Monday, 26 September 2011


I think you are never able to express what you want to say as well as you do in your mothertongue. Sure, you can learn other languages and depending on how well this acquisition is you can learn to express yourself like a mother-tongue speaker, but it is never wholly natural.

Because my parents both spoke a different language with us, we grew up bi-lingually, but ( as you have probably noticed) my Afrikaans is fine when I have to speak it, but the grammar and the linguistic expressions are lacking because I did not learn that base structure at school and was not constantly practising it. Now I practice by watching 7de Laan. 

Also, I only learned English when I was 10, but I feel quite secure in my language use here. 
But today I helped a young South Korean man with his English ( basically we just talk and thereby he practices his English) and it reminded me of my time at Disney, because people assume you are not as smart when you cannot express yourself clearly in their mothertongue. When you have an accent and not quite the same expansive vocabulary as 1st language speakers, they think you are not as intelligent because you cannot always immediately find the right words to say exactly what you mean. I doubt most of them realise how hard it is to learn a new language and that it becomes quite frustrating not to have the words right there. It is annoying to have to think about what you are saying and if the expression is right. 

To some it might also be irritating when people correct you, but this depends on how it is done. Normally I don't mind being helped along because I see it as a learning curve and then one won't make the same mistake in the future, but I can understand how it is weird to be very eloquent in one's own language and not have that immediate access to words in another language. 

But then again, it bothers me when people speak a language badly when they have had ample time to learn it. Here I directly mean the politicians and the journalists at the SABC. I mean really, that jumbled mix of bad grammar and worse pronunciation is just not sufficient. If I can learn to speak other languages clearly, why can you not do the same? Especially when one must speak to the public and provide information for them. 

* it means "speaking in tongues"

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