Brett
How I feel about English: concised version

Long story short, I find myself becoming more and more disheartened when it comes to studying languages. The crux of the issue is that the more I delve into various languages from different linguistic families, the more I see where my own native tongue is lacking.

I just don't have any pride in being a native English speaker.

I must be one of the fewer voices that bemoans English's presence on the world stage as "the" international language. It makes me feel hollow, that because full command of English has become such a basic skill for today's global citizens that I feel being a native speaker of it leaves me with a gaping hole where "pride" for one's mother tongue and thus culture ought to exist.

Ethnic groups often regard their language as a living relic of their culture, almost like a clandestine code that although outsiders may break into, at the end of the day always belong to them.

English, I feel, is not like that. It belongs to no one, yet everyone at the same time. Wanton colonialization certainly had an effect in bringing this about, and afterwards, the media and the internet revolution, yadda yadda yadda. The result? There exists a wonderful language perfect that can help bind the world ever closer together. That's a good thing.

Yet its underbelly lies in that it leaves me feeling... plain, in a way. Though I'm a native speaker of the most dominant language that invades the other hapless languages of the world, and though this ought to, in theory, give me a bunch of advantages, I wish I weren't one. I wish I were one of you non-native speakers, breezing their way through English classes, complaining about English's dratted influence on your mother tongue (it exists) yet wholeheartedly using it as a tool to connect with your neighbors, Europeans, Middle Easterns, Asians, etc.

The language is the way it is, simple. I may try to want to make it more complex, but can't. The problem is, learning (about) other languages makes me realize how constrained and limited my language truly is, and though it's no fault of my own, as a linguaphile, it does irk me.

Take for instance, the lack of a formal second person pronoun. All we have is you. Dogs, muggers, and the president are all called you. This, I think, has its benefits. It equalizes class statuses and whatnot. Everybody can agree that that's good. Yet, I can't but help lean towards thinking that if there did exist a formal you (like usted, Sie, vous, siz, 您, etc) that it would be kind of nice, that it'd give the language some more nuances.

I like there being a tongue people most can grapple with quite well that can connect the world. I do. But, I can't help but admit that a fundamental part of language - pride in one's tongue - is missing in me.

I hope to have presented my thoughts clearly in this short entry, and that you don't mistake my ideas. :)

May 3, 2014 1:21 PM
Comments · 1

I understand what you are saying, but I don't really feel that way.Everyone wants to learn English as it is the common international language, so I feel very fortunate to have English as my mother tongue. I don't think English lacks sophistication and it is a wonderful and very expressive language. Is English a boring language just because I happen to speak it? Not at all. It provides a strong grammatical base for learning other languages. As a Canadian living in very multi-cultural Toronto, I see language as one aspect of a culture, but it doesn't define a single culture. We use both English and French as official languages. Many countries share languages, so it is other things which contribute to an individual cultural identity. Over 60% of Torontonians are foreign-born and speak 140 different languages, so we have to look for a shared common experience, as Canada is "new" in global terms. A huge part of just being a Canadian is the acceptance and welcoming attitude towards others, and many other Canadianisms. Appreciate what you are and also appreciate and embrace what is great in others...this also applies to language learning.  

May 3, 2014