In An Unknown Land, Meeting My Own
Learning To Love My Mother Language
For the last 8 months I’ve been traveling through Japan. I wanted to see the beauty of this land and its people. I really wanted to know the language first, so I started learning it.
It took some time before I was confident enough to leave, but setting my foot on Japanese ground for the first time, I figured that I was never actually ready for it. There were so many words that I’ve never heard of. Words that the language course didn’t teach me at home.
However now I am quite at home with Japanese now and it is not a problem anymore. I travel at my own pace from north to south. I know what people ask me, or tell each other. The dialect changes slowly. I stay at certain villages that I like and make friends with kind people who live in these secluded areas.
Sometimes they ask me where I’m from, and when I say I come from the Netherlands, their eyes open wide. They get all enthusiastic and ask me if I can say something in my own language.
I realize that they are genuinely interested in listening to a little bit of a language they have never heard before; but I could never really understand them when they say that it sounds amazing.
I never really liked my mother language. I always thought it sounds a little harsh. Not as harsh as the German language sounds in my opinion. But I prefer languages that are more fluent, soft and harmonic.
Every time that I explained this to someone after they complimented me on my native language, they told me that I should be proud and cherish it with all my heart.
But as stubborn as I am, I never took their advice. Soon enough, I started to feel the urge to push those words away, get mad at them for telling me what to feel. So when people asked me if I could say something in Dutch, I’d say that I’m not comfortable with that.
I only spoke in Japanese or English for months, when a new traveller came to the same village as I was in at that moment. The old lady that I’d meet every day at her grocery store came to find me and told me that the new traveller was from the Netherlands as well.
She said she had arranged for the two of us to meet that afternoon. So I went to the restaurant that I was told to be, and there I saw him. I greeted him in English but as soon as he saw me he started talking in Dutch to me.
After all the Japanese and English words that I’ve heard, I felt relieved. It was at that moment when I realized what everyone meant, when they said that I should cherish my mother language.
It’s a languages that comes natural to you, no thinking of what to say and how to say it.
That evening I found the love for my native language, and a new friend to share the love for my language with.
Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope you enjoyed it! Do not forget to drop me a hello during your free time! Until I meet you with another story, bye for now!