Language 9/23/13

My use of foreign language is absurd. I get phrases stuck in my head, and it seems they actually replace the English. If relaxed and answering quickly, I cannot say “I don’t know”. The English just doesn’t come out at all, I say it in another language instead.

I am fluent in nothing but English. I can probably last exactly three minutes or less in three other languages. Some things, especially religious phrases, do not translate directly into English and I cannot find any other way to express the same meaning. That’s understandable, if the person you are speaking to understands the language you use to say it. But there is no one I know anymore who knows what I am trying to say. When I am alone in the car I talk to myself in other languages, like I am completely unhinged.

I miss hearing people greet me in a couple different languages. I miss it so much, I would say I am homesick for it. But English is my native tongue. Why must I have this ridiculous longing for a language or a culture I willingly and deliberately walked away from? When I see people who would understand me, I actually go the other way, to force myself to resist the temptation of speaking with them in another tongue.

I moved into an apartment with just myself and the children, and it took less than a month for me to fall back into a pidgin English. Why in the world would I want to leave out my adverbs, and include foreign nouns, with three kids who are so young that they can’t yet read? Don’t they need to hear proper language and structure to develop their own communication skills? I feel like kicking myself. I put a stop to that one.

Is fifteen years so long that I can’t step back into full English? What is wrong with me that I chose to surround myself with people who couldn’t understand me for so long?

Every time I get into high stress, when one child is screaming and the other has just announced the mess they made, and the last child is starting to cry because I can’t tie their shoes as fast as they want me to, I melt down completely and then I have no English at all. None. Rapidfire, loud, aggressively foreign. The same words, the same language, every time. If I could stop using it, maybe I would never, ever, lose my temper. If I mention to the children that my English is going, they mind, and if I say it in a foreign language, they mind immediately.

The kids have asked me to stop. They have asked for all English, all the time. I have tried. I have gotten better. I have forgotten words that I used to use every day. But I want it fixed, ima.


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