Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On Being Bilingual...

Technically I don't qualify.
I was born and raised in the same country, the language of which was the mother tongue of all my closest family.
I don't know if it's in our genes, though, or rather in my curiously multicultural family history, but a love for languages has been passed onto me and by the time the Berlin Wall fell I was ready to absorb all linguistic influences flooding in from that direction. And there were plenty about.
I tend to believe that it all started then. But I guess my family background also helped, from the Swedish tales my mom told me to the Australian cards my relatives sent me.

Well, I ended up pretty bilingual, with all its side effects. Of course while living in Hungary I never really noticed these. I thought I was as much Hungarian as the rest of them, with a fortunate kick for languages and a multicultural upbringing. And maybe I was just that, back there.

Once I settled in Switzerland I started to realize that many of those long expressions my sociolinguistics books used actually applied to me. I was in a second language environment, with a funny national identity, quite willing to assimilate while retaining some of that identity, however mixed it was to begin with. I was the member of a subgroup of a subgroup in a society which often defies boundaries and yet votes nationalist. I felt not a little lost.

And I started to wonder just how I got into all this. Sure globalization and an English major had a lot to do with it, as well as my general disposition towards languages as tools of communication and self expression. An often quoted Hungarian saying goes 'you are as many people as many languages you speak', and I can truly vouch for its accuracy. Now it's up to me to sort out just how these people can get on with each other. It's not going to be easy. But with all the advantages, it's worth the effort. ;)

Thanx for reading.
Have an awesome week.
xoxoxoxo

fleur

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