My journalism professor brought to my attention that when we write, we are fundamentally communicating something.
He wrote the above, apparently a verb in Latin, on the blackboard in the bedroom-turned classroom located within an actual house on campus-turned Ivy university building -
Yes, they were even hipster back then… or just plain hippie.
The professor proceeded to ask who had taken Latin.
I had raised my hand because I had indeed taken Latin for two years about four years ago. The dude professor is scatter-brained and absent-minded, though a genius journalist and passionate writer. As a result, he disregarded me saying that I had forgotten what I had learned and do not claim to know the widely regarded but misleadingly wrong, dead language by any means.
And so the silence that ensues during a pause in speech only ended according to the tenets of the homeopathic theory of medicine. That is to say, an awkward pause could only end/be cured/be resolved, by something else that is awkward.
That something else was my awkward response of a nervous quasi-giggle followed by, “I don’t know.”
To no avail, someone else had to immediately chirp in during the time the last of my breath was being expelled post-final syllable “know” and before I could again inhale.
“To share! Communicare means to share something.”
Sayee hai! — That is right!
I still think I waver and yet co-exist in the medium plane that exists between the uni-lingual and bilingual, as well as the medium plane between the bilingual and trilingual. I can understand more than one language for sure; The speaking and writing however, (naturally I cannot write something down if I cannot first express it verbally), are severely lacking.
I need a book in front of me at all times, (in the case that I do decide to sit down and write from right to left in a script I have somewhat mastered), assuring me of when to use the subjunctive mood and what the future tense is.
However, even then, more than some intricacies of language - sarcasm, otherwise insignificant two-syllable post-positions, and necessary filler words - only come to the natural speaker.
English - my vernacular- the language of my first spoken and written word, and arguably the most complicated of languages - ever-evolving: cursive script, print, block letters, graffiti, jargon, punctuation-saturated, hyphen-aware, and technologically competent, encompassing symbols such as the “at” symbol - a modern-day hieroglyphics of sorts.
The English language is my home-frizzle - it is something I can call my own.
I find refuge in the all-inclusive exclusivity that it possesses. That is to say, synonyms galore had created the need for thesauruses and had even provoked a competition among dictionaries: Webster’s, The Oxford English Dictionary, dictionary.com, etc.
I find refuge in the ability to manipulate words, to indulge in my knowledge of “ck” = “c” = k".
I find refuge in the fact that I can assess the underlying tone redolent in the diction and sentence structure of oratory or scribed language…
…all the while observing the international students, richly endowed with the education their families paid for, falling short of understanding the back-handed comments and the sly and sleuth of my homie, the English language.
That is not to say that any language is inferior.
I think the English language is unsophisticated- raw, direct, rude and ugly-sounding. This is in stark contrast to the majestic nasalized and aspirated South and Central Asian languages that have Indic-Arabic roots.
I believe you, me, and others whose first and only language of fluency is American English, feel the same way - at least in reference to the English language.
However, esteemed physician-Author, Khaled Hosseini, in an introduction for fellow writer and Afghan, Atiq Rahimi quoted Rahimi having stated:
“…a kind of involuntary self-censorship has come into play when I’ve written in Persian. My acquired language [French] , the one I have chosen, gives me a kind of freedom to express myself, away from this self-censorship and an unconsciousness shame that dwells in us since childhood.”
I cannot attest to sharing this sentiment - wielder of the English language that I and many others who are born-Americans (though I consider myself Indian - citizenship or not), are.
However, me not being able to relate to Rahimi’s idea of only being able to uninhibitedly express ones’ self in a language other than one’s first language also attests to my dislike of the English language - there is no relevant Eastern tradition in it- no cultural norms- no censorship according to said cultural norms - no moods that can be taken to mean one thing and not another according to how the words sound when vocalized; direct rudeness is non-existent.
And so I am that American born, self-considered Indian, technically half-Spanish, dual English language wielder and lover -
that is, until I have mastered another language -
a language that happens to reside in the same cultural scope that Rahimi had alluded to -