On writing in your colonizer’s language

Electric Lit posts a fascinating piece on the internal conflict of writing in the language of your colonizer/oppressor. With English slowly coming to dominate the entire world, I imagine this is going on everywhere. As an Irish/Scotsman, I suppose I write in my colonizer’s language as well, but it’s been 800+ years since the colonization and despite a few attempts to break free over the years, we’ve largely given up, so I’m assimilated enough to be complicit in the whole thing.

For my family, friends, relatives, and teachers, English was seen as a language of access. It could land you better jobs, remove limitations, and open up avenues. English speakers were high achievers, often conflated with the colonizers who ruled over us for about 200 years. It was ironic that the language of our colonizers was seen as aspirational, something that could lift us out of the discomfort that our parents’ mid-level jobs put us through. In reading all the subjects at school in English, we were made to understand that English was the language of possibilities. My cousins who studied in Hindi schools wouldn’t have all the opportunities that would have been available for me.  

Torn between these two worlds, I found accidental love in the language that was imposed upon me. From a young age of six or seven I started voluntarily, subconsciously veering towards reading and writing in English.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s