LOST IN TRANSLATION
I’ve always had a very intuitive way of understanding languages. I very soon figured out I had a natural gift: I could hold the meaning of words instinctively, their literal meaning. Now, I am being overwhelmed by the nuances in the different languages. French is the most emotional one, everything I say or hear is told in the most personal way; every word has the strongest resonance in my mind.
English is probably my second love, but for completely different reasons. Perhaps for all the experiences I went through whilst speaking and hearing English every day.
But I’ve always perceived English as a practical way to express myself, not as an emotional way to express my feelings. I understand everything that is been said but it doesn’t seem to make sense in my mind: no emotion or feeling is associated with the words.
The word “travel”, voyage in French reminds me of books I’ve read, overwhelming places I’ve been to. That word so often used by French poets has such an aura to it. It reminds me of my deception and realizations going through life – I don’t take it literally. Whereas the English equivalent is just a word, a word without connotation, without any memory attached to it.
French carries more emotional weight, nuances are more profound. My memories and feelings are all associated with French words. Every word has a connotation, an impact, words seem to flow, they have a greater emotional substance to them. I can only grasp my memories in French, despite the memories I’ve made whilst talking English.
In English, the weight of words does not count, they’re just words. They’re so easily said and there is no fear of upsetting anyone. They don’t have any subtlety or any implication. They don’t convey any sadness, warmth, melancholy.
This lack of meaning is probably why I write such personal stories in English, because they seem so far away, as if they didn’t exist. Like when you have a secret, but that secret is so secret that it just seems not to belong to you and it becomes easy to share. English for me is a secret, a mysterious secret, but it’s never really belonged to me. There is no fear of being judged.
There are emotions I can only understand in French, but only express in English. Because it is too frightening to share them in French. It is intimidating to perfectly express too many feelings, knowing I am revealing too much, but I don’t realize it. I could write the exact same thing in English or in French but it will convey a different meaning in both languages. Maybe I would not be able to be that honest in French. It would be the bravest language to write personal experiences. There is no lie to it. English seems like one big lie.
I guess it’s an easy escape here, easy to know I’ve always got English to express myself with brutal, sincere words.