Language and Thinking

Yuko-San, my tutor for Japanese in college and a dear friend, recently started a new blog where she writes in English and Japanese and also talks about her two selves. It inspired me to ponder over my own language affair, as I swing between Hebrew and English daily. 

I was never very good at learning languages. When I do work on it, it requires a lot of concentration and practice. But I love the windows languages can open for you if you try hard. To other cultures and places, but mainly to people. 

Unlike Yuko-San, my native language is the more direct (and louder) one of the two. English is richer, it has more words, and you can very precisely say anything you mean to say. But I find it a bit sneaky too, as in a why do you say this if you actually mean that moment.  In Hebrew, people typically say whatever they think whenever they feel like it. Which can make your day rough. People here are rude. But Hebrew often brings pleasant sincerity into my life as well. 

It took me years to feel ‘capable’ of English. In the US, I spent forever speaking softly, slowly or being quiet. I hated it at first. But it gave me the opportunity to slow down and listen, observe, think, step back. Speaking only one language up until my adult life, my tongue used to run ahead of my soul, I let my emotions spilled out too quickly, I led myself to silly decisions. I rushed. I am still rushing, but less. In a way, English helped me grow.

I think I reached this stage in life where I am the same person in both languages. When people laugh at something grammatically weird I say they do it fondly, which helps me be myself.  It makes my friends my friends, and life feels more natural.

And if I am not satisfied with words alone, or when I simply cannot find them, I prefer drawing or smiling. 

A map I made for our Borders Seminar

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