…some reviewers see an English-language anthology of postcolonial-themed fiction as somehow “ironic.” I don’t see anything ironic about it. English is a global language because of colonialism. How is it ironic to address postcolonial issues in English—a language of oppression and resistance, of loss and survival—a postcolonial language?
It seems to me that by criticizing the use of English for the anthology, these reviewers are pointing toward a lack of authenticity among the writers. They want some sort of “real” postcolonial expression, and to them, the “real thing” can’t be expressed in English. Of course, as Fabio says, there is no one-to-one correspondence between languages, and so there will always be things a language other than English could express more fully, carrying all kinds of connotations missing from English, carrying scents and varieties of weather—in fact, carrying worlds. But the existence of these worlds does not erase the world which English expresses with terrible accuracy: a postcolonial world in which many people (myself among them) who wish desperately that they could write in another language, in their “own” language, cannot do it.
There is also, of course, the question of the many varieties of English. I like this question! This is a happy question! There are so many kinds of English now that we really should be talking about Englishes. I call it a happy question because it focuses on people’s creativity rather than their misery and loss. As you say, quoting Charles—it’s about how people have made English their own. That happens not only with mixtures like Singlish or Spanglish but with the way people use the language in different parts of the world, the words they choose, the new meanings they give them.
THIS is the reason I had so much ambivalence about teaching English in the Philippines. I was constantly being asked what the “right” way to say something in English was, the assumption being that since I’m an American, I have the authority to say. But the Philippines has its own very vibrant, interesting version of English that is perfectly suited to the local culture in a way that Standard English is not. I opted to answer such questions with, “Well, if you want to be understood by an American, you could say…”
But anyway, I just wish more people in Peace Corps and in America generally would acknowledge that English is not “our” language, and hasn’t been for a very long time.
A primer for the meek, illustrated with non-threatening animals.
If you’re anything like me, you find yourself bending to the needs and demands of others far more often than you take a stand for your own needs. You might let yourself get pushed around, even by people who are quite nice. But if you’re in a relationship with a sane, reasonable person (i.e., not an abusive relationship), there’s no reason you shouldn’t have your needs acknowledged and respected.
A lot of people give the advice, “Learn to say no.” That’s great, but they rarely explain how to do that. It can be hard. Here’s how I handled a conflict over scheduling at my part-time job.
Step 1: Determine what you need.
You have to be clear in your own mind what you need from someone before you can reasonably expect them to give it to you. Be honest with yourself about your own capabilities and desires.
In this case, I knew that I was working four days a week at my full time, and I knew that I wanted at least two days off every week. My part-time boss wanted me at least two days a week, but I knew that housekeeping work and the fairly meager pay associated with it aren’t worth sacrificing that much of my time.
I’m not going to reblog everything from the new blog, but this post was really important to me because it represents a huge step in my personal growth, and because I think it might be helpful for a lot of you.
A photo essay on how things are all right when things go wrong.
So, say Michigan potatoes were $1.99 for ten pounds at the produce store, so now you have ten pounds of potatoes and last time you had ten pounds of potatoes they turned into a coral reef of sprouts in your cupboard, so you’re determined not to let that happen this time. You decide to make Spanish tortilla. It will be the perfect lunch!
(Later you’ll confuse your vegan boss by talking about it, and she’ll ask you to make one and you’ll disappoint her by explaining that it’s full of eggs.)
First, you’ll need some plant parts.
You decide to throw in a zucchini (79 cents a pound at the same place as the potatoes) because you’re trying to get your boyfriend to eat vegetables and you know it’ll be hard for him to pick them out of the finished tortilla.
Hey guys, I started a new blog! Check it out maybe?