ELEPHANT in the room

There is something I need to get off my chest. It is constantly nagging me. I’m hoping that by letting it out, I can move on and get going. That we all can. The elephant in the room is called:

Writing in English.

Part of writing this blog is to just DO IT, get some words down, get it flowing. Practice. Because it is HARD people, to write in a language that is not your own. To construct the sentence, know the appropriate words, how to spell them God dammit, the metaphors the language use (like talking till the cows come home – THAT I know how to do) and the biggest mother of them all: punctuation. Who invented the English comma? Can we kill them? Second to punctuation comes prepositions. For me they work in the following way: fill a bag with English prepositions, shake it well, pick at random, check it later. Sometimes I see it, sometimes I don’t.

So I need to tell you: this is practice.

I don’t work in advertising like many bloggers do. I’m not here to promote myself and my excellent writing skills for some job or career. In actual fact, I think blogging is probably the worst career move I’ve ever made. I’m pretty sure it would be considered unprofessional by most academics. THAT I don’t care about.

But I care about my writing. I’m trying to become good at it. This is me learning by doing. To the native English speakers out there, who sometimes feel the electric shock from the massive error they just discovered: before you judge me, translate this blog into German, Spanish, French or whatever language you learned at school and then we can talk.

 

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5 thoughts on “ELEPHANT in the room

  1. ah ah Signe, the english prepositions… I like the way you deal with them! My boss reckons I’m a pretty good writer; but when it comes to prepositions he calls me the Frenchie, because I have noooo idea! He’s not obsessed with punctuation, so that’s all right ๐Ÿ™‚

    And remember, not many native English speakers have written a Masters thesis and even fewer are doing tons of reading in English to then write a phd thesis, in English. I think you’re doing VERY WELL!

    • ‘a pretty good writer’ – you are an awesome writer. And a pretty good guesser when it comes to prepositions. I somehow feel relieved to know that also you struggle with them. It’s as if it is now allowed ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Signe, I read a lot of blogs, which is how I came to click to yours (from a comment on Woogsworld). I’m an English language (ESL) teacher, but I was clueless to the fact that English was your second language until you mentioned it! Meanwhile, I’ve come across many a native speaker blog (particularly American…) that could be the subject of your studies for the crime of language murder. By which I mean to say, you’re doing well girl!

    • Thank you so very much for your comment! I really appreciate that you took time to write it. Prior to writing this post, I had a few unpleasant comments, which brought my confidence down a bit. To have an ESL teacher ‘approve’ the language is really satisfying. Thank you.
      I love your comment “crime of language murder” – I get all uptight about text language, which is complete language murder to me. And a sign Iโ€™m getting old ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. It wouldn’t help if I added another compliment about your English writing skills because I’m not a native speaker myself, worked hard to get fluent, and know so well what you are talking about. Of course, it’s quite obvious that you are doing extremely well. I would like to say something that perhaps only people like you and me can really relate to: It can be a great chance to pick up a new language as a grown up, a chance to reinvent the entire process of communication. We, who are not burdened by cliches and unconscious phraseology natives have picked up with their mother milk (see, I have no idea if this is a proper idiom in English, but I’m confident that it works) can say things a bit differently. But most of all, because this unconscious small talk, the prefabricated fill words and phrases are not so evailable to us we have to think before we speak or write. And this is a most wonderful side effect I believe. In order to express ourselves in the new language we have to clarify our thinking first, and this improves not only how we articulate it in this new tongue but we may actually think better.
    I know, in academia you don’t need awkward English, but yours is already perfect. In everyday life: why not challenge encrusted phrases and idioms and say things your way? I found that people pay more attention when you use uncommon metaphors.
    I wish you so much fun in this dream place Cairns.

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