Friday, February 04, 2011

I Lost My Talk: Poem

After that post last week about Jeju Island's dialect disappearing, here's a lovely, touching poem that my sister sent to me, about Canadian first nations groups losing their languages.

I think the writer is correct that power is inextricably linked to language: the language I choose to speak with you sets the terms for our interaction, especially when one of us speaks the language better than the other.

Put simply: If I argue with my wife in Korean, she wins.
Writ large: the language people speak, or study in school is one of the clearest expressions of which group in a mixed society/world holds (or is believed to hold) the keys to opportunity.

Lost My Talk by Rita Joe

I lost my talk
The talk you took away.
When I was a little girl
At Shubenacadie school.

You snatched it away:
I speak like you
I think like you
I create like you
The scrambled ballad, about my world.

Two ways I talk
Both ways I say,
Your way is more powerful.

So gently I offer my hand and ask,
Let me find my talk
So I can teach you about me.

Canadian Museum of Civilization
First Peoples of Canada Online Exhibit

1 comment:

ZenKimchi said...

I know you're a little new to this marriage thing. When you argue with your wife in any language, she wins.