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Is English your Anguish?


Somebody says, you live a new life for every new language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once.

If this allegation is true, I have 4 lives. Because I have my own dialects, then I learned to speak and write in Mandarin, and I stayed in Shanghai for more than 6 year, and married a Shanghai girl, so I can speak Shanghai dialect, now I have to speak and write in English in a foreign country. So I have 4 lives.

But I am good at none of these languages, I'd rather have one perfect life, not 4 miserable lives. But now, I even feel anguish at English whenever I speak. I couldn't be able to connect my inner world to words, and words in to sentences. Words seem to be suppressed cries of a wandering soul, which are clutching desperately at my heart. Without emotional vocabulary, everything seems become allusion and confusion, and I started to fear of things I needn’t be afraid of.

I have never had confident with my English, what you see is actually not the real me, but another self which is alienated by a foreign language.

My voice is not my own, English language which I am speaking is but a mechanically and poorly translated from Mandarin, even translated from my own mother tongue (a local dialect). Every time when I hear myself speaking in English, I just hate it. In the strain of translating a Chinese word into its English equivalent, or vice versa, the spontaneity and natural quality of my speech are lost. In the toiling process of translation, I try hard to impose my learning, will, and intellect on my spoken English in an effort to turn my speech into an oral facade of my hidden self. Iam stuck in this dark and chaotic situation, I have become a stranger to myself.

“I am my language,” says the poet Gloria Anzald, because language is at the heart of who we are.

All though I live far away from my homeland, but I always feel desperately to connect to that world, hanging on those Chinese website, seems waiting for something, being eager to see someone, or just getting in touch with my old self.

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