On this cloudy spring morning, I woke up to a comment under a photo that I had published on my author Facebook page (link: Author Page) and it has set off a debate inside me that I had planned to bring up at some point. And there is no better time than now.
So when I woke up and read the judgmental and preachy comment that I should use and value my mother tongue instead of English, I put the phone down and took a deep breath. I got up and made myself some breakfast to distract myself. I can be a bit impulsive and sharp and I didn’t want to come off as defensive and mean but I did want to sting the commentator (just a little bit).
So after my morning routine I returned to the comment. And explained that the photo and the words in English are posted on my public author page which, as my other author accounts, is meant for an international audience and as such using English is the logical choice. And then I wished him a great day, in English of course (I couldn’t help myself 😉 ).
If you haven’t read the About page on my blog, you might not know that I come from Slovenia, a beautiful European country with amazing culture and language. However, we also tend to be slightly closed off to everything international or global, being protective of our heritage. And my using English in pursuing a career in writing has ruffled some uptight feathers. You can imagine how many tears I’ve shed (let me give you a clue: all the tissues are safe and dry.).
I know what my goal is and who my audience is and will be. I don’t want to limit myself to my home country. I want my Slovene readers to join me on my journey into the world. Most of my correspondences and interactions are in English and I enjoy writing in English. I don’t really give it a thought because I don’t link my identity with my speaking or writing English. I am me. And no one and nothing can chip away at that. I don’t think I’m less of a Slovene for not using my native tongue to express myself.
I’ve never identified with language as the core of my identity; I don’t think that geography matters, that my nation’s history is what prevails over everything else, that it takes priority over who I am personally. I appreciate, respect and cherish the history and heritage of my country but that doesn’t mean that I need to run away from everything and anything foreign. I embrace the open world, I want to see and experience it all and I will take my origin with me where ever I might go and be.
People are so focused on the history and the battles of the past, on what constitutes an identity. I don’t forsake my mother for not using my mother tongue. It’s a means of communication. And I find it easier to express myself and be creative in English. It might change, it might not. But that is my choice and it’s not open for debate.
There have been people who have wanted to teach me a lesson and patronize me by reprimanding me for using English. And of course, it angers me. What makes me mad is that people have the conviction that they have the right to judge anyone and to voice their opinion about everything to everyone. I don’t agree. I believe an opinion and advice are welcome when asked. It’s one thing to be honest and another thing to be rude with your directness. And one more thing, do keep in mind that if you feel like you can say, ask, comment whatever you want, I or anyone else on the receiving end of your abrasiveness has the right to react however they want and make sure that you are ready for the counter blow. If you feel like you have the right to say something and you do act on it, well just don’t be surprised if I don’t take it quietly.
I wish you a phenomenal week 🙂