I don’t belong to English

I read this great book a few days ago Pulitzer prize winning “The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Dominican-American author Junot Diaz who is the latest addition to my absolute favorite authors (I also read his Drown which is a brilliant collection of short stories in a voice so original and inspired, its a pleasure to read) and this book began with the following quote which just resonated so deeply with me. Borne of a Tam-Bram Dad and Punjabi Mom (I know what you’re thinking and no I haven’t seen 2 States), a feeling of belonging to a particular language has eluded me for most of my life. I think, write and communicate in English yet often feel, that some things just cannot find words in this language. My favorite article on untranslatable words uses design to express their meaning.

Photo Credit: Body language, paintings by Pier Toffolett
Photo Credit: Body language, paintings by Pier Toffolett

“The fact that I am writing to you in English already falsifies what I wanted to tell you.
My subject: how to explain to you that I don’t belong to English though I belong nowhere else”
Gustavo Pérez Firmat

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