International Mother Language Day 2014

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue. (UN website)

This day, and this post, could be called “the right thing at the wrong moment”. I have always understood the expression “lost in translation”, and it is not by chance that one is also one of my favourite movies. Despite that, I have never felt I could make mine that expression. On the contrary, now I feel totally plunged into it. It doesn’t depend on where you are and what language is spoken in that place, it is a feeling, an internal struggle that makes you feel out of place anywhere you are.

Italian is my mother tongue (I agree on the fact that this is a better name than “mother language”, but that this name is more comprehensible due to the Romance versions, and it was a good choice for the day), and also Sardinian could be considered that. Nonetheless, I feel Spanish as something mine, part of myself, something that I would like to call my mother tongue as well. All this has never been a problem for me, I have never felt belonging less to my original culture because of that.

Now, however, not only I don’t feel at home anywhere, but I don’t even feel I have a mother tongue anymore. I was used to be able to say everything in Italian, and then to have some preferences in other languages. Now, I don’t have that feeling anymore. I can’t express my feeling in Italian, but I have no good results when I do it in English. It is frustrating, it feels like a prison, and who visits is only capable to say “With all the languages you speak, you should be doing something else, you can use them for work!” Thank you, next time you want to do empty conversation, please talk about the weather like everyone else, and stay out from what you don’t know anything about!

I feel like a person who can travel the world and go everywhere but to one place: I just want to go there. I can speak several languages, but I cannot communicate anymore. I want my mother tongue back, I want to feel I belong to somewhere!

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