Fiction / In which Mitchii attests amazing perks of being multilingual reader!

I should’ve ceased those opportunities to learn new language/s. When I was still in university, our department of linguistic offered free language classes (I should’ve signed up for a JP class before & would have been so much easier for me to learn it since I was younger then…you know memory?) Ah, regrets! Anyhoo, this post is not about me sulking over one of too many regrets in life but I would love to discuss the advantages of being a bilingual or multilingual reader. kao_wink My first language is Filipino & according to an unofficial ESL (English as Second Language) test I’m above average in English (I’m taking that result with tons load of salt, hur!) kao_cry and I’m self-studying Japanese (although my level is basic at most, like suuuuper basic! And more comfortable reading than writing/speaking). I can understand Ilocano which one of official languages in the Philippines (from hundreds that we have!). And I’m tempted to try Korean (because of that webcomic I want to catch up so bad!!!) also heard it’s easier than JP.

It’s really fun to learn, speak, & read in other languages aside from your own. And that’s why I’m giving it a spotlight today. But not as a speaker but a reader. I think it’s a good thing to learn a language or two. I don’t know, it’s just great & perhaps maybe these incentives give you the much needed push to go sign up for that class! Language is fun!!! kao_smile

para kay b
Filipino Book: Para Kay B

I don’t need to wait for different language edition.

Here in PH we do have Filipino version of popular books like Hunger Games, Harry Potter, The Selection and others. And while I don’t have copies myself (because of reason #2) I still encourage people to support these books especially those who are still uncomfortable with reading English (because I know people who do—yes, they exist: an FYI to elitist bastards who find our very own language inferior *smh*). kao_blank Providing the book in a language that people are more comfortable reading not only broaden readership but also introduces new reading options for otherwise reluctant readers (like my mother).

I get to read it in the original language.

You see, translation is a complex task since not every word has direct translation. And it’s not just the literal meaning, but to translate the context attests its difficulty. So hats off to translators that giving their best so the readers can enjoy the story in its truest forms possible. kao_happy

That said I like to read the book/story in its original language. I’m comfortable reading in English so I have no problem with it. And while trying to read Japanese I learned there are nuances that can’t be directly translated in another language (same goes with mine). For example in Filipino we called our older sister (or anyone older female) “ate,” Japanese called them “oneesan” while in Korean depends on the gender of the person calling, girls called her “unni” while boys called her “noona.” This is perhaps an Asian tradition, as I’m not sure if any western cultures have this kind of term.

So in translating a story few things are needed to sacrifice. Sometimes it doesn’t sound as good as it was in original language. Like puns, it doesn’t translate as exactly as it was in the original therefore losing the essence. So yeah, I prefer reading it the original language. So it’s a huge perk to be able to read it in the original language. Plus it maximizes your selections!

Why so hard kanji??!!

And there’s the culture thing.

Language for me is synonymous to a one’s culture. I mean I’m pretty sure there’s no reason for an American publisher to publish a Filipino language book for English audience. I mean that’s not their target market. And that’s not their language (unless it’ll be published locally but why would they gamble for that?). So if I want to read in Filipino, I’ll read a Filipino book. If I want an authentic Japanese story I better read Japanese novels (well, just graphic novels for me). I don’t wanna read again a pseudo-JP English book that if anything else is nothing but a cultural appropriation.

Diversity. /nuff said

I’m not super, super gung-ho in Westerns writing book about other culture (beside their own) unless thoroughly researched & genuinely enthusiastic with the theme. Never take the reader’s knowledge for granted. I also want to see foreign authors having big platform & opportunities for wider readership. I personally still preferred to be represented by someone who knows & have experienced what it is to be what we are (but that doesn’t mean I’m not open to other people writing different cultures—as I said it’s all about treatment & respect for me.). kao_cool ‘Cos I like authenticity even in fictional stories.

And that’s it! So floor is yours; how many languages do you know? Aside from what I stated above, what are the other perks do bi/multi lingual readers have! Share it with me!


10 Responses to Why I love being a multilingual reader!

  1. Alexandra says:

    I do know a few languages like Telugu (which is my mother tongue but I can’t read it), Hindi (I know how to read but I don’t read Hindi books :P) and Arabic (like suuuuuper basic. I can’t understand it! I can read but I won’t understand until there are words I can recognise). I really want to learn Japanese though!

    • You can understand Telugu? That’s lucky – I’ve heard it’s the world’s hardest language to learn. Words can be masculine, feminine, or neutral – 3 times as confusing as a non-gendered language like English!

    • Mitchii G. says:

      I think it’d be easier for you to learn Japanese, especially you have difficult languages on your resume! *thumbs up* Unlike Korean, Chinese & Japanese (and even Thai) Arabic is really complex for me (learning new language is pretty hard for me regardless). ^^;

  2. I am forever salty that my university didn’t have a course for Korean. Like, it doesn’t matter that Japanese was already my outside no credit course (like an outside course to the outside courses I had to take 😂) and it took me solid three days to persuade my personal tutor that I will be able to handle the workload (I ended up with way too many courses over the two semesters, I don’t know how it happened I swear). If they gave a Korean course I would probably bake a cake for my tutor so he would let me do it as well. I mean, I probably wouldn’t pass it since I didn’t pass Japanese but I think it teaches you a lot about the language. Also the exams are mostly vocabulary about giving directions to a taximan or something so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Also I think reading stories in their original language is a huge thing. I actually wanted to buy some manga in Japanese so that I could try and read it myself, instead of reading scanlations online. For one, yay you read it in its original language. For two, I think it will really help me to learn the language properly (also kanji).

    Anyway, I had more thoughts on the post that were actually relevant to it instead of me rambling about university courses but once I started typing I kind of forgot all the points I had to make so…

    • Somehow, whenever I comment on your blog, I don’t realise that my comments are wAY TOO LONG until I post them D:

    • Mitchii G. says:

      I find Hangeul to be a lot easier to memorize (compare to thousands upon thousands of Kanji I need to know) but Korean is harder to enunciate than Japanese (so many silent letters T.T).

      I really encourage you to do so. I feel so accomplished whenever I read it in Japanese & actually understood most of the dialogues. I still stay away from seinen or even some shounen titles and read shoujo aimed at middle schoolers (like Ribon magazine). Because they usually use hiragana, and my aim is to read faster (when I started I read syllable by syllable, character by character). My progress is very gradual but at least there’s progress, ahaha.

      I love long comments because I love reading people’s thoughts on the topic I posted. I want to read different opinions about it, so no biggie!

  3. Tasya says:

    I can speak fluent Indonesian (I’m Indonesian so of course I can) and English. I took Chinese course for 2 years so I could speak and understand basic Chinese (writing is a different story). I’m currently self-studying Spanish, German, and Latin (I know it’s a lot) through different apps that exist. I’m forever grateful to those apps.

    I prefer reading in original language because as you said, the authors real meaning could get lost in translation. But I still read in Indonesian because hey why not? I really hate those people that thinks their own language is inferior. Remember, without those “inferior” language, they won’t be able to speak at all!-_-

    I really want to learn as many language as I can. I think it’s really beautiful how language connects people from different places!

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Yes, language is such an exciting thing to learn. I’m always fascinated with languages even though I struggled with the ones I know but still, learning it is awesome! One time I was channel surfing when I stumbled across what I think was an Indonesian channel and heard similar words in Filipino. It was so cool to know!

      You nailed it! I don’t like people belittling our language, and I find that appalling. This is ours! This is our language, we should be proud to speak it. I think every language is beautiful.

      It’s nice to know a language or two (and be fluent with it). Knowing English isn’t enough for me. I want more! XD

  4. Chri says:

    I love reading stories in their original language, too! Yeah, theres a lot of feelings and connotations that one language has for a word that another doesn’t, and each translator will have their own interpretations, so oftentimes some sentiments get lost in translation. Hats off to the translators, though – we had to translate a Murakami for class once and I pretty much died. It was a nightmare trying to rearrange all that subtle meaning and language ^^;;

    I’m so jealous of people who can read/speak in a wide range of languages! All of mine are pretty similar, haha. Japanese is my main. I can speak Taiwanese and Mandarin, but I can’t read – at least not out loud, though for the most part I can fib my way through reading Chinese books by falling back on Japanese .-. And I know just enough English to be… here, I guess, though my grammar’s atrocious and my pronounciation even worse. I’d love to learn Korean, though! Or French or German! I think it’s fascinating that there are so many people around the world speaking so many different languages, and I wish I had the time and resources to learn them all *-*

    • Mitchii G. says:

      That’s insane! I’m not good translating myself bcos I was told I tend to be…literal(?) but Murakami’s work? *bows to you* My grammar is way off anyway and I still insist on writing in English in hopes that I’ll become better. As you can see it’s quite a slow progress. ^^; Anything that has different writing system is quite hard for me. Japanese grammar is somehow difficult because both my languages (English & Filipino) are very different in structure…so yeah it’ll be a while. T.T

      My bro-in-law is Austrian and fluent in German, he once tried to teach me German but I gave up. I can’t pronounce it correctly, ahaha. Isn’t Korean easier for you to learn (was told JP & KR have similarities, being both branched out from Chinese characters…) not sure though.

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