English or Portuguese?

8 04 2008

For I while I struggled on whether or not I should write this blog in Portuguese, as most of my friends and relatives live in Brazil. On top of that, I feel much more comfortable with my mother tongue: even after 11 years living in Canada, I still can’t claim I speak English well. My writing is not as bad, as I have more time to think it through – and google my way around what I don’t know – but I still find plenty of grammar and spelling errors whenever I read old posts of mine. Writing in English may even be perceived as a snob thing to do: who am I trying to impress, after all?

I may still change my mind, but the main reason I write this blog in English is that I don’t use it as a vehicle to communicate with my friends and relatives. As a matter of fact, I only told 2 people in Brazil so far that I actually have a new blog. The only other people that probably know about it are those who follow my rare twittering and some co-workers who read my internal blog. I decided to keep a low profile until I find my hand on what I should blog about, and also to have some meat here before announcing it to more people. Writing it in English makes it more consummable by the public at large, so for now I’ll stick with the plan.

But don’t get me wrong: I really love writing and talking in Portuguese. Doing that gives me this warm feeling of being at home no matter where I actually am: “Minha pátria é minha língua” summarizes this idea well. Furthermore, Brazilian Portuguese is a beautiful language in my naturally biased view. Rich, full of historical influences, with many peculiar sounds, and deliciously illogical.

English is more of an acquired taste, but I think now I have an admiration for it. There is a minimalist elegance in conveying a lot of ideas using so few words.

I wish I could learn Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic and German. You never really think outside the box until the moment you replace the damn box. This may sound silly, but the language you use to express yourself affects your way of thinking.

However, no language can accurately express all the complexity of ideas and sensations that go through our brain. You don’t say what you think or feel, you only say what known words allow you to articulate. This gets worse when speaking a foreign language, as your vocabulary and internalization of expressions tend to limit you even further. So, I’m often left with this perception that none of the people who interact with me in English really know me. What they know is this subset of me that is externalized by my poor command of the English language.

I said this before: In Canada, we always talk about visible minorities, but very rarely we talk about audible minorities. My Asian looks play a much smaller role in my social interactions than my thick Brazilian accent. I recall watching a movie – a bad one, but with a memorable quote – where one of the characters says: “don’t think that because I speak with an accent, I think with an accent”. Recognizing this need is the first step to address it.

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One response

26 05 2008
Victor

oh! eu não sabia que voce falaba português =]

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