A rather funny and crazy text about multilingualism and growing up bilingual.
So, my whole life I was occupied with language – actually with more than one languages. Considering that I am still pretty young, I should correct myself and take back that grandiose expression “my whole life” – if I don’t I’ll probably get accused for being nothing more than a small exaggerator. As a matter of fact, I could official legitimize my fourth Lebensjahr or in pure English my fourth year of existence on this planet (can’t remember myself existing somewhere else before that – I swear) as the spine and starting point of my romantic relationship with languages. Languages demand love: they will squeeze out every last drop of available memory capacity in your brain and if you take them extremely seriously, the risk of becoming obsessive clearly increases.
Fine. I admit that was once more a bit exaggerated – mainly for the sake of the lyrical diction, I can’t escape from. Or maybe because this is the time, where I am confesing my loyalty to a thing – most important an invisible thing, thus an idea. And the idea of speech in general is indeed a very, very old idea. The need for communication should probably be older than the birth of speech, but that’s always the case with needs – they are always faster because they’re created internal and often unconsiously before exploding. At this point if I’ve decided to continue partly traditionally, I would start to unfold the myth of The Tower of Babel – especially if my greatest aim was to cauterize the incapability of people to communicate with each other, but 1) that’s not what I am up to, 2) our incapability to communicate succesfully with each other can’t clearly not be inputed to a myth and 3) although The Tower of Babel was – as far as I am informed – created to cause confusion among people because they would then speak different languages, I would probably still love that sort of confusion.
Well, the first idea was to unroll that powerful memory I had about my first contact with another language – besides the language, which was about to become my mother tongue; something I wasn’t totally aware of and I couldn’t decide how to communicate (oh, locigal, I was only four).
It was that time when my little face had foremost the ability to face furniture, mainly because of the small size and short height and that adorable habit to crawl all over. So, except for getting in immediate touch with furniture – mainly in the kitchen, I used to talk to the television (as if it would answer to me). My mother had just come from Germany and insisted on “planting” a satellite o the roof of the house. Her persistence caused following 1) me chatting with german cartoon characters, 2) me chatting with furniture, but in german and 3) me having a big blackout in regard to german language because in school I had to talk another language. But it was fun – I guess. Especially for a four year old child.
But, where is that powerful memory? You know; mothers normally cook. Thus, the interruption with my “furniture chat” usually was the case, because I would nip a carrot or unconsiously steal more food from wherever it was low enough for me to reach the target object. I guess, my mother just wanted to gently stop my invasion by showing me how to cut and prepare food and I was really fascinated – until the german subs came. All I remember is the mild, soft, so smooth and yellow cheese on the kitchen. Now, I am pretty sure that my need to eat everything would make me do and say antyhing people wanted me to. Was that my mother’s tactic when she asked me to articulate the word “Käse” (meaning cheese in German)? She most have known – I would literally do anything to get a bit of that thing. Next thing I remember is speaking out all food names in German, every time I liked something on the kitchen – and it was almost always the case.
Thus, I found myself just sitting, some years later, thinking of how things would have been different if I didn’t like eating, if I didn’t like cheese. I guess, my mother would find another way. Besides, I still had that television running. And after all, my experience with bilingualism wasn’t that bad at all – okay, except for some dichotomous moments in my life, where I had to switch languages (yeah, like shift and alt button on the keyboard, but not that fast) and get into one language’s mood and culture.
But still, I would go for the cheese.