multipliers.
(Just nod and smile. I'll think you know what I'm talking about.)