Friday, 9 October 2009

Languages and feelings

If you're reading my blog, chances are, you understand and/or speak more than one language.

Do you feel any different when you speak different languages?

For me, I speak English like a Mr Tough Guy. I grew up with brothers. I was a Tough Guy until I went to graduate school in Japan. My godmother made me into a Girl. Skirts, dresses, stilettos, make-up and all. English is the language I have the best command of, and my feelings are communicated best in it. Sometimes these feelings creep out of the words and I am surprised to see what they are. For example, recently those feelings have been dark and sarcastic. Can you tell?

I speak Japanese in a softer, more polite manner. Whenever I speak Japanese, I feel happy and lighthearted. Maybe it has to do with how I felt when I was learning the language and speaking it in Japan. I feel I can be cute when I write in Japanese, even if it's broken.

Mandarin, I speak in a less formal way. People are more laid back in Taiwan. Plus, most of the people I work with everyday wear jeans and t-shirts for cameramen and something more presentable on top for us reporters. We usually wear jeans because of the dirty situations we can get into while reporting. We speak to most of our interviewees in a casual manner, because we want to make them feel relaxed. So that is the Mandarin that I know.

In Taiwanese, it gets even more casual. I feel that Taiwanese speakers here are very warm hearted and from the grass roots. I don't speak loudly or curse like many of them do, but I add on a lot of 啦's (la) and 啊's (a).

What about you? How do you feel when you speak different languages?

1 comment:

JCR said...

Although my Mandarin is fluent, it lags so far behind my English that I often feel like a child when I speak it, especially when discussing complicated topics. On the other hand, every year I spend here I get more comfortable speaking it, but I am always self conscious about my accent or pronounciation.

My Japanese is pretty much limited to reading and listening, I never really practiced speaking it, so I usually end up speaking in Chinese to my Japanese classmates here.

I don't understand Taiwanese but I can feel the same sense of warmness that you talked about. I think maybe it comes from the unsophisticated-ness(in a good way) of rural people, or maybe from Taiwanese's role as a family language as opposed to business/school language.