Thursday, November 13, 2008

Native speaker?

So, I'm finally back to studying. Maybe "studying" is a little bit too much. let's just say I'm back to reading things related to linguistics and, more specifically, applied linguistics. I have been reading something on this field because I am trying to make sure this is really the path I want to follow. I'm still not sure, but I do think the subject is just fascinating. I just feel the opportunities to work in the area are sometimes limited to teaching...I love teaching, but I don't know whether this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I just don't know. As I wrote in my previous post, I would really enjoy to have a job that would let me travel, and teachers don't travel much :/

Anyways, let us forget for a second about my future and try to understand my present. My readings. In the book I'm reading, Applied Linguistics by Guy Cook, I have read a lot of things that made me question myself. As we all know, the native speaker is that speaker that should be able to grasp the language in a way that he/she could see what is a proper and improper construction in the language. 

These days I was working with my father on a translation from Portuguese to English. We both worked on it, but there were times when I saw that my father, who never studied either linguistics or translation (but he does translate a lot as a personal hobby and does read a lot), did a much better job than I could. This made me question my abilities with languages. In fact, even though I do not have all the experience he has with the Italian language, I have lived in Brazil for 7 years (and he lived there for a little more than 3 years). Besides, for the whole time I lived in Brazil, I studied and read and had contact with the Portuguese written and academic language. However, my dominion of the language is not as his.

For me this is a little frustrating. I was born in Brazil and my first language was Portuguese. Then, I moved to Italy, where I was raised speaking Italian. At the age of 16 I used to know no Portuguese at all and moving back to Brazil was not that easy. Even so, I am usually considered bilingual (but I have to admit some people think I have a slight accent when I speak Portuguese). What I would like to understand is: am I native apeaker of any language at all? Because I do not feel as a perfectly fluent speaker of neither Portuguese or Italian. maybe this is why I concentrated all my efforts in learning English, but how proficient will I ever be in a language I didn't grow up with? And mastering a language requires time, effort, and sometimes even money...could I ever be equally proficient in all three? Hardly... 

Anyways, a lot of people know three languages is not that hard. Problem is, most people are "native speakers" in one language and know other languages. My problem is: am I a native speaker of any language at all? Because I don't feel like one...

Friday, November 07, 2008


I've been away again for a while. In the meantime, some things happened.

My year in the US came to an end...the last days were so wonderful and so sad at the same time. Part of me wished to have stayed for on more year, but the other part of me realized I couldn't be an au pair forever and it was time to start getting my life moving, getting my studies on, getting a job, whatever. And so it was...I left the family, the kids, the cats, the US and all the friends I had there. I felt so terribly sad and wanted so badly to go back the first few days. 
After a while, I got used to Italy, even though something tells me this is not the place for me. In these months I spent here I realized I'm just not happy to stay here. All your dreams, perspectives, interior happiness, everything fades away and you end up feeling gloomy, sad and confused all the time. It might be the winter approaching, it might be living with my dad again, but I think it goes beyond that. I remember when I first came, I thought Italians were so narrow-minded, so bleak, so pessimistic...and now I feel like I blended in, I see myself as pessimistic, bleak, sad as anyone else. And this is killing me, taking all the strengths out of me. I desperately need to go away. 

I have to say, I can't blame it all on Italy. There's much more than being in the wrong place. Actually, the problem is exactly that I haven't found my place yet. I am completely free and i could do whatever I wanted. I have so many ways to go in front of me, but I can't just make up my mind. It is so hard to make this choice, and I am completely aware of what is blocking me. 

First of all, I am so painfully aware that the choice I make now could influence all of my life...meaning all of it completely. I feel like I'm starting from scratch, I have no real objective and the ones that I could have are related to values that I don't know if I can recognize as my own any more. Should I proceed in the academic career (even though it is so hard and I might end up with nothing at all in my hand), should I start to think of something more practical, something that could actually get me a good job? The only thing I know is that I would like to keep moving and not stay in the same place for too long. But is this just a wish to escape, go away, leave the past behind me just because I'm not mature enough to deal with it? And does this really work? I lived for one year in the US, miles away from my past, and still I couldn't move on because all the people, all the unsolved situations kept haunting me throughout the whole year. Moving away really doesn't solve a thing...still, I've always loved to travel, go places, see new things, deal with different people...that's what I want to do. That's my dream. And there's no real barrier that would keep me from doing that. 

Also, there is another thing that is blocking me. I have many ways to go in front of me, but none inside, just like one of the characters of Alessandro Baricco. I just can't understand what way I want to go...there are so many things I should take into account: possibilities of jobs, possibilities of carriers, possibilities for further studies... Bou also I can't forget I want to do something somehow related to my previous studies and the fields I like to deal with. 
Being aware of all this should definitely bring me somewhere, lead the way to a certain objective, show me the path. Still, so far I'm still in deep darkness, I just can't figure it out yet.

I hope this is normal, and actually I am glad I'm going through all this. I'm glad because I've always valued doubt and questioning above everything. I believe that only dobt and questioning make you live life in a conscientious way. Thanks to doubt, we question ourserlves and we force our inner side to come out with answers, or even more doubts, but at least there is some thinking about what we are living and what we are after all. This is good. This is much better than being superficially happy never asking ourselves what we are and what we feel, just moving on because everybody else does. 

So, I'm trying to search the web, tryin to figure out my interests, my opportunities, my possibilities in order to just figure things out little by little...
Hope this will lead to something...