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Tag Archives: culture

Becoming yourself in a different language.

utilities

utilities

I am what is commonly referred to as an expat. I.e. a resident in a foreign country. Another word for this is immigrant. And I’ve written about this before (here), so I won’t go too deep into the absurdities that reside within that concept in this text, but let me just say that people aren’t plants. We don’t have roots, we have legs. We move. But when you do move there are a number of things you are confronted with, and one of these things is language.

I live in a country where I have to live my daily life in a different language, a language that isn’t my mother tongue, German. I already knew a bit of German when I moved here 5 years ago, so I wasn’t that worried. I knew it would take a while to get a flow, to feel secure and at home in the new language, but I wasn’t really prepared for what an impact it would have on my identity and self-image. Because every language has its characteristics and in these characteristics also lies a world view. The words you have in a language say a lot about how you perceive the world, what concepts are relevant. And as you slowly start conquering the language you also get an insight to the world view that comes with it, and you start relating this to your own. You start reflecting on the differences and compare them to other languages, other world views. I use three languages in my daily life, or to put it differently, I live my life in three different languages. I have a few more at my disposal, but three is what I use in my everyday existence. So essentially I have these three different world views coexisting in my head on a daily basis. Read more of this post

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