Thursday, April 06, 2006

three worlds (conundrum)

The following is a poem that was inspired by a friend of mine. He is Chinese born and raised outside of Shanghai. He spent five years in France and then came to the U.S. for a semester abroad which is when I met him.

We were walking through Chinatown in DC and he made a comment about how each of the three languages that he knows all have their special nuances and are each better for expressing different things that he feels and thinks and wants to say. Even if it has expanded his ability to express himself it has also complicated his ability because the choices are so much more.

The title of this post is also the title I have given to the poem.

I'm sitting here in my room
at my journal.
Wanting to empty myself in written word
but not sure which language to use.

Should it be the lyrical mother tongue
that evokes memories of the childhood village
and makes the bright lights of Shanghai sparkle?

Should it be the nearly perfect second language
with the romance and poetry that invokes
Paris, Lyon, la Tour Eiffel, l'Arc Triomphe?

Should it be this third global language
that rules the world through
slick images and raw might?

Which one should it be?
Which one will best express my thoughts and emotions
on paper covered with ink?

Three worlds, three voices
one me
I think I'll use all of them.


Editfish said...

Hi Lisa-

You've highlighted the distinct upside (and downside) of multilingualism. Fluency in another language enables one to 'discover' concepts that just don't translate quite right, as there is no equivalent in the target (audience) language. If your audience speaks both languages, both are used with no loss of comprehension. The real downside is trying to cram the concept into a rough approximation for a monolinguistic audience.

transplanted & grafted,


Lisa said...

Thanks editfish for your comments. I peeked over at your blog and am excited to check out everything you've got listed. After the exam tomorrow, I'm sure I'll have time :)