As you may have noticed (duh), this blog contains entries in both English and Chinese. And as of today, excluding this entry about my dilemma, which you don’t know much about yet but I will fix that later, there are 103 English entries and 53 Chinese ones.
That’s probably because when I write a short, random post about nothing, I tend to use English. Also, 90% of my friends who read Chinese read English, but 90% of my friends who read English don’t read Chinese.
And funnily enough, I notice I use English more and more, to such an extend that I think I had a bilingual dream just last night.
Why write in Chinese at all then?
That’s my dilemma.
I write in Chinese partly because there are things that just cannot be said in English, even according to my 6-year-old-immigrant-English-tutor friend, and those may happen to be the things I want to say the most. Also, even though my Chinese reading friends read English just as well or even better, a majority of them share my passion in our native language. Some things just read better in Chinese.
For me, these include some fiction, diaries that involve my family, and some of my thoughts. I have yet to write a piece of creative writing in English that I’m satisfied with (not to say I write brilliant Chinese stories… I just enjoy reading them more). On the other hand, I would never read organic chemistry, physics, anything else taught in university, or Harry Potter in Chinese when given the chance.
Well that’s cool, but where is the dilemma?
The dilemma in being an amphibian with perhaps 70% of the average literary level in either language is subtle but real. Ha, I can picture everyone holding two power bars, one for Chinese and one for English. Many people have close to 100% in one bar, and close to 0% in the other. I probably have 70% in each. Most of the time I enjoy having that extra 70% in my bars that many people don’t have, but once in a while, the realization of each of my bars being 30% shorter than most other people gets frustrating.
But the dilemma isn’t only about the occasional frustration. It’s about my friends too. On a small scale, I’d love to write some blog entries in Chinese, something I haven’t done in more than a month, but I don’t want to exclude my English reading friends from what I have to say. This is especially the case after Shad, where inclusiveness was everything.
On a larger scale, who I choose to hang out with also become a source of contemplation. It is easy to submerge into the warm, friendly, familiar culture of friends who share the same background, same experiences, same stories with me, and together we will find our way around in this new country. But it is more exciting to maintain an open mind and embrace the mainstream, to diffuse into the pot instead of swimming in it in a tight band.
I’ve tried both. And the choice is still open to me right now, as I have continued to switch hats and quite deliberately avoid throwing one of them away. Just like I deliberately kept my blog bilingual. But like my 70% power bars in English and Chinese languages, by doing so, I have probably marked myself as the Canadian who loves Jay Chou a bit too much, and the Taiwanese who watches the game shows a bit too little.
All right! 😄
Ok, in fact, I sing many more Mayday songs than Jay Chou. I adapted the code name of “Jay Chou Lava!” in Shad cuz Jay Chou is much more famous.