Foreign

I know how I talk, I hear my voice and recognise it, I’m only a little surprised when I hear it recorded, when I hear it played back to me as if coming from another mouth. But I don’t think I hear my voice often. Most of the time when in the flow of speech I hear the sound and know what words I am saying, but awareness of  how my words are heard comes only when I listen, when I am self aware.

I can speak German, with bad grammar and poor vocabulary but with a convincing accent thanks to my Mother. And something else too, with convincing intonation and inflection. So, last summer in Germany I was stretched and challenged, a stranger in a half-familiar land. And this is where it gets interesting; hearing myself speak another language – being not quite fluent enough to forget myself – listening to my words, I found it was not just the words that were translated, but the way in which I used language to communicate, to portray myself. I found myself altered, altering myself through my words and inflection, not directly translating but adapting to another speech pattern, to a dialect, and more. Saying things in a way that was beyond another language, in a manner that altered me. It was not only my words that sounded foreign, I had become foreign to myself.

fremde

 

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