Mother Tongue, I’m Coming Home

Here at Lexiophiles, we publish all our articles in two languages; in English, and in our mother tongue. Most of us writers do the English version first, and then translate it into our first language. To assign your native language the role of target language is of course standard procedure for translators, but what’s interesting is that we seem to feel more comfortable composing in English. In fact, after four years of living abroad, I am now both excited and quite nervous to be returning to my mother tongue.

What if I make mistakes? I know I will never forget my Swedish, but nevertheless I am itchingly aware that I recently translated the Swedish word for property boundary into “speed limit”. Fastighetsgräns and hastighetsgräns—it’s only human, right? Well, that’s only one example of my Swedish… shall we call them “mishaps”? Being abroad, and trying to get along in various languages that are more or less new to me, means messing up doesn’t really make me look stupid.

Sounding stupid in Swedish will most likely also result from me peppering it with idioms and other “cool” Swedish expressions I’ve been longing to use ever since I went abroad. This includes trendy slang from 2009, that I never got a chance to grow tired of. I especially look forward to being able to declare people “State schmucks” and adding “monkey” – before any adjective.

Finally, going back home naturally makes me worry about forgetting the languages of my second homes. Luckily, living abroad—and my internship in particular—has taught me all I need to know to prevent that from happening. Tandems, TV shows and talking to my international friends are all great ways to keep it all in memory.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Top 100 Language Lovers competition is helping out by putting together a list of the ultimate language-loving-and-learning people online. Everyone can have their say—cast your vote here.


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