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Language is not just the means for expressing ideas and sharing information. It is something bigger. Speaking specific languages people acquire particular culture, they become the part of it. That is why, when people have to leave the places they were born in, they keep language they got used to speak as something the most valuable and sacred. It is impossible to take all the things when leaving to the strange culture, but it is possible to have native language and use it whenever one wants.
Reading Agosin’s article Always Living in Spanish: Recovering the Familiar, through Language I faced a quote, “I miss that undulating and sensuous language of mine, those baroque descriptions, the sense of being and felling that Spanish gives me” (Agosin 203) and I have understood that it is about me. Spanish is not my native language, but it seems that the author speaks about Russian, my native language.
I want to say that even though my English is good, I can express ideas and people understand me in a proper way, I feel like I am singing when I speak my native language. It is easier for me to speak Russian when I want to express emotions. I sometimes feel that I really miss my native language, the one which I have been using for many years before I moved here, to the USA.
I do not want to say that I have problems with reading or communicating in English, it is just different. It seems to me that when I speak my native language, I recollect the memories about my childhood. Furthermore, there are a lot of different poems in English which touch my heart, but when I read poetry in my native language, it seems to me that each word is full of emotions, traditions and culture I used to.
Turning the discussion to the literature and tradition, it is impossible to deny that such notions are closely connected. For example, the poetry of Sergei Yesenin is the description of the pastoral Russia. Each word in his poems is full the smell of meadows, fields, trees, flowers, rivers, etc. Yesenin’s poems are not only about Russia, they are for Russia, the place he was born and died. Alexander Pushkin is another representative of Russian literature.
I would like to say that asking foreigners about Russian poets and writers they know, they will definitely remember Pushkin. The works of these poets remind me what Russia is. It does not matter for me that Pushkin wrote during Romantic era and Yesenin was a representative of 20th century literature. The nature they describe has not changed (if not to take into account raised cities), as the villages and the forests they describe are full of Russian spirit.
Reading these poets in English translation I cannot experience these feeling of national identity. Only using Russian books for reading, it seems to me that I appear in my native country. Close connection between books and culture cannot be denied as they have been written by the people who were brought us by the same social norms and traditions. Thus, it is possible to conclude that language and traditions are closely connected and even these notions are a part of the culture of the whole nation.
Touching the issue of tradition and language, it is possible to provide an example using the following words, “Let me explain why we haven’t adopted English as our official family language. For me and most of the bilingual people I know, it’s a matter of respect for our parents and comfort in our cultural roots” (Marquez 207). Isn’t the phrase perfectly explains the reasons why living in a foreign country people still try to use their native language for communication?
Myriam Marquez is speaking about Spanish, her native language, but these words may be related to any language in the world. Language is not just the collection of sounds which combination comprises words, it is the storage of the traditions and culture. It is possible to notice that when people communicate with the help of their native language (living for a long time in another country and speaking strange language) they become happier as it is an opportunity to touch their culture even staying in a strange country.
Speaking my native language it seems that I show respect to my native culture. It is really easy to refuse from the native roots if you live in the country which gives you more. Still, I cannot do this. I cannot refuse from my native land as I love it with the whole my heart.
Respect to culture roots is something more that speaking the language of the native country, but living in a foreign state it can be the only possible variant to give credit for the native land, relatives and other ancestry who had lived there before and had made all possible that we, modern generation, could be born and grow up in a free country with remained customs and traditions.
I live in the USA not so long, but, still, the desire to speak my native language is always too high. The inability to see my relatives, communicate face-to-face with my school friends increases the desire to use native language in the everyday life. I always try to use the slightest possibility to speak Russian as it makes me feel closer to the country I have grown up in.
Cultural roots have always been important even for those who had to leave their country because of the inability to find job there or just for searching better life. When I speak my native language, I always remember my parents and relatives, some specific situations connected with them.
Sometimes I feel that the communication with the help of my native language does not allow me to forget my native country, my customs and traditions, my personal and cultural identity. No matter how long I am going to live in this country, how often I am going to communicate in English, I will always remain Russian in my soul. Once I met a woman.
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She was about 75-80 years old. Her English was perfect and I thought that she was a born American, but when she heard me speaking over the telephone in Russian (I talked to my parents), she said that Russian was her native language as well. She had been living for 50 years in the USA, but she still tried to speak her native language as it helped her remain Russian in her heart. That chance meeting made me think about my personal life and the place of my native culture in present me.
I would like to say that culture and language are essential parts of every person. No matter where life can bring a person, how far from the native country he/she may appear, language is always the reminder about the culture and traditions one has been growing up in.
Communicating in English, I always felt that it is not my native language, that I am far from my relatives and friends and when the feeling of miss fulfills my heart I ring up my parents and communicate with them in my native language, the one I got used to from the cradle and the one I am going to carry with me for a length of time.
Agosin, Marjorie. “Always Living in Spanish: Recovering the Familiar, through Language.” Multilingual USA: 201-206.
Marquez, Myriam. “Why and when we speak Spanish in public.” Multilingual USA: 207-209.