Lost in Two Languages.
[media-credit id=3 align="aligncenter" width="533"][/media-credit]Last year, I was working on my Art fund application and you know what the most common mistake I made was? Combining Dutch and English in one sentence. Yes. I had to type my essay in Dutch, but my brain is automatically programmed in English, so I found myself switching to English without knowing I did. Personally, I would say that it’s quite interesting to read an essay with a mix of Dutch and English. As for the fund, unfortunately I did not get it.
So I figured to share a peek from my past and why English plays such a big part in my life. When I look at my parents, English wouldn’t be a standard choice in my household. My mom grew up with Dutch, Hindi and Sranang. She can understand Hindi, but can’t speak it. Sranang is a dialect in Surinam and she lived there till she was 13, before moving to the Netherlands. Surinam was a Dutch colony, so Dutch was the primary language to learn and the language they spoke while growing up. My dad knows Creole, Portuguese and understands bits and pieces of the Spanish and Italian language. While I was growing up, Dutch was the only spoken language and I only know a tiny bit of a few other languages. Back to English. Very often, after talking to people for a while, the following question is asked: “TJ, how come you are so good with your English?”
First of all, I don’t consider myself that good. I’m learning a lot from you guys every day. The thing is, I’ve always had an affinity with the English language and I constantly looked for ways to get to know the language better. I suppose that’s why I probably have a larger vocabulary in the English language than most people I know in the Netherlands.
When I started blogging, writing in Dutch never even crossed my mind. It only made sense to blog in English and I didn’t even know what would come out of blogging in terms of illustration and the career switch I would eventually make. In general, I don’t like to limit myself and I wanted to share my ramblings with the world, so it wouldn’t make sense to blog in Dutch.
If I look a bit more in my past, I would say I started to read literature in English when I was 11 or 12 years old. During and after high school, I read more books than we had too and I wrote little stories in English. For some reason, I could translate my thoughts and feelings better in English than in Dutch. Also, a lot of things are simply funnier in English. I kid you not. During the second year of my first study, Human Resources, I was seriously planning to quit. However my third year was a year of internship and I was lucky enough to get hired by Eastman Chemical, an American company where corresponding and conversing in English was a must and done on a daily basis. In my fourth year, I applied to get placed in an international project by the European Union and wrote my final thesis completely in English (and I made it a tad difficult for my coaches). I didn’t thoroughly enjoy my studies, but I’m no quitter, so I searched for ways to keep things fun for myself.
I notice a big difference in how the people here use social media and blogging. The Netherlands is quite slow with picking up trends or having chocolate chips normally available in the shops. Yeah. I would be shocked as well. I’m not sure if I would be where I am now if I started blogging in Dutch, but this quote couldn’t be more true in my case:
One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way. – Frank Smith
Leaving the many doors in my imagination aside, knowing a second language definitely opened a huge door in my life.
Tags: bilingual, blogging in a different language, Human Resources, lost in translation, social media, Speaking in a different language, TJ Lubrano, watercolor art