I forgot! I’m at dinner, laughing at myself. Being back together on the World Judo Tour means listening to a dozen languages at the same time and tuning in to one and then the next, getting a feeling for the conversation content, understanding some but rarely all.

Now I am remembering this brain-shaking speed of communication. The referees, the organisers, the IJF executive; everyone can dance from one language to the next, swapping according to the needs of the majority at the table.

It is the same in the tournament venues. We can hear Spanish, Russian, French, English, Czech, Hungarian and countless more. There are Italians telling jokes in German, Scots giving instructions in French, Japanese discussing judo technique in English. And so it goes on.

I am sitting laughing at myself, as the least skilled in this area, with less than two languages! I’m among generous souls, though, who change and translate to include everyone, regardless of the challenges or mood. It’s a skill, to ensure always that no-one is left behind. My colleagues do it automatically, without thought. It’s more efficient that way and drives the pace of work.

This bubbling and buzz of communication is just one more thing I have missed over the last year, without realising that I missed it specifically. It is a joyous community that doesn’t need GoogleTranslate, relying on the natural way, finding a path to understanding between us, gathering more words for our own dictionary, ready to be used as situations call for them.

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