The other day, Ese posted a journal prompt “What’s your most vivid memory about what you wanted to be at 8 years old?” I had the answer at the tip of my tongue: A Newscaster. I didn’t even need to think about it. I didn’t journal like she prompted but I answered in my head. (Sorry Ese). Today I took my first French lesson and let me tell you how everything somehow ends up coming full circle.
We were not allowed to speak Pidgin English growing up. My parents thought it would dilute our well-spoken English Language. At home, they spoke Yoruba and English to us but no Pidgin. So in my head as a child, I saw Pidgin as an “inferior” language and avoided it like a plague. (let’s blame colonialism shall we?)
As I grew older and was introduced to the world of international music and movies, I discovered my English did not sound like that of Native speakers. It was difficult to grasp what they were saying especially if they were speaking quick. I also understood why Sister Elena’s English sounded so different in school. (Sister Elena was one of the Reverend Sisters who was in charge of my Primary School. She was German)
As someone who grew up loving music so much, I was always looking for lyrics because I could tell that I was singing rubbish. I spent any stipend I got buying those little books with songs and lyrics in them and the more I did that; I found that pronunciation, intonation, and accent mattered. I also noticed that Baba Daniel’s (Igbo) English differed from Aunty Georgina’s (Ghanian) English and so was Bala’s (Hausa) English and so on. (These are some of our neighbors)
I didn’t have the vocabulary nor did I have an exact explanation for it but I just knew that I wanted to learn about languages. It was fascinating to my young mind. My Dad also had me read notices off the TV and “casting” the news from the newspaper to him. I also read a lot and became friends with my dictionary. Words held meaning and I couldn’t get enough. It is one reason I really love to read.
Fast forward to gaining admission into the university to study History, I took minor courses in Linguistics and the English language. I enjoyed these courses because i was and still am very fascinated by languages. The courses helped me learn some basic phonetics and pronunciation that improved both my spoken and written English language.
Today, my tutor started me on the French alphabet, and I am fascinated all over again. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences between English, French, and Yoruba Languages. When I was studying to become a TV Presenter/Broadcaster, I took in-depth courses on the English Language. Its origin, word etymology (the origin of a word), how it has changed and continues to change, and some rules that guide it. Having that knowledge is helping me understand more as i start rudimentary French.
Now back to Ese’s journal prompt, I am thinking of my original answer: A Newscaster. Maybe the only way to express my love for language as a child was to want to read the news. Newscasters speak and read so well. Maybe they were my physical representation of learning the language. Maybe i wanted to be a linguist. Maybe I should be a linguist. That is a lot of maybes.
As you can tell, I am excited to be learning French but more than that, I think I had a self-revelation. It’s like Ese said, “Go ahead and explore yourself. Write to the prompt” Think about it. You might not be doing exactly what you’ve always wanted to be but you might be a version. You might find a new meaning. Who knows? Just try it.
I am off to write mine in full in my journal and i suggest you do the same. At least give it some thought. Cheers to self-discovery.
PS: I love pidgin English even though my friends say I don’t t speak it well. Language is dynamic and ever-changing and no one language/accent is better than the other. The goal is to communicate. And communication happens in several ways, language being just one of them.
Bonne Journee! – Have a nice day!