It’s been quite a long time since I’ve had some discussion posts, and, even if I had lots of ideas written down in my book blogging journal, I also had to consider the best time for each topic I have planned.
Actually I should’ve opened this specific topic a lot earlier when I still had some conditions going on, but I thought I’d still share this one while I can discuss it (and tbh I can do it anytime haha). Anyways, let’s jump into it!
How many languages do you speak? Two? Or, maybe, three? If you do speak several languages, then in which languages you usually read books? Are you capable of reading in several languages? Is it helpful for you in any ways?
Regarding me, I happen to speak three languages (not to mention I’m self learning a forth one), but in terms of reading, I only use two of them: Russian and English. As for Vietnamese… I’m absolutely struggling with reading in that language ever since I was younger.
Fun fact: I am a Vietnamese-Russian-English translator, and I have zero problems understanding Vietnamese law, administrative, and business documents. I’m so used to their business style of speech that I can easily get through even the more complicated texts. But once I pick up a fiction book in Vietnamese… I can’t bring myself to get past even one single page. And guess my reaction when I see a 200-paged book in Vietnamese? Or a 500-paged Vietnamese translation of my favorite books? Hell for sure.
Yet I used to buy them no matter what. This happened to many titles like Night Circus, Grisha trilogy, The Lunar Chronicles, Neil Gaiman’s books, and even happens now with the newest Vietnamese re-issue of Harry Potter series.
So what’s the point of me buying books in Vietnamese when chances I’ll ever read them are very close to zero???
People around me regularly tell me to keep improving my Vietnamese by reading some fiction books, and I really wish I seriously could. Most of titles I buy in Vietnamese are the translations of more or less popular titles, or some books by Vietnamese authors about stuff I’m interested in. Of course, I also consider blurbs, covers and content just like I pick any Russian or English languaged books. But if books in Russian and English have all chances to be read, almost all Vietnamese books end up collecting dust on my bookshelf. Especially those titles that I have either English and/or Russian as well (happens to Timeless trilogy, Night Circus, Graveyard book).
Sometimes I buy a book with a thought, “I will set a challenge of reading 1 book in Vietnamese per month”, but then I still end up never touching it or ever considering reading it specifically in Vietnamese language.
Which leads to a question – what’s with all that struggle of being a polyglot?
You know what? Sometimes knowing several languages isn’t equal to loving all of them. You know, that kind of excuse, “I was forced to learn [insert language]”, “I had no other choice but to learn it”, etc. Well, something similar applies to my case as well.
Blame and hate me from now on all you want, but I never considered myself as a Vietnam lover. Sure this country has something to offer, but it’s just not for me. And I can’t blame the country for that. Or blame it on my parents that I was born that way. So when I was forced to learn Vietnamese, I had so many struggles learning it. I still have. People around may think that I fluently speak the language, but I’ll be honest: I speak as fluently as any other Viet Kieu does (Viet Kieu is a term used for ethnic Vietnamese born and raised outside Vietnam and people that are half-Vietnamese in blood). I’ll let you know also that I have little to no close Vietnamese friends. The only ones I have are either also Viet Kieus, or are absolutely considerable with my language level and don’t mind having conversations fully in English (like I have with my best friend for the past year). I cannot say that I dislike Vietnamese culture as a whole, but it’s impossible for me to accept some aspects of it, and that is the sole reason why I keep distancing myself from Vietnamese people and culture for 10 years. People around say that I can’t blend with the society, but the actual point is, I don’t want to blend with the society I can’t bring myself to like.
This, as you can see, leads to me not being capable of mastering this one particular language at its fullest power. Sometimes it happens that you just don’t match souls with the language you happen to speak or are forced to learn. And I’m okay with that, but this is not the reason I should be torturing myself to do something I definitely don’t enjoy.
So maybe I will, indeed, try to challenge myself reading one book in Vietnamese per month, but if in the end I won’t be able to enjoy it due to language barriers, why suffering then?
How many of you are here that can relate to my struggles? 🙂 Are you also a polyglot? What other struggles you find when speaking several languages at the same time?
See you soon with another discussion post,
8 thoughts on “Do The Talking: Why I buy books in Vietnamese when I never read in that language + polyglot problems”
As a Vietnamese, even when I lived in Vietnam sometimes I just felt so disconnected with the city (i lived in HCMC) and the people. Everything was just too much. I believe everyone has their own opinions, and the fact that even though you don’t blend in so well with the Viet culture but still tries to read books or at least, have the urge to buy the books and actually think of reading it, is very inspiring for me.
I guess I would consider myself a polyglot, I self-taught myself English since I was 5 and I’m currently teaching myself Korean as well. The hardest thing for me is definitely the struggle of translating Vietnamese words into English/Korean when I’m trying to write essays and the other way around as well. It’s just so damn hard haha.
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Wow, a trilingual! Hello, fellow friend, I’m a quadrilingual one~ I’m also currently self-learning Korean, and I can sometimes relate to your struggles! But I think it’s a bit easier for me since my brain manages to function in several languages equally. Sometimes I even practice brainstorming in different languages 😀
Considering the books… yes, I still have that kind of wish to try reading books in Vietnamese, but I guess it will be damn hard 😀
I envy the fact that you’re a polyglot! I myself am trying to be bilingual (learning Spanish and also Korean) and I’m finding it quite challenging. I really want to get better at Spanish and get past intermediate level but I always have excuses: “There are more Korean language learning videos, more Korean language learners that make funny videos in Korean, most Spanish videos are made for a spanish speaking audience, I don’t really like reggaetón, bla, bla, bla. I’d also like to read books in Spanish but I find it so hard. *sigh* I should try my best to buy a Spanish book (or translations) this year or next year.
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I’ve actually been taking a break from properly learning Korean for almost 2 years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t learn it at all right now. Now that I watch Produce 101, I can understand up to 50% of information without subs, and I keep constantly picking up some new words when I watch TV shows, as I constantly pause the video just to read the Korean subtitle alongside listening to the pronounciation, so I guess I’m still lowkey learning the language, although it looks more of a passive way 🙂
Good luck with Spanish!
this post was sooo interesting. i consider myself bilingual, but i was only “forced” to learn my main language, which is portuguese. i’ve learned english myself and i am able to read and write in this language and i found it to be my favorite way of expressing myself. but, it is understandable that when we learn languages because of our parents or where we were raised, we are not going to totally relate to it. even though you can read in that language, doesn’t mean you feel comfortable doing so, which is definitely okay!
you should share more of your #polyglotproblems, hahahah. they’re super interesting!
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ohhhh, so we can relate on “forced” languages! well, I still somehow manage to learn a little bit more on vietnamese because of my work and constant repetitive translations which cause me to pay more attention to similar texts and sentenses, but I still end up being not fond of vietnamese.
I will try to share more #polyglotproblems then~ It’s always fun 🙂