“Hi”, I replied.
“You co lam homework trua?”, I ask.
“ Co chu sao ma cong co.”, Phu answered.
“ May cong co lam di you’re in big trouble.”, I replied back.
“ Toi biet roi.”, He replied.
Another friend walked up to me and ask me, “Yo did we have any homework last night”? At first I thought he was my other friend Thanh who was also Vietnamese. So I told him, “Cong, Cong we don’t have homework.”
My friend Michael started laughing and ask me, “What did you just say”?
As I felt embarrassed I told him again but this time in english, “No we don’t have homework last night”. Thats the moment where I realize the I have been mixing the two languages a lot. Right there at that moment I made a promise myself that this will never happen again,but sooner or later it happened again.
My whole life was ruined because I kept mixing my native language Vietnamese with my secondary language English. I am use to speaking one language so much when I get to school I tend to mix these two languages together without noticing. Ever since I learned english when I was 6 years old. I started having this habit of mixing 2 languages. Having a knowledge for both languages confused me. Learning english is the most complicated process of my life. Taking ESOL classes (English for Speakers of Other Languages) doesn’t help at all. The stuff I learn in ESOL and English class makes me even more confusing. Then at the same time learning one language is hard enough. I have to use another one at home. The constant mixing and switching of languages from school and home left a permit mark on me. The permanent mark that was left on me was memories of laughter and frustration.
Then one day I was working with my mom in her nail shop. A customer came by and ask, “Does your mom have time to do my nails today?”.
I replied, “No my mom has no time to do it for you today, xin loi.”
As I realized what I have said I heard her ask me, “Excuse me, what did you just say?”
At that moment I thought she was going to laugh at me for what I have just said, but I answered her anyway. “I was trying to tell you that my mom does not have time to do nails for you today I’m sorry.”
“Oh well thats interesting. What language do you speak? What is your native language?”.
“Well I speak Vietnamese at home.”
“Oh thats cool I have a friend who speaks Vietnamese and I think its an interesting language to speak.”
As I heard that I felt as though my language does mean something to her. It gives me strength to be not feel embarrassed, but also to feel proud that I speak a language that some people find it interesting.
I can imagine myself in the future speaking in mixed languages more, instead of just avoiding it in all because speaking in mixed languages makes me who I am and thats what makes me special. Speaking in a mixed language can also helps me understand things that I learn in school. It makes it more simple to me to understand. It could make me forget the permit mark that was left on me long ago and move on improving myself. Now I can just close my eyes and see myself using my abilities of speaking mixed languages to communicate with my friend Phu more.“Hey,xin chao” (Hi)
“What are you doing?” (Lam cai di)
“Oh cong cho di.”
“Oh vay a, you’re doing nothing.?”
“ Yeah man, cong cho di hat. Just doing homework thats all.”
“ Oh thats cool man, truong tha di choi later ok?” (We are going to go out later)
“Ok thats sound good.”
Now, because of that one moment in the past has affected my future with my languages. The girl from the story “ Tongue Tied” by Maxine Hong Kingston hates speaking out loud and has been laughed at before. She thinks her accent is making her different. In the first part of the story she has told us about the story of the knot-marker. She said that the knot-marker after a while in China has been outlawed. Then she stated, “ If I lived in China, I would have been an outlaw knot-marker”. She was trying to compare her accent to the knot-marker. She is trying to tell us that if the knot-marker was outlawed in China. Then here in America her accent is breaking the rules of the way you speak as well. She is trying to show us that she is not proud of her accent. During the time that I had trouble with two languages. I wasn’t proud of myself either. I tried hard to change to fit in, but the changing doesn’t work as well. I still continue to mix the languages and suffer the laughter from my peers. She made another statement about her accent later in the story. She stated that, “ The teacher, who had already told me everyday how to read “I and here”, put me in the low corner under the stairs again,where the noisy boys sat.” Now her mind set is giving up on perfecting her accent. Even the people she know, her teacher has paid her no attention at all and decided to ignore her. Thats why the girl in this story hated her accent.In my case the laughter and torture to change my accent and my mixed language has made me think that I want to improve and speak it more. My story about the mixed language and the girls’ from “Tongue Tied” has the same situations but different results or change. I went from being laughed at to speaking more and being inspired to learn more about both languages. Instead of just abandoning them. Meanwhile the girl from the story is on the verge of probably giving up. Some people just give up while others take their time to realize that their accent or language is something that they can never let go. It make them who they are and symbolizes the unique traits that the person have. For me I have kept that unique thing and I am trying to improve as well. I decided to keep it because I have spent some time learning new things from both languages while I was making my decision and the influence that these two languages brought affect my thoughts and my decision. The fact that I can speak more than two languages makes me an interesting person to most people, but then to others they think I’m a topic for their jokes. Even though I had a complicated time fixing the habit of speaking and mixing both languages. The fact that knowing them and learning them makes the pain go away. Theses languages and their culture makes me who I am today.