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BERKELEY'S NEWS • FEBRUARY 02, 2023

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Lost in language: A poem

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AMANDA TSANG | FILE

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FEBRUARY 27, 2022

you speak four languages.

you use these words to be you.

and yet you still don’t know

if language empowers you?

if your language and their language is the same language?

 

I.

you have an identity crisis —

or at least your lousy English makes you think you do.

 

There have been too many times that you’ve been laughed at

            for your sentence not making sense to them

            for your writing not being up to their standard

            for pronouncing something just so mildly wrong

            for you are clearly not one of them

                                                                                                               not the end of the world, right?

 

II.

you don’t think in English.

मैं हिंदी में सोचता हूँ ||

 

you’re always worried that the next word 

coming out of your mouth won’t make any sense,

or that your out-of-place accent that 

should’ve been deported by now,

might just make a guest appearance

on your reality TV show. 

 

and then at that point,

it is no longer about colour and color

but about skeh-jool and sheh-dyool.

 

III. 

पर हर भाषा में सबसे ज़रूरी बात होती है 

की आपने उस चीज़ को कैसे कहा ||

 

we cast aside the beauty of language.

because we are too focused on

the insignificant mistakes made

in our world of synthesis and pronunciation.

rather than the emotions and thoughts 

in the world of ignored art.

 

if only we cared about how we said things more,

तो गाली निकली भी दुआ लगती ||

 


Translations 

 

मैं हिंदी में सोचता हूँ || 

I think in Hindi.

 

पर हर भाषा में सबसे ज़रूरी बात होती है                              

की आपने उस चीज़ को कैसे कहा ||

 

but in language the most important thing is,

how you say the thing.

 

तो गाली निकली भी दुआ लगती ||

then even a curse would seem like a blessing.

Vishwaa Sofat is the Weekender editor. Contact him at [email protected]
LAST UPDATED

FEBRUARY 27, 2022