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. 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!) 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!!!
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*). 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.
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!
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.). ‘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!