Language and Soul

Learn a new language and get a new soul.  ~Czech Proverb

Language is like a Horcrux in the wizarding world of Harry Potter. It holds a piece of a soul… (although unlike Horcrux, it won’t give you immortality :)).

I’m glad that as an international student, I was using English as the main language. I feel that I can be much more assertive in that language, so it’s apt for discussing or debating something. I can be bolder, more explicit, more outspoken. I have similar personality when I’m using Bahasa Manado, one of the local languages in Indonesia.

When using Indonesian language, however, for some reason I’m much more courteous, gentle, and polite. I think that’s because in Indonesia, typical girls are expected to exhibit those behaviors. You just don’t argue. You never shout back. You’re supposed to be well-mannered all the time. And like it or not, unconsciously I sometimes display these characteristics when I’m using Indonesian language. I guess that’s why there are times that I just don’t feel comfortable expressing myself in Indonesian.

That’s just one example of shifting language – shifting soul that I can give, since unfortunately, I can only speak those two languages. I have tried learning Dutch, Mandarin, and Spanish, but I’ve never reached the point where I can fluently speak the languages (thus feeling their soul). I blame it on my age. Or maybe I’m lacking the will to seriously practice. Which is sad, because Den Haag is such a perfect place to learn a new language. It’s so international, a true melting pot.

Next time, maybe.


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