I think the most painful realisation comes when you find that you cannot speak your mother tongue as well as you do the language of the land where you grew up. My English is evidence of this. When something as simple as a colour, or the name of an animal in your mother tongue leaves you dumb. Yesterday I could not find the world for ‘turtle’ in Somali, only after my mother reminded me, did I recall knowing it.
We betray our mother tongues, for the languages of nations who will never fully accept us. We let the strangeness infest our mouths until we forget how to accommodate our original tongues.
- mother tongue, Farah Gabdon (via thegabdonwrites)
Even worse, though, is when you’re growing up IN YOUR OWN LAND but NOT KNOWING YOUR MOTHER TONGUE. Can you imagine being Chinese, growing up in China, not knowing how to speak Chinese? Because growing up, society believes anything The West is better? That being more proficient in English meant more opportunities, to the cost of sacrificing your own language and culture and tradition? Because that’s exactly what’s happening in Hong Kong in some parts of the city, where parents would rather speak to a newborn purely in English despite how they’re both non-English ethnically and linguistically. Because English-speaking countries = good, everything else = inferior… including their own culture.