Tag Archives: my roots

Bilingualism

When my mother gets angry, her English switches into something in between English and Vietnamese, the words are English, but the grammar, the sentence structure, the twists and turns, the intonation is all Vietnamese.

And it is not because my mother is not fluent, oh no, she is the most intelligent woman I have ever known, and learning two languages is nothing more than breathing to her.

It is because Vietnamese is the language of her heart and soul, the language of her bones and her blood, the language that feeds the roots of her brain, and when she is angry, when emotion comes first and passion runs high, then it is this language that comes pouring out in every breath even when it’s English that leaves her lips.

When I am angry, I can barely speak, the words get caught in my throat, they get stuck somewhere and I don’t know why or how, but it’s usually stuttered or mangled English that comes through.

Even when English is the primary language I speak, Vietnamese is still the language of my heart and soul, my bones and blood, the roots of my brain, the language of the mother who brought me into this world, and even if it may not come out as naturally as speaking, somewhere in me it’s trying, and so the English gets caught along the way.