語文限額

再過一個月,我便己在此地定居六年了。這期間,生活上的大大小小都有了很大的變化,而自己也開始慢慢適應並接受了大部份的轉變;其中一項仍然未能安然面對的,就是語言問題。

過去兩年多的兩份工作都需要大量的英文寫作,而這些寫作並不是一般的商務書信往來,而是撰寫專業的新聞稿及宣傳刊物之類。我不是要在此自我吹捧英文如何了得(反正新聞稿這類文字,多寫幾篇便會發現是如同倒模,有一定結構格式的要求,絶對是熟能生巧,並不需要太高的文學修養),而是真正的感到非常矛盾。

我所面對的語言問題是,在日常以英文作主要溝通語言,和沒有太多機會以中文寫作的情況下,我的英文寫作技巧沒錯是有了明顯的進步,但這進步卻換來了另一方面的徹底失控:我現在的中文寫作能力,有如脫了纜的升降機一般,完全不受操控地急速下滑,任誰也阻擋不了。

這情況讓我反覆思量,到底一個人學習語言的能力是有上限的嗎?這一方面在進步,另一方面便要退步麼?又,雙語經己如是,若果我再多學一種甚至兩種三種語言,會否減低我現有兩種語言的讀寫能力?

我也自知這大概只是我個人的資質問題,不過我是真心並虛心的希望知道,究竟有甚麼方法可以令自己的雙語應用能力同步並進,而不用在魚與熊掌中作取捨。

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15 thoughts on “語文限額

  1. Hongkie, 唉,你真是說了我心中的苦話,幸好有孩子迫自己說廣東話,前幾年就連母語也有問題! 莫說英語國語了 😦 最慘當地語言又未說得非常好,結果樣樣不能,我也說不知是不是自己資質問題,不知那些精通幾種語言的是怎麼來的 :S

  2. 我現在時常忘記中文字的寫法, 每次都懼怕…也跟michelle 一樣, 寫博文維持;而年紀愈大, 掌握新語言又愈慢, 中文英文瑞典文, 三頭不到岸, 也是我沮喪的源頭之一。

    michelle 我和妳一樣(相信讀食也是),和孩子說廣東話,但她們開始用八成瑞典話配兩成中文語法來回答, 學校也缺乏母語教學, 將來看怕也不能讀寫流利中文, 一旦想到這裡我便好矛盾。

    Hongkie 起碼妳的英文有大進步, 是好事啊! 祝你們新生活愉快!聖誕快樂!

  3. 其實我自從學會用電腦打中文字後,很多中文字真的忘記怎樣寫了。有時寫博也會寫錯白字。

    周游,對啊,兩歲時,阿包是完全跟我用廣東話對話的,而且講得很好,還會中英翻譯,不會中英夾雜。越大佢就英文字摻得越多。可能太複雜的想法,佢真的不知道怎用廣東話表達。不過,一定要繼續用廣東話跟佢講,起碼佢會明白。

    寫,則要看小朋友的意願和時間了。

    自己呢,則要多寫中文書了。我的英文已經比我在香港時好了許多。所以,我也不會有太大奢求。

  4. Language is just like one of those American inventions, flexible spending, you don’t use it, you lose it. That’s just one of the disappointments that I learn to live with, I mean life could be much worse other than or in addition to losing one’s mother tongue. Plus you probably gain some thing back in exchange of what you think you are losing so that’s not too bad.

    Regarding your quest to be truly bilingual, I don’t think there is anything I can offer. Except I think it’s pretty definitely doable. Samuel Beckett could write in English and French, I mean publish, not just write. Chinese American novelist Ha Jin writes in English. I am sure there are more. I think it’s all talent, hard work and sacrifice, probably no known methods or shortcuts to ease the pain of getting ‘there.’

  5. michelle, 周游,

    我寫網誌也是希望自己可以多寫中文,奈何自己終日無事忙,總抽不出太多時間寫。加上現在寫中文的效率實在很低很低,像以上這麼一篇短短的文章,連打帶寫便動輒要一個小時!不信?單是上面寫的一個"阻"字,我便花了十分鐘才想起怎麼寫,情況令人既擔心又沮喪!

    英文沒錯是進步了,但感覺上是要用自己的母語去換回來,我真的不知道是否划得來。為甚麼不可以同步前進呢?

    readandeat,

    孩子日後的中文水平如何,我也盡量不去想太多了。當然我還是極其渴望他可以讀寫講中文,但連我自己也很多時因忘了"轉台"而跟他用英語交談,我又怎麼好意思要強迫他講中文呢?唉!

    lcl,

    Exactly my point – I know there’re people who can do it. Like the ones you mentioned. Like Eileen Chang. It’s just a matter of hardwork & talent, which, unfortunately, I both lack.

    My goal is really to be able to write in both languages at a “publishable” level. I know my Chinese is at that level (I, of course, haven’t published any books, but I did write for Chinese magazines for a living). I’m just hoping while my English is on track to a “publishable” level, I don’t lose my language roots.

  6. Wei wei, it’s me again.

    I think I’m much worse than you. Even though I use both English and Chinese all the time, I still find it hard to sometimes. Like some of your readers here, I easily forget how to write certain words in Chinese. Like a lot of Hong Kongers, I code-mix too much. Almost every sentence I say contains at least one or two English words. I don’t really like it but sometimes I just can’t avoid it…

    And while still struggling with my French, I’m slowly losing my English too! Sometimes I would write / speak something in English and then thought “oh this sentence structure is French, not English”. Or I would confuse the English and French spellings… I’m going crazy any minute, I tell you.

    For your little one, there really is not much you can do. I mean, the majority of people he knows, sees, plays with don’t speak Chinese so he really doesn’t need the language. Of course it’ll be a pity if he grows up not having a decent level of Chinese but you just can’t force it.

  7. sun sun,

    je sais. it’s so hard to keep up with one’s language ability. i used to hate people who code-mix all the time & now look what happens – i code-mix like crazy. totally out of control. i’ve been seriously thinking about picking up french again or learn spanish. now i need to think again…

  8. hey, I would love to see you picking up French again. But I guess Spanish is more “relevant” now that you’re in the States.

    Oh, and to make things worse, you’re not young any more, hee hee. You’ll need extra extra extra efforts in learning a new language.

    Mais, de tout façon, bon courage !

  9. I left Hong Kong in 1985. At this point, I still can’t type Chinese. I think and dream in English except when I am speaking Cantonese. I am not a good writer. Can’t write if my life depends on it. So I guess I have less to worry about. Plus I don’t have kids, so I don’t have to worry about passing on Chinese language either. So glad to find this blog + many others written by Hong Kong women. Will be back…by the way I’m in southern California.

  10. Exile from Hong Kong,

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I know what you mean thinking & dreaming in English – I do the same most of the time. Once in a while, though, I would find myself trying to explain to my husband, who is not Chinese, a Chinese concept only without very much success.

    Hm…Southern California…lucky you! Probably the best climate in the entire country! If you haven’t already found out from my previous posts, I’m in San Francisco Bay Area. Not a bad deal. I really can’t complain too much.

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