I’ve sat down to write something I wanted to write. The problem is that I sit down, and put on music to make me feel and think and want to write, and then I just want to talk about the songs that I’ve listened to. How much I love them. How much I think other people would love them. How GOOD some lyrics are. How some songs make me smile, just the second I hear the first few bars (Call me ishmael- Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Antonia- Motion City Soundtrack). And then I get completely sidetracked, what was I going to say?

Language. David and I spent the end of July in Switzerland and one evening we went to visit his great aunty Trudi for dinner. I found it truly fascinating listening to her speak. Trudi grew up in England before moving to Switzerland where she married and still lives. She spoke in English but often found herself struggling to find the right word and asking David’s dad to translate from the Swiss. Fascinating. I always assumed your mother tongue would stay with you forever. Maybe it’s to do with lots of things, age and where the things that you’re talking about happened, and who you’re talking to. I just couldn’t grasp this concept that someone who was essentially English could not find the words. It’s like forgetting a word, you know when you know there is the perfect word for something but you just can’t think of it? It’s on the end of your tongue. Everyone gets that. Except Trudi could find it, but only in Swiss. Sometimes I think she either forgot that neither I nor David can speak Swiss, or forgot that I can’t and assumed David understood, or didn’t realise that she was using Swiss words and I had to piece together the stories. Oh, the stories! I know that’s an awkward phrase, no one really says ‘oh, the stories’, but really. Once we were home I said to David ‘I hope we have stories. Is it too late for stories?’ So many of Trudi’s stories were from when she was young and could do anything. I feel like I’ve already had that phase. But I know David is right, and there are things you can do together that you could never do on your own, and we can make stories.

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2 Responses to Language/stories

  1. Aris says:

    It’s fascinating that you bring this up. I was actually going to blog about the power of smiling.

    I’m not sure, but I think I may be in a similar situation to Trudi. For the first few years of my life, I spoke only Armenian, despite being rooted in England. This was mum’s influence. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I know that I had a good grasp of English by the time I went to Nursery. My dad doesn’t speak Armenian, either, so my comprehension of Armenian was slowly obliterated from then onwards, despite many years at Armenian Sunday school.

    I’m not sure whether you could class Armenian as my mother tongue, or as my first language, but my point is that we’re all victims of the culture, and linguistic values in which we reside. When I visit my relatives, my Armenian powers return to me, somewhat. I assume Trudi would be the same, if she ever visited England.

    Oh, and there’s always time for stories.

    • letssetsail says:

      I’m not sure she would, it seems that time and space have left gaps which she can only fill with Swiss. I loved the stories! I’m glad there is still hope for me 🙂 David and his dad think she goes on but I love to listen. She came out with the most outrageous things, I’ve never heard a great aunty talk about ‘lesbian nests’ or ‘wanking’ before. Not that these are the types of stories I want to have. Anyway. Smiles are powerful too. They probably start a lot of stories…

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