MotherTongues: Wear Words, Celebrate Cultures

about words, languages, cultures, travel

About tongues and languages: mixed feelings about bilingualism September 26, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 1:14 pm

I finally had the time to listen to all of this amazing BBC program about Multilingualism. Bridget Kendall talks to three academics about multilingualism: the science of bilingualism, bilingual children, and also being a bilingual exile. (The answer to how many languages one person is capable of learning: as many as you can fit in a day!)

I got tears in my eyes as I listened to Gustavo Pérez Firmat, a bilingual writer and poet, talk about his experience living as an exile from Cuba. He describes how he feels different about each of his languages: English is his happy language and Spanish his sad language. I often think about this: I also feel like a different person in Afrikaans (more outgoing, not afraid to state my opinion) than in English (more introvert, unsure). Maybe it is because I moved to the USA when I was 25, and even though I could read English, I wasn’t very fluent speaking it. I wonder how it will be different for our children, who grew up speaking Afrikaans and English since birth.

You can listen to Gustavo Pérez read his poem, Bilingual Blues, during this interview. It was one of the program’s highlights for me.

Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones.
I have mixed feelings about everything.
Name your tema, I’ll hedge;
name your cerca, I’ll straddle it
like a cubano.

I have mixed feelings about everything.
Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones.
Vexed, hexed, complexed,
hyphenated, oxygenated, illegally alienated,
psycho soy, cantando voy:
You say tomato,
I say tu madre;
You say potato,
I say Pototo.
Let’s call the hole
un hueco, the thing
a cosa, and if the cosa goes into the hueco,
consider yourself en casa,
consider yourself part of the family.

Soy un ajiaco de contradicciones,
un puré de impurezas:
a little square from Rubik’s Cuba
que nadie nunca acoplará.
(Cha-cha-chá.)

So, download this podcast and listen to it when you have some time. You’ll learn why bilinguals get dementia about 4 years later than monolinguals, why it is a good idea to raise your kids with more than one language, and why a bilingual person’s brain has to work harder. Enjoy/Geniet!

Advertisements
 

One Response to “About tongues and languages: mixed feelings about bilingualism”

  1. Españolita Says:

    Oh, so glad to have found/read this post! I’m definitely going to listen to the podcast. Thanks for the recommendation! I also plan to follow your blog, as I’m also interested in and blog about bilingualism/bilingual parenting. Have a great day! Audrey (españolita)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s