A while back, I had a conversation with a friend on language and how language frames your mind. "Your set of vocabularies is the bottleneck of your expression and your experience with the world". This friend quickly pointed out how I can improve when I mentioned I cannot express my feelings.
Today I was ruminating over my personal issue and I wished I could have said more or said in different ways. I was thinking how I should adjust my coping mechanism and I arrived here.
Linguistic Relativity, "the hypothesis of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects its speakers' world view or cognition." I have a few language compartments in my brain: Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese and English. English is not my native language, I started speaking full English 6 years ago when I started my school here in the US. I spoke Cantonese (some Mandarin with my mum) when I grew up. I briefly spoke Japanese in college classes and during short trips in Japan. What I observed from my different language cognitions is that - I am a geeky teenager in English, an angsty and sometimes deep woman in Cantonese, and a kawaii baby in Japanese.
Here's a break down on how I use Cantonese and English:
- With Cantonese, I spoke it when I was asking for candy, I spoke it in family dinner, I spoke it when I was trying to make friends, I spoke it in ten years friendship that involved many nights staring in the sky sharing our views on wide range of topics, I spoke it when dealing with my deep dark naive teenager mind. I spoke it when I developed my love for art. I spoke it when I watched my favorite show and movies which influenced a huge part of me now.
- With English, I spoke it with college friends mostly about projects and career goals, I spoke it with coworkers on weekend plans and technology, I spoke it in interviews and meetings. Now I spoke it in a romantic relationship and I found myself lacking because all my romantic references come from another language.
In other words, I suck at intimacy when I speak English, and now I am fully aware of it. I suck at talking about different states in the US, I suck at recalling the shared events of this country, I suck at laughing at jokes and TV references. Of course, most of these can be conquered by being creative. I can share my side of the story to complement yours. Telling my own story requires a vibrant set of vocabularies, and I still have a long way to go.
The good thing with knowing linguistic relativity is that my vocabularies grow with me as a person. I am here in the US pursuing my career so I have to be better.
I decided to convert these frustrations and anger into a learning opportunity -- to read and write more. Expand my jar of descriptive vocabularies so that I can express myself in full. Expand my phrase set so that I can maximize my succinctness dealing with tough situations.
Also, another lesson learned, take some time to give yourself a strong reason can go a long way in achieving a tough task.